Thrash metal (or simply thrash) is an extreme subgenre of heavy metal music characterized by its overall aggression and fast tempo.[3] The songs usually use fast percussive beats and low-register guitar riffs, overlaid with shredding-style lead guitar work.

The genre emerged in the early 1980s as musicians began fusing the double bass drumming and complex guitar stylings of the new wave of British heavy metal (NWOBHM) with the speed and aggression of hardcore punk and the technicality of progressive music.[4][5][6] Philosophically, thrash metal developed as a backlash against both the conservatism of the Reagan era[7] and the much more moderate, pop-influenced, and widely accessible heavy metal subgenre of glam metal which also developed concurrently in the 1980s.[8]

The early thrash metal movement revolved around independent record labels, including Megaforce, Metal Blade, Combat, Roadrunner, and Noise, and the underground tape trading industry in both Europe and North America. The genre was commercially successful from approximately 1985 through 1991, bringing prominence to Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth, and Anthrax, all grouped together as the "Big Four" of U.S. thrash metal.[6][9] Other U.S. bands, such as Overkill, Metal Church, and Bay Area acts Exodus, Testament and Death Angel, never achieved the popularity of the "Big Four" but had also considerable success during the late 1980s and early 1990s, particularly on the strength of airplay on MTV's Headbangers Ball.[6][9][10][11] Some of the most successful international thrash metal bands from this era were Brazil's Sepultura, Canada's Voivod, and the genre's "Big Teutonic Four": Kreator, Destruction, Sodom, and Tankard.[6][9][11][12]

The thrash metal genre had declined in popularity by the mid-1990s, due to the commercial success of numerous genres such as alternative rock, grunge, and later pop-punk and nu metal. In response, some bands either disbanded or moved away from their thrash metal roots and more towards groove metal or alternative metal. The genre has seen a resurgence in popularity since the 2000s, with the arrival of various bands such as Bonded by Blood, Evile, Hatchet, Havok, Lamb of God, Municipal Waste, and Warbringer, who have all been credited for leading the so-called "thrash metal revival" scene.[13][14][15][16]


Kirk Hammett and James Hetfield of Metallica (pictured in 2008). Metallica's early work is regarded as essential to the development of the genre in the 1980s.

Thrash metal generally features fast tempos, low-register, complex guitar riffs, high-register guitar solos, and double bass drumming.[17] The rhythm guitar parts are played with heavy distortion and often palm muted to create a tighter and more precise sound.[18] Vocally, thrash metal can employ anything from melodic singing to shouted or screamed vocals. Most guitar solos are played at high speed and technically demanding, as they are usually characterized by shredding, and use advanced techniques such as sweep picking, legato phrasing, alternate picking, tremolo picking, string skipping, and two-hand tapping.

David Ellefson, the original bassist of Megadeth, described thrash metal as "a combination of the attitude from punk rock but the riffs and complexities of traditional metal."[19]

New York band Anthrax was among the earliest and most successful thrash acts.

The guitar riffs often use chromatic scales and emphasize the tritone and diminished intervals, instead of using conventional single-scale-based riffing. For example, the intro riff of Metallica's "Master of Puppets" (the title track of the namesake album) is a chromatic descent, followed by a chromatic ascent based on the tritone.

Speed, pacing, and time changes also define thrash metal. Thrash tends to have an accelerating feel which may be due in large part to its aggressive drumming style. For example, drummers often use two bass drums, or a double-bass pedal to create a relentless, driving beat. Cymbal stops/chokes are often used to transition from one riff to another or to precede an acceleration in tempo. Some common characteristics of the genre are fast guitar riffs with aggressive picking styles and fast guitar solos, and extensive use of two bass drums as opposed to the conventional use of only one, typical of most rock music.

