Alright… Neil here, so I’d asked all of our reviewers to post their Albums Of The Year, but haven’t done my own yet…it’s really hard, as to be honest, and I know it’s cliche, but it depends on the day, my mood or the stars! The quality of releases from the UK this year has ensured my sanity…. right here goes!
5. Solitary – The Truth Behind The Lies – Rich and the lads have dropped the album of their 25 year careers, as a huge Solitary fan, I’m so happy that this album was everything that I’d hoped for, it’s just a proper bit of U.K. thrash and I love it.
4. Virus – Evilution Apocalypse – Despite delays, label issues and all the other bullshit, Virus have come back after a thirty year gap between albums with an old school banger. Can’t wait to get in the pit with some of these songs!
3. Devastator – Baptised In Blasphemy – I have just enjoyed this album so much, I have played it to death, and still play it again. There are a sway of bands doing this vein of blackened speed metal, but Devastator tuck right into the sweet spot, blending the swagger of Motörhead, with the rawness of early Venom and Thrash elements I need from Sodom.
2. Hellfekted – Woe To The Kingdom Of Blood – I don’t throw these comments around lightly, but when a band reminds you ‘emotionally’ of the first time you heard ‘In Battle There Is No Law’ then you know you’re onto a good thing, this is still in a raw state, but the potential is huge.
1. =Onslaught – Generation Antichrist =Shrapnel – Palace For The Insane
I just couldn’t split these two, and I know it’s a massive cop out…
I got into Onslaught in late 1986 through file sharing… someone gave me a cassette! It had Power From Hell on one side and The Force on the other, and I’ve loved the band ever since, not seeing them live until the In Search For Sanity tour, but being a fan of all versions of the band. This did not disappoint, in anyway, at all, the singles, videos, album as a whole… all top drawer, and shows why Onslaught are our most exported of U.K. thrash bands.
Shrapnel, for me have moved into the top tier with this release, the quality of this album shines through, with tracks all providing an insight into the bands capabilities and drive, I can’t wait to see these tracks played live and see them take their place on the top rung of U.K. thrash.
Honourable Mentions are way to many to mention, but we can have a go, here are some other bands whose albums I’ve loved in 2020:
Plus some EPs and singles that have kept us excited for the future:
Elimination, Pest Control, Tortured Demon, Decimator, Militia, Ifreann, Beyond Salvation, Scarred By Truth, Tempashot & Trapped In Purgatory
Now, as I’m the boss I can do two right? So on the International front, I’ve been massively impressed by the strength of the underground than the big league, the following 5 bands are a great selection of brilliant thrash from the rest of the world, we’ve got Denmark, Canada, Germany, Italy and Portugal represented and we hope to catch some of these bands in the UK 8n the future.
1. Demolizer – Thrashmageddon
2. Hazzerd- Delirium
3. Reactory – Collapse To Come
4. Xenos – Filthgrinder
5. Mindtaker – Toxic War
With honourable mentions to Surgical Strike, Skeleton pit, Thrashwall, Amorphia, Havok, Sodom, Butcher, Midnight, Annihilator, Sepultura & Warbringer.
Well 2020 is almost done and, like most people, I cannot wait for it to be over. Gods favourite band retired at the tail end of last year and he hasn’t taken it well.
However, lets thank the sweet baby Jesus that a bunch of metalheads did not let a worldwide pandemic stop them making their beautiful, brutal offerings.
5 Testament. Titans of Creation – The only reason Testament make the list was after seeing them live in March. Recordings do not do Testament justice, however Titans, is as close as you are gonna get to the live feel of this band. Riffs aplenty with Chucks gravelly vocals dripping all over it. I never got into the early Testament material but the new album made we want to go back and try again.
4 Onslaught. Generation Antichrist. – The UK stalwarts were back and with new vocalist David Garnett. His debut album saw the British thrashers go back to the old school style with new style production and it was a brilliant mix. Pure anger and aggression, wrapped up in some hardcore riffage gave us a great reminder of what Onslaught are capable of.
3 Mr Bungle. The Raging Wrath of the Easter Bunny Demo – It has 2 of the originals from the big 4, enough said.
2 Raider. Guardian of the Fire. – Canadian band Raider released this early 2020 and I had the pleasure of reviewing it. A brilliant slab of death/thrash aimed at pummelling the listener into submission and leaving them begging for more.
