The ten best thrash-metal bands

Categories: Lists, Metal!

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Slayer guitarist and expert yeller Kerry King. Photo by Brandon Marshall
Thrash metal flayed disco band Kiss before bingeing on high-speed guitars, rapid double bass drum and foul lyrics. The emergence of thrash in the early '80s poked fun at a fan base of metal historians worshiping at the altar of eyeliner. These thrash bands did the world a favor and took metal in a much-needed direction, helping the genre develop into the massive beast that it is. Here are the top ten thrash-metal bands of all time.

10. Sepultura
Before changing its sound with Roots in 1996 and influencing an era of nu-metal, Sepultura had deeper roots in thrash metal, starting in the mid-'80s in Brazil with little to no English. Beneath the Remains, from 1989, is a classic thrash-metal album, showing the world Sepulura's newfound rise into metal musicianship. Along with bands like Kreator, Sepultura helped make thrash metal a worldwide concern before becoming a lifelong professional ass-kicker with intense metal.

See also: The ten best southern metal bands

9. Overkill
In a genre in which aggression can sideline a band for some time, Overkill can blow its horn as the most resolute and prolific of thrash-metal bands, with a skyscraper discography of sixteen albums -- more than Megadeth's fourteen. Overkill should have been bumped into the metal spotlight in the '80s due to its quality songwriting and its fast-and-loose approach to thrash. With three decades in the bag, there are no signs of letting up for Overkill.

8. Kreator
What do Germany and the U.S. have in common? Ja -- zee thrash metal. Our friends on the Rhine have produced a mosh pit full of cream-of-the-crop thrash-metal bands, including Kreator. The band has created songs with ludicrously fast tempos while still keeping it technical. It helped cram the '80s with some thrash essentials such as Extreme Aggression and Pleasure to Kill. After an experimental phase in the '90s, Kreator is still charging into the future with merciless force.

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581 comments
Aric Villarreal
Aric Villarreal

I was totally bored by thrash the first time around. I skipped Slayer and went straight to Bolt Thrower!

Sean Dolan
Sean Dolan

Fairly pedestrian list.... But you aren't writing an article about phish or edm so kudos !!!

Bryan Clark
Bryan Clark

good list, I like most of them, my favorite is Overkill, 2nd Megadeth

Brendan Flynn
Brendan Flynn

Cliff Burton era Metallica, Slayer and fuckin' Exodus.

Ryan Mollier
Ryan Mollier

haha alastor mundas metallica only had 4 great thrash albums they cant sustaine a carrer unlike megadeth

Matthew Loomis
Matthew Loomis

Coming from someone that was around in the mid 80's, and actively listening to relatively "new" bands like Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer, Testament,. Sepultura, etc...... at the time, you have to understand that these guys WERE relatively "unknown"... or only known in certain circles (metalheads). Music was highly RACIALLY and CULTURALLY segregated at the time, and many young aspiring metalheads/musicians loved these guys because they influenced us SO much, and it was something we could call "our own"... that not everyone knew about, and wasn't all over the radio. Many of you likely don't understand the DEVOTION we had to these guys. We bought the tapes and records, displayed the artwork in our bedrooms, wore the T-shirts religiously like a "flag"... it really was inspiring at the time. That same "devotion" to the metal gods of the 80s... and the subsequent "selling out" of Metallica with the whole "Napster/MTV" thing was exactly why so many "old" guys like myself..... wouldn't piss on Metallica if they were on fire and screaming. That is why they are #1... because they influenced so many.... but I like to refer to them as "pre sell-out" Metallica. I still listem to Kill Em, Lightning, Puppets, and even the Justice album occasionally.... but i haven't bought anything from/by them in likely 15+ years.

Chadley Ray Allen
Chadley Ray Allen

Song 4 the occasion: "Dragon Attack!!" Testment does anyone see the dragon N the fire?!

