20 Underground Thrash Metal Albums You Missed in 2017

Thrash is so hilariously not even close to dead. In fact it has thrived as the premier foil for experimentation for some of the world’s finest heavy metal bands. After Metallica and Megadeth went pop-metal thrash stuck around regardless of trend and popularity and those who’ve stuck it out year after year know that thrash survives because of how adaptive it’s interpretations can be when including every trendy sub-genre of music that pops up. The latest trend in thrash metal involves a return to the technical and progressive side of things that also inherits the black/thrash rasp of groups like Absu and Desaster thanks to the popularity of groups like Vektor. Plenty of bands below are unknowingly recreating the works of pioneers like Mekong Delta, Watchtower and Coroner. So if you love a 2017 thrash album don’t hesitate to ask who they’re ripping off because it is likely a pretty amazing band from the 80’s or 90’s.

There is no better time to jump into the vast world of the thrash metal underground and thanks to streaming sites like Bandcamp, Spotify and Soundcloud you’ve got instant access to hundreds of independent band discographies the world over. Granted it is a slog to dig through the legions of tired-ass retro bands that learned to record before they figured out how to write a decent, halfway original guitar idea! So, here are some bands that stood out to me as I dug through thrash metal’s innards throughout 2017. There are a ton more bands to pimp here, most of which I’ve already reviewed or put in my Top 50 for this year so don’t think I forgot: Droid, Toxic Shock, Power Trip, Iron Reagan, Exarsis,  and tons of other top tier 2017 thrashers.


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Album Extravasion – Origins of Magma
Type Full-length
Released March 2, 2017
BUY/LISTEN on their Bandcamp!
Genres

‘Origins of Magma’ represent what I consider a more ‘scene’ thrash band in terms of the intentionally old school production and approach to riffing. They’re not necessarily pure worship of any particular band but they take a lot of their approach from Coroner, Watchtower and Deathrow. The raw vocals and high speed stuff occasionally resembles old Sadus as well, and I feel like this band has a ton of potential for the future. With some slicker production they really don’t need to do much more to stand out. Could either go full death metal or lose the demo quality of the recording with some proper mixing. This is one of those bands where I am really excited to see where they go but I can’t really spin this album too often because of the drum tone and mid-ranged out rhythm guitar tone. Excellent release, though.


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Album Tankist – Unhuman
Type Full-length
Released November 9, 2017
BUY/LISTEN on their Bandcamp!
Genres

Tankist are a band of relative newcomers from Estonia and their style is a combination of traditional heavy metal and thrash riffing that uses more of a stream of consciousness approach to rather than pure thrash ‘riff salad’. Toss in a few keyboards and some odd genre jumping and the result is what more rigid thrashers would call a progressive thrash record. If you love thrash metal for it’s guitar focused runs above all else there is a mild level of interesting hard rock and speed metal tropes tossed into the mix that make ‘Unhuman’ a captivating listen. Though it doesn’t entirely reach the level of technical thrash metal in 2017, it might have been labeled as such back in the late 80’s. So, it isn’t just bland banging throughout.


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Album Night Viper – Exterminator
Type Full-length
Released October 20, 2017
BUY/LISTEN on their Bandcamp!
Genres

There are so many female-lead heavy metal bands now in 2017 that it is no longer a gimmick that’ll sell to horny metal nerds and old creepers! At least not a exclusively. In fact Night Viper has pretty great female vocals for a speed/thrash metal band and their style leans towards traditional metal more than I was expecting. I feel like it’d be on the nose to compare this to Acid but it really shares a lot of similarities to ‘Maniac’ if there was a tinge of occult rock in their vocals. Not the most modern example of thrash in a year full of wild progressive and technical takes but probably one of the coolest, most listenable heavy metal records of 2017 and it was most definitely overlooked. I’m hoping the band keeps up the hard ass speed metal style and doesn’t go hard psych like so many similar bands with female vocals do. Can’t help but bang my head a bit listening to this.


