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Thrash metal is a subgenre of heavy metal that is characterized by its fast tempo and aggression. Thrash metal songs typically use fast, percussive and low-register guitar riffs, overlaid with shredding-style lead work. Thrash metal lyrics often deal with social issues using direct and denunciatory language, an approach which partially overlaps with the hardcore genre. The "Big Four" bands of thrash metal are Anthrax, Megadeth, Metallica, and Slayer, who simultaneously created and popularized the genre in the early 1980s.

The origins of thrash metal are generally traced to the late 1970s and early 1980s, when a number of bands began incorporating the sound of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, creating a new genre and developing into a separate movement from punk rock and hardcore. This genre is more aggressive compared to its relative, speed metal, and can be seen in part to be a reaction to the lighter, more widely acceptable sounds and themes of glam metal.

Thrash metal generally features fast tempos, low-register, complex guitar riffs, high-register guitar solos, double bass drumming, and aggressive vocals. Most thrash guitar solos are played at high speed, as they are usually characterized by shredding, and use techniques such as sweep picking, legato phrasing, alternate picking, string skipping, and two-hand tapping. Thrash lead guitarists are often influenced by the New Wave of British Heavy Metal movement. Thrash guitar riffs often use chromatic scales and emphasize the tritone and diminished intervals, instead of using conventional single scale based riffing. For example, the main riff of Metallica's "Master of Puppets" is a chromatic descent, followed by a chromatic ascent based on the tritone. Rhythm guitar playing is characterized by extensive palm muting and down picking to give the riffs a chugging sound, along with extensive use of the pedal point technique (creating what can be considered a distinctive, 'thrashy' sound). Speed, pacing, and time-changes also define thrash metal. Thrash tends to have an accelerating feel which may be due in large part to its aggressive drumming style. For example, thrash drummers often use two bass drums, or a double-bass pedal, in order to create a relentless, driving beat. Cymbal stops/chokes are often used to transition from one riff to another or to precede an acceleration in tempo. To keep up with the other instruments, many thrash bassists use a pick. However, some prominent thrash metal bassists have used their fingers, such as Frank Bello, Greg Christian, Jack Gibson, Steve DiGiorgio, Robert Trujillo and the late Cliff Burton. Several bassists use a distorted bass tone, an approach popularized by Burton and Motörhead's Lemmy.

Lyrical themes in thrash metal include isolation, alienation, corruption, injustice, addiction, suicide, murder, warfare, and other maladies that afflict the individual and society. Humor and irony can occasionally be found, but they are limited, and are the exception rather than the rule.

Inclusive thrash metal music subgenres:
  • Crossover thrash, often abbreviated to crossover, is a form of thrash metal that contains more hardcore punk elements than standard thrash. It is sometimes referred to as punk metal, though this is generally incorrect due to the existence of other music genres that combine forms of punk rock and heavy metal, such as grunge, crust punk, and more recently metalcore and its subgenres. While thrash metal is heavily influenced by hardcore punk, the overall sound of crossover thrash is more punk-influenced yet more metal-sounding and aggressive than traditional hardcore punk and thrashcore. The term was coined by the band D.R.I. with their album Crossover, released in 1987. The term 'crossover' is based on the metaphor of crossing over from one genre into the other, thus capturing artists the operate within the transition zone between thrash metal and hardcore punk. With the metaphor comes the conception of directionality, such that the genre is applied to hardcore and crust punk artists who have crossed over into thrash metal territory, such as D.R.I., Discharge, The Exploited, The Accüsed, Agnostic Front and Suicidal Tendencies (who eventually ventured into alternative metal), and thrash metal artists who crossed over into hardcore punk territory, such as Nuclear Assault and S.O.D. A number of death metal bands (especially those of the first wave of Swedish death metal) draw on hardcore punk, mainly because their members listen to crossover thrash - these bands are included under the death metal subgenre here at the MMA.
  • Death-thrash combines elements from thrash metal and death metal. The most common type of death-thrash is based on thrash metal music (often played a bit faster than standard thrash metal) with growled vocals. Sepultura's "Schizophrenia", "Beneath the Remains", and "Arise" are considered examples of death-thrash. Given that death metal is derived from thrash metal, many early death metal bands played a style that was anchored thrash metal and could be considered death-thrash. Many of those artists are included under the death metal genre here on MMA.
  • Technical/progressive (or tech/prog) thrash metal is considered a legitimate genre by some (or even two legitimate genres), while others argue that it is a pseudo-genre. Bands included in this genre take emphasize technicality in their music, in the form of complex riffs and/or complex song structures, while others apply the ethos of progressive music more broadly without straying from their basic thrash metal sound. Examples of artists that are sometimes considered tech/prog thrash metal acts are Dark Angel, Death Angel (especially on "Act III"), Annihilator, Artillery (especially on "By Inheritance", "When Death Comes", and "My Blood"), and Invocator. Releases like "Master of Puppets" and "...And Justice For All" by Metallica are quite progressively oriented with complex song structures and numerous sections per song. Some bands like Voivod, Antithesis and Watchtower took the progressive approach so far that they are primarily considered progressive metal artists rather than thrash metal artists.
  • Blackened thrash metal is thrash metal with black metal elements. Its thrash metal basis is more primitive and akin to early German thrash metal. Examples of blackened thrash metal bands are Assaulter, Aura Noir, and The Metaphor. It should be mentioned that much early black metal, such as Venom and Hellhammer/Celtic Frost actually had its roots in thrash metal.