To keep up with the other instruments, many bassists use a plectrum (pick). However, some prominent thrash metal bassists have used their fingers, such as Frank Bello, Greg Christian, Steve Di Giorgio, Robert Trujillo, and Cliff Burton. Several bassists use a distorted bass tone, an approach popularized by Burton and Motörhead's Lemmy. Lyrical themes in thrash metal include warfare, corruption, injustice, murder, suicide, isolation, alienation, addiction, and other maladies that afflict the individual and society. In addition, politics, particularly pessimism and dissatisfaction towards politics, are common themes among thrash metal bands. Humor and irony can occasionally be found (Anthrax for example), but they are limited, and are an exception rather than a rule.[20][21]


Roots (1970s–early 1980s)

Venom's early work is considered a major influence on thrash metal.

Queen's 1974 song "Stone Cold Crazy" and Black Sabbath's 1975 song "Symptom of the Universe" are often referred to as compelling early influences on thrash; the latter of which was a direct inspiration for Diamond Head's pioneering song "Am I Evil?".[22][23] The new wave of British heavy metal (NWOBHM) bands emerging from Britain in the late 1970s further influenced the development of early thrash. The early work of artists such as Diamond Head, Iron Maiden, Venom, Motörhead, Tygers of Pan Tang, Raven, and Angel Witch, among others, introduced the fast-paced and intricate musicianship that became core aspects of thrash. Phil Taylor's double-bass drumming featured in Motörhead's 1979 song "Overkill" has been acknowledged by many thrash drummers, most notably Lars Ulrich, as a primary influence on their playing. Thrash metal bands have also taken inspiration from Judas Priest, with Slayer guitarist Kerry King saying that, "There would be no Slayer without Priest."[24] Metal Blade Records executive Brian Slagel played a key role in bringing the NWOBHM to a larger audience, as he was responsible for discovering both Metallica and Slayer and producing their earliest studio recordings.

In addition to the NWOBHM and the late 1960s and 1970s hard rock and heavy metal scenes, progressive rock has been cited as an important influence on the creation of thrash metal and its subgenre technical thrash metal (or "progressive thrash metal"), the latter of which adds elements of progressive, jazz or classical music.[4][5] Greg Prato of Ultimate Guitar noted: "Although the thrash movement seemed to have much more in common with punk than prog fashion-wise (leather jackets vs. capes), musically, there were certainly moments when thrash leaned more towards the prog side of things."[4]

The thrash metal genre is also strongly influenced by the 1970s and early 1980s punk rock scene, including that of the New York Dolls, the Ramones, the Sex Pistols and the Dead Boys,[25] as well as late 1970s/early 1980s hardcore punk bands Discharge,[26] GBH,[27] Black Flag,[28] the Misfits, the Dead Kennedys, and Bad Brains.[25] The Ramones' 1976 self-titled debut album in particular has been noted as a key influence on the genre, due to its sound, which introduced the three-chord thrash style of guitar.[29] Void has been credited as one of the earliest examples of hardcore/heavy metal crossover, whose chaotic musical approach is often cited as particularly influential.[30] Their 1982 split LP with fellow Washington band The Faith showed both bands exhibiting quick, fiery, high-speed punk rock. It has been argued that those recordings laid the foundation for early thrash metal, at least in terms of selected tempos,[31] and that thrash is essentially hardcore punk with the technical proficiency missing from that genre. The crossover with hardcore punk has also been cited as important influence on thrash, especially the English hardcore punk band Discharge, whose "influence on heavy metal is incalculable and metal superstars such as Metallica, Anthrax, Machine Head, Sepultura, Soulfly, Prong and Arch Enemy have covered Discharge's songs in tribute."[26] The eponymous debut albums by D.R.I. and Suicidal Tendencies, both released in 1983, have been credited for paving the way for thrashcore.[32][33]

In Latin America, this genre also gained a lot of strength, and its creation is also attributed to it, since it began to gain popularity due to the dictatorships that many countries faced at that time, with bands like V8 (1979) with their debut albums Demo 1982 or Luchando por el metal,[34] and Bloke (1980)[35] from Argentina, Transmetal (1987) from México, also the band Massakre (1985) in Chile.

