The tremendous impact that thrash has had on metal’s history is undeniable. Without thrash, we wouldn’t have the foundation of heavy metal as we know it today.
In the ’80s, it’s fair to say that thrash metal was one of the most popular genres in music as a whole. As time has gone on, thrash has continued to survive throughout metal’s evolution, to the point that nowadays, the genre is experiencing an awesome revival.
Much like our greatest death metal albums feature, we decided to spin a plethora of records until we were able to confirm the 10 greatest thrash metal albums of all time. Considering some relatively recent albums and some classics, here are those records.
Ride the Lightning – Metallica
Before the band ever exploded in the mainstream, they released two thrash classics that feature a much more raw sound from them. Of those releases, Ride the Lighting is their standout album, and easily one of thrash’s greatest records. Coming off of Kill ‘Em All, the record features a greater technical sophistication from Metallica, which in turn made Ride the Lighting a much more thrilling experience. Even to this day, while the band is still heavy, this album both captures and presents a ferocity that many fans miss from Metallica.
South of Heaven – Slayer
One of the scariest and heaviest records to come out of thrash is, without a doubt, South of Heaven. As one of the Big Four, Slayer has crafted a plethora of amazing albums, but South of Heaven is their greatest achievement. As their fourth LP, the record features an astounding sense of atmosphere and theatricality; the opening self-titled track is an excellent introduction to the ominous sonic environment the band presents throughout South of Heaven. Throw in a bunch of super aggressively charged cuts, and you have one hell of a roaring thrash experience.
Nightmare Logic – Power Trip
When it comes to the relatively younger bands that have not only revitalized thrash but have also built upon the genre, Power Trip leads the pack. By integrating more prominent hardcore aggression into their songwriting, Power Trip has brought such a refreshing take of sonic extremity to today’s scene. Besides their minor uses of slow tempos that build up theatricality, the band has masterfully crafted compositions that roar forward with an ultra-high tempo. Put on Nightmare Logic and try to not stay still – $5 bucks says you will at least be bobbing your head (at minimum). It’s that electric.
Beneath the Remains – Sepultura
In the Max Cavalera era of Sepultura, Beneath the Remains was easily one of the best records the band created. Delivering blistering speed and menacing-sounding riffs, Beneath the Remains stands today as one of the most extreme records to come out of the thrash genre. By weaving in plenty of death metal touches throughout each song, Sepultura crafted an album far more exhilarating than most of its contemporaries, and it still sounds heavy as hell today.
Among the Living – Anthrax
While also offering audiences speedy thrashing riffs, Anthrax also brought an awesome hardcore mentality to thrash. Among the Living is not only a brilliant gateway album into thrash metal – for those who got their start in punk and hardcore – but it’s also an incredible presentation of crossover. The influence that this record has had on metal as a whole is profound – just take a look at the domineering popularity hardcore and crossover are experiencing today.
Bonded by Blood – Exodus
Bonded by Blood is one of the most important thrash metal albums of all time, and your favorite heavy metal musician probably shares a similar opinion. This debut Exodus album isn’t just an amazing experience packing a boatload of exhilarating riffs, it’s also an extremely important entry in heavy metal’s history. It is thanks to Bonded by Blood that we have the thrash metal genre as we know it today.
The Gathering – Testament
While the ’90s are more thought of as belonging to grunge and nu-metal, there were also some amazing thrash albums to come out that decade, with one being Testament’s The Gathering. Throughout the record, the band delivers an astounding array of exhilarating instrumentation, offering an experience that stands today as one of the most ferocious-sounding thrash albums ever. Testament has gone on to make other awesome records of course, but The Gathering remains a very special release.
Excalibur – Mindforce
Alongside their contemporaries like Power Trip, Mindforce is a relatively young band in the thrash scene; but within their short career thus far, they have made one hell of a statement. Though the band released a new album last year, their 2018 LP Excalibur confirmed that Mindforce is going to be one of crossover’s next biggest acts. For those who want more hardcore mentality in their thrash, Mindforce is carrying the torch that was first lit by bands like Anthrax and Suicidal Tendencies.
Rust in Peace – Megadeth
From start to finish, Dave Mustaine and company deliver nonstop thrash metal bliss in Rust in Peace. Overflowing with riveting riffs and crushing (yet melodic) instrumentation, the band’s fourth studio album is a remarkable feat of thrash metal. The band has made a lot of incredible records throughout their career, but above all of them, Rust in Peace most captures the band’s brilliant use of technical artistry.
The Blackening – Machine Head
Machine Head’s sixth studio album would not only cement them as one of metal’s biggest acts but also represented a major step forward for the thrash genre. The Blackening had such a tremendous impact upon its release that it astounded the metal community as a whole (not just the thrash metal crowd). Throughout the record, frontman Robb Flynn and the band offer audiences a jaw-dropping collection of songs that come together to present one of thrash’s most rage-exuding albums ever.