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Album Earthling – Spinning in the Void
Type Full-length
Released July 7, 2017
BUY/LISTEN on their Bandcamp!
Genres

These Virginia metal guys have been around for a while and share some members with the solid doom band Valkyrie. Earthling plays a unique style of classic thrash influenced sludge metal that invokes High on Fire as much as it does Revocation. Of course it kind of blends into a hardcorish doom metal album by the time things collide but retains enough thrash metal personality and style to appeal to fans. I found ‘Spinning in the Void’ totally spellbinding and dynamic, moreso than the typical punk/sludge hybrid because of the traditional metal elements being kicked around. The lead guitars and just general hybrid style kept me coming back to this one several times. With more subtle production this band will go places.


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Album Impalers – The Celestial Dictators
Type Full-length
Released September 1, 2017
BUY/LISTEN on their Bandcamp!
Genres

This band has been around for about a decade and on their fourth full-length they’ve mastered that loud cheesy power metal production and the vocalists rasp is sinister and full of energy. I don’t find a lot to -really- be impressed with here; Impalers have mastered their craft above a lot of similar artists, and I can see how they fit almost perfectly alongside other Evil Eye alumni like Lich King. Beyond a few generic German thrash metal riffs from the mid 90’s I’m not sure where the major interest is here, death/thrash fans might find this loud production pretty great but I find it chaotic and has a bit of the loudness wars kind of thing going on. That big sound is initially very exciting and thunderous but it doesn’t hold up to casual listening and becomes irritating. I tended to fall off of the album around the ballad ‘Into Doom’ where the bands mediocre characteristics really shit the bed (clean vocals, guitar tone) none of their sound works in this case and it comes off like a first year power metal group.


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Album Gross Reality – Escaping Gravity
Type Full-length
Released August 11, 2017
BUY/LISTEN on their Bandcamp!
Genres
Melodic Thrash Metal, Progressive Metal

So, this band is really an oddball and I’m including it here for the simple fact that they’re different from most of the stuff you’ll find on this list. Gross Reality describe themselves as melodic thrash metal and yeah they’re essentially pushing their sound through Metallica and Testament style thrash ballads with melodic vocals that you’d find on late 90’s alt metal albums (Fear Factory, Skinlab, Machine Head). Sounds horrible? No, really its like power metal-lite with modern loudness wars thrash riffing. The band has been around forever and if you can look past the alt-metal sensibilities of ‘Escaping Gravity’ it is has some value with some patience. I didn’t really realize how much of a trend the whole science fiction thrash metal thing had become post-Vektor but I’ll be damned if every other release I listened to in 2017 had an outer space themed cover or lyrics. Stick with this one for the melodic vocals, they’re choice.


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Album Expander – Endless Computer
Type Full-length
Released September 20, 2017
BUY/LISTEN on their Bandcamp!
Genres

‘Endless Computer’ is perhaps the most forward-thinking thrash album of the year in terms of production obfuscating otherwise predictable patterns. Expander have found this odd medium between the punkish speed metal of Voivod and the screaming unpredictability of a band like Every Time I Die and the result is basically a crossover/noisecore The Jesus Lizard sort of thing. I was late to the party with this one because if I’d heard it sooner I would have put this near the top of my top 50 albums of the year. The pacing is almost always jogging and playing with that mid-paced intensity with some odd industrial metal twinges and a menacing vocal personality, the result is pure evil but like… pure evil computer! Spooky! I really got into this one though I’d like to see them do more with the drums and escape the mid-paced hardcore thing they’re doing on most of this record. If you’re into dystopian fluorescent cyberpunk neuro-technical metal, check it out.


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Album Game Over – Claiming Supremacy
Type Full-length
Released November 17, 2017
BUY/LISTEN on their Bandcamp!
Genres

This Italian thrash band has been around since 2008 and they’ve stuck with the safe lane yet again. ‘Claiming Supremacy’ is their usual mