The 20 Best Thrash Albums Since the Turn of the Millennium


Since its emergence in the early ’80s, thrash has always been metal’s most reliable genre. Trends come and go, bands rise and fall, but at the end of the day what we all really want is a fast riff and lyrics about minigun demons that’ll make us bang our heads like psychopaths. In fact, we’d argue that thrash is the metal genre that most people think of when they imagine a truly heavy metal band. Enjoy your blackgaze or nu-core all you want, guys — we know you’ll come running back into the room when Slayer starts playing

That said, thrash style lives in a state of late-’80s/early-’90s suspended animation. But the truth is that many of the genre’s best albums came out after the year 2000 ushered in the 21st Century. So to honor the records that don’t often get their due, here’s a list of the best thrash releases since the turn of the millennium.

Here are the 20 thrash albums that showed up late to the party, but brought a shitload of beer and speed…

20. Carnal Forge, Firedemon (2000)

While they never quite blew up, Carnal Forge were certainly one of the first bands in the underground to make thrash proper and stick with it. While their later albums showcased awesome, groove-driven singles, Firedemon captures the band’s sound at its purest and most chaotic. The record comes off like a bunch of death metal guys who’d heard of thrash trying to write an album in that style. While that’s weird, and feels at times off-kilter, it’s deeply satisfying across the board. Too much hell ain’t enough for me.

19. Hellripper, The Affair of the Poisons (2020)

Scottish one-man thrash act Hellripper really haven’t missed a beat, leaping from one milestone album to the next. But 2020’s The Affair of the Poisons saw the band bring together its many influences in an awesome combination of sounds. While 2017’s Coagulating Darkness was pure cutthroat speed, this record has some of that black metal boom, that Motörheadian swagger, and a touch of that NWOBHM morbidity added to the band’s nonstop assault. Proof that even during the year of the virus, thrash metal was always there for us.

18. Exodus, Persona Non Grata (2021)

Well, shit, we’d say Who knew they had it in ‘em, but honestly, we kinda knew. Persona Non Grata was the culmination of a long journey for ExodusTempo of the Damned in 2004, the Rob Dukes records, Gary in Slayer, Tom Hunting’s cancer – and the result was the most pissed-off and exhilarating album maybe of their entire career. For so many other thrash bands, age was something to be feared, resulting in the inevitability of chilling out, but all getting old did for these dudes was made them angrier. Now get the fuck off their lawn.

17. Desaster, The Oath of an Iron Ritual (2016)

20 years after the release of their debut album, Germany’s Desaster finally reached your throat and managed to rip it out. The Oath of an Iron Ritual isn’t a typical galloper, but the album’s seething, booming thrash metal brings a sense of regal grandiosity to the genre. The album is a satanic proclamation, containing the kind of music one might expect played behind an approaching army that makes the earth shake with its advance. Not a record many of us were ready for, but hey, better 20 years in than never.

16. Death Angel, Killing Season (2008)

2004’s The Art of Dying gave Bay Area legends Death Angel the comeback record they needed, but it was ‘08’s Killing Season that truly launched their second act. The record is both exuberant in its love of the pit (“Sonic Beatdown”) and mature in its relationship with its subject matter (“Soulless”). At the bottom of it all, though, is the sound of a band that never quit the genre, and who are still just happy to be here. That sense of sweaty, foaming-at-the-mouth joy hoists this record up and makes it an unbridled triumph.

15. Death of Kings, Kneel Before None (2017)

Ripping barbarian thrash with fictional weapons? Out-fucking-standing. Kneel Before None got right what bands like 3 Inches of Blood sometimes only reached for, perfectly blending blade-based battle themes with falling-axe riffage and trampling gallops. It’s as if Atlanta’s Death of Kings got together and said, Let’s make the listener headbang in unison with the people next to them for an entire goddamn album. When I first heard this gem, I basically wrote an apology for not making it my album of the year.

14. Havok, Time Is Up (2011)

With their 2008 debut Burn, Havok introduced themselves to the world; with 2011’s Time Is Up, the world did a double take. The record kicks down the door of any listener’s mind and occupies it instantly with an arsenal of bouncing riff accents and toothsome guitar harmonies. On top of all this is a guitar tone/vocal sound dichotomy that’s sears away the bullshit from one’s life. That the record came at the tail-end of the thrash revival is a testament to its strength – these guys were making an album this incredible just ‘cause.

13. Toxic Holocaust, Chemistry of Consciousness (2013)

It took Joel Grind and Co. a hot second, but they got there. Chemistry of Consciousness continued Toxic Holocaust’s campaign of caustic, unremitting thrash metal conquest, but the band had a burst of energy that hadn’t quite shown up on some of their previous releases. No longer being chained to the resurgent thrash movement, theses dudes could just be who they were, and the result was an absolutely free for all. And hey, you just can’t watch the “Acid Fuzz” video too many times.

12. Sodom, M-16 (2001)

Like their countrymen in Kreator, Sodom saw thrash’s second coming before everyone else, and put their souls into an album that easily ranks with their classic material. But the difference is that while Kreator embraced newer sounds and groove metal catchiness, Sodom went all in on speed and evil. As such, M-16 is a bloody, merciless release, channeling everything that made Sodom such a staple of thrash’s roiling underground. Leave it all on the battlefield.

11. Hypnosia, Extreme Hatred (2000)

Extreme Hatred’s superpower is its infectiousness. All it took was one song from this nasty little thrash album on a sampler or mixtape, and you were pretty much obligated to track it down and buy it. To this day, the people who know know, and rocking a Hypnosia patch or shirt will instantly ignite a conversation with the right kind of thrasher. A rare moment where a metal album was as brilliant, brutal, and succinct as its utterly perfect cover art.