Album cover Luchando por el Metal, by the Argentinian band V8, which was formed in 1979

In Europe, the earliest band of the emerging thrash movement was Venom from Newcastle upon Tyne, formed in 1979. Their 1982 album Black Metal has been cited as a major influence on many subsequent genres and bands in the extreme metal world, such as Bathory, Hellhammer, Slayer, and Mayhem. The European scene was almost exclusively influenced by the most aggressive music Germany and England were producing at the time. British bands such as Tank and Raven, along with German bands Accept (whose 1982 song "Fast as a Shark" is often credited as one of the first-ever thrash/speed metal songs)[36][37][38] and Living Death,[39] motivated musicians from central Europe to start bands of their own, eventually producing groups such as Sodom, Kreator, and Destruction from Germany, as well as Switzerland's Celtic Frost (formed by two-thirds of Hellhammer), Coroner and Carrion (who later became Poltergeist) and Denmark's Artillery.

Thrash metal in the 1980s

Birth and underground expansion (1981–1983)

In 1981, Los Angeles band Leather Charm wrote a song entitled "Hit the Lights". Leather Charm soon disbanded and the band's primary songwriter, vocalist/rhythm guitarist James Hetfield, met drummer Lars Ulrich through a classified advertisement. Together, Hetfield and Ulrich formed Metallica, one of the "Big Four" thrash bands, with lead guitarist Dave Mustaine, who would later form Megadeth, another of the "Big Four" originators of thrash, and bassist Ron McGovney. McGovney would be replaced by Cliff Burton (formerly of Trauma), and Mustaine was later replaced by Kirk Hammett of the then-unsigned Bay Area thrash metal act Exodus, and at Burton's insistence, the band relocated to the San Francisco Bay Area. Before Metallica had even settled on a definitive lineup, Metal Blade Records executive Brian Slagel asked Hetfield and Ulrich (credited as "Mettallica") to record "Hit the Lights" for the first edition of his Metal Massacre compilation in 1982. An updated version of "Hit the Lights" would later open their first studio album, Kill 'Em All, released in mid-1983.[40]

The term "thrash metal" was first used in the music press by Kerrang! magazine's journalist Malcolm Dome[41] while referring to another of the "Big Four", Anthrax (who, like Metallica, formed in 1981), and their song "Metal Thrashing Mad".[42] Before this, Metallica frontman James Hetfield referred to his band's sound as speed metal or power metal.

Another "Big Four" thrash band formed in Los Angeles in 1981, when guitarists Jeff Hanneman and Kerry King met while auditioning for the same band and subsequently decided to form a band of their own. Hanneman and King recruited vocalist/bassist Tom Araya and drummer Dave Lombardo, and Slayer was formed. Slayer was discovered by Metal Blade Records executive Brian Slagel; the band's live performance of Iron Maiden's "Phantom of the Opera" so impressed him that he promptly signed them to his label. In December 1983, five months after the release of Metallica's debut Kill 'Em All, Slayer released their debut album, Show No Mercy.

To the north, Canada produced influential thrash and speed metal bands such as Annihilator, Anvil, Exciter, Razor, Sacrifice, and Voivod.

Mainstream popularity (1984–1989)

First wave (1984–1986)

