It’s about time for a history lesson, and we got Nashville metal punks Act of Impalement to give the low down on the annals of time with their Top 5. Combining the beats and snarl of hardcore punk and guitar stylings of NWOBHM, thrash metal rose above one of the cheesiest decades in recent history and gave us defining albums. For this first installment, drummer Zack Ledbetter is taking us back to the glory days with the Top 5 Thrash Records of the 80s. Get ready.
Sacrilege – Behind the Realms of Madness
This crust-tinged band, formed out of the ashes of British punks Warwound, is truly an underrated gem of the underground English thrash scene. Their first LP brings to mind Discharge and early Slayer for starters, and even a dark hint of early Bathory. Definitely worth checking out for the d-beat/NWOBHM combo and furious vocals by Lynda “Tam” Simpson.
Exodus – Bonded by Blood
It may be blasphemy that this isn’t included in the top 5. Killer riffs and the instantly recognizable and always ludicrous Paul Baloff fronting – simply put, Exodus has never achieved better. “Murder in the front row, crowd begins to bang and there’s blood upon the stage / Bang your head against the stage and metal takes its place, bonded by blood.” Nothing is more metal than that, right? Hugely influential.
Infernäl Mäjesty – None Shall Defy
Extraordinary Canadian band with more than a little Celtic Frost influence (who will not be on this list because an entire other list will be dedicated to them). This record was probably held back by it’s atrocious album artwork (Seriously. It’s shit.). None shall deny (haha) that it’s indeed a riffer and evil as fuck.
FIVE: Sodom – Agent Orange (1988)
Generally deemed a classic in the German teutonic thrash scene, Agent Orange was Sodom’s breakout success. Picking up where Venom left off with the raw power trio format, Sodom found what is PERSONALLY my favorite sound of theirs. The simple chug riffs are more powerful with the amped production, and Angleripper’s bass doesn’t sound out of tune like on it’s precursor. The lyrical war theme is the icing on the cake that make this a polished German thrash classic.
FOUR: Sepultura – Schizophrenia (1987)
Often the most overlooked Sepultura album, due to it’s in-between phase of the raw “bestial” early Sepultura and the groovy death metal of later Sepultura. This album is pure thrash. And oh, does it do that well. Max and Igor had solidified themselves as metal’s heaviest brothers, and this album perfectly showcases their musical prowess in the heaviest and fastest of ways. This album features some of the most infectious riffs Sepultura ever made, with a still intact punk heavy-handedess. Rumor has it that they blew Sodom off the stage opening for them throughout Europe (embarrassing Sodom so much it resulted in a lineup change soon thereafter). The opening riff of “From the Past Comes Storms” is enough to instantly hook you.
THREE: Metallica – Ride the Lightning (1985)
Definitely one of the earliest metallic experiences I ever had. Metallica’s sophomore album had opened their range just enough to really broaden their sound without wimping out. Still sporting leftover Mustaine riffs (chugggachugga) and with Cliff Burton and Kirk Hammett at their peak performance, this is definitely my most revisited Metallica album. Classics like “For Whom the Bell Tolls” and “Creeping Death” are some of Metallica’s most energetic performances, and with lyrical themes ranging from fantasy to depression, Metallica definitely shine. Bonus points for the H.P Lovecraft reference.
TWO: Dark Angel – Darkness Descends (1986)
First off, GENE FUCKING HOGLAN!!!!! The drums on this album shaped all extreme metal drumming after this. The riffs are caveman chugs that are so effective it’s hard to not get chills listening to the main riff to the title track. Definitely some progressive moments on here. Watching live footage now makes me sick that I wasn’t around to see them in their prime. Vocalist Don Doty has one of those super muscley necks from headbanging so much, and after listening to this record you will not wonder why. That’s all I gotta say.
ONE: Slayer – South of Heaven (1988)
I might get my ass handed to me by the kvlt neckbeards, but this has always been my favorite Slayer album. Probably because notorious fuckhead Kerry King had little to do with it (nah, he’s got some riffs). More prominent songwriting skills by Tom Araya surfaced with this album in catchy numbers such as “Mandatory Suicide” and “Behind the Crooked Cross” really make this a standout record. The drums are so brutally high in the mix it’s like you’re getting pounded by Dave Lombardo’s fist right in your fucking ear. Also, it helps that I bought this album at an FYE when I was 15 years old after I puked all over myself – and isn’t that what it’s all about?