The 25 Best Thrash Metal Albums of All Time

by Bill Nihill and Mike Lawrence on July 2, 2014

Best-thrash-metal-albums-metaldescent

Thrash is the most popular form of heavy metal. From raw sales numbers data, thrash metal sells, and continues to be popular today.  This heavy and fast metal subgenre features major influences from NWOBHM and hardcore punk.  Some classic bands like Sepultura and Kreator and many of the newer generation thrash bands also borrow some from death metal.  There are bands like Pantera who consistently repeat these heavy and fast riffs within a song which helped to create the very popular thrash subcategory known as groove metal. Other subcategories include the heavily hardcore influenced crossover thrash, the mixed metalcore of neothrash and German palm muted Teutonic thrash.  While the majority of the albums featured on this list are from the 80’s and 90’s, bands from the 2000’s have carried on the torch of thrash metal like Battlecross, Skeletonwitch and Lamb Of God.

This was by far one of the most difficult lists we have ever had to put together.  There are so many great thrash albums out there that this list could have easily been 100 to 200 albums in length.  Naturally that means there should be a fair amount of debate about the list and we certainly welcome some respectful candor.  Because this was such a hard list to narrow down, there are a few albums that really should have made it into the top 25 but when all was said an done, we just did not have room for them.  Therefore we begin with 5 honorable mentions that just missed the cut.

  • Overkill – Horrorscope
  • Artillery – By Inheritance
  • Flotsam and Jetsam – Doomsday For The Deceiver
  • Sacred Reich – The American Way
  • Anthrax – Persistence Of Time

#25. Target Earth Voivod

voivod_target_earthThis is by far one of the newer albums on the list having been released in 2013, but there is no denying how spectacular Voivod’s sixteenth album truly is.  Target Earth seamlessly blends melodic vocals, progressive time signatures, thrash riffs and solos and amazing drumming.  The album has the amazing knack for being  all over the place in a very structured way.  No one really knew what this album would be like after the death of main songwriter Denis “Piggy” D’Amour.  However, Jean-Yves “Blacky” Theriault, who hadn’t written a song since 1991, and Daniel “Chewy” Mongrain, who was Piggy’s replacement picked up the slack without a hitch helping Target Earth to become one of the band’s most critically acclaimed albums to date.

#24. Act III – Death Angel

DeathAngel-act-III-best-thrash-albums-metaldescentAct III, released in 1990, is the third album from California thrash metal veterans Death Angel.  It may have been their most successful as Death Angel broke through onto MTV with the singles “Seemingly Endless Time” and “Room with a View”.  The album is also notorious for being the one that put an end to the band for 13 years.  During the tour for the album, the band was in a bus crash which critically injured drummer Andy Galeon.  It took him over a year to recover and in the meantime singer Mark Osegueda left the band causing them to dissolve.  Fortunately they reunited in 2004 and have been back together ever since.  However this album is still considered by many to be the band’s very best.

#23. Infernal Overkill – Destruction

destruction-infernal-overkill-best-thrash-metaldescentThis is the 1985 debut album from German Teutonic thrashers, Destruction.  The album was heavily influenced by Venom’s 1982 speed metal album Black Metal.  Much like their German brethren in Kreator and Sodom, the band was one of the first to infuse extreme metal into thrash.  In particular, Infernal Overkill featured a steady dose of black metal influence, most notably in the vocals of Marcel Schirmer.  Many consider this to be one of a few 80’s thrash efforts that paved the way for future thrash fusion artists like Skeletonwitch and Toxic Holocaust.  From here, the band released twelve more albums and are currently working on their next one.   After Infernal Overkill, the band did drop much of the black metal from their sound , but have still remained one of the more extreme thrash metal bands around.

#22. Vulgar Display of Power – Pantera

Pantera-best-thrash-albumsPantera’s 1992 album, Vulgar Display Of Power, is one of the most popular and sought after heavy metal albums of the 1990’s.  This is the album where the band really honed their signature sound and is considered the benchmark of the groove metal style.  The album arguably gave the world Pantera’s three most well know songs, “Walk”, “This Love” and “Mouth for War”.  This was one of the first extremely heavy albums to meet with a ton of mainstream success.  It has reached #44 on the Billboard 200 and has since hit double platinum status in the United States. For an album this heavy to be that successful at that time is saying a lot, as it came out when the popularity of heavy metal was in a steep decline due to the rise of grunge and alternative music. Vulgar Display Of Power continues to be one of the most influential metal albums ever and is consistently in many top heavy metal and thrash album lists.

#21.  Alice In Hell – Annihilator

alice-in-hell-annihilator-best-thrash-metaldescentAnnihilator debuted their Canadian brand of thrash metal with 1989’s Alice In Hell.  The album was heavily influenced by Voivod’s mixture of progressive metal and thrash.  However, Annihilator took things to the next level by adding in elements from technical death metal.  This particular album is seen as one of the first technical thrash albums. It has received critical praise from most for it’s extremely complicated song structures and flawless guitar riffs.  At the time, this album was certainly not as well understood by metal fans as it is today.  Now an entire generation of bands the likes of Revocation and Wretched all have aspects of Alice In Hell in their music.  Annihilator just released their fourteenth album in 2013 and they continue to receive a lot of praise from both fans and critics.

#20. The New Order – Testament

testament-the-new-order-best-thrash-albums-metaldescentThe New Order is the second album from California thrash masters, Testament.  This is the first album from the band that met with mainstream success as it featured the popular singles “Trial by Fire”, “The Preacher” and an amazing cover of Aerosmith‘s “Nobody’s Fault”.  The album reached number 136 on the Billboard 200 and is Testament’s longest charting album to date.  Many critics and fans alike consider this to be a close second to the band’s debut album The Legacy.  The band continues to play a lot of material from The New Order during live performances as these songs are always heavily requested by the fans.