The popularity of thrash metal increased in 1984 with the release of Metallica's sophomore record Ride the Lightning, as well as Anthrax's debut Fistful of Metal and Metal Church's eponymous debut album.[9] Slayer and Overkill released extended plays on independent labels during this era, Haunting the Chapel and Overkill respectively. This led to a heavier-sounding form of thrash, which was reflected in Exodus' debut album Bonded by Blood, Slayer's Hell Awaits and Anthrax's Spreading the Disease, all three released in 1985. Several other debut albums were released that same year, including Megadeth's Killing Is My Business... and Business Is Good!, Overkill's Feel the Fire, Kreator's Endless Pain, Destruction's Infernal Overkill, Possessed's Seven Churches, Celtic Frost's To Mega Therion, Watchtower's Energetic Disassembly and the Sepultura EP Bestial Devastation. Seven Churches and To Mega Therion are often credited for pioneering and popularizing the mid-1980s extreme metal scene (as well as the then-developing genres of death metal and black metal, respectively),[43][44] while Energetic Disassembly has been cited as the first progressive/technical thrash metal album.[45]

Slayer (pictured in 2007) released Reign in Blood in 1986, considered a landmark achievement in the genre's history.

From a creative standpoint, the year 1986 was perhaps the pinnacle of thrash metal,[citation needed] as a number of critically acclaimed and genre-defining albums were released. Metallica's major label debut Master of Puppets was released in March, becoming the first thrash album to be certified platinum, being certified 6× platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA); it would be the band's last album to feature bassist Cliff Burton, who was killed in a bus accident six months after its release. Kreator released Pleasure to Kill in April 1986, which would later be a major influence on the death metal scene.[46] Megadeth released Peace Sells... but Who's Buying? in September, an album which proved to be the band's commercial and critical breakthrough and which AllMusic later cited as "a classic of early thrash".[47] Slayer, regarded as one of the most sinister thrash metal bands of the early 1980s,[48][unreliable source?] released Reign in Blood in October, an album considered by some to have single-handedly inspired the death metal genre.[49] Also in October, Nuclear Assault released their debut album Game Over, followed a month later by Dark Angel's Darkness Descends, which marked the debut of renowned drummer Gene Hoglan. Flotsam and Jetsam's debut album Doomsday for the Deceiver (released on the Fourth of July in 1986) received some attention as well, due to the album being "the first of only a handful" to ever receive a 6K rating from Kerrang! magazine, and it is also notable for featuring a then-unknown Jason Newsted, who, not long after the album's release, joined Metallica as Burton's replacement.[50]

Also during the mid-to-late 1980s, bands such as Suicidal Tendencies, D.R.I., S.O.D. (who featured three-fifths of Anthrax), and Corrosion of Conformity paved the way to what became known as crossover thrash, a fusion genre that lies on a continuum between heavy metal and hardcore punk, and is arguably faster and more aggressive than thrash metal.[51]

Second wave (1987–1989)
Testament was one of the most successful Bay Area thrash metal bands of the late 1980s.

By the mid-to-late 1980s, thrash metal began to achieve major mainstream success worldwide, with many bands of the genre receiving heavy rotation on MTV's Headbangers Ball,[11][52] and radio stations such as KNAC in Long Beach and Z Rock in Dallas,[53][54] as well as coverage on numerous publications, including Kerrang! and RIP Magazine. These outlets not only played a major role in the crossover success of thrash metal during this time, but helped push album sales of the genre's "Big Four" and similar bands, or moved them from playing clubs to arenas and stadiums.[55]

Anthrax made its mainstream breakthrough in 1987 with the release of their gold-certified album Among the Living, which borrowed elements from their two previous releases, with fast guitar riffs and pounding drums. Shortly after the release of Among the Living, three Bay Area bands, Testament, Death Angel and Heathen, respectively released their debut albums The Legacy, The Ultra-Violence and Breaking the Silence. All of the "Big Four" of Teutonic thrash metal also released albums in 1987: Kreator's Terrible Certainty, Destruction's Release from Agony, Sodom's Persecution Mania and Tankard's Chemical Invasion; these albums cemented their reputations as top-tier German thrash metal bands.[56][57]

