Technical Thrash Metal

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VOIVOD Dimension Hatröss Album Cover Dimension Hatröss
VOIVOD
4.33 | 49 ratings
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CORONER No More Color Album Cover No More Color
CORONER
4.35 | 37 ratings
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VEKTOR Terminal Redux Album Cover Terminal Redux
VEKTOR
4.29 | 25 ratings
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CRYPTOSIS Bionic Swarm Album Cover Bionic Swarm
CRYPTOSIS
4.43 | 9 ratings
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WATCHTOWER Control And Resistance Album Cover Control And Resistance
WATCHTOWER
4.19 | 29 ratings
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VOIVOD Killing Technology Album Cover Killing Technology
VOIVOD
4.17 | 41 ratings
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VEKTOR Outer Isolation Album Cover Outer Isolation
VEKTOR
4.17 | 39 ratings
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MEKONG DELTA Dances of Death (And Other Walking Shadows) Album Cover Dances of Death (And Other Walking Shadows)
MEKONG DELTA
4.27 | 11 ratings
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VEKTOR Black Future Album Cover Black Future
VEKTOR
4.08 | 42 ratings
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MEKONG DELTA Lurking Fear Album Cover Lurking Fear
MEKONG DELTA
4.25 | 8 ratings
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REVOCATION Great Is Our Sin Album Cover Great Is Our Sin
REVOCATION
4.22 | 8 ratings
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REVOCATION Deathless Album Cover Deathless
REVOCATION
4.16 | 11 ratings
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Synchro Anarchy
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VOIVOD
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technical thrash metal Music Reviews

MEKONG DELTA The Music of Erich Zann

Album · 1988 · Technical Thrash Metal
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The Spotlight Kid
Mekong Delta are one of those bands that manages to stand apart, creating music which is truly unique in sound, scope and approach and "The Music Of Erich Zann" is no exception. In fact it might be the bands most ambitious offering in terms of their controlled insanity. Granted that the vocals by Keil can be a deal breaker for some with his totally bizarre and unique approach, however that's one of my favorite elements of this first incarnation of Mekong Delta's career. Sometimes singers come along who aren't conventionally good singers but they are so weird and unique in their delivery and ideas that they become just as captivating as those vocal gods we all know and love and Keil fits that mold for me on the first 3 Mekong Delta albums but especially here. I feel like this album gets unfairly maligned because yes the production is horribly thin and small sounding, however if you can look past that aspect the rewards are great. The crazy riffs, insane drumming, percolating bass lines and extravagant vocals make for a totally unique and wild ride. Harnessing the horror of Lovecraft, Mekong Delta created an album that while not for everyone is so loaded with creativity and originality and just down right bizarre coolness that for those with an adventurous spirit this album is sure to become a favorite as it has for me. a technical thrash metal classic.

VOIVOD Synchro Anarchy

Album · 2022 · Technical Thrash Metal
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siLLy puPPy
When Canada’s most distinguished technical thrash metal band VOIVOD hit the scene all the way back in 1984 with its balls-to-the-wall debut “War And Pain” the metal world wasn’t quite prepared for its impact as if this strange musical outfit had drifted in on some asteroid that hit the planet and suddenly infected the eardrums of musical extremists. The band pretty much created its own branch of metal music from the getgo and only preceded to drift into more avant-garde and progressive territories as time went on. Luckily the world caught up to the idiosyncrasies laid down by these Quebecois thrashers who easily distinguished themselves from the other so-called big four bands Sacrifice, Razor and Annihilator.

Despite having found its own unique musical niche in the now expansive world of metal music, VOIVOD remains even to this current day an act that sounds like no other. While some bands like Dream Theater or Metallica for example have legions of imitators, VOIVOD for some reason has never spawned an army of clones or bands that were influenced by them. None have even come close to its bizarre otherworldly mix of jangled guitar chord rampages, time signature quirkiness and slinking musical processions that really do insinuate a parallel reality that sits outside of the perception of most human beings trapped in the 3D construct. Yet somehow VOIVOD has tapped into the large potentials just outside of the perception of many and made a multi-decade career out of it.

With the loss of Denis D’Amour aka Piggy in 2005 it was presumed that the founder of VOIVOD’s unique guitar angularities would take his secrets to the grave but lo and behold the world had not only accepted VOIVOD’s unique musical visions but worshipped them. In came Daniel Mongrain to take the role as guitar mangler and has so far channeled the spirit of Piggy as if Piggy actually simply took over his body and continues to steer his music in an almost eerie similarity. Here we are in 2022 and VOIVOD returns with its 15th studio album SYNCHRO ANARCHY and the band which now features the lineup of Michel “Away” Langevin (drums), Denis “Snake” Bélanger (vocals), Mongrain on guitars and Dominique “Rocky” Laroche (bass) remain in the same lineup as 2018’s amazing comeback “The Wake.”

