In 2018, there were no new albums from the “Big Four” of thrash metal: Anthrax, Megadeth, Metallica, and Slayer. There were also no new albums from the next biggest four of American thrash: Death Angel, Exodus, Overkill, and Testament. There was nothing new from the “Big Four” of German thrash either: Destruction, Kreator, Sodom, and Tankard. There wasn’t even anything new from the current heavyweights of thrash: Havok, Municipal Waste, Power Trip, and Toxic Holocaust.

One might assume it was a bad year for the genre, but that’s not the case. There were still a ton of great thrash releases, even if they require a bit more digging to discover.

Here are five excellent, under-the-radar bands and albums from 2018 that should be on every thrash fanatic’s playlist.

Artillery | The Face of Fear | Metal Blade Records

Artillery are the founding fathers of the “Big Four” of Danish thrash. Established in 1982, the quintet has been very influential in Denmark and the rest of Europe. The band released their 11th full-length in 2018. The Face of Fear, released on Nov. 16 through Metal Blade Records, will remind the world that they’re still a musical force to be reckoned with. Artillery aren’t pretending to play old-school thrash, they are old-school thrash.

Destractive | Propaganda | Self-released

Since 2007, Destractive have been churning out their own brand of blackened thrash. The Finnish five-piece incorporate elements of death and black metal, making the final product extremely heavy. After a decade of demos, 2018 was the year Destractive finally unleashed their debut LP. Propaganda, which was self-released in January, is highly recommended for those who prefer their thrash on the harder and harsher side.

Pripjat | Chain Reaction | NoiseArt Records

This German band derive their name from Pripyat, a ghost town near Chernobyl, the site of the world’s worst nuclear disaster. Their debut record from 2014 was even called Sons of Tschernobyl. Their second album, Chain Reaction, arrived in April of 2018 via NoiseArt Records. Pripjat play thrash in the tradition of their great German predecessors, with a few new tricks of their own thrown in for good measure.

Tantara | Sum of Forces | Indie Recordings

These Norwegian headbangers ignore the black metal most associated with their home country to pay homage to the first wave of thrash. Tantara even managed to snag one-time Metallica knob-turner Flemming Rasmussen to produce their 2012 debut LP, Based On Evil. Fast forward to September of 2018, and Tantara have only sharpened their attack on Sum of Forces, released via Oslo label Indie Recordings. Fans of bands like Heathen and Vio-lence should take note.

Vitamin X | Age of Paranoia | Southern Lord Recordings

Vitamin X might be mostly associated with hardcore punk, but their albums are crammed with more thrash riffs than you can shake a stick at. Since 1997, these Dutch maniacs have been cranking out politically-charged thrash informed by punk and even classic rock. Age of Paranoia, released back in May, is the band’s sixth full-length and their first for Southern Lord Recordings. Somehow, Vitamin X only seem to be getting better with age.

By Tom Crandle

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