10. Black Fast, Terms of Surrender (2015)

Wait, fuck, what? Terms of Surrender really came out of nowhere and crashed through the metal scene, kicking motherfuckers out of windows as it went. The album’s incredible muscular tone and unexpected wiliness immediately vaulted Missouri’s Black Fast to the forefront of the scene. Brutal but tasty, unorthodox but classic, the record continues to be the band’s greatest triumph. You just can’t deny a record this fuckin’ good.

9. Nifelheim, Envoy of Lucifer (2007)

Among blackened thrash bands, Nifelheim lean hard on the blackened, but the core of Envoy of Lucifer is undoubtedly thrash metal. And a fiery core it is – the record is one of the band’s most cohesive and easy to enjoy, loaded with galloping rhythms and shrieking guitars that remind one of Bathory at their most barbaric. While Nifelheim have never been here to make friends, tracks like “Storm of the Reaper” and “No More Life” earned them countless new fans. Sometimes, you just wanna give it all to Satan.

8. The Haunted, The Haunted Made Me Do It (2000)

When At The Gates offshoot The Haunted lost frontman Peter Dolving after their massive self-titled debut, many were dubious about the band’s future. Instead, with the addition of Marco Aro, the band went on to produce arguably their finest recording. The Haunted Made Me Do It is a blazing slab of anti-human rancor, surging with earworm riffs and a sense of painful momentum that carries you up with it. From the circle pit-inducing kick of “Bury Your Dead” to the bloody spasm of “Victim Iced,” the record is a gift to your ears, assuming those motherfuckers enjoy a good bruising.

7. Ghoul, Splatterthrash (2007)

Thrash has its hubs around the world – the Bay Area, Germany, and of course, Creepsylvania. That’s thanks to masked cannibals Ghoul, whose 2007 album Splatterthrash is a throwback riff-romp full of voodoo, alien skulls, axe murder, and gallon after gallon of high-proof Rot Gut. How such an incredible musical milestone came from such a dour, grave-choked nation, we cannot imagine, but after a few shots of Rot Gut, you won’t even care. Let the massacre begin.

6. Witchery, Symphony for the Devil (2001)

While America was in the grips of nu-metal and metalcore in the late ‘90s and early 2000s, a crop of unfuckwithable thrash acts were popping up in Sweden. Witchery might’ve been the best among them, and Symphony for the Devil showed them getting serious about their (witch)craft. While 1999’s Dead, Hot and Ready was raw and icy, this album was lush and catchy, giving listeners the anthemic epics they were craving. Though never a shoe-in with the high-tops-and-bulletbelts crowd, this record would remind countless black-draped misanthropes that thrash ruled.

5. Municipal Waste, The Art of Partying (2007)

No matter which band started the thrash revival, or wrote its best record, Municipal Waste undeniably wrote the most iconic album of the movement. The band’s beer-drenched, no-holds-barred follow-up to 2005’s underground favorite Hazardous Mutation was a relatable tour de force, a rager in a can that gave listeners a 15-song escape into the depths of their own souls. Not only that, but the band wrote about metal; tracks like “Headbanger Face Rip” told tales of ghoulish overkill with heshers as their protagonists. Like an old friend you never stopped loving to drink with.

4. Gama Bomb, Citizen Brain (2008)

So many bands of the thrash revival wanted to be taken seriously, while so many goofy, retro acts sacrificed truly ripping riffs for good times. But Gama Bomb have always matched their throwback hilarity with sonic muscle, and Citizen Brain is a perfect distillation of that approach. The riffs on this album are buzzsaw blades shot out of the Ninja Turtles’ Pizza Thrower, turning listeners into maniacs even as they sing along to songs about time-travel clusterfucks and Streets of Rage. In the words of Roger Alan Wade, if you’re gonna be dumb, you gotta be tough, and in ‘08 these Irishmen went as, uh, both as they could.

3. Power Trip, Nightmare Logic (2017)

Much of what makes Nightmare Logic so special is that it can be included on this list at all. Power Trip’s sophomore full-length was utterly massive, uniting fans from across metal’s many subcultures…and it was a thrash album. A thrash album with incredible songwriting and a massive scope and a fresh perspective, but a kickass thrash album none the less. The record is a constant reminder that this genre brings metalheads together, and it did so over topics that are a little more important than pizza and ‘80s cartoons. What the band will do next remains to be seen, but no one will dunk of them if it’s not as gigantic as this monster right here.

2. Kreator, Violent Revolution (2001)

In truth, Violent Revolution might be the album that started the entire thrash revival. After playing around with goth metal on 1999’s Endorama, German legends Kreator blasted back to form with this onslaught of straightforward-if-groove-laden thrash. The result was not only a stellar album, but one that reminded metalheads that they missed the hell out of traditional speed and fury, and wanted to hear vengeful moshing songs once more. The festival circuit never stood a chance.

1. Warbringer, Woe to the Vanquished (2017)

The start-to-finish brilliance of Woe to the Vanquished couldn’t have happened earlier in Warbringer’s career. The band needed the raw, diabolical beginning of 2008’s War Without End, and the slow maturation that came with the albums that followed it, to get to the place where they could make this perfect a record. But unlike that debut, Woe to the Vanquished is a focused and psychological effort, and unlike its immediate predecessors, it’s tight, fast, and utterly merciless. This record is an awesomely-crafted homage to the battlefield, featuring an understanding of life, death, and the human condition that other bands only dream of. Behold the last man standing.

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