Graced with the same style of Twilight Zone visual arts that the band has adopted since the more progressive albums such as “Killing Technology” began to test metal heads’ preconceptions all the way back in the 1980s, SYNCHRO ANARCHY continues the now tried and true comfort zone that VOIVOD has been gracefully following for quite some time now and while many are going ballistic over the fact that this band never deviates from the norm and release some kind of polka metal hybrid or something just so they can trash it and castigate them for not sticking to something they know best, the truth is VOIVOD is actually quite good at what they do and after all since there are really no contenders for this particular style of hardcore punk infused tech thrash metal skirting the world of prog rock and Motorhead-esque 80s metal, why stop now?

It’s true that metal has come a long way since VOIVOD’s musicians were the true masters of weird back in the late 1980s with a gazillion bands that are even weirder these days but just because VOIVOD no longer are the masters of weird by no means signifies that they are ready to be put to pasture any time soon. SYNCHRO ANARCHY may not reinvent the wheel or any other instrument of metal navigation but what it does accomplish is that it delivers a no nonsense ferocious attack of proggy tech thrash metal that only VOIVOD can dish out in abundance. The band wastes no time with the opening “Paranormalium” which delivers ample doses of jittery schizoid guitar riffs in classic atonality in conjunct with the oddball off-kilter counterpoints of the bass, drums and distinctly VOIVOD vocal style of Snake.

The album may not take VOIVOD to “The Outer Limits” as their style once did but at this point in their career these guys are legends and are quite remarkable in how they consistently deliver album after album of top notch VOIVOD-isms in top musical form. No, i’m not expecting VOIVOD to try to be the next Mr Bungle or psychedelic blackened death metal band. I expect VOIVOD to remain exactly what they are on their own terms and in that regard SYNCHRO ANARCHY is an excellent delivery of their classic sounds and stylistic quirks. Having said that i do find this album to be less compelling than “The Wake.” Compositionally speaking, SYNCHRO ANARCHY does seem to be content in simply retreading that which has been done without even the tiniest attempt to step things up or meander into other sectors of the VOIVOD universe. Nope. These guys have fully opted to deliver what most fans probably expect and that’s what they do on this release.

So when evaluating and reviewing a classic act like VOIVOD perhaps its better to take into consideration that the band is in a league of its own and avoid comparisons to other bands both stylistically and in a temporal context. VOIVOD has always exited in the vacuum of the space-time continuum utterly and blissfully unconcerned about what is happening around them and for that i truly applaud this band who shows no signs of insecurity as many an aging metal band has displayed over time. These guys know what they do best and they deliver that with a gusto unmatched by many of the old timers. In that regard VOIVOD can only be compared to itself and in terms of VOIVOD releases, SYNCHRO ANARCHY may not sit high on the band’s canon as best releases but ounce for ounce this one more than delivers the goods for a true VOIVOD fan with not a band track to be heard. To my ears this is yet another excellent slice of nerdy tech thrash metal that will get several return visits as time marches on.

VOIVOD Synchro Anarchy

Album · 2022 · Technical Thrash Metal
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lukretion
As I write this, there is a furious storm raging outside my window. The trees sway madly from side to side, splinters and small branches fly off in all directions, and all living things hide away in awe and terror, as the wind ravishes the land, howling in all its force. This ravaged scenario describes fairly accurately how my head also feels after listening to Synchro Anarchy, the 15th studio album by Canadian prog metal veterans Voivod. Out on February 11th via Century Media, the LP is a staggering, mind-blowing listening experience that left me speechless, stupefied and punch-drunk. As I am here scratching my head trying to make sense of what I just heard, only two things are clear to me. First, Voivod sound like no other band I ever listened to and stand tall in a league of their own. Second, Synchro Anarchy is a stupendous example of how to write music that is truly genre-defying and progressive.

Before I tell you further about this album, I have a confession to make. Despite being an avid prog rock/metal fan, for some reason Voivod have always flown below my radar until now. Of course, I had heard of them, but I never really took the time to sit down and listen to their music. When I saw Synchro Anarchy in the The Metal Oberver promo list, I decided that it was time for me to take a step into the unknown and find out what I actually thought of Voivod. Well, based on what I heard on Synchro Anarchy, I can only tell you that I have been a fool to ignore this awesome band for so long and that the next thing I’ll do when I finish this review, is go and check out their whole back catalogue!

If I were to describe Synchro Anarchy to someone who, like me, never approached the Quebecois spaceship before, I’d say that the album is a genre-bending amalgamation of proto-metal, thrash, jazz-infected prog, and space rock. A lot of it can very much feel like an acquired taste. The music is difficult and uncompromising, full of dissonance, shifting rhythms and variable tempos. It is rarely melodic, but when melodies do come to surface, their contrast with the challenging musical background is simply irresistible, producing the same spellbinding effect of the mirage of an oasis in the desert. Structurally, the songs twist and turn like live snakes, as far removed as possible from the canonical verse/chorus repetition. Snippets of phrases and melodies return circularly before disintegrating again into new black holes that take the music into completely different directions.