#19. Hordes Of Chaos – Kreator

kreator-hordes-of-chaos-best-thrash-albums-metaldescentReleased in 2009, Hordes of Chaos is one of the newer albums from German extreme thrash legends, Kreator.  Much like the band’s second album, Pleasure To Kill, the album has a much more raw and heavy sound as it was recorded in a live setting.  Even though the band has been releasing albums since 1985 and had a decent level of popularity in the 1980’s, this was the first album to hit the Billboard charts in the United States debuting at #165.  It was one of the band’s highest rated albums amongst critics as it not only hearkened back to their 1980’s sound, but also built upon it with more modern elements of melodic death metal.  The album has been a major influence on current thrash acts, like Battlecross, who mix in a lot of guitar harmonization.  The band has since released Phantom Antichrist in 2012, which was much along the same lines as Hordes Of Chaos.  Phantom was nearly as good and was extremely difficult to leave off of this list.  If the band continues in this way, maybe more people will take notice and they will begin to get the respect they so richly deserve.

#18. Peace Sells… But Who’s Buying – Megadeth

Megadeth-peace-sells-best-thrash-albums-metaldescentHere we have the first appearance on a Big 4 band(Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer, Anthrax)  on our list and it’s a big one.  Peace Sells…But Who’s Buying may just be Megadeth’s most commercially popular album as it gave the world the very well known single “Peace Sells”.  The opening bass line to this track was used for years by MTV news and it is one of the band’s most requested live performances.  Along with Metallica’s Master of Puppets and Slayer’s Reign In Blood, which were all released in 1986 (wow what a year!), this album helped to bring notoriety to both thrash and extreme metal.  Those fans that had become disenfranchised with glam metal began following Megadeth in droves giving them a very large cult following.  In 2011 Megadeth, released a 2-disc 25th anniversary edition of the album that featured four additional tracks.   This is another album that is consistently on top heavy metal and thrash album lists, as it continues to be one of the most recognizable metal albums of all time.

#17. Arise – Sepultura

Sepultura-Arise-best-thrash-albums-metaldescentSepultura is the band that birthed death thrash with albums like Morbid Visions, Schizophrenia and Beneath The Remains.  However, it wasn’t until 1991, with the release of Arise, that the metal fans really began to take notice.  This was due in large part to the band beginning to branch out with their sound.  Sepultura began experimenting with industrial metal, hardcore and Brazilian native tribal music.  It was the band’s first album on the Billboard 200 at #119 and it has reached silver status in the United States.  Most agree that this is one of the band’s best albums. It is definitely the one that helped catapult their career, as subsequent albums like Chaos A.D. and Roots met with a fair amount of commercial success.  However, this will always be known as the album that got them to where they are today.

#16. Agent Orange – Sodom

sodom-agent-orange-best-thrash-albums-metaldescentHere’s yet another release from one of the Big 3 of German Teutonic thrash and it’s Sodom’s 1989 masterpiece Agent Orange.  Much of the album’s lyrical content deals with the Vietnam War and the heavy extreme thrash background is the perfect element to tell that story.  The album is easily the band’s most well known, due in large part to it’s cool name and memorable cover art.  However, it also gave the band one of their first popular singles in the form of the song “Ausgebombt”.  Sodom is a band that has always flown slightly under the radar, but they are certainly due a big amount of respect for consistently turning out amazingly heavy albums like Agent Orange.  Hopefully through lists like ours, the band will start to get more of the kudos that they deserve.

#15. Show No Mercy – Slayer

Slayer-Show-no-mercy-best-thrash-albums-metaldescentThis may have been the one that started it all.  Show No Mercy was certainly not the first thrash metal album ever and it was definitely not the first to infuse elements of extreme metal.  However, it certainly was one of the first thrash album to reach a modest level of popularity in the early 1980’s.  It became Metal Blade’s highest selling record ever at the time of its release.  To this day, it is still considered one of the heaviest and fastest albums of all time.  Many bands including Darkthrone and Immortal cite this album as the one that influenced them to begin mixing extreme metal subgenres.  Some current death metal acts even consider it the “blueprint” for the creation of death metal.  This is certainly not the signature Slayer sound that we have all become accustomed to, but along with Venom’s Black Metal, it is one of the most influential extreme metal albums of all time.

#14. Dimension Hatross – Voivod

voivod-dimension-hatross-best-thrash-albums-metaldescent1988’s Dimension Hatross is Voivod’s fourth album and second on which the band uses progressive elements.  The band began dabbling in progressive on their previous album Killing Technology, but this album marks the point where Voivod jumped head first into the progressive pool.  Dimension Hatross really helped to form who the band is and kicked off a long string of excellent, critically acclaimed albums.  It is a concept album split into two acts that tells the story of the band’s mascot Korgull.  Prior to this album, the industry had never heard music with such a seamless mix of speed and technical perfection.  This is widely regarded as one of the most influential and best progressive metal albums ever recorded.  This is the definitive album for any progressive or technical thrash band that came after it.

#13. So Far, So Good…So What! – Megadeth

Megadeth-sfsgsw-best-thrash-albums-metaldescentThis is one of the most severely overlooked albums in Megadeth’s discography. From the first track, the instrumental “Into the Lungs of Hell,” you can tell Megadeth have stepped up their heaviness from Peace Sells…But Who’s Buying. Compared to Countdown to Extinction, Rust in Peace, and Peace Sells, So Far So Good…So What! barely gets a mention, but don’t let that fool you. This is the sole record with underrated guitarist Jeff Young, who proves right from the get go he can live up the likes of Chris Poland and Mustaine himself. SFSGSW intensifies the guitar solos, has better production values, and offers a preview of the masterwork that Mustaine had up his sleeve in two short years (Rust in Peace). You’ll be hard pressed to find a thrashier track than “Set the World Afire.” This is followed by Megadeth’s cover of The Sex Pistols’ “Anarchy in the U.K.” The album has great tone in the rhythm guitar and throughout the album. Jeff Young really put his mark on this album in terms of sound and tone. Chuck Behler, also making his first and last appearance on a Megadeth album, while no Gar Samuelson, is pretty formidable.  “In My Darkest Hour” is a tribute to former Metallica band mate, Cliff Burton, which was written in one sitting. However, Metallica should take notes on how to write a real thrash-ballad here.