Before my top album of 2020 here is a few honourable mentions, some thrash, some not but all worthy of a listen and a mention in this list.
Steel Mage. The Uprising of Hatred – Brilliant 4 track EP from the young thrashers. Keep an eye out for more in 2021. Ifreann. Desecration. – Scottish band Ifreann with their 2nd EP and it does not disappoint. AC/DC. Power Up – The light at the end of a shitty tunnel. Classic AC/DC and just what the doctor ordered. Iron Maiden. Nights of the Dead. Doing what Maiden do best and probably one of their greatest setlists. Volbeat. Rewind, Replay, Rebound (Live in Deutschland) Fucking sue me. Happy tunes with less than happy lyrics.
Now onto my top release for 2020.
1 Thrasherwolf. We are Revolution – Debut album from the London based thrashers and what a debut it was. Seriously violent thrash in an old school vein. They even had the balls to throw an eleven and a half minute track in there and still keep your head bobbing. Great stuff and hopefully the sign of more to come.
I simply couldn’t narrow down my year end list to just five albums. So, instead I’m going to list my Album Of The Year and then a whole bunch of incredible releases. This year may have been a bummer, but at least on the musical front there has been plenty of us to chew on.
Starting off this list is my Album Of The Year and, surprising absolutely no one, it’s Cycle Of Suffering from Sylosis. These UK Thrash Metallers came back earlier this year with a vengeance. After a four year long hiatus (their last release was Different Masks On The Same Face in 2016), Josh Middleton proved to us once again why he is at the top of the riff game. Technical, melodic, catchy, angry and occasionally somber, the album is full of excellent riffs and impressive lead work. Josh’s vocals are more pissed off then they’ve ever been but fear not, he can still pull out the impressive melodic screams when needed. Empty Prophets kicks the album off in a fury of tech-fueled Thrashing insanity, with a brutal breakdown at the end to get your neck muscles working. I Sever is the song that let us know that Sylosis were back, with an anthemic chorus, a beautiful solo and an epic, melodic outro for the ages. The title track hits like a ten ton truck, with Shield providing an anthemic chorus that would be glorious to hear in a live setting. Calcified is a slower, darker affair, with a broody atmosphere and whiplash inducing riffs, whilst Invidia provides us with melodic tremolo picked riffs and blast beats, followed by a Mumford & Sons chorus that has been Metalized. It shouldn’t work, but it ends up being one of the highlight parts of the album. Idle Hands provides us with some Hardcore styled Thrash riffing, and album highlight Apex Of Disdain brings one of the best riffs I’ve heard in a very long time, with a middle section that would make any shred nerd blush. Arms Like A Noose brings back some Supreme Oppressor vibes with the intro, and ends with one of the heaviest riffs on the album, with Devils In Their Eyes bringing melodic riffs, a catchy chorus and a brutal middle section. Disintegrate has more melodic tremolo picking, anthemic choruses and crushing breakdowns, with album closer Abandon providing a slower, somber end to an otherwise intense album, providing us with the only clean vocals on the album and drenching everything in atmosphere. It’s melancholic, emotiveand epic, sounding like something that would’ve been on the Passages album Josh put out a few years back. It’s an excellent closer to what is one hell of a comeback album. Sylosis are back, and nothing brings me more joy than knowing that.
With that out of the way, here’s a list of other excellent releases from this year:
Hellripper – The Affair Of The Poisons: If there was a runner-up for this year, then this album may be it. The finest Black/Thrash out there, this album is great fun from start to finish. Beyond The Convent Walls is my personal highlight, but it’s all killer and no filler!
Shrapnel – Palace For The Insane: One of the hardest working bands out there at the moment released this storming album, giving us some of the finest UK Thrash released in the past decade. New front-man and low end destroyer Aarran stepped up to the plate big time, providing a new sense of aggression to the band. Plenty of new influences appear throughout the album, with my personal highlight being Violent Now, Forever. Cracking stuff.
Cryptic Shift – Visitations From Enceladus: The masters of expansive, progressive and technical Astro-Death came out swinging with this release, starting things off with a 25 minutemagnum opus. From there, things only get more crazy and each listen is like transcending to new plane of existence. MoonbeltImmolator is the track that gets all the hype, but for good reason… It’s incredible stuff.