The musicianship is incredible. I was especially impressed by Chewy’s guitarwork, which is simply one of the most inventive I have heard in a long time on a metal album. My first thought was that this is how Robert Fripp (King Crimson) would have sounded if he was born 15 years later and decided to play thrash metal instead of progressive rock. The guitar riffs are angular and irregular. The use of unusual and dissonant chords is jarring, and so are the sudden explosions of jazz-infected leads and solos. Chewy’s performance is mind-blowing and is alone worth the price of the album. The rhythm section is no less spectacular. Drummer Away and bassist Rocky are a formidable pair that give the songs a solid rhythmic base that feels at the same time adventurous and tight, intricate and powerful. Snake’s singing is also impressive, in the same way as Lemmy’s (Motorhead) or Ozzy Osbourne’s vocals can be arresting. The beauty does not lie in the melodiousness or technicality of the performance, but rather in its unique character, halfway between ritualistic psalmody and punk singing. It transmits a sense of otherworldliness and transcendence that is a perfect complement for the alien musical background conjured up by the other three musicians.

There is a primal and vibrant energy running through the 9 tracks of the album, which gives away how much fun Voivod must have had writing and recording this LP. The fun is infectious for the audience too: the music is fresh and exciting, and it contains that elusive combination of raw power and dark energy that leaves you exhilarated, fervid and electrified as only quintessential metal albums can do. The flurry of bright, left-field ideas that traverse the album keep you constantly on your toes as you are never quite sure which direction each new song may take. The title-track “Synchro Anarchy” is a beautiful rollercoaster that keeps you glued to your headphones, as dissonant chords and odd times give way to a gorgeously accessible melodic chorus. “Planet Eaters” is a punkish beast that constantly challenges the listener with angular riffs, shifting tempos and sudden accelerations, before exploding in a beautiful jazzy solo. “Mind Clock” is a more atmospheric affair that turns things down a notch, offering some respite to the audience, before the frontal assault of “Sleeves Off”, another track that brings to the fore the punk verve of the record. Meanwhile, the album’s second half offers some darker cuts, like the Sabbathian “Holographic Thinking” or the doomy “Memory Failure” that closes the LP.

Graced by an immaculate sound production - warm, vibrant and with plenty of nuance -, Synchro Anarchy is a record not to miss. It’s a splendid Frankenstein that brings together genres as diverse as jazz, space rock and thrash in an exhilarating musical experience that truly incarnates the meaning of the word “progressive”. Stellar musicianship, intelligent songwriting, and irresistible energy – Synchro Anarchy has it all. The album’s mad sonic assault may not be to everyone’s taste, but those readers who do not mind being challenged and pushed beyond conventional music borders should look no further. This is the real deal. Go and buy it.

[Originally written for The Metal Observer]

MIND-ASHES The Views Obscured

Album · 1997 · Technical Thrash Metal
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UMUR
"The Views Obscured" is the debut full-length studio album by German technical/progressive metal act Mind-Ashes. The album was released through AFM Records in January 1997. Mind-Ashes formed in 1993 and released the "Soul Manipulation" (1994) demo and the "Thoughts" (1995) EP, before getting signed for the release of "The Views Obscured". The band released two further albums and then disbanded in 2003.

The first thing you notice when listening to "The Views Obscured" is the high level musicianship. These guys are technically skilled and they incorporate loads of that technical skill to their music. To my ears especially two artists come to mind and that´s Sanctuary and especially Death/Control Denied. Mind-Ashes use many of the same types of scales, rhythms, and notes that Chuck Schuldiner were known for using, and may I add on an equally high performance level. The musicianship on this album is at times jaw-dropping virtuosic. The vocals are a combination of raw shouting and slightly more melodic singing and screaming. It´s definitely one of the assets of the album that the vocals are so diverse.

"The Views Obscured" features a sound production, which is clear, powerful, and detailed, perfectly suiting the complexity and sophistication of the music, but still presenting it in a raw and powerful fashion. The songwriting is interesting too, and the progressive song structures are intriguing and keep the listener on his/her toes. I consider "The Views Obscured" a bit of a lost gem to those who are interested in technical/progressive metal and it´s too bad it´s almost impossible to come by anymore. Hopefully it´ll see a reprint one of these days, and a chance for the album to be given a second opportunity to be noticed. A 4 star (80%) rating is deserved.

АСПИД Extravasation

Album · 1992 · Technical Thrash Metal
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SilentScream213
From the Russian tundra comes a Tech Thrash draconic beast that was unfortunately a few years late to the game, but no less legendary in its own right. Since it came from such a remote place and after Thrash was dead and buried, Кровоизлияние had no chance of success. The band never broke through nor released any other material. However, to think that says anything about the quality of this album would be a massive mistake.

Aspid’s debut and sole album is a Progressive/Technical Thrash package of pure quality and talent. The musical ability and songwriting is fantastic, even the simple production is very good at ensuring every aspect of it is clear and audible. I am of course referencing the bass, which is amazing and very noticeable here. There’s nothing to this other than the barebones guitar drums bass vocals setup, but every instrument is working insanely hard.

I think the best thing about this is that it’s not overbearing like some Tech Prog can be; the songwriting is extremely efficient at mixing technical prowess and wow factor with a consistent musical progression that feels natural and enjoyable. In short, they sound like damn good songs as opposed to feats of ability. The technical, big brain aspect of the music just ensures you can come back again and again and never get bored.

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