#12. Cowboys From Hell – Pantera

Pantera-cowboys-from-hell-best-thrash-albums-metaldescentOne of the most overlooked thrash riffs of all time is in the title track of the album, Cowboys From Hell.  Released in 1990, thrash got a hardcore makeover from the first real thrash album Pantera had released up until this point. By combining elements of thrash, hardcore, and traditional heavy metal, along with some of their own southern sludge, they came up with their own unique version of thrash which became known as groove metal. Countless others would piggyback on the style and capitalize on the movement, which would later evolve into nu metal in the late 90’s and early 2000’s, when most of “metal” bands had it wrong.  While this wasn’t their first album, Cowboys From Hell introduced us to the stylings of the late, great “Dimebag” Darrell Abbott, then known as “Diamond” Darrell.  It also  created the blueprint for the 1990’s Pantera sound.   This is the style the band built upon on the albums Vulgar Display Of Power and Far Beyond Driven both of which literally blew the doors of mainstream metal off their hinges.

#11. Master Of Puppets – Metallica

Metallica-Master-of-Puppets-best-thrash-albums-metaldescentOh yes, you’ll see this album generically plopped on the top of many “top thrash albums” lists, but let’s be real here.  There’s no denying its popularity as it has gone platinum 6 times in the United States and it is hailed by many outside of metal as being one of the best metal albums ever. Master of Puppets is no doubt a masterpiece. It definitely has its heavier moments, but is the majority of it really thrash metal, or just very well written heavy metal? While “Battery” “Master of Puppets,” “Damage INC” and “Disposable Heroes” are the exceptions here, the other half of the album isn’t as much thrash as it is great heavy metal.If you’re going to rate a Metallica album on its thrashiness, this one doesn’t come close to Kill ‘Em All, but its legacy speaks for itself.  In terms of influence, Master of Puppets truly mattered and struck a chord with the largest audience of any thrash metal band. Metallica’s following grew and grew after Master of Puppets. The bulk of their success is really derived from this one single album in terms of legacy and impact.

#10. The Years Of Decay – Overkill

overkill-the-years-of-decay-best-thrash-albums-metaldescentWith the exception of Anthrax, East Coast thrash is often overlooked.  Overkill is one of those bands that sometimes gets passed over, but there’s no denying the longevity of their amazing thrash career.  The band has released sixteen excellent albums with their seventeenth coming in 2014, but their 1989 album The Years Of Decay still stands as the best one of their career.  The album reached #155 on the Billboard 200.  Because of this album, the band gained some popularity which helped their next release Horrorscope reach #29 on the charts.  The Years Of Decay easily contains the bands best songwriting and most well played, ripping riffs.  Their popularity has declined some in recent years, although I have no idea why.  Overkill is definitely one of the best and most consistent thrash bands of all time and The Years Of Decay is one of the top 2-3 East Coast thrash albums period.

#9. Among The Living – Anthrax

Anthrax-Among-The-Living-best-thrash-albums-metaldescentIt was difficult to only have one Anthrax album on the list, but as we said this was definitely the hardest list to narrow down so far.  If there was only room for one, Among The Living had to be it.  This is by far the band’s most well respected effort amongst the die hard fans and has given the world classic thrash songs like “Indians” and “Caught In A Mosh”.  This album also focused on the band’s fun loving, less serious side as they began wearing surfer clothes and most of the lyrical themes dealt with comic books and movies.  At the time critics took this silliness to be a lack of effort, but more contemporary reviewers have since gone back and pointed out why this is one of the band’s most well written and well executed albums.  The band has since released a deluxe edition of the album in 2009 and even played it in its entirety on tour in 2013.  Critical feedback is always taken into account when rating an album.  However the opinions of the band’s fans always count the most, which is what makes Among The Living Anthrax’s best album.

#8. Kill Em All – Metallica

metallica-kill-em-all-best-thrash-albums-metaldescentOne could say that Metallica’s Kill ‘Em All is their only true foray into thrash territory. Yes, they’ve been labeled as one of the “Big 4” bands of thrash, but when it comes to pure thrash, they included less and less of it on their albums after Kill ‘Em All. That’s not to say that the albums immediately after this one aren’t great — they are. They just progressively get less thrashy.  Kill ‘Em All, on the other hand, is a pure masterwork of voracious thrash genius. Nothing is as fast or as heavy as the material on this particular album. If you’ve forgotten how heavy it is, go back and give it another listen. Recorded back in the day when the band was truly a garage band, the raw intensity pelts you in the face with “Hit the Lights” and plows onward to “The Four Horsemen.”  Maybe they can’t play this fast anymore. Maybe it was all Mustaine’s and Cliff Burton’s early influence. Whatever the case may be, this is a very different band than you hear on St. Anger and Death Magnetic, and this is their most “thrash” release of them all.

#7. The Legacy – Testament

Testament-The-Legacy-best-thrash-albums-metaldescentThis is Testament’s 1987 debut album and it may also be their best album to date.  It’s funny, but most of the lyrics on the album were written by Steve Souza as he was the band’s original singer before moving on to Exodus.  After the release of this album, Testament gained instant respect from both thrash metal fans and bands worldwide.  At this point they were compared a lot to Metallica, although Testament was much more traditional thrash than Metallica was at the time. They were able to continue this success on their next album The New Order which we featured earlier on our list.  The Legacy is chock full of excellent riffs, great song arrangements and the signature harsher vocals of Chuck Billy.  This is not the extreme thrash of the German bands or Slayer, but it was definitely one of the heavier thrash albums of the 1980’s.