Written by Time Signature.

Sub-genre collaborators (+ child sub-genres & shared with Speed Metal and Groove Metal):
  • Vim Fuego (leader)
  • Nightfly

thrash metal top albums

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METALLICA Master of Puppets Album Cover Master of Puppets
4.53 | 266 ratings
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MEGADETH Rust in Peace Album Cover Rust in Peace
4.51 | 224 ratings
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METALLICA Ride the Lightning Album Cover Ride the Lightning
4.44 | 218 ratings
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ANNIHILATOR Never, Neverland Album Cover Never, Neverland
4.42 | 75 ratings
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SEPULTURA Beneath the Remains Album Cover Beneath the Remains
4.38 | 91 ratings
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ANNIHILATOR Alice in Hell Album Cover Alice in Hell
4.39 | 63 ratings
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SEPULTURA Arise Album Cover Arise
4.32 | 95 ratings
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METALLICA ...And Justice for All Album Cover ...And Justice for All
4.30 | 207 ratings
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FORBIDDEN Twisted Into Form Album Cover Twisted Into Form
4.45 | 21 ratings
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EXODUS Fabulous Disaster Album Cover Fabulous Disaster
4.34 | 51 ratings
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DARK ANGEL Darkness Descends Album Cover Darkness Descends
4.42 | 23 ratings
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ANTHRAX Among The Living Album Cover Among The Living
4.31 | 81 ratings
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This list is in progress since the site is new. We invite all logged in members to use the "quick rating" widget (stars bellow album covers) or post full reviews to increase the weight of your rating in the global average value (see FAQ for more details). Enjoy MMA!

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thrash metal Music Reviews

POWER TRIP Manifest Decimation

Album · 2013 · Crossover Thrash
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"Manifest Decimation" is the debut full-length studio album by US, Texas based thrash metal act Power Trip. The album was released through Southern Lord Recordings in June 2013. Power Trip was formed in 2008 and released a demo and two EPs before releasing "Manifest Decimation". The album features the following lineup: Chris Whetzel (bass), Riley Gale (vocals), Nick Stewart (rhythm guitar), Blake Ibanez (lead guitar), and Chris Ulsh (drums).

Power Trip play a powerful, aggressive, and occasionally rather brutal thrash metal style on "Manifest Decimation". The band are well playing and lead vocalist Riley Gale has a suiting raw and aggressive delivery. Unfortunately the band (or the producer) has chosen to put effects on the vocals, which make them sound like they were recorded in the room next door. They are slightly too low in the mix, distorted, and sound distant. The instrumental part of the music thankfully makes up for some of that by being sharp, aggressive, and hard edged. Power Trip are both able to deliver fast-paced riffs and rhythms and heavy mid-paced grooves with equal conviction.