Jose Roberto Santana Read
Jose Roberto Santana Read

Metallica was the best Thrash metal band, but they stoped doing Thrash... I love Metallica most of all but they shouldn't be on 1st place :S

Lol metallica "slowly rotted away". Pretty good list though. definitely have seen worse.

K.j. Lyon
K.j. Lyon

Not really sure why PANTERA isn't on this list!?!?

Mat Miller
Mat Miller

Gonna be seeing Slayer and Exodus in a couple months...

Kurt Van Lifeson
Kurt Van Lifeson

I breathe fire! We SUCK now!!! We cover band!!! We $LAYER...$$$

Mitch Willey
Mitch Willey

when i hear the words best thrash bands i think of bands that have stayed true to the thrash roots. thats why i think of bands like exodus,slayer,overkill...not metallica and others that have changed with the times!!

Harold Bukowski
Harold Bukowski

Miettelica op 1 yeah right, what dd they make after the black album? Hard rock aorTock?

Lazareth Minnelli
Lazareth Minnelli

No Metal Church? No King Diamond/Mercyful Fate? Those two should have taken Overkill and Kreator slots easily imo. Meh, its all just opinions anyway.

Jacek EM
Jacek EM

Testament should be first on this list. However Metallica made a lot of good at the trash matter.

Greg Baltzer
Greg Baltzer

And Death Angel's Act 3 wasn't a thrash album, it's a great metal album....but it wasn't Thrash. Also Death Angel broke up around 1991 and didn't reunite until 2004. And until they reunited the music they were playing wasn't metal. Dennis the bass player left after Killing Seasons because he was tired of playing Metal. The point is The members of Death Angel and Metallica both needed a break from playing Metal, the only difference is that Metallica did so in the confines of their own band, (and it's their band so why shouldn't they do what ever they wanted in it) where as Death Angel simply broke up, and then started playing Metal again 12-13 years later. Both post Death Angel band The Organization was 4 members of Death Angel and Swarm was 3 members of Death Angel. Effectively the only different was what they choose to call themselves. The point is still the same, they both needed a break from metal and they've both come back to playing metal. It's not an illogical argument at all, they point just escapes you.

Scott Hall
Scott Hall

Like randy rhoads he is a classic trained artist who majored in music theory that adapted his skills to shred...the new order by testament,check it out.

Scott Hall
Scott Hall

Seen testament 4 times in the last 10 years...along with slayer,suicidal...about 50 of the best metal bands around and alex,the lead/ ryth guitarist is the most impressive guitarist I have ever seen perform...true talent

Paul Cordova
Paul Cordova

You can kick Kreator or Death Angel off that list to make room for Vio-lence which is a far superior thrash band.

Justin Paul
Justin Paul

Honestly a list like this should be done without Metallica slayer megadeth and anthrax. That's 1-4, everyone knows them cuz there the best. Do a list of best unknown thrash bands or something that'd be chill.

Yasmine Smrekar
Yasmine Smrekar

Nope gotta go with bands still releasing good albums, IE Overkill, Testament, etc.

Yasmine Smrekar
Yasmine Smrekar

Fallacious argument, attempting to use an exception to prove a rule. Death Angel's discography is Thrash, like it or not. What Death Angel did in another band.......doesn't matter, this is a fallacious argument as well, false analogy.

Yasmine Smrekar
Yasmine Smrekar

Saying that someone who put out a couple of decent albums and then even had their own fanbase turn on them would be better than bands still putting out good material is a total joke.

Yasmine Smrekar
Yasmine Smrekar

I agree with Polish Ninja Testament, Kreator and Overkill continue to put out good stuff while the others are known for their past. That's not greatness, it's failure.

Gustavo Valle
Gustavo Valle

Metallica... thrash? This is a joke. Three or four albuns against a shitload of crap thet released afterwards... Exodus #1

kreator needs to stay. if they were replaced by anybody it would have to be sodom or destruction. death angel can leave for them (or annihilator!!!) and I wouldnt complain.

cethan15
cethan15

Sodom, Testament, Overkill, Exodus, Kreator should be top 5 

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