#6. Beneath The Remains – Sepultura

Sepultura-Beneath-The Remains-best-thrash-albums-metaldescentAccording to Max Cavalera, Sepultura’s third album released in 1989 is where the band finally “found their style”.  Their previous two releases were good, but were a bit all over the place and had very low production values.  On Beneath The Remains, the band’s songwriting improved by leaps and bounds and the production was worlds better.  This means that more fans began to take notice of the young Brazilian thrashers and their unique death thrash sound.  The songs “Inner Self” and “Mass Hypnosis” are perfect examples of well written and heavy death thrash tunes.  Over the years as the band’s style began to change into more of a groove metal sound, fans began to go back and listen to their older material for some thrash nostalgia.  In doing so, people began to see the major merit of what had once been a cult classic album.  Now Beneath The Remains is considered a thrash classic and the band’s best album of all time.

#5. Reign in Blood – Slayer

slayer-reign-in-blood-best-thrash-albums-metaldescentFor most, this is the quintessential Slayer album.  After years of mixing thrash, speed metal, hardcore and death metal, the band finally created the signature sound they are now known for with their 1986 magnum opus Reign In Blood.  This was the band’s first collaboration with accomplished producer Rick Rubin, so naturally the riffs, writing and production were much tighter than on the band’s previous releases.  However, they were still able to maintain the raw and heavy sound that set them apart from most other thrash bands.  It was Slayer’s first album to chart on Billboard at #94 and it was certified gold in the U.S. six years after its release.  The great combination of underground metal with top notch producing finally made extreme metal music accessible to the masses helping to give a boost to many thrash and death metal bands of the time.  Although it received no radio airplay, the album boasts two of Slayer’s best and most well known songs “Angel of Death” and “Raining Blood”.  This album is a testament to how underground tape trading can quickly blow up big.  Reign In Blood is now considered on of the most influential metal albums of all time, as its graphic lyrics and images have influenced artists everywhere from extreme metal to rap music and beyond.

#4. Bonded By Blood – Exodus

exodus-bonded-by-blood-best-thrash-albums-metaldescentBonded By Blood is the 1985 debut from Bay Area thrashers Exodus.  It is regarded by many, along with Kill ‘Em All and Show No Mercy, as one of the albums that began the initial launch of thrash’s popularity.  The mainstream metal fan may not know this album as well as some others, but the majority of metal bands know the enormous impact that this album had on thrash and on the whole metal scene in general.  Even many contemporary thrash fans are either unaware of this album’s existence or have passed it over in favor of Exodus’ later albums.  This was the first album to feature the guitar solo trade-off which is now commonplace in metalcore, neo-thrash and some melodic death metal.  This was also the only album to feature original lead singer Paul Baloff on vocals.  The band has had a few other singers over time, so you can definitely tell the huge difference that his singing style made on this album. It’s sad that more metal fans have not checked out this album, but it will always be considered one of the most influential thrash albums ever by those in the know.

#3. Ride The Lightning – Metallica

Metallica-Ride-The-Lightning-best-thrash-albums-metaldescentMetallica will never come close to the beautiful Ride the Lightning album of 1984, which is largely seen as their second-best or best effort. From a perspective of pure thrash, Ride the Lightning trumps Master of Puppets for intensity. Perhaps it’s because some of the riffs were leftovers from when Mustaine was in the band, or maybe it was because they were simply at their hungriest. They needed this album to be a success, and they had the talents of Cliff Burton at their disposal. You can hear the big improvement in songwriting between Kill ‘Em All and Ride the Lightning. The band sounds more mature, and the thrash sounds more developed.  This is the album that showed everyone that you can mix raw fast thrash with great production and well written slower tempos.  RTL is as powerful and moody as Kill ‘Em All is raw and genre defining. Take one listen to “Fight Fire With Fire” or the title track and you’ll immediately know why this album has remained so popular over the decades.  Ride the Lightning also just happens to be on our top selling metal albums list. Even though this album never came close to topping the charts, it’s one of Metallica’s most commercially successful, raking in over 6 million sales according to the RIAA. In terms of pure thrash, that makes this the second best selling thrash album ever after Master of Puppets.

#2. Rust In Peace – Megadeth

Megadeth-Rust-In-Peace-best-thrash-albums-metaldescentMegadeth had some tumultuous years leading up to the 1990 thrash masterpiece Rust In Peace. Chuck Behler’s drum tech, Nick Menza, was given a promotion to fill in the vacant slot when he was fired from the band. To fill in Jeff Young’s spot, Mustaine interviewed a number of guitarists, one of which was “Dimebag” Darrell Abbott. Ultimately, it was Marty Friedman who would land the position, which added the most virtuosity, talent, and technicality of any Megadeth lineup to date. With their definitive Rust In Peace era lineup now in place, the band recorded their album, which began with the classic track “Holy Wars… The Punishment Due.” From a musical standpoint, this song sets the tone of the album, which has many progressive elements. The song isn’t standard thrash riffing, and maintains as much harmonization and melody as possible. Everyone just sounds really inspired, energetic, and furious on this track. This is Megadeth at their absolute peak.  The second track, “Hangar 18,” like “Holy Wars,” was released as a single. The video featured UFO, Area 51, and alien conspiracy theories coupled with some lookalike actors portraying the most prominent world leaders of the time. Friedman gets to really show off here, dueling back and forth with Mustaine in a harmonizing fury. Throughout the rest of the album, songs contained odd time signatures, a stockpile of incredible riffs, angry Mustaine lyrics, and the fastest we may ever hear Megadeth again. In 2010, Megadeth toured to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Rust in Peace, playing every track from the album.  This is truly one of the best thrash albums of all time and it came out at a time when metal’s popularity was at  its peak, so the fact that the band didn’t just mail it in is amazing in itself.