In response to thrash metal's growing popularity during this period, several hardcore punk bands began changing their style to a more heavier direction, including Suicidal Tendencies, who are often considered to be one of the "fathers of crossover thrash",[58] and became more recognized as a thrash metal band in the late 1980s (thanks in large part to the presence of guitarists Rocky George and Mike Clark); the band would reach new heights of success with their first two major-label albums, How Will I Laugh Tomorrow When I Can't Even Smile Today (1988) and Controlled by Hatred/Feel Like Shit... Déjà Vu (1989).[59] D.R.I.'s music took a similar direction with their last three albums of the 1980s, Crossover (1987), 4 of a Kind (1988), and Thrash Zone (1989),[51] and other bands would follow suit, including The Exploited, Excel (from Suicidal Tendencies' hometown of Venice) and New York hardcore acts M.O.D. (fronted by former S.O.D. singer Billy Milano), the Cro-Mags and the Crumbsuckers.[60][61][62][63][64]

From 1987 to 1989, Overkill released Taking Over, Under the Influence, and The Years of Decay, three albums considered their best. Each of the "Big Four" of thrash metal bands released albums in 1988: Slayer released South of Heaven, Megadeth released So Far, So Good... So What!, Anthrax released State of Euphoria while Metallica's ...And Justice for All spawned the band's first video and Top 40 hit, the World War I–themed song "One". That same year, Metallica joined Van Halen, Scorpions, Dokken and Kingdom Come on the two-month-long arena and stadium tour Monsters of Rock in North America.[65][66] In the spring of 1989, Anthrax teamed up with Exodus and Helloween on a US arena tour sponsored by Headbangers Ball.[52][67]

Sepultura's third album, Beneath the Remains (1989), earned them some mainstream appeal as it was released by Roadrunner Records. Testament's second and third albums The New Order (1988) and Practice What You Preach (1989), nearly gained them the same level of popularity as the "Big Four",[68][69] while Exodus' third album Fabulous Disaster (1989) garnered the band their first music video and one of their most recognized songs, the mosh-pit anthem "The Toxic Waltz".[70] Vio-lence, Forbidden, and Sadus, three relative latecomers to the Bay Area thrash metal scene, released their debut albums Eternal Nightmare, Forbidden Evil, and Illusions, respectively, in 1988; the latter album demonstrated a sound that was primarily driven by the fretless bass of Steve Di Giorgio. Also in 1988, Blind Illusion released its only studio album for more than two decades, The Sane Asylum, which received some particular attention as it was produced by Kirk Hammett, and is also notable for featuring bassist Les Claypool and former Possessed guitarist Larry LaLonde; after its release, the two would later team up together in Claypool's then-upcoming band Primus.[71][72]

Canadian thrashers Annihilator released their highly technical debut Alice in Hell in 1989, which was praised for its fast riffs and extended guitar solos. In Germany, Sodom released Agent Orange, and Kreator would release Extreme Aggression. Several highly acclaimed albums associated with the sub-genre of technical thrash metal were also released in 1989, including Coroner's No More Color, Dark Angel's Leave Scars, Toxik's Think This, and Watchtower's Control and Resistance, which has been recognized and acknowledged as one of the cornerstones of jazz-metal fusion and a major influence on the technical death metal genre,[73][74] while Forced Entry's debut album Uncertain Future helped pioneer the late 1980s Seattle music scene.[75][76]

Thrash metal in the 1990s

Continued popularity (1990–1991)

A number of more typical but technically sophisticated albums were released in 1990, including Megadeth's Rust in Peace, Anthrax's Persistence of Time, Slayer's Seasons in the Abyss, Suicidal Tendencies' Lights...Camera...Revolution!, Testament's Souls of Black, Kreator's Coma of Souls, Destruction's Cracked Brain, Forbidden's Twisted into Form, Exodus' Impact Is Imminent, Sacred Reich's The American Way, Prong's Beg to Differ, Pantera's Cowboys from Hell and Exhorder's Slaughter in the Vatican; the latter three are often credited for being an integral part of the then-developing groove metal genre.[77][78] All of those albums were commercial high points for the aforementioned artists. During this period, Megadeth and Slayer co-headlined one of the most successful tours in thrash metal history called the Clash of the Titans; the first leg in Europe included support from Testament and Suicidal Tendencies, while the second leg in North America had Anthrax and then-emerging Seattle band Alice in Chains, who were the supporting act.[79][80]

