Thrash metal has always seemed to be a product of the past. Indeed as we look back to those albums of the yester years, we tend to hear a very definitive 80s sound that tends to lend its vibe onto the late 90s. Aided by the extreme speediness of the crossover phenomena, thrash metal somehow survived the onslaught of the grunge movement, specifically: Alice in Chains, who had single handedly snatched the popularity that was thrash metal in the early 90s. Even the 2008 documentary film ‘Get Thrashed’ attributed thrash’s disintegration to grunge’s rise after the ‘Clash of the Titans’ tour. Ever since, veteran thrash bands of the 80s either sold out of thrash (eg: Metallica, Kreator) or went underground (as in the case of Overkill, Slayer, Vio-lence) as if to plan for a grand re-surfacing.
Which brings us to the post-thrash metal movement in the early start of this millennium. Though it was a direct product of groove metal (Pantera, Exhorder) in the early 90s, this new sound defines the modern Thrash Metal boom and would go all the way to bring back the lost glory. Armed with bands like Warbringer, Havoc, Municipal Waste, Evile and lot more others, this movement became so phenomenal that it was named – the New Wave of Thrash Metal.
This review, however will not dwell on the characteristics of this Wave, but on the comeback of the veterans. We have seen many great albums from the comeback artists in the last five years. Overkill’s 2012 album ‘The Electric Age’ sure takes the catch as the modern masterpiece of a 33 year-old band.
Overkill – The Electric age (2013)
Overkill had always been a definitive yardstick for thrash metal. Though the albums in the middle of their career were grossly underrated, yet it did not compel them to change their sound like other bands did. Instead they started to get heavier and heavier.
The Electric age saw the band getting into experimenting with off beats and progressive time-signatures which were characteristic of modern metal bands. Bobby Blitz was as ‘thrashing’ as ever, with the song Electric Rattlesnake, he upheld his vocal prowess as one of the greatest metal vocalists of all times. The whole album itself was a modern rendition of the Overkill of the olden days and in fact, it was a great comeback album after the success of Ironbound in 2010. Incidentally, Ironbound was also regarded as a great ‘thrasher piece’ at its release.
Kreator – Phantom Antichrist (2012)
Kreator, however has a different historical background with a great album to kickstart their career in the form of ‘Endless Pain’ (1985), which they recorded in just ten days. Another album ‘A Pleasure to Kill’ (1986) would be known to the world as a masterpiece and would set Kreator on an International journey before they came toppling down with lesser albums later. A disease that seems to inflict upon so many thrash metal bands at that time.
With Violent Revolution, Kreator set its new path on a rediscovered thrash journey. Most critics would often call this – A Return Journey, as the band had undergone a failed experimentation from 1991to 2000. The joining of guitarist Sami Yli-Sirniö, was the main force driving Kreator to the levels never reached before. And while many are still applauding the success of Enemy of God (2005) and Hordes of Chaos (2009), Kreator released its another stroke of genius in its 13th album – Phantom Antichrist.
The album was in every way, heavier and faster and was in every bit, more Teutonic than the earlier albums. And like the other ‘return-journey’ albums, this one is not less political in theme. Some of the best songs in this album are: ‘Phantom Antichrist’, ‘United in Hate’, ‘Civilizations Collapse’, ‘The Few, the Proud, the Broken’, and even the others are great to listen to.
Annihilator- Feast (2013)
The highly-underrated-almost-forgotten band approaches their thirtieth year and while many are still under the trance of the Big 4, Annihilator came crashing down with this ear-tight album with a killer cover-art.
The Canadian thrashers sure has had their time in the past with their Thrash masterpiece: Alice in Hell (1989) which is also their debut. With their second album, Never, Neverland (1990), the band had acquired a platform among leading thrashers of that age. But frequent changes in the band’s line-up could have been the cause of their downfall sometime later. But one could not have expected that Jeff Waters (guitarist, vocalist, frontman) would patch things up so late so as to come up with Feast on August 2013.
The album is a comeback, after a gap of almost 20 years since Annihilator released a good album, King of the Kill (1994). It needs to be mentioned that the albums that followed King of the Kill have nothing Annihilator-ish about them and caused the fans to lose a tremendous amount of respect for the band that had lived in the shadows of its very own early fame.
The album features a new singer-rhythm guitarist, Dave Padden, who is versatile enough to switch feelings between any two songs. When it comes to technicality, Annihilator, once again shows that they are best at what they do. Jeff Waters also retains his dexterity while pushing the band to a much heavier, faster and better realms than the previous unworthy albums.
Feast begins with Deadlock, a song that would without fail put any listener to a thrash mode instantly. I will not give away any spoilers but I would say that there is more than just thrash metal in the album. However, it could not reclaim the success that their first two albums had achieved. It is still not Alice in Hell, but it was worth a good listen.
Go on, lend an ear.