#1. Pleasure To Kill – Kreator

Kreator-Pleasure-to-Kill-best-thrash-albums-metaldescentBet you thought a Big 4 band was going to occupy this spot.  Well for our money and for many others, Kreator’s 1986 album Pleasure To Kill, has done a lot more for the totality of the thrash metal genre than the Big 4 bands best albums combined.  This is the album that death metal, black metal and thrash bands alike can all agree on as being the biggest influence on all extreme metal.  The band members were all big fans of speed metal/NWOBHM band, Venom, and took their extreme speed metal sound to the next level and beyond.  You can find ways in which this album influenced pretty much every single subcategory of extreme metal from Mille Petrozza’s death metal and black metal style vocals to Jurgen Reil’s hyper fast blast beat drumming.  There is even some palm muting and progressive elements that surely paved the way for bands like Meshuggah, The Dillinger Escape Plan and Protest The Hero.   On top of all of that, the album is also amongst the most well written and perfectly executed thrash albums of all time.  The songs are all excellent headbangers that will keep you listening to the album on repeat.  For some reason Kreator has never really gotten the respect that they truly deserve.  Much of this is probably due to the fact that the Big 4 bands were all hugely popular in America at the time, vastly overshadowing Kreator.  We are now giving respect to the one thrash band that influenced a myriad of thrash and metal albums and artists moreso than probably anyone in the history of thrash.

What did you think of the list?  Did your favorites make the cut?  What albums would you add or subtract?  What is your #1 favorite thrash album of all time?  Tell us in the comments section.

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{ 69 comments… read them below or add one }

Ann July 2, 2014 at 1:34 pm

I was expecting to see By inheritance by Artillery

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DerelictEarth July 2, 2014 at 4:56 pm

Yeah it’s an absolutely fantastic album and terribly underrated.
Demolition Hammer’s Epidemic of Violence should be here too, and definitely not Hordes of Chaos …

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Tatong Imburnal July 2, 2014 at 8:32 pm

I ABSOLUTELY AGREE! Demolition Hammer should be up here!

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Joao July 2, 2014 at 9:41 pm

Fine choice indeed.

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P. Vlasman July 2, 2014 at 3:29 pm

Great list! One can always discuss this or that but this actually could be my own list. But… there is a but.. No Dark Angel.. Darkness Descends or Leave Scars? They have got to be there somewhere! 🙂

Grtz Peter
Eindhoven, Netherlands

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Damjan July 2, 2014 at 6:13 pm

i wanted to say exactly the same.
Dark Angel should have been on the list.

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Dezza July 3, 2014 at 11:16 am

Agreed!

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Dman July 3, 2014 at 1:22 pm

Darkness Descends !

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Grimlock July 2, 2014 at 3:30 pm

I love #1 on this list. However, no album by Pantera should be listed here… especially the snoozefest that is “Vulgar Display Of Power”… not thrash at all. Overall, solid list though.

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Mike Lawrence July 2, 2014 at 3:47 pm

Groove metal is a subcategory of thrash. Check it out here: http://metaldescent.com/thrash-metal/#groovemetal

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Pedro Resende July 2, 2014 at 4:14 pm

Vio-lence’s Eternal Nightmare should have beed added to that list, and their second album too the also awesome Opressing the Masses, bur Eternal Nightmare is just as intense as Reign in Blood, it has a killer production and artwork by Ed. Repka and yet almost never gets the recognition it deserves.
Why includ two Pantera and Kreator albuns and not include Thrash classic albuns like Eternal Nightmare, Darkness Descends, Ignorance, Handle with Care etc etc…

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Chris Schickedanz July 2, 2014 at 4:14 pm

Awesome list! I owned over 80% of your list thru my life and carry 3-4 with me all the time on my smartphone. Pleasure to Kill defiantly is a number one. I remember playing this album at a party and how everyone was totally into it. Great list!!!!

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Ezekiel July 2, 2014 at 4:28 pm

The most glaring omission is VIO-LENCE “Eternal Nightmare.” It is one of the most aggressive pure thrash albums of all time and polarized thrash fans everywhere.

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Fredrik July 2, 2014 at 4:45 pm

Machine head? Testaments the gathering? Oh well. Cool list. Not to preditible. I like that!

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Dries July 2, 2014 at 4:47 pm

Solid list. Very well written too. I would substract Beneath the Remains and Target Earth. Add Metal Church’s debut and Death Angel’s Ultraviolence. Credits to Master of Disguise by Savage Grace.

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Memin July 4, 2014 at 10:42 am

I was totally missing Metal Church. Their two first albums (you only mention the first one) are awesome. If instrumental songs are very important (like Into The Lungs of Hell from Megadeth or Orion from Metallica), then the two albums you mention MUST be in here: “Merciless onslaught” by Metal Church and of course “The Ultraviolence” by Death Angel
Thanks bro

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Schuldiner July 2, 2014 at 4:59 pm

MUNICIPAL WASTE-THE ART OF PARTYING
MOTHERFUCKERS!!!!!!!

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AleXlayer July 2, 2014 at 5:22 pm

Great List! but missed albums as Dark Angel – Darkness Descends, Onslaught – The Force, Vio-lence – Eternal Nightmare and other more underground bands like Infernal Majesty, Devastation (Idolatry) or Pestilence (in the debut album), but good job…
I’m Sorry but Pantera isn’t Thrash Metal

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Mike Lawrence July 2, 2014 at 8:02 pm

Thanks for the kind words. Again Pantera is Grove Metal aka Groove Thrash Metal which is a subcategory of thrash, much like neo-thrash, Teutonic Thrash and Crossover Thrash. It is another variation of thrash. It repeats the “money” part of the thrash riff. Look at other Best Thrash lists. Many include Pantera. http://metaldescent.com/thrash-metal/#groovemetal

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dave July 2, 2014 at 5:30 pm

Overkill Horrors cope is far superior to years of decay IMO. I’m 38yo and have been listen to them since Taking Over (also better then YOD). Sorry

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Buca July 3, 2014 at 3:04 am

I would even put WFO or Bloodletting before YOD.

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Memin July 4, 2014 at 10:45 am

Please listen “I hate” from YOD and then we could all talk.
(Skullcrusher is not a good song for me but the rest, fucking good)

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ElDemonio July 2, 2014 at 5:58 pm

Finally one list that is not about jerking off to the so called b i g f o u r.
There is so much justice in it.