Other than the odd vocal effect choice, the sound production is powerful and well sounding. It suits the rawness of the music perfectly. The material on the 8 track, 34:38 minutes long album is well written, catchy, and effective too, so upon conclusion "Manifest Decimation" is a promising debut album by Power Trip. They don´t have much in way of an original sound though and that is a minor issue, but if you enjoy all the classic virtues of the more aggressive and brutal end of the US thrash metal spectrum, "Manifest Decimation" is recommended. A 3.5 star (70%) rating is deserved.

HIRAX Raging Violence

Album · 1985 · Thrash Metal
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"Raging Violence" is the debut full-length studio album by US, California based thrash/speed metal act Hirax. The album was released through Metal Blade Records in November 1985. Hirax was founded under the L.A. Kaos monicker in 1981, but changed their name to K.G.B. in 1983. The Hirax monicker was adopted in 1984. The band released a 1984 demo and appeared on the "Anglicon Scrape Attic" split in 1985. So while Hirax folded in 1989 after only releasing two full-length studio albums, they were an important part of the early California thrash/speed metal scene. They were a bit unusual in regards to personale, as lead vocalist Katon W. de Pena was/is African-American, which was not exactly the order of the day on the metal scene in the 1980s.

Stylistically the material on the 14 track, 30:55 minutes long album is thrash/speed metal, not completely unlike the early recordings by artists like Slayer, Metallica, Exodus, and Anthrax. So it´s not full blown thrash metal but instead features quite a few nods toward speed/traditional heavy metal in both the riff department and in the vocal style. And the vocal style needs a special mention here as Katon W. de Pena has one of the most distinct sounding voices and vocal styles on the scene. I´ll admit that the first time I listened to "Raging Violence" I couldn´t keep from laughing because of the pretty unconventional and unusual sounding vocals, but I´ve slowly begun to appreciate his original take on thrash metal singing. It´s a bit hard to give a fitting description of how he sounds, but raw staccato thrash metal styled shouting combined with some pretty unique sounding high pitched wailing is the best I can do.

I think that part of the music is bound to be an aquired taste. The same way a vocalist like King Diamond will always divide the waters, and although Katon W. de Pena´s vocals are now acceptable to my ears, it doesn´t mean I don´t still have some issues with them. His phrasing and vocal melodies could for example have been a lot more varied and the music would have prospered greatly from it. Because as it is, many tracks on "Raging Violence" sound too much the same, and that has a lot to do with the vocal style and the vocal melodies.

The instrumental part of the music is relatively raw thrash/speed metal featuring a high energy level. The musicianship is strong and the organic and powerful sound production suits the rawness of the music perfectly. Upon conclusion "Raging Violence" is for fans of the early- to mid 80s thrash/speed metal scene and the time before thrash metal was more established as a genre. A 3 star (60%) rating is warranted.

TESTAMENT Live in London

Live album · 2005 · Thrash Metal
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"Live in London" is a live album release by US, California based thrash metal act Testament. The album was released through Spitfire Records in November 2005. The album features a recording of one full show from May 2005 in London. The show was also released on DVD. It marks the first time since 1992 that the "classic" lineup of Chuck Billy (Vocals), Alex Skolnick (Lead Guitar), Eric Peterson (Rhythm Guitar), Greg Christian (Bass), and Louie Clemente (Drums) played together. The latter only performs on about half of the 14 tracks on the 71:13 minutes long album though. John Tempesta, who originally replaced Clemente when the latter left Testament in 1992, plays on the remaining tracks. The show in London was a one-off and while both Skolnick and Christian stayed with the band for a number of years after the reunion show (Christian left Testament again in early 2014), Clemente has not played with Testament since.

Not surprisingly all tracks on the tracklist are culled from the first five albums by Testament. Predominantly (8 out of 14 tracks) from the first two albums "The Legacy (1987)" and "The New Order (1988)", while the remaining three albums are represented by two tracks each. There really aren´t that many surprises on the tracklist and we´re pretty much treated to the "hit-parade" of the early years of Testament. "Over the Wall", "Disciples of the Watch", "Practice What You Preach", and other classic Testament tracks.