Several albums, some of which had come to be known as technical thrash metal, were released in 1991, including Overkill's Horrorscope, Heathen's Victims of Deception, Dark Angel's Time Does Not Heal, Sepultura's Arise, Coroner's Mental Vortex, Prong's Prove You Wrong and Forced Entry's As Above, So Below.

In 1991, Metallica released their eponymous fifth studio album, known as "The Black Album". The album marked a stylistic change in the band, eliminating much of the speed and longer song structures of the band's previous work, and instead focusing on more concise and heavier songs. The album was a change in Metallica's direction from the thrash metal style of the band's previous four studio albums towards a more contemporary heavy metal sound with original hard rock elements, but still had remnant characteristics of thrash metal.[81][82] It would go on to become the band's best-selling album and began a wave of thrash metal bands releasing more garage-oriented albums, or else more experimental ones.

Decline (1991–1999)

The era of 1991–1992 marked the beginning of the end of thrash metal's commercial peak, due to the rising popularity of the alternative metal and grunge movements (the latter started by Nirvana, Soundgarden, Alice in Chains and Pearl Jam).[83] In response to this climate change, many thrash metal bands that had emerged from the previous decade had called it quits or went on hiatus during the 1990s, while half of the "Big Four" and other veteran bands began changing to more accessible, radio-friendly styles.[84] Metallica was a notable example of this shift, particularly with their mid–to–late 1990s albums Load, and ReLoad, which displayed minor blues and southern rock influences, and were seen as a major departure from the band's earlier sound.[85] Megadeth took a more accessible heavy metal route starting with their 1992 album Countdown to Extinction.[86] Testament, Exodus and Flotsam and Jetsam all took a melodic/progressive approach with the albums The Ritual,[87] Force of Habit,[88] and Cuatro,[89] respectively. One of the pioneers of crossover thrash, Corrosion of Conformity, began changing their sound into a slower and Black Sabbath-influenced heavy metal direction with their post-1980s output, adapting influences and textures of sludge, doom metal, blues, and southern rock on several of their albums, including Blind (1991), Deliverance (1994) and Wiseblood (1996).[90]

In the wake of the success of groove metal, instigated by Pantera (who went on to become one of the most successful heavy metal bands of the 1990s), several thrash metal established bands started to expand their sound by adding elements and influences from the groove metal genre.[91][92][93] Anthrax, who had recently replaced Joey Belladonna with John Bush as their singer, began stepping away from their previously established thrash metal formula to a more accessible alternative/groove metal approach for the remainder of their 1990s output, starting with and including Sound of White Noise (1993).[94][95][96] Sacred Reich, Overkill, Coroner, Prong, Testament, and Forbidden followed this trend with their respective albums Independent,[97] I Hear Black,[98] Grin,[99] Cleansing,[100] Low,[101] and Distortion.[102] Sepultura's 1993 album Chaos A.D. also marked the beginning of their transition away from death/thrash metal to groove metal which had influenced then-up-and-coming bands like Korn, who reciprocally became the inspiration behind the nu metal style of the band's next album Roots (1996).[103] Roots would influence a generation of bands from Linkin Park to Slipknot, which during the 1990s meant the replacement of death, thrash, and speed, by nu metal and metalcore as popular epicenters of the hardest metal scene.[104]

Staying away from this new commercial mainstream of groove metal, metalcore, and especially nu metal, the second wave of black metal emerged as an opposed underground music scene, initially in Norway. This crop of new bands differenced themselves from the "first wave" by totally distilling black metal from the combined origins with thrash metal, but they preserved from all these sub-genres the emphasis on atmosphere over rhythm.[105]