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ChewTheBacca July 2, 2014 at 6:37 pm

This is one the best lists I’ve seen! I agree mostly with all of it, except for Pantera. The only album they have that qualifies as “thrash” is Cowboys from Hell, and only just barely. I might replace Death Angel’s “Act Three” with “The Ultra-Violence.” Kreator’s “Coma of Souls” is waaaay better than “Hordes of Chaos” too. Oh, and P. Vlasman is correct, nothing beats “Darkness Descends” by Dark Angel. NOTHING is more thrash than that. Peace!

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Daniel July 2, 2014 at 6:45 pm

A masterpiece by one of my favorite bands …

PESTILENCE – Malleus Maleficarum

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Joao July 2, 2014 at 9:39 pm

This list is somewhat relevant, but less relevant than more. The ups: most classics are here, but that by itself is somewhat been there done that. I’m impressed that “Alie in Hell” made the list, it’s indeed one of techno thrash’s finest moments. Voivod should always be portrayed by “Killing Technology”, another prog-techno diamond and the band’s best effort to date. But the downers are way too many: you forgot Coroner, Living Death, Nuclear Assault, Exhorder, Morbid Saint, Sadus, Rigor Mortis, Holy Terror, Protector and millions of others that deserve to be on the list. Then, Pantera was never thrash, even though I love them. As for number one, and especially because I’m a teutonic thrash lover, I’ll have to take my hat off – along with “Obsessed by Cruelty”, “Infernal Overkill” and “Urm the Mad”, “Pleasure to Kill” is certainly the epitome of thrash. Fuck the typical american thrash, way too clean, way too melodic, way too girlie – exceptions made to the above mentioned.

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M Ramirez July 2, 2014 at 9:41 pm

Cool list and in agreement with much of it, but like others I would trash the notion that Pantera is thrash. I wouldn’t even call them ‘groove metal’. I initially thought of them as power metal and subsequently jock rock. Regardless of what they became, any band with its roots in glam doesn’t belong alongside the likes of Metallica, Testament, Slayer, etc in an all time best trash list IMO.
I personally have been completely soured on Megadeth as a result of the ass-hat that Dave Mustaine has become. I can still hear the merits of Peace Sells and So Far So Good…and can’t fault their inclusion, but I just can’t get myself to listen to their stuff anymore. Their discography has been tarnished for me.
Myself, I would fill in the Pantera and Megadeth gaps with Whiplash’s “Power and Pain”, Morbid Saint’s “Spectrum of Death”, and Possessed’s “Seven Churches” (unless you’re the sort to consider them death metal).
A bold list none-the-less, kudos on it!

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Dezza July 3, 2014 at 11:19 am

Agree completely re Megadeth/Mustaine

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Ramirez July 2, 2014 at 10:18 pm

Destruction”Release From Agony” should be in the first place..!!!

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Arjun July 2, 2014 at 11:08 pm

Good list, but Darkness Descends should have been at least in the top 5.
Can’t help but agree about Pantera with the other posters, they don’t deserve to be anywhere near a list of Thrash Metal greats.

Overall a good list.

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Theriondevotee July 2, 2014 at 11:13 pm

I kind of agree with most of the choices, but somehow great albums were overlooked:
1. Dark Angel’s Time does not heal
2. Vendetta’s Brain damage
3. Paradox’s Heresy
4. Midas Touch’s Presage of disaster
5. Sabbat’s History of a time to come
6. DBC’s Universe
7. Flotsam and Jetsam’s No place for disgrace
8. Sacred Reich’ The American way
9. Intruder’s A offer firm of killing
10. Nuclear Assault’s Handier with care
To name a few…

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oskar July 3, 2014 at 4:47 am

And the modern time is up by Havok???

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Ezekiel July 3, 2014 at 9:49 am

Demolition Hammer are incredible, but I would consider them more of a death metal band. The do walk the line though.

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Dezza July 3, 2014 at 11:16 am

Everyone is entitled to their opinion, and for the most part, BILL NIHILL AND MIKE LAWRENCE have this list of 25 albums not too far off the mark, but there seems to be an EXTREME bias towards Megadeth. Not only are 3 of Megadeth’s albums in the top 25, but they also mention that Mustaine is one of the reasons for Metallica’s early success. This is MY opinion, but Megadeth, and to a lesser extent Dave Mustaine, are so overrated it still leaves me gobsmacked when they are brought up in comparisons and ratings of who the best thrash bands are! Destruction’s Eternal Devastation – where is that in the top 25? Coroner’s RIP and/or Punishment for Decadence – where are they? Sodom’s Persecution Mania – where is that? I could go on forever, but Megadeth are NOT deserving enough to have 3 albums in the top 25 best thrash albums of all time!

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Paul York February 7, 2016 at 9:53 pm

I quite agree with you (on the Megadeth thing) and looked up the ones you mentioned. Great albums! Thanks. Listening to them now off of Youtube. Awesome. I had already heard Destruction though, and liked it a lot. I used to collect these back in the 80s on vinyl when they came out, but lost the collection and am listening to them again, 3 decades later. I still love this stuff.

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JPG July 3, 2014 at 12:07 pm

Not a bad list but my Top 3 for Thrash would have been:

1. Master of Puppets (Metallica)
2. Rust in Peace (Megadeth)
3. Seasons in the Abyss (Slayer) – not even in the top 25!?

Also missing is Testament’s Practice What You Preach, which for me is their best… but to each their own I guess…

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Ivan Kolov July 28, 2016 at 1:23 am

Metallica belongs on no lists of mine. Horrible vocals, bad song writing. And the whole Napster thing. Screw you Lars.

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Carla Carvajal July 3, 2014 at 12:08 pm

DEfinitavemnte! tremendas bandas!!! YEAHHHH!

