(NCS contributor Grant Skelton has prepared four year-end lists that we will be posting this week, beginning with this one, which focuses on his favorite thrash albums of 2016.)
Ripper – Experiment Of Existence
Superior deathrash from Chile. Watch this band closely. They are on an upward trajectory and if this album is any indication, they have yet to hit their peak. I expect that their future output will top even this release.
Recommended Tracks: Neuronal Unity, Stellar Evolution, Rotten Dreams, Magnetic Solar Storms
Suppressive Fire – Bedlam
As I was writing this list, I found out that Suppressive Fire will be releasing another album in January. It’s inspiring to see a band with this kind of work ethic whose music is consistently enjoyable. There’s a healthy amount of black n’ roll in this band’s sound, and that element figures into songs that are well-crafted and immediately memorable.
Recommended Tracks: The Hellwraith, Ceasefire, Ironsights
Game Over – Crimes Against Reality
Third album from an Italian thrash band that’s on the more melodic side of this list. The solos on tracks like “Astral Matter” and “With All That Is Left” are instantly conducive to flicking on your lighter. Raucous gang vocals are sprinkled throughout this album, and I guarantee you’ll shout along without a second thought.
Recommended Tracks: Astral Matter, Gates Of Ishtar, With All That Is Left, Neon Maniacs
Testament – Brotherhood Of The Snake
Since The Formation Of Damnation, Testament continue to up their game. I was particularly interested in hearing this album once Steve DiGiorgio rejoined the band. If you like the bass to smatter your cerebellum into a pasty, gelatinous mass, then please check out this album. Peterson and Skolnick’s solos alone are worth your money.
Recommended Tracks: All! But if pressed, I would say: Stronghold, The Number Game, Seven Seals, Brotherhood Of The Snake
Destruction – Under Attack
For the longest time, I just couldn’t get used to Schmier’s vocals. But when I listened to this album all the way through, I had to hear it again. And again, and again, and so forth. The whole album is remarkably infectious, and it’s a must-have if you’re a fan of Teutonic thrash.
Recommended Tracks: Under Attack, Pathogenic, Getting Used To The Evil
Mutant – Pleiades
This one’s on the proggier side. Mutant really seem to enjoy shifting the tempo of their songs at seemingly random places. Soulful solos and dual vocal harmonies as well. So if you’re someone that likes your thrash with some unorthodox and experimental elements, this is for you!
Recommended Tracks – Guerra Florida, Obsidian, Twelve Gods, Canvas
Avenger Of Blood – On Slaying Grounds
Blasty, brain-battering butchery that’s not afraid to throw in a solid groove here and there. Remember that joke George Carlin wrote about a hatchet going right through your face? This is what that feels like.
Recommended Tracks: Echoes Of Bloodshed, Aggressive Psychotic Behavior, Warbound, Spawn Of Evil
Artillery – Penalty By Perception
Powerful, poignant vocals. Memorable, hooky songs. The NWOBHM influence is very apparent here. I’d heard bits and pieces of Artillery throughout the years, but this was the first time I listened to an entire album of theirs. It’s a very rewarding album, and I found it refreshing to hear this depth of melody in a thrash band. Of particular note is the ballad “When The Magic Is Gone.” The emotion behind it makes my speakers bleed.
Recommended Tracks: When The Magic Is Gone, In Defiance Of Conformity, Mercy Of Ignorance, Live By The Scythe
Metallica – Hardwired…To Self Destruct
By now, you’ve arrived at a verdict on this album. My personal verdict is a positive one. I really enjoy this album. Since its release, each track has grown on me. No, it isn’t Ride The Lightning II. And it doesn’t try to be. If I want Ride The Lightning, I’ll listen to it. After 8 years, this album is where Metallica are. And as a lifelong fan, I found it very satisfying. If Lars is good enough behind the kit for Bill Ward, he’s good enough for me.
Recommended Tracks: I like all of ‘em, but it depends on your mood. If you completely abhor Metallica, I’d still say “Spit Out The Bone” is worth your time.