As further extreme metal genres came to prominence in the 1990s (industrial metal, death metal, and black metal each finding their own fanbase), the heavy metal "family tree" soon found itself blending aesthetics and styles.[106] For example, bands with all the musical traits of thrash metal began using death growls, a vocal style borrowed from death metal, while black metal bands often utilized the airy feel of synthesizers, popularized in industrial metal. Today the placing of bands within distinct sub-genres remains a source of contention for heavy metal fans, however, little debate resides over the fact that thrash metal is the sole proprietor of its respective spin-offs.

Revivals (2000–present)

A few thrash metal bands from the 1980s and early 1990s, particularly the genre's U.S. "big four", continued recording and touring with success in the 2000s. In 2003, Anthrax released their first studio album in five years We've Come for You All, followed a month later by Metallica's double platinum-certified album St. Anger. After one more album, The World Needs a Hero, in 2001, Megadeth disbanded in 2002 due to an arm injury that had left Dave Mustaine unable to play guitar;[107] he would eventually reform the band for a handful albums, including The System Has Failed (2004) which was originally going to be released as a solo album by him,[108] before reuniting with co-founding member and bassist David Ellefson in 2010. Slayer released three albums in the 2000s: God Hates Us All (2001), which saw a return to their signature thrash metal sound,[109] followed by Christ Illusion (2006) and World Painted Blood (2009), both of which marked their first studio albums with drummer Dave Lombardo in nearly two decades. Although their career had declined from its peak in the 1990s, Overkill was perhaps one of the most-active thrash metal groups outside of the "big four", having never disbanded or taken longer breaks in-between records, and by 2000's Bloodletting, they were the first band in the genre to release more than ten studio albums. Overkill regained their previous level of popularity in the 2010s, with three of their albums, The Electric Age (2012), White Devil Armory (2014) and The Grinding Wheel (2017), entering the Top 100 on the Billboard charts.[110][111]

The resurgence of interest in the thrash metal genre during the early 2000s was widely attributed to the Thrash of the Titans festival, which was held in August 2001 as a co-benefit concert for Testament singer Chuck Billy and Death's Chuck Schuldiner, who were both battling cancer.[112] The show is also notable for seeing several of Testament's Bay Area thrash metal contemporaries, including Exodus, Death Angel, Vio-lence, Forbidden Evil, Sadus and Legacy (a precursor to Testament), reunited.[113][114] Many thrash metal bands from outside of the Bay Area would subsequently reunite, including Anthrax (twice with Joey Belladonna and briefly with John Bush),[115] Dark Angel,[116] Nuclear Assault,[117] Sacred Reich,[118] UK bands Onslaught,[119] Sabbat,[120] and Xentrix,[121] and Canada's Sacrifice,[122] renewing interest in previous decades.

The term "thrash-revivalists" has been applied to such bands as Lamb of God,[16] Municipal Waste,[123] Evile,[13] Havok,[13][14][15] Warbringer,[13][15] Vektor,[15] Bonded by Blood,[15] Hatchet,[13] and Power Trip.[123] Evile's 2007 debut album Enter the Grave, produced by former Metallica producer and engineer Flemming Rasmussen, received considerable praise for its sound, which combined elements of the sounds of Slayer and the Bay Area scene (particularly Exodus and Testament).[124] Los Angeles-based bands Warbringer and Bonded by Blood took a similar approach on their respective debut albums, War Without End and Feed the Beast, both released in 2008.[125][126] Perhaps the most commercially successful band from the 2000s and 2010s thrash metal revival movement is Lamb of God, who are also considered a key part of the new wave of American heavy metal movement,[127][128] have received two gold-certified albums in the U.S.,[129] and continue to play from small clubs to arenas and stadiums.[130]

Notable bands returned to their roots with releases such as Kreator's Violent Revolution (2001), Metallica's Death Magnetic (2008), Megadeth's Endgame (2009), Slayer's World Painted Blood (2009), Exodus' Exhibit B: The Human Condition (2010), Overkill's Ironbound (2010), Anthrax's Worship Music (2011), Testament's Dark Roots of Earth (2012), and Flotsam and Jetsam's Ugly Noise (2012). More recent bands of the genre, such as Havok and Legion of the Damned have turned their focus towards a more aggressive rendition of thrash metal, incorporating elements of melodic death metal.