The band are well playing and deliver the tracks with great passion and conviction. The audience sound a bit restrained, but it´s probably a matter of where they are placed in the mix. Other than that the sound production is of a good quality considering that this is a live album. So upon conclusion "Live in London" is a quality live release by Testament documenting a very special event in the band´s career. For fans of the band´s early material this is more or less a mandatory listen and a 3.5 - 4 star (75%) rating is deserved.

RUPTURE Death to Peace

EP · 2014 · Thrash Metal
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siLLy puPPy
RUPTURE is one of the many newcomers from China who has been bitten by the head banging metal music bug. This band comes from the coastal city of Xiamen and formed in 2013 with only two releases so far, this debut EP titled DEATH TO PEACE and the 2017 full-length “Rise From The Mass Graves.”

While RUPTURE has become a full band experience and one of China’s more popular thrash metal bands with a few death metal elements (like early Death), in the beginning this was the solo project of Schtarch who performed all guitars, bass, drums and vocals. The band’s 2017 album though featured four more band members.

DEATH TO PEACE is a short intro to RUPTURE with five tracks that amount to 23 minutes. This short thrash metal experience is like taking a time capsule back to the 1980s as this is old school thrash metal all the way and the final track which is a Cranium cover “Nymphomaniac Nuns” demonstrates perfectly where RUPTURE has gotten its inspiration.

Given that China is only emerging from its multi-millennial cocoon of relative cultural isolation even though it has been open to the world for decades, it only seems to have started adopting Western art forms in the 21st century and instead of joining the world at the contemporary level seems to be starting from the beginning which in this case is the origins of thrash metal.

As a Westerner who has been exposed to thrash metal for quite some time now, this sounds fairly generic to me but i also have to remember that i’m not the target audience. There are literally over a billion Chinese inhabitants who missed out on the first wave of thrash metal and now have their own bands who are touring so it’s totally understandable from a commercial perspective why these bands are simply modeling themselves after established styles of yore.

All in all, DEATH TO PEACE is a perfect display of some of the more aggressive strains retro thrash only devoid of any creative stamp whatsoever. Think of this as a cover band and its golden but i very much anyone who has enjoyed the sounds of Sadus, Annihilator, Forbidden or Slayer will find this particularly interesting. This is indeed a very good display of thrash metal but hardly rises to the ranks of essential.


Album · 2005 · Thrash Metal
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"ReliXIV" is the 14th full-length studio album by US, New York based thrash metal act Overkill. The album was released through Nuclear Blast Records in March 2005. It´s the successor to "Killbox 13" from 2003 and features the exact same lineup who recorded the predecessor.

Stylistically the material on the 10 track, 50:57 minutes long album more or less continues the same thrash/heavy metal style of the last couple of albums by the band. The groove element the band added to their music in the mid-90s is still here too (listen to some of the riffs on tracks like "Love" and "Bats In the Belfry". So overall "ReliXIV" is not the most innovative nor the most distinct sounding Overkill album. It´s still a solid release though, featuring strong musicianship and a professional sound production, which suits the material well.

So it´s in the songwriting department where "ReliXIV" could have been a stronger release. Not many tracks stand out on the album, and although tracks like "The Mark" and especially "Old School" do stand out, they aren´t exactly the most interesting tracks the band ever wrote. And that is the overall impression I get when listening to "ReliXIV". There´s little here to criticise in terms of general quality of the product, and the album is entertaining enough while it plays, but it needs a couple of highlights to really shine. When that is said a 3 - 3.5 star (65%) rating is still deserved.

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MEGADETH Megadeth - VH-1 Behind the Music Extended

Movie · 2001 · Thrash Metal
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The Megadeth episode of VH1’s ‘Behind the Music’ series is pretty much exactly what it says it is; a look at the history of one of heavy metal’s most beloved bands. The VH1 name gives this a bit more credibility and authenticity than your typical unofficial band biography, and as such, this features interviews with band members past and present, as well as other people associated with the band at one point or another.

