Technical Thrash Metal

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VOIVOD Dimension Hatröss Album Cover Dimension Hatröss
VOIVOD
4.29 | 45 ratings
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CORONER No More Color Album Cover No More Color
CORONER
4.31 | 31 ratings
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VEKTOR Terminal Redux Album Cover Terminal Redux
VEKTOR
4.30 | 21 ratings
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MADROST The Essence of Time Matches No Flesh Album Cover The Essence of Time Matches No Flesh
MADROST
4.41 | 7 ratings
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VEKTOR Outer Isolation Album Cover Outer Isolation
VEKTOR
4.18 | 35 ratings
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VOIVOD Killing Technology Album Cover Killing Technology
VOIVOD
4.17 | 39 ratings
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WATCHTOWER Control And Resistance Album Cover Control And Resistance
WATCHTOWER
4.20 | 26 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
4.22 | 9 ratings
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CORONER Mental Vortex Album Cover Mental Vortex
CORONER
4.08 | 27 ratings
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INVOCATOR Weave the Apocalypse Album Cover Weave the Apocalypse
INVOCATOR
4.20 | 7 ratings
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MEKONG DELTA Lurking Fear Album Cover Lurking Fear
MEKONG DELTA
4.20 | 7 ratings
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VEKTOR Black Future Album Cover Black Future
VEKTOR
4.04 | 39 ratings
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CRYPTIC SHIFT Visitations from Enceladus

Album · 2020 · Technical Thrash Metal
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UMUR
"Visitations From Enceladus" is the debut full-length studio album by UK, Leeds based progressive death/thrash metal act Cryptic Shift. The album was released through Blood Harvest Records in May 2020. Cryptic Shift formed in 2012 (originally as Crÿptic Shift) and have released a string of minor releases (demos, singles, and the 2016 "Beyond the Celestial Realms" EP) before recording and releasing "Visitations From Enceladus".

Stylistically the material on the 4 track, 46:35 minutes long album is sci-fi themed technical/progressive death/thrash metal. Cryptic Shift play a rather chaotic, structurally complex, and often dissonant extreme metal style with elements from both thrash metal, death metal, and progressive metal in the more extreme end of the spectrum. It´s highly progressive music and a bit inaccessible too. The listener is immediately pummeled by the 25:57 minutes long album opener "Moonbelt Immolator", which is an incredibly complex track featuring many different sections and atmospheres. The vocals are predominantly raw shouting thrash styled vocals or growling death metal vocals, but the album also features other types of vocals like spoken/talking sections and robotic effect vocal sections. Because of the use of dissonant chords Voivod are an obvious influence, but Cryptic Shift play a much more technical and challenging music style than the Canadians ever did.

"Visitations From Enceladus" features a raw, powerful, and well sounding production job, which suits the material perfectly. I especially enjoy the sharpness of the snare drum, but also how clear every guitar note is heard in the mix. I´m a bit more in doubt how much I enjoy the actual music though. To my ears the material are almost too inaccessible and the tracks lack catchy moments and memorable riffs. The vocals are also a bit too low in the mix and while they get the job done, they don´t really shine or make much of an impression.

The shorter tracks on the album are a bit easier to follow than "Moonbelt Immolator", and my initial impression of the album being a structurally chaotic mess is a bit lessened when listening to a track like "(Petrified In The) Hypogean Gaol". A little less focus on playing a million notes and incorporating hundreds of different riffs and rhythms on every track and a little more focus on memorability could have done the trick, but as a debut release there is still lots of promise here. When Cryptic Shift learn to trim the fat and produce more catchy moments there may be greatness ahead. Sometimes less is more. A 3.5 star (70%) rating is deserved.

VOIVOD Killing Technology

Album · 1987 · Technical Thrash Metal
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UMUR
"Killing Technology" is the 3rd full-length studio album by Canadian, Quebec based progressive thrash metal act Voivod. The album was released through Noise Records in April 1987. It´s the successor to "Rrröööaaarrr" from 1986. The original vinyl version of the album only features 7 tracks, while the cassette and the CD versions feature the two tracks from the 1987 "Too Scared to Scream"/"Cockroaches" single as bonus material.

"Killing Technology" marks a change in Voivod´s sound from the raw punked thrash/speed metal of the two predecessors to a techncial/progressive thrash metal sound. There is still the odd nod towards raw and unhinged sounding hardcore punk, but Voivod have generally opted for a more sophisticated playing and writing style on this album. Most tracks are long and structurally adventurous, and it´s interesting how much Denis "Piggy" D'Amour´s guitar riffs and writing ideas have evolved over such a short period of time, and how much the increased dissonance and unconventional chord progressions change Voivod´s sound.

