Archives For thrash metal

I first started working on this series about four years ago. It has been through many revisions, rewrites, and re-visitations since then.

But here’s the thing: metal history doesn’t stop!

So let us consider this coverage of more “recent” events (since 2010 or so) as a bonus.

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“Don’t believe what you see
Don’t believe what you read.” – “Propaganda,” from the album Chaos A.D.

Max Cavalera of Sepultura should have been a torch bearer at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

“Metal is as emblematic of Brazil as is Pele or the Amazon,” a passionate fan told Sam Dunn in Global Metal.

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“If you released Reign In Blood today, no one would give a shit.” – Kerry King

I remember the first time I heard the tenth and final track on this album, on the Grand Theft Auto Vice City soundtrack. Just the title alone was so violent and intense that I wondered if I really “should” be listening to this: “Raining Blood.”

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After the 1990s, which saw the rise of experimentation away from thrash metal with varying degrees of success, the genre was due for another sea change. New sounds were cropping up everywhere in the music world (not all of them good by any means), and in the midst of it all the old guards felt compelled to rediscover their original brazen sound. Just as all good things must come to an end, so must all bad things as well.

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It’s incredible how mass tastes in music can change so quickly. 1991 was a year of absolute sea change in this regard, and metal wasn’t immune. Some would argue that the genre came of age in the 1990s, giving rise to a beautiful time of rich experimentation. 80s synths and big hair were out; grunge and plaid were in. For metal, thrash, British, and other “classic” metal were out (temporarily), and more extreme/advanced subgenres like death metal, black metal, and prog metal were in.

So, what exactly happened to thrash?

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Having established itself as one of the leading lights of the Teutonic thrash subgenre of metal, Sodom was nevertheless still lacking in commercial success. Extreme metal fans, especially in continental Europe, were already absorbing (and continue to be inspired by) the proto-black metal themes and forays into thrash that marked Sodom’s earliest days. The problem is that it’s hard to sustain the development of a metal band while you’re also working as a locksmith in a coal mine, as Tom “Angelripper” was at the time. He and his two friends needed to escape that life to make Sodom reach its full potential.

That escape became possible with the 1989 release of “Agent Orange,” a delightfully noisy, loud record about the ravages of the Vietnam War.

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Thrash metal became the go-to form of underground metal in the 1980s as a reaction to glam metal in the United States, but its reach would extend far beyond the New York and Bay Area scenes that spawned them in North America. A worldwide thrash movement began to develop in the 1980s, featuring a different spin on the American thrash metal movement epitomized by the Big Four and others.

Bear in mind that American thrash metal was inspired by songs like Black Sabbath’s “Symptom of the Universe.” Although the international scene is still broadly considered to be “thrash,” it sounded a bit different from what one may traditionally think of as thrash. In many cases, the speed and aggression of thrash metal outside the U.S. is turned up even further to the point where it may not be death metal, but it sure is close. Extreme metal scenes in continental Europe and elsewhere are more likely to take influence from the bands in this section of metal history than from the Big Four.

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Accept had been a band under the watchful eye of Mr. Udo Dirkschneider for about 13 years before they finally achieved serious success with this powerful, speed metal classic.

Sure, they had been noticed: the prior year, prescient metalheads (especially in Deutschland) had been treated to such influential Accept songs as “Fast As A Shark” and “Princess Of the Dawn.” But it was in 1984 when Accept would produce a record that would be a key influence on the still-nascent thrash metal movement both in Germany and all around the world.

LA-style hair metal did not yet have a complete stranglehold on the charts, but Accept was already cultivating an image and a sound that was the polar opposite of the fishnets and long hair of the Sunset Strip. Udo himself looked as if he was ready to walk down Sunset Boulevard cracking skulls: short blond hair, a penchant for camouflage and military boots, and fingerless gloves over his stubby fingers.

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