C O L U M N S

Tales from the Jugular

Thrashing 2018: The Best Thrash of 2018

By: Eric Compton
Published: Tuesday, February 20, 2018
When I looked back at my top releases of the year I was surprised to see an abundance of thrash albums making my list. Generally, my fondness of the genre deteriorated drastically soon after the New Wave of Thrash Metal stopped being a term we threw around. The sheer volume of the genre, now more fertile than ever, is a bulk of each Friday's new releases. With so many thrash records widely available, here's who we thought did it better than anyone else:

DECEASED - 'Ghostly White'
Seven years removed from 2011's 'Surreal Overdose', this continental thrash behemoth proves they are the top of the food chain. "Ghostly White" is classic King Fowley, blackened thrash metal with a death metal promiscuity. As loud as they wanna be, this 2018 Hell's Headbangers release is arguably my record of the year. With riffs galore, a penchant for late 80s death and Fowley's abstract songwriting, Deceased are brilliantly terrifying. Up the tombstones for life!

SHOTGUN RODEO - 'By Hook or by Crook'
Despite a glammy band name, this is a clever thrash metal act that possesses skillful melodies, phenomenal vocals and a gifted sense of sarcasm in their lyrical prose. After a successful independent campaign for their debut, "World Wide Genocide", the band were signed by Mighty Music for their sophomore release, "By Hook or by Crook". The album received worldwide praise and garnered favorable reviews in Japan's long running metal zine Burrn!. These Norwegians are a band to watch based on their outstanding work this past year.

WULFPACK - 'War Ain't Over!'
I've played the shit out of this record. These German thrashers originally formed in 2013 as The Gamps. Changing the name to the more metallic Wulfpack led to a demo, an EP and this crown jewel, "War Ain't Over!". High on Suicidal Tendencies, Municipal Waste and early Tankard, Wulfpack blend the US and German thrash scenes cohesively into a gravel-voiced moshpit. We hope it isn't over.

GREEN DEATH - 'Hallowmass'
Midwest power thrash is where Green Death's arsenal lies. After two independent releases in "The Deathening" and "Manufacturing Evil", the band showcased a humorous thrash attack that was miles better than the typical New Wave of Thrash Metal sub-genre they were forced into. With a more serious sound, a partnership with David Ellefson (Megadeth) and a new label signing with the legendary Combat Records, "Hallowmass" proved to a more dynamic approach with a slower presentation yet equally as aggressive and sound. While not as thrashy as the predecessors, "Hallowmass" has mass appeal.

HATCHET - 'Dying to Exist'
The best way to approach this Bay Area act is to completely forget about who the band members are. Why? Because it's a revolving door where anyone can be in the band at any given time. The mainstay is Julz Ramos (guitarist, vocalist), a talented showman who thankfully keeps Hatchet busy releasing records. "Dying to Exist" is the fourth of the band's career and continues to push the boundaries of tech thrash. Released by THE thrash label, Combat, this is a record that stands out in the crowd.

DEATH RAY VISION - 'Negative Mental Attitude'
Death Ray Vision are a thrash unit from Massachusetts. They formed in 2010 from the ashes of the New Wave of American Heavy Metal scene. Featuring former and current members of Killswitch Engage and Overcast, the band landed on everyone's radar with the acquisition of Shadow's Fall vocalist Brian Fair. Fair, contributing to the band's debut, ran the live circuit before handing the mic to new singer Jeff Gard. The band's foundation is thrash - a plethora of blazing riffs and solos - but find's solace in melodic vocals that range from harsh to clean singing. Gard's vocal prowess is reminiscent of the talented John Bush (ex-Anthrax, Armored Saint), with enough aggression and anger to rival the most grinding of death metal acts.

GAMA BOMB - 'Speed Between the Lines'
Like some sort of macabre Running Man, Gama Bomb races through the alleys in a death defying display of thrash fandom. By absorbing the melodic finesse of Judas Priest, cultivating the thrashing landscape of Anvil and working comedy like Jim Breuer, "Speed Between the Lines" is one of the most enjoyable releases of any genre in 2018. Check out their promo video for "Bring Out the Monster" if you don't believe me.

ARTILLERY - 'The Face of Fear'
Three albums in five years and the third in a row with singer Michael Dahl. This Danish thrash band continues pushing the heavy load with an electrifying mix of burners, groovers and bangers. The production is really dry, but a fitting (punishing?) backdrop for the chaotic sound. "New Rage" is brimming over with groove while "Through the Ages of Atrocity" has this punky, hard rock sort of feel. It's all mosh-heavy in delivery and purpose but flirting with commercial accessibility. This is probably the best the band has been since Soren left.

MELIAH RAGE - 'Idol Hands'
Boston act Meliah Rage are still toiling along after 30-years of mid-tier metal stardom. Like other journeymen in Flotsam & Jetsam, Anvil, and Metal Church, it's these thrash acts that still carry the torch for traditional North American metal. 'Idol Hands' is rock solid, weighing in with eight cuts of mid-tempo moshing to please genre fans. Vocalist Paul Souza is still enjoyable with plenty of aggressive bite and Anthony Nichols proves to be one of the most underrated guitarists in metal. I'm filing this as a best of addition for 2018.

SURVIVAL INSTINCT - 'I Am the Night'
This Quebec band formed in 2013 and have two releases out including 'I Am the Night'. Fans of Witchburner, early Venom and Deceased will love the hyper-thrash feel of Survival Instinct. Vocally, this is King Fowley with break-neck riffs and blender drums. It's energy for days and an album I've played a lot this year. My New Year's resolution might be to get fit enough to attend this band's live performance. Give me speeeeeed.

Honorable Mentions:
Angelus Apatrida - 'Cabaret de la Guillotine'
Erasement - 'Beyond Recovery'
Deathstorm - 'Reaping What is Left'
Annihilator - 'For the Demented'
Exit Smashed - 'Between Death and Death'




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