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Damnable Reverend July 3, 2014 at 12:49 pm

I find no point in getting all passionate about these sorts of lists; they are just diverting and a fun read/perspective sometimes. That said, I’m very hhappy about Pleasure to Kill making the number 1 spot. i don’t think Kreator are overlooked as such but certainly they could do to represent this album a little more in their live sets! I’m not really into Megadeth or Anthrax but I can’t say their inclusions are a surprise as such. The big surprise though was Death Angel’s Act III. I honestly thought most thrash fans dismissed this album. In fact I never saw anything very special about this band’s 80s material (the stuff that was actually thrash anyway) at all, though I’ve been curious about their reunion and may check out an album someday.

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Arandy July 3, 2014 at 12:50 pm

Forbidden – Forbidden Evil?! Vio-lence?! Reign In Blood before Exodus?! That’s insane. Kreator #1? I like Kreator but wow.

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Steve Cardin July 3, 2014 at 1:37 pm

I think Forced Entry should be on this list and D.R.I. as well.

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john July 3, 2014 at 3:26 pm

I agree with many of the comments but to nail down 25 would be difficult. So many good albums to choose from. In no particular order these should have had ho or able mention:

Destructor- Maximum Destruction
Razor – Evil Invaders
Death-Scream Bloody Gore
Living Death-Protected from Reality
Mekong Delta-The Music of Erich Zann
Possessed-Seven Churches
Iron Angel-Hellish Crossfire
Running wild- Gates to Purgatory
Grave Digger – war Games

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alex bob July 3, 2014 at 4:24 pm

Hello

i really was surprised to find all of them in my CD amount 🙂

but i some i missed here a Little :

SLAYER – South of Heaven
PROTECTOR – A shedding of Skin + Ther heritage
HOLY TERROR – Terror & Submission
MELIAH RAGE – Solitary Solitude
ONSLAUGHT – The force

from that time i also really love
PESTILENCE – Consuming Impulse
the first CD i ever bought 🙂

I really hope for a remastered Version of the pleasure to kill 😉

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alex bob July 3, 2014 at 4:31 pm

DESPAIR- Decay of humanity ?

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@pentor July 3, 2014 at 5:47 pm

I say switch Master of Puppets and Pleasure To Kill

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Krisu July 3, 2014 at 6:00 pm

Props for creating a non-generic list, (ie. Master of Puppets, Rust in Peace and Reign in Blood not making the top three) it shows that you actually know thrash. I still have to agree that Pantera shouldn’t be on this list – not really because they aren’t that much thrash, but simply as the albums aren’t that good from starts to finish. Agreed, both do have truly great metal songs, but as a whole, they are pretty inconsistent. Then, So Far So Good So What is definitely not as good either, as a whole. Same applies to Hordes of Chaos, Coma of Souls or Extreme Aggression are *definitely* better albums than that. Demolition Hammer, Dark Angel and Coroner sbsolutely should have made it to this list. Still, I like your list, as it isn’t a typical one and I can agree with many of the choices, I basically never see Alice in Hell or Infernal Overkill on these lists. Talking about new thrash, Vektor is a one band you must not miss.

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Dominic Bishop July 3, 2014 at 7:05 pm

Pretty good list overall, however Rust In Peace should be #1. Glad to see So Far.. listed though. However I do think overall Never, Neverland is far superior in every way to Alice In Hell. Also, Pantera aren’t thrash, instead of their two albums I would maybe have listed some Onslaught, Xentrix, or maybe even Re-Animator, or Forbidden!!!!!!!! How about some more British thrash??

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Freddy July 3, 2014 at 11:13 pm

And DARK ANGEL with Darkness Descends?

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Desecrator July 4, 2014 at 2:37 am

Exhorder Slaughter In The Vatican should be top 2.

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Shiron July 4, 2014 at 12:00 pm

I was kind of hoping Coroner’s No More Color or Punishment for Decadence were there. Definitely deserving. Violator, Vektor, Paradox, Toxik, Vio-Lence, and Deathrow (If only for their incredible “Deception Ignored” album) all have some killer works as well that may have deserved a mention. Decent list over all though, albeit severely lacking in new releases by any new bands. There are some amazing newer thrash acts, Violator and Vektor being some prime examples.

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Nick July 4, 2014 at 4:16 pm

I agree that Darkness Descends from Dark Angel needs to be listed within the top ten. Also, Kreator’s Enemy of God is a superior disc to Hordes of Chaos. Personally, I think Killing Technology was a superior Voivod disc to the ones listed here. If you’re going to include Pantera, then why not Celtic Frost? Where’s Sacred Reich? Forbidden? Vio-lence? Too many of the Big 4 listed here!

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Damnable Reverend July 6, 2014 at 11:22 am

I noticed you’ve given a lot of consideration to which thrash albums might have had the biggest influence on “extreme metal” styles. Well, with that in mind, I think the Slayer album that should really be here is not South of Heaven and of course not Seasons in the Abyss, but Hell Awaits! Since we’re not counting EPs on this list, this was the first Slayer album to use non-standard tuning. It was heavier and faster than what came before, but also more than just NWOBHM on speed (which is essentially what we got with the great Show No Mercy)….no, this is something darker, more twisted, evil. Listen to the bridge section of “Crypts of Eternity” and tell me that didn’t influence plenty of death metal. The title track may be one of the fastest things recorded up to that point, but that ominous pounding intro is sure like nothing that was released before 1985.
With all that said, it is perhaps strangest of all that celtic Frost is not on this list. However, I almost think even their debut is already more death metal than thrash….

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vincent bellemare July 8, 2014 at 6:55 am

What about scandinavia….mercyful fate and bathory are pionners! how can we forget that!

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jamie craig July 24, 2014 at 6:51 pm

Megadeth def has a major influence in,thrash, love them or,hate them,they dont care thats what is great about megadeth. Overall great list

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alex bob August 2, 2014 at 5:18 am

very good comments here LIKE :-)… need to upgrade my CD stuff a little 🙂

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Harry H October 14, 2014 at 9:53 pm

Vio-Lence – Eternal Nightmare = The most underrated Thrash album of all time. Should be on all lists.