Spin-off genres

Thrash metal is directly responsible for the development of underground metal genres, such as death metal, black metal,[131] and groove metal.[132] In addition to this, metalcore, grindcore, and deathcore employ similar riffs in their composition, the former with more focus on melody rather than chromaticism. The blending of punk ethos and metal's brutal nature led to even more extreme, underground styles after thrash metal began gaining mild commercial success in the late 1980s.[133]

With gorier subject matter, heavier down tuning of guitars, more consistent use of blast beat drumming, and darker, atonal death growls, death metal was established in the mid-1980s. Black metal, also related to thrash metal, emerged at the same time, with many black metal bands taking influence from thrash metal bands such as Venom.[134] Black metal continued deviating from thrash metal, often providing more orchestral overtones, open tremolo picking, blast beat drumming, shrieked or raspy vocals and pagan or occult-based aesthetics to distinguish itself from thrash metal. Thrash metal would later combine with its spinoffs, thus giving rise to genres like blackened thrash metal and deathrash.[135][136][137][138]

Groove metal takes the intensity and sonic qualities of thrash metal and plays them at mid-tempo, with most bands making only occasional forays into fast tempo,[132] but since the early 1990s, it started to favor a more death metal–derived sound.[139] Thrash metal with stronger punk elements is called crossover thrash. Its overall sound is more punk-influenced than traditional thrash metal but has more heavy metal elements than hardcore punk and thrashcore.[140]

Regional scenes

This article may contain excessive or irrelevant examples. Please help improve the article by adding descriptive text and removing less pertinent examples. (December 2022)

Thrash metal emerged predominantly from a handful of regional scenes, each of which was generally distinguished by the unique characteristics of its bands.

See also


  1. ^ Janosik, MaryAnn (2006). The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Rock History: The video generation, 1981-1990. Greenwood Press. p. 231. Heavy hardcore was considered hardcore based more in metal, adding heavier thrash metal riff stylings
  2. ^ Prato, Greg (16 September 2014). Primus, Over the Electric Grapevine: Insight into Primus and the World of Les Claypool. Akashic Books. ISBN 978-1-61775-322-0.
  3. ^ Kahn-Harris, Keith, Extreme Metal: Music and Culture on the Edge, pp. 2–3, 9. Oxford: Berg, 2007, ISBN 1-84520-399-2.
  4. ^ a b c Prato, Greg (19 December 2023). "Steve Hackett Recalls His Reaction to Thrash and Death Metal of the '80s". Ultimate Guitar. Retrieved 23 March 2024.
  5. ^ a b "Technical Thrash Metal: Historia, Bandas, álbumes y más". (in Spanish). 27 January 2023. Retrieved 23 March 2024.
  6. ^ a b c d McIver, Joel (29 April 2010). "A History of Thrash Metal". Total Guitar. MusicRadar. Archived from the original on 25 December 2013. Retrieved 17 June 2014.
  7. ^ Farrar, Justin (26 December 2017). "The 30 Greatest Thrash Bands of All Time". Spin Magazine. Archived from the original on 20 July 2018. Retrieved 28 February 2020.
  8. ^ Weinstein 2000, p. 48.
  9. ^ a b c d "The 20 Albums That Invented...Thrash". Goldmine Magazine: Record Collector & Music Memorabilia. 4 May 2022. Archived from the original on 29 November 2022. Retrieved 6 December 2022.
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