Lead vocalist Denis "Snake" Bélanger still sounds right out of a hardcore punk group, singing raw shouting vocal lines, but even he has added an extra layer to his delivery, singing more varied and even at times hitting a semi-melodic note. His voice and vocal style will probably always be an aquired taste, but his rather distinct sounding style arguably brings an original touch to that part of Voivod music.

"Killing Technology" features sci-fi themes lyrics and imagery, and the alien nature of the music itself fits perfectly with the sci-fi themed lyrics. The often space like coldness of the music and the robotic sound effects on Bélanger´s voice on the title track even further enhances the feeling of being aboard an alien space ship travelling the universe. "Killing Technology" features well written and relatively varied tracks. To my ears the original vinyl tracks are the main attractions, while the two CD/cassette tape bonus tracks sound slightly out of place and actually disrupt the flow of the album. Tracks like the title track, "Forgotten in Space", and "This Is Not an Exercise" are killer material, featuring a great balance between the raw and thrashy and the sophisticated and proggy, but more immedate tracks like "Tornado" and "Ravenous Medicine" are no less intriguing.

"Killing Technology" features a raw yet detailed and powerful sounding production job, which suits the material perfectly. So upon conclusion it´s through and through a high quality release by Voivod. To this day I´m still not sure how Voivod were able to create such a unique sound and even pull off selling a decent number of copies of this album. Even more admirable they were able to build a career writing and playing music that is as far from being mainstream as you can possibly get. A huge achievement in my book...A 4.5 star (90%) rating is fully deserved.

АСПИД Extravasation

Album · 1992 · Technical Thrash Metal
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siLLy puPPy
One of Russia’s most significant contributions to the classic thrash metal scene, the band Аспид (Aspid) was only around for a short time and delivered one sole album and although the band was pretty much an exotic curiosity during the time in which it existed roughly from 1988-97, this Volgodonsk based technical thrash metal powerhouse has more than stood the test of time and often ranks high on best thrash metal lists of the 1990s.

Existing at the time when the Soviet Union underwent a complete collapse and the former republics that once constituted the empire were going their separate ways, ASPID is a prime example of a group of young ambitious musicians overcoming the daunting odds of getting its product to market and eventually capturing the attention of the entire international metal scene. Originally released under the title Кровоизлияние which translates as “Hemorrhage,” the vinyl only release wouldn’t find its way onto a remastered CD until 2007 when it was retitled “Extravasation.”

Due to the fact this one was released twice, first in the Russian language and then in English, word has it that on the remastered versions the production was also sped up giving that version a completely different style. For the record, i’m reviewing the original version which appears in the Russian language with the decent but not outstanding production job. However for raw extreme metal, production is not a priority as i always prefer outstanding musicianship over any bells and whistles and in the compositional department, ASPID were indeed seasoned veterans of technical thrash metal.

Кровоизлияние featured eight tracks beginning with the trippy keyboard dominated atmospheric intro. The real meat of the album follows with the ten minute “Он пришёл (Аспид)” which exposes the band as a competent tech thrash metal band in the vein of Coroner and Sadus and fits into that category of metal that sounds like thrash metal evolving into death metal much like early Death, Hellwitch or Obliveon. While the twin guitar attacks are clearly in the thrash metal department with stomping riffs and sizzling guitar solos courtesy of Alexander Sidorchik, the complexities are verging on progressive metal but don’t quite step over the line into that arena.

Graced with an energetic delivery system completely with rampaging rhythmic bombast and technical uncommon time signatures, at least for thrash metal of the era, Кровоизлияние is a satisfying display of feisty uncompromising thrash metal fury unleashed in a satisfying ever-changing procession of variations that keep the album from ever sounding like it’s in danger of stagnating. “Там где ночь” for example displays that perfect mix of “Rust In Peace” era Megadeth with a more ferocious speedy attack in the vein of Sadus but with the fine-tuned finesse of the likes of Coroner.

Unavailable to Western nations for the first half of its existence, ASPID is now considered one of Russia’s most prominent contributors to the early metal scene and while bands like Aria were clearly Iron Maiden imitators, ASPID deftly blended its influences into a steaming hot cauldron of molten metal more than ready for primetime. The only problem was that the band never released a followup thus leaving this sole artifact of the chaotic 90s as its only proof that it existed but if a band is going to drop one bomb on the world and then disappear forever, they couldn’t have done much better than Кровоизлияние which is a brilliant display of Russian metal made all the more exotic by the lyrics in the mother tongue.

EXMORTUS In Hatred's Flame

Album · 2008 · Technical Thrash Metal
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Emerging from the Los Angeles metroplex city of Whittier, California in the year 2003, EXMORTUS hit the ground running as a bonafide technical thrash metal powerhouse whose sound showcased an uncompromising extreme metal fury with lightning fast tempos accompanied by punishing twin guitar attacks with traces of death metal and NWOBHM that would later lead the band out of the world of tech thrash and more into the world of neoclassical infused power metal.