Looking candidly at Dave Mustaine’s expulsion from Metallica, the bands early days and their later attempts to break into mainstream territory, as well as Mustaine’s endless battles with addictions, other than being a bit outdated now, (being released in 2001), this is overall a very interesting watch, and a worthy addition to any Megadeth fan’s collection.

METALLICA Some Kind of Monster

Movie · 2004 · Thrash Metal
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‘Some Kind of Monster’ is an interesting look at the personal problems that arise amongst band members after having worked together throughout careers that span decades. The biggest rock band in the world is on the verge of breaking up, with one member leaving, one member in rehab and one member being the most hated man in music. It’s compelling viewing, that’s for sure.

However, it’s been often stated that this will appeal to Metallica fans and non-fans alike, and I do consider that a bit of an overstatement. I’m a huge, huge die-hard fan of the band, but at two hours and 10 minutes in duration, and a couple of hours of extra material, even I find this quite a tedious viewing at times.

Essentially, it boils down to the egos of two men, James and Lars, and goes on to become nothing more than “Temper Tantrum: The Movie”. Still, it’s always fun and interesting to see what musicians I admire get up to when they’re not on stage. The process of recording their 2003 dud of album ‘St. Anger’, what they do in their spare time, the auditions for a new bass player and the endless promotional events they partake in.

While this isn’t essential viewing to the average movie-goer, fans of the band will enjoy this stripped and bare movie that shows that even rich and famous rock stars have egos and emotions, and the tolls that that stardom takes on them.

METALLICA Classic Albums: Metallica - Metallica

Movie · 2001 · Thrash Metal
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This is basically a DVD highlights package of the two Metallica VHS releases, ‘A Year and a Half in the Life of…’ that the band released in the early 90’s. A harmless enough watch, which looks at the making of one of heavy metal’s most iconic albums, we’re given a track-by-track look at the process of writing and recording each song, and there’s some additional material with band members reflecting upon the album years later.

It’s interesting to watch, but it mostly comprises of footage we’ve already seen in countless other videos, and it lacks all the emotional depth of Metallica’s 2004 movie ‘Some Kind of Monster’.

Still, while it’s hardly going to be the most riveting thing you’ve ever watched, if you’re a fan of Metallica it’s certainly not a bad way to kill two hours.

METALLICA The Videos 1989-2004

Movie · 2006 · Thrash Metal
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Let’s face it, when it comes to music videos, Metallica have had some absolute bangers, and some absolute stinkers. Some of them, such as the iconic ‘One’ and ‘Enter Sandman’, have become heavy metal classics, which stand up as well today as they did upon release. Then there’s the not-so-classic ones… ‘Hero of the Day’, ‘King Nothing’ and ‘The Unforgiven II’, all of which are great songs, but the videos could easily be any other generic rock band from that era.

With that said though, this is a cool disc for any die-hard Metallica fans. Music video compilations are obsolete now thanks to YouTube, but it’s still cool for a collector to have these on DVD, especially if they insist on owning everything a band puts out.

METALLICA Cunning Stunts

Movie · 1998 · Thrash Metal
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It feels like a lifetime ago that I bought this DVD! Back in 2002, at the impressionable age of 15, this was such an awe-inspiring show to watch. Metallica were (and still are) so much larger than life, and everything about this home video release was amazing.

The main show, despite being at the peak of Metallica’s mid-90’s alternative rock era, shows a band who could rock out with the best of them, and while the set list may not hold up amazingly well by today’s standards, it’s still brimming with heavy metal and hard rock anthems.

There’s an abundance of extras that show the behind-the-scenes process of the show and it’s titular stunts, and the pre-show footage is a blast to watch, so much so, that lurking somewhere out there is a home video my friends and I (all aged 15 and in our first band) made of us embarrassingly recreating many of the scenes.

While Metallica has certainly released better home videos and DVD’s, ‘Cunning Stunts’, with its top notch sound and picture, and brimming with fantastic visuals, still holds up just as well today as it did 20 years ago.

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Master of Puppets Thrash Metal
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Moving Pictures Hard Rock
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Rust in Peace Thrash Metal
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Powerslave NWoBHM
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Paranoid Heavy Metal
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