QUESTION OF THE WEEK: IF THE BIG FOUR WERE THE BIG EIGHT, WHICH BANDS WOULD BE THE NEXT FOUR IN THE GROUP?
Welcome to “Question of the Week,” a (sometimes) weekly debate amongst the MetalSucks staff regarding a recent hot button issue.
Presumably inspired by this week’s announcement of a Big 4 show in the U.S., this week’s question was posed by MetalSucks contributor/author of the Reign in Blood entry into the 33 1/3 book series, D.X. Ferris. Mr. Ferris was even good enough to join us for this edition of QOTW! And his query was:
IF THE BIG FOUR WERE THE BIG EIGHT, WHICH BANDS WOULD BE THE NEXT FOUR IN THE GROUP?
The MS staff’s answers after the jump.
Top thrash bands from the ’80s, numbers 5 through 8? Tough question. And not for a lack of qualified candidates. When it comes to ranking the groups, I guess it’s a matter of semantics, longevity, artistic growth (or lack thereof), and body of work.
Me, I put Exodus at no. 5. Granted, Exodus has effectively been three or four different bands, but Gary Holt and his boys put together one of the best metal albums of 1985 (Bonded By Blood) AND 2007; for my money, The Atrocity Exhibition… Exhibit A is the best thrash album of the modern era.
No. 6-7 is tough; Voivod and Celtic Frost invented their own thing and got arty like nobody else in the thrash game. I’ll give Frost the edge at no. 6; Tom G. Warrior-Fischer is STILL pushing the envelope, and Monotheist was a helluva a tombstone for Frost. Voivod gets no. 7; you cannot fuck with the first four albums, from Voivod thru Tribal Convictions. And the rest ain’t bad, either.
The last spot is tough: Overkill’s career has been up & down, but they never took a step off the path, they never quit, and people either ignore ’em or take ’em for granted — if you don’t own 2003’s Killbox 13, do yourself a favor and check that shit out. Kreator was — is — brootal as fukk AND dynamic and longrunning. Testament is distinct as the only classic thrash band to get significantly heavier as the years went on, but NOTHING they’ve done since their debut, 1987′ s The Legacy, has come close to matching its lyricism an moshability. By a (long) hair, I’ll give no.8 to Overkill over Kreator (and I may change my mind by the time you compose a post to correct me). Thrash till death, brothers and sisters.
Well, the three super-obvious choices are Exodus, Testament, and Overkill. In fact, I have to seriously question the sanity of anyone who does include these three bands in the list — if the careers of any one of those bands had gone just a little bit differently, I don’t doubt that they could have usurped Anthrax’s spot in the Big Four (and I say that as an Anthrax fan). It’s that last spot that’s a real pain in the ass; Voivod and Kreator might be the most worthy in terms of their creative (Kreative?) output, and while I actually enjoyed Death Angel’s music somewhat more, I think they arrived too late to the game. (I’m tempted to include Pantera, although, again, they came a little too late, and I’m still not convinced that the music they made was thrash, by the strictest definitions of that genre at least.) There’s also Nuclear Assault, although I honestly do not know anyone under the age of a hundred who listens to old Nuclear Assault records on a regular basis, so I’d question the long-term influence they managed to have over the genre.
No, I think that ultimately the eighth band would need to be Sepultura. Again, I’m not sure if their music was thrash in the strictest sense, but they they got in there relatively early and made a huge impact — they might be the band that ultimately bridged thrash to death metal. Also, I just fucking love old Sepultura records — more than I do even the most classic works of the other three bands I’d include on the list.
I haven’t seen the responses of my fellow MS Mansion brethren yet, but I’d guess that most people are going to choose Testament and Exodus. And with good reason; both bands put out great material back in the day and continue to do so today, even if Testament took a long break. Some might even argue that these bands are in better musical shape now than the actual “Big Four.”
After that, it gets tricky. I’d make the case for Sepultura; sure, they weren’t always thrash, but when they thrashed they thrashed fucking HARD, and they are surely one of the most influential metal bands of all time. I’ll give the 8th and final spot to Kreator; perhaps no other band on this list outside of Slayer has put out albums with the striking regulatory that Kreator has, even through the dark doldrums of the mid ’90s through early ’00s.
The Mid Four: Testament, Overkill, Exodus, Flotsam and Jetsam.
The Lil’ Four: Death Angel, Metal Church, Forbidden, Sanctuary.
Though oft debated, the next four are blatantly obvious: Testament, Voivod, Overkill, and Dexy’s Midnight Runners. Further quibbiling is just polishing brass on the Titanic.
I don’t wanna see the Big 4 and I definitely don’t have the patience for 8. But fine, I’ll play; Testament, Destruction, Overkill, and Kreator for good measure. I could go to that show. Pending, it was not outside in the summer, because I fucking hate the heat.
If we’re limited to classic American thrash bands, like the first four: Testament, Exodus, Overkill, and Nuclear Assault.
…though I think it’s way more ecumenical to include non-American thrash bands as the next four: Sepultura, Kreator, Destruction, Voivod.
It depends on which way you approach the meaning of the “Big Four.” If we’re talking about the most influential contributors to extreme metal as a whole (and with the Bay Area sucking up the first four spots), you’d be hard-pressed to find four more deserving additions than Sarcofago, Possessed, Sodom, and Cryptic Slaughter. Without Sarcofago’s bestial aural devastation and Sodom’s bullet-belted panzer assault, black metal as we know it would look, sound, and snarl entirely differently, and lack its essential depraved, primitive core. Without Possessed’s blasphemous brutality and nasty axework, death metal would be an entirely different many-horned beast. Cryptic Slaughter helped break down the barriers between metal and punk, spawning the crossover movement and unwittingly paving the way for a million circle pits to come. Listen to S.O.D.’s “United Forces” and you’ll see what I mean.
In all honesty, I chose these four in particular because I’m massively biased and love the shit out of “I.N.R.I.” and “Seven Churches.” I could have just as easily picked Destruction or Kreator to represent the Teutonic horde, or swapped out Possessed for Death (we still love you, Evil Chuck!), slid Nuclear Assault, Suicidal Tendencies, or D.R.I. into Cryptic Slaughter’s place, or thrown everyone for a loop and tossed Voivod’s technical ecstasy into the mix. I could have even reached back into the abyss and dragged Hellhammer and Venom kicking and screaming into the spotlight.
If the Big Eight are meant to encompass thrash and only thrash, I could’ve repped my home state and raised the horns for Whiplash and Overkill, gone for the obvious choices in Exodus and Testament (even though Testament totally blow), gotten a little obscure and shouted out Acid Drinkers, Hobb’s Angel of Death, or Dark Angel, or even thrown those poor Canadian bastards Anvil and Exciter a bone.
Sarcofago is, of course, untouchable. CRUSH, KILL, DESTROY!
It shouldn’t be the Big 8. It should be the Big 5 or the Big 6, and the other two should be Exodus and Testament. I can’t think of one, let alone two, other bands that I would feel are suited to the honor of being in the “Big X.”
Okay, kiddies, now it’s your turn! Weigh in with your answer to the question of the week below.