After a series of demos and EPs, EXMORTUS unleashed its furor onto the metal world with its full-length debut IN HATRED’S FLAME which was released from the fiery pits of hell in the year 2008 and immediately displayed the three man team of Conan (Lead and Rhythm Guitars), Balmore (Vocals, Lead and Rhythm Guitars) Bass and Mario (Drums) as a raging technical explosion of molten metal madness with outstanding musicianship conspiring to craft 11 tracks of high energy sophisticated thrash metal that added the extra touches of neoclassical shredding solos as well as the death metal vocal growls of Balmore.

This is one of those albums that doesn’t give you a chance to catch your breath as it’s high octane incessant battlefield action for its entire 43 minute jaunt into the world of war which the band has been most proficient at narrating through a never-ending series of lyrical devotion to the incessant slaughter of enemy forces and in this case it’s your ear drums! This is probably the only example i’ve come across where an extreme metal band has forged an unholy union between the technical prowess of tech thrash metal that infuses neoclassical power metal and traces of Iron Maiden and Judas Priest into their overall style. Add the death metal growls and EXMORTUS really stands out as something out of the ordinary.

Perhaps the main problem with IN HATRED’S FLAME is that the band is on full adrenaline mode for the entire album’s run and therefore comes across like one of those CGI battle scenes that runs by so quickly that there’s no time to process all the bantering stimulation but on the flip side, this metal madness is so perfectly performed and embodies the spirit of an incessant battle between forces that it works perfectly. While i prefer more varied metal experiences, sometimes just a laser precise focus on a single reaction is what the doctor order and nothing embodies the most horrific bloody war scene like EXMORTUS achieves on this excessive barrage of extreme metal splendor. This is an electric storm of epic battle metal matched by the seasoned musicianship with an intensity like few others.

CORONER No More Color

Album · 1989 · Technical Thrash Metal
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UMUR
"No More Color" is the 3rd full-length studio album by Swiss thrash metal act Coroner. The album was released through Noise Records in September 1989. Coroner was formed in 1985 and released their debut full-length studio album "R.I.P." in 1987. They are widely regarded as one of the seminal thrash metal acts on the Swiss thrash metal scene along with artists like Celtic Frost, Poltergeist, and Messiah. The three-piece lineup which recorded the debut album and "Punishment for Decadence (1988)" is intact: Tommy T. Baron (Tommy Vetterli) on guitar, Ron Royce (Ron Broder) on bass and vocals, and Marquis Marky (Markus Edelmann) on drums.

On "No More Color", Coroner continues the technically well played thrash metal style of "Punishment for Decadence (1988)", but add a few more progressive ideas and a generally more adventurous approach to the compositions. None of the aggression or rawness of the predecessor is lost here though, and "No More Color" is still a pretty intense thrash metal album. The band are incredibly well playing, and there are some jaw-dropping moments featured on the album. It´s especially the guitar playing by Tommy T. Baron, which is out of this world. His tone, his dexterity, his speed, and his choice of notes are very effective and quite tasteful. Marquis Marky and Ron Royce deliver very convincing performances too and the latter´s quite distinct vocal style provides that part of the band´s music with something unique. He has a talking/singing raw vocal style, featuring an understated aggression, that´s rather unconventional.

The material on the 8 track, 34:21 minutes long album is relatively varied, while still staying within the band´s core style. So while the music features quite a few adventurous/progressive ideas and sections, it´s not like Coroner suddenly shifts into jazz rock/fusion mode or they play extented instrumental sections or anything like that (although some of the guitar solo sections go through several tempo/section changes). Everything is neatly arranged and fits well within the band´s technical thrash metal style. While I think of the whole album as one long highlight, I´ll mention tracks like "Read My Scars", "why It Hurts", and especially "Mistress of Deception" as standout tracks.

The whole thing is packed in a powerful, raw, and detailed sound production, which suits the material perfectly. Every instrument is placed perfect in the mix, which results in a sound which does the music as much justice as possible. The guitar tone is fierce, the bass has a great powerful sound, and the drums feature a powerful organic sound. The vocals are placed slightly low in the mix, but that´s always been Coroner´s style, and once you get used to it, it only adds to the uniqueness of the album.

Both "R.I.P. (1987)" and "Punishment for Decadence (1988)" are great albums, but to my ears Coroner were only honing their skills and songwriting craft on those two releases and ultimately just warming up to this beast of an album. "No More Color" is intense aggression, technical superiority, and songwriting originality in one package, and there´s really nothing like it out there. Coroner hit gold here and I consider "No More Color" a technical thrash metal masterpiece. A 5 star (100%) rating is deserved.

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