Divine Chaos – The Way To Oblivion: A new front-man, a new album, same stellar quality. These Death Thrashers pummel you over from the start, and don’t relent. Plenty of catchy choruses, melodic guitar work and complex, progressive Thrash riffs to satiate your quench for the extreme. Upon The Shrine stands out the most, with a Revocation-esque chorus that will be ingrained into your skull. A guest solo from Josh Middleton is just an extra cherry on top.
Make Them Die Slowly – Ferox/The Bodycount Continues: Anaal Nathrakh main man Mick Kenney released two albums with his new project this year, both of which are incredible. If you like AN then this will be right up your street. If you like Horror films, this will be up your street too. It’s melodic, it’s savage and it’s got more catchy hooks than Tyson Fury’s fists. Of Jackal And Demon Born is the Ferox highlight, with The Terror Begins and Slaughter High being the two highlights from The Bodycount Continues. Don your black leather gloves, tear open the nearest corpse and dig in!
Anaal Nathrakh – Endarkenment: Because releasing two albums and a single isn’t enough for our friend Mick, he also decided to release this behemoth of an album too. A dark, manic, visceraland intense listen that is underscored by plenty of anthemic choruses and melodic riffs. Dave Hunt’s vocals are insane, with terrifying, ferocious harsh vocals and soaring cleans to rival that of Bruce Dickinson. The title track is my highlight, but everything else is just as killer.
Inferi – Of Sunless Realms: Leaders of melodic, technical, symphonic Death Metal, these guys have been responsible for some of the finest Tech-Death out there and this E.P is no exception. The riffs are complex but melodic, the vocals are ferocious, the bass is insane and the drums are next level ridiculous. The symphonic elements help heighten them above the rest and there’s plenty of that here too. If you love your music to be on the more technical side then this is what you need.
Seven Doors – The Nights Of Terror: I’m cheating here as this is a single but I had to include it. Deadwood Lake shredder Ryan Wills comes out on top form here, providing all instrumentation and the vocals. It’s classic old school Death Metal, with lyrics focused on the glory gory days of Horror films. It’s a great first release and every Death Metal fan would be stupid to not go check it out. Even more impressive that it’s all one guy.
They were the main releases I wanted to discuss but a whole host of other albums, E.P’s and singles to check out are:
Firelink – Firelink
Devaststor – Baptised In Blasphemy
Hellfekted – Woe To The Kingdom Of Blood
Sutrah – Aletheia
Gargoyl – Gargoyl
The Black Dahlia Murder – Verminous
Symbolik – Emergence
Onslaught – Generation Antichrist
Warbringer – Weapons Of Tomorrow
Raider – Guardian Of The Fire
Saarkoth – Cult Of Nature
Dessiderium – Shadow Burn
Ulcerate – Stare Into Death And Be Still
Black Crown Initiate – Violent Portraits Of Doomed Escape
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.
The world staggers broken and beaten towards the oasis that is the end of the year 2020 and reviewer or not, I find myself in the annual period of reflection looking back over the years releases. To many, 2020 was a year of tragedy, with everything being turned on it’s head and the loss of countless icons in the world of music. That being said, there was no shortage of amazing releases, especially within the realm of metal. Albums I’ve ranked on this list have been measured against my personal production preferences, quality of both songwriting and album structure and whatever impact the album/songs have had on me personally.
5 – Sinister: ‘Deformation of the Holy Realm’ An honest, old-school beating. After their previous release ‘Syncretism’ (2017) this was one of my more highly anticipated releases of this year. 8 new tracks composed of only some of the most crushing riffs beat you over the head for around 44 minutes – which, let’s be honest, is exactly what you wanted. Whilst a far cry from another ‘Cross the Styx’ or ‘Diabolical Summoning’, it’s nice to hear quality death metal from one of my all time favourite death metal bands.
4 – Harlott: ‘Detritus of the Final Age’ Easily my most highly anticipated release of the year. There’s something about this band that just makes them sound so much more aggressive than so many of the other thrash bands. I have no idea what it is, but I’m not complaining. This one stands out above all the other pure thrash releases this year for that reason alone: there are bands that have more technical riffs and others that are better at writing epic songs, but Harlott just write riffs and vocal lines so well it just amounts to an inhuman level of violence.
3 – Schizophrenia: ‘Voices’ For the debut EP of an unsigned band to make my top 5 albums of the year list is a rarity, but after taking a break from metal for a month it was this release that had me back. It seems to be rare nowadays to have a band that is labelled death-thrash metal that actually lives up to the standard of the classics, where not only has this release been a constant spin but an inspiration for my own musical endeavours and a beacon of hope for metal releases in the coming years.
