Reviewers 2020 Top 5 – Gareth Pugh

For my UK Thrashers Top 5 albums of 2020, I’ve done what it says on the Tin.  All thrash, and all British! I’ve mixed it up a bit though, so that I’ve got a few categories. I’ve gone for best overall album, best return, best debut and wildcard.

So, competing for equal position for number one best album are: ‘Shrapnel – Palace for the Insane’ and ‘Sylosis – Cycles of Suffering’

=1. ‘Shrapnel – Palace for the Insane’, I’ve loved this band since discovering ‘The Virus Conspires’ back in 2014, when I caught a review for it somewhere (don’t ask this befuddled brain where that was) and after a few days listening got onto the website, or whatever it was, and immediately ordered the ‘No Saviours’ and ‘The Devastation to Come’ EPs, I then helped crowdfund the brilliant ‘Raised on Decay’, the band were just getting better and better, and then bang, what I thought might be a fatal blow, the loss of Jae! Fear not the band have bounced back with new four-stringer/vocalist Aarran. And what a fucking decision that was! This is an absolutely stunning album from start to finish, 12 tracks, no filler, world class song-writing, variation, heavy as hell. Don’t even think about it. But it now!

=1. Sylosis – Cycles of Suffering’, not a true dyed in the wool thrash band like ‘Shrapnel’, adding some other elements into the mix, like melodic death metal, some progressive parts and the odd hint of metalcore. But fundamentally Sylosis is a thrash band. This is another stunning album, some may be turned off by Josh’s vocals, but primarily this is a guitar album, and Josh is debatably the best guitarist in the business at the moment, an absolutely incredible shredder

For best return, I’ve looked no further than Virus and ‘Evilution Apocalypse’.

Their first full length since 1989’s ‘Lunacy’, Coke and the (new) gang have released an out-and-out belter of an album. Ugly (in the best of ways), heavy thrash with no compromise, some great riffs and some truly memorable choruses and hooks aplenty, with a good dose of humour in ‘Defective Detective’, this easily deserves to make the list.

Best debut, this goes to ThrasherWolf.

Wearing their influences on their sleeves yet adding their own distinct originality to the proceedings, ThrasherWolf’s debut ‘We Are Revolution (W.A.R.)’  is an enormously enjoyable slab of prime UK thrash. Chock full of great songs, with riffs and solos galore, I really have enjoyed this album since it’s release and before, since I was lucky to have an early review copy. Great stuff and looking forward to hearing what they come up with for 2021.

For my wildcard I’ve cheated a little bit, and gone for three bands that have similarities, yet are very much their own bands. The similarities are they all have a good measure of that secret ‘Blackened’ element to their sound. I give you Hellripper ‘The Affair of the Poison’, Devastator ‘Baptised in Blasphemy’ and Helfekted ‘Woe to the Kingdom of Blood’, I urge you to check out all of these bands albums, they all have fantastic song writing and talent aplenty, and add to that bags of energy and enthusiasm. I hope they don’t mind me lumping them in together, because each of them is unique.

Very honourable mentions, and on another day they could easily have made the list, to Solarity ‘The Truth behind the Lies’, Incinery ‘Hollow Earth Theory’, Steel Mage ‘The Uprising of Hatred’ & ‘Mandatory Detention’, Elimination ‘ Of Gods and Monsters’ (love this, and would have made the top 5, only I because I discounted EPs). Apologies to any I’ve missed.

My International mentions are: Warbringer ‘Weapons of Tomorrow’, Testament ‘Titans of Creation’, Havok ‘V’, Bloodvale ‘Lobotomy’, Sodom ‘Genesis XIX’, Harlott ‘Detritus of the Final Age’, Accuser ‘Accuser’, Hazzerd ‘Delirium’ etc  and again, I’ve probably missed loads.

There’s excitement for the new year as well, with new albums expected from Evile, Trapped in Pugatory (I’ll give you a hint, this is an early new year present, and it’s a banger), Elimination and loads of others. Keep it heavy, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

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