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Mark Eglinton October 23, 2014 at 9:34 am

Good list – Ride The Lightning is the best thrash album ever though and there’s probably room for more Dark Angel and less Pantera – who I can never really view as a thrash band.

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Mark Eglinton October 23, 2014 at 9:35 am

…and of all the Death Angel albums, I’d go for ‘The Ultraviolence’ as opposed to the good but less obviously thrashy ‘Act III’

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mitch murley January 3, 2015 at 7:11 am

Ok i do see some great albums, however where is far beyond driven. This should have been the number one all time metal album.

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Zema January 3, 2015 at 11:58 am

Sacrifice – Forward to Termination

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my2cents April 3, 2015 at 10:41 am

Solid list overall. Here are my 2 cents anyway.

I would really like to know how on earth Kreator’s Pleasure To Kill deserve this spot. Reign In Blood belongs there, period. Much more conventional choice ? It surely is ! And so what ?
Don’t get me wrong Pleasure To Kill is a more than decent album, obviously pure Thrash speed-wise & intensity-wise. However guitars solos couldn’t be messier, drums -though good- are absolutely not on Lombardo’s level and same goes with vocals. As every single album on the list, it’s just no match for the violence, insanity, consistency and yet variety that Reign In Blood offers.
As for Exodus’s Bonded By Blood, well… should not crack the top 15 as far as I’m concerned. But never liked Exodus so I admittedly biased on this one.

Again, this is a solid list overall. I guess all flavors are in nature and everyone has its own interpretation of what Thrash is/should be.

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Keith October 2, 2015 at 7:55 pm

i think ya shoulda limited it to one album per group, then just listed that bands’ other classics in order of killerness in the description of the one album to make the cut. that would let you cover a lot more cool hands! i missed SOD, DRI, Nuclear Assault, Suicidal, and Death Angel, besides the bands that everyone else mentioned.

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legtraniii November 18, 2015 at 3:46 pm

No Darkness Descends… list is invalid.

Also, first Testament album not nearly as good as second.

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Axe of Deth February 18, 2016 at 12:27 am

First of all, I would have to admit that overall it’s a pretty well rounded list, and at least you didn’t just automatically give the top spot to Metallica out of some false sense of obligation that people for some reason still feel. If you ask me, Metallica should have been kicked out of the “Big 4” a long time ago, and Testament is more than deserving of taking that spot. Secondly, it seems like there was a little too much effort made to not choose what’s more popular, and in doing so I think the list ultimately suffers the fate of utter inaccuracy. Let’s be honest, Rust in Peace is the top of the list, period the end. I don’t care how you feel about Dave Mustaine personally, there has never been another album put together as well as RIP. It has been the achilles heel of generations of would be shredders looking to get their chops on the fastest, most technically proficient riffs and licks they could find. There is no argument, RIP is THE masterpiece of thrash metal. There’s a reason why Kreator can’t dedicate an entire world tour to Pleasure to Kill 30 years later and sell out every venue across the globe, and Megadeth can with Rust In Peace. It’s not just main stream popularity, it’s because everyone knows and understands that Rust In Peace is what we want to hear. It’s the same reason that Megadeth have not been able to live up to it with anything they have done since. It’s like an actor being typecast, Dave’s been battling the “everyone wants another Rust In Peace, but I could never recreate that” issue ever since they released it. I will say that he has done a spectacular job lately with getting back to that caliber of song writing, and if you haven’t heard it yet, Dystopia is the best thing they have done since (minus one track).

Oh, and for everything bad you could say about Mustaine (yeah everyone knows he’s sometimes a dick), this should in no way take away from the contribution he has made to thrash metal. With no Mustaine there is no thrash [stick your girlfriends bloody show right here]
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EsPt1OOZuYY

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Planor April 7, 2016 at 9:55 am

Where is Sepultura’s beneath the remains or Arise? Both criminally underrated.

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Mario June 15, 2016 at 6:16 am

Very good list. I could sign it. I missed only a few of my favourites albums: ‘The gathering’ from Testament is a complete masterpiece. Don’t be afraid to include albums from 2000 onwards in the list. I also missed ‘Time is up’ from Havok, ‘Burn my eyes’ and ‘the blackening’ from Machine Head. Also missed ‘season in the abyss’ from Slayer.
I love ‘Pleasure to kill’ because it is in your face, a storm of thrash but maybe the best Kreator album is ‘Extreme agression’ with jewels as ‘betrayer’, ‘love us or hate us’, ‘some pain will last’, ‘no reason to exist’…and I think that top one should be for ‘Rust in peace’, ‘bonded by blood’, ‘The legacy’, ‘the new order’ or ‘reign in blood’ any of these 5 masterpieces can deser ve the thtone.

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METAL4LIFE June 30, 2016 at 4:18 am

Glad to see Kreator make this list. What a fucking kickass band, I hope to see them one day. I know that it was released in 2012 and hasn’t had much time to be considered as “one of the best thrash albums” just yet, but people need to hear Kreator’s Phantom Antichrist, every song on there is a brilliant masterpiece.

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Nina July 21, 2016 at 5:38 pm

I’m missing Dark Angel – Darkness Descends!

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Dr. Rock August 5, 2016 at 12:27 am

Lists that limit to one album per band make more sense.

Should’ve been included:
Dark Angel – Darkness Descends (How could this NOT be there…)
Sabbat – Dreamweaver (Don’t know how this doesn’t make more lists – a top 5 for me personally, along with the above…)

Vio-lence (Eternal Nightmare) and Forbidden (Twisted Into Form) probably belong as well.

I personally would call Sepultura DM more than thrash, but this is where the lines blur a bit.
Other stuff –
Never understood the Annihilator love –
If you’re going to put Death Angel there, it needs to be The Ultra Violence.
Act III was too inconsistent.

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