2 – Cryptic Shift ‘Visitations from Enceladus’ Described as ‘a cosmic opera’, the debut full length release from one of my all time favourite bands has truly blown me away. Hearing some of the tracks at live shows before the release was nice, but to then be blown away after hearing the same tracks on the first spin shows how special this record really is to me. To put it bluntly, it is this album (and the number one spot) that has made me miss going to shows, and I can only imagine what the first time seeing Cryptic Shift will be like when the world goes back to normal.
1 – Iron Maiden ‘Nights of the Dead, Legacy of the Beast: Live in Mexico City’ There are few things I would not give for more material from one of the most legendary musical acts of all time. Despite getting reruns of staples in the Iron Maiden live set (what would their show be without them?) there are some rarer tracks that make an appearance. I have seen complaints that the same songs keep cropping up and that this is not Bruce’s best performance (which are both very valid points), this album takes the number one spot on my list because it shows the band’s unwavering confidence in their material, which only makes me more excited for their next studio release
2020 What a great year for metal releases, where do you begin to even find a top 20 ? Let alone narrow it down to five, new bands have surfaced old bands have risen like a phoenix from the flames and there are always bands that have releases so frequent they have become institutions.
Thrash is truly a world wide phenomenon. No longer the bastion of the old safe havens of the United States or Germany. With the technology available to anyone, bands can record and produce records like never before.Some will inevitably rise to the top while many others will sink into oblivion without so much as leaving an original riff or well thought out lyric in the back of a listener’s mind . Leaving some fantastic releases out has been a tough job and on another day could well have picked a completely different top 5 .
5, Hazzerd Delerium The second full length release from a band that must now rank as Canada’s number one thrash band, pure modern thrash assault. Very slick and clean production.
4, Surgical Strike Part of a sick world A debut album from a German band that sounds anything but teutonic, very melodic in places with a more American sound in its delivery, on the same lines as Havok but just shades Havok’s 2020 release for me.
3, Shrapnel Palace for the insane I have to admit, i was a little worried with change in the line up, Shrapnel is a band i have seen many times, always with Jae singing, but from the first listen i found this to be truly a masterpiece of UK thrash metal, and there has been alot of quality UK releases this year.
2, Reactory Collapse to come Another German band. A lot more hardcore in the vocal delivery but with undoughted solid thrash musicianship, this was a third released rom the band but this is head and shoulders above what they previously have put out.
1, Plague Years Circle of Darkness Following the blueprint set down by the mighty Power Trip, Detroit’s Plague Years pummel you from every angle with a relentless riff soaked record with some deep down groove.It is hard to believe that it is infact a full length debut. It is a definite step away from the “ Thrash is back “ bands that appear just about everywhere these days, while still giving a nod to the old school.
Special praise for releases that didn’t quite make the list Benediction..Scriptures Grindpad..Violence Thrashwall..Thrashwall Crusher..Unleashed Havok..V Onslaught..Generation Antichrist Testament..Titans of Creation
For UK Thrashers, my top five albums will consist of UK riffs, UK blast beats and evil lyrics.
My No 1 is a belter of an album. Baptised in Blasphemy would be high on any list curated by myself; be it now or in twenty years time I imagine. These Derbyshire thrash/speed/black/trad rockers bring a smile to any face every time ‘play’ is pressed, and play is pressed often. Their entertaining mix of N.W.O.B.H.M. and the more Satanic side of metal harks back to familiar sounds while always managing to be new and fresh.
Hellripper is in a very similar vein, never mad fast just for the sake of it; there is definite song-writing craft in James McBain’s very large talent locker.
Gama Bomb’s late entry to many people’s list is an excellent example of thrash from these experienced Irish rockers. Top level thrash and fun.
Negotium Crucis is a lesson on how to create nasty black metal without resorting fifty minutes of blast beats and satanic grunts. There are many layers to this little gem; with hints from the trash world hidden in its frightful innards.
Well Onslaughts return to top British thrashing form could not be left from this 2020 collection. It is what I, and I am sure most other fans of the band, was hoping and craving for.
All hail UK metal ladies and gentlemen!
1 Devastator Baptised in Blasphemy 2 Hellripper The Affair of the Poisons 3 Gama Bomb Sea Savage 4 The Infernal Sea Negotium Crucis 5 Onslaught Generation Antichrist