13 Killer 80’s Thrash Songs NOT from the Big Four
Growing up in New York in the 1980’s was amazing for so many reasons. Times Square was where I could get a fake ID in under an hour, as much booze as I wanted, and a complete education in human sexuality. And all of this before I even turned 14 years old!
The 80’s, of course, was the golden age of thrash and while there has been a renaissance in classic thrash lately, courtesy of our friends at Stranger Things, there’s so much more thrash from the 1980s that wasn’t from the Big Four that I remember experiencing while hitting the clubs back in NYC. Many of these bands are still going strong today.
Times Square these days, however, is about as exciting as Friday the 13th: Jason Takes Manhattan.
Death Angel – “Bored”
Listen to those guitars and the amazing voice of Mark Osegueda, who is perhaps one of the most underrated metal vocalists of all time. This song has this massive wall of sound with some really novel drumming from Andy Galeon.
Overkill – “Elimination”
It’s the voice of Bobby Blitz, the bass of DD Verni, and wailing guitars from Staten Island’s own Bobby Gustafson that make the magic happen in one of the greatest thrash songs of all time. My jaw dropped in shock as I watched this on Headbanger’s Ball one night and feverishly threw in a VHS to record it. I re-watched that tape until it got eaten by my machine, which is one of the thousands of reasons digital beats videocassette anytime.
Nuclear Assault – “Critical Mass”
This banger starts with Dan Lilker’s signature bass. Another native New Yorker who help found Anthrax, Lilker went on to have quite the legendary career of his own. “Critical Mass” and Nuclear Assault itself was way ahead of its time, educating us about the earth’s destruction and the inevitable path we were headed on. Today, we’re experiencing the things they warned us about back then, and let’s face it – it sucks.
Sodom – “Sodomy and Lust“
The song title also reminds me of 42nd Street before it became Disney-fied in the 90’s. Today, 42nd Street is where tourists stare at their phones and make reservations at places like Applebee’s. A dark and evil sounding song that still generates a great deal of energy.
Voivod – “Korgull the Exterminator”
Quebec has so many great things… smoked meat, bagels, poutine, and Voivod. Though our favorite Quebecois moved on from thrash long ago, their early days provided the perfect soundtrack to many nights of planning drives to the Canadian city.
Whiplash – “Power Thrashing Death”
Before Tony Bono became a fixture in the painfully underrated Into Another, he was the bassist for New Jersey’s own Whiplash. Speed upon speed mixed with more speed, frontman Tony Portano is still rocking to this day.
Sepultura – “Slaves of Pain”
Before Sepultura started moving in different musical directions, they had some really stellar straight-forward thrash. This song is one of them and a great entree into the band’s early days. Thankfully, Max and Iggor Cavalera have been touring together a lot lately and breaking out bangers like this one.
Exodus – “Pleasures of the Flesh“
The first record with Steve “Zetro” Souza features one very negative review on Wikipedia. This, of course, means absolutely nothing because Wikipedia has also reported the death of Ace Frehley at least three times and changes the definition of concepts like “recession” to suit certain politicians. Pathetic. Unlike Wikipedia, Exodus has never been compromised.
Wrathchild America – “Climbing the Walls”
I love that crunchy, chugging guitar matched so perfectly with the bass that comes through in this track. Wrathchild America flew way under the radar even though they toured with some great thrash bands. I’m still seething because I missed them at the World Stage out in Rockland County when a still relatively unknown band called “Pantera” was actually opening the show.
Metal Church – “Watch the Children Pray“
Okay, so this particular song isn’t all that fast but there’s no doubt that Metal Church belongs in this discussion. Vocalist David Wayne was one of the best out there and the metal world misses him immensely. His performance on this track is next level.
Dark Angel – “The Burning of Sodom”
Dan Doty’s rapid fire phrasing makes even Ben Shapiro blush. How a band is able to match the blazing fast vocals with the blistering tempo is still a wonder. Of course having Gene Hoglan as your drummer helps a great deal.
D.R.I. – “Oblivion”
Often referred to as a “crossover” band because they melded thrash with hardcore, D.R.I. or the Dirty Rotten Imbeciles were anything but. They played Manhattan’s Ritz in 1987, which some of you may remember was actually the old Studio 54. No Bianca Jagger riding in on a horse on this particular night though.
Flotsam and Jetsam – “No Place for Disgrace”
This is a great track that went largely unnoticed because the record company at the time decided to push the band’s cover of Elton John’s “Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting” instead of their original thrash cuts. Some guy named Jason Newsted actually co-wrote this particular track though he did not actually play on it since he had just joined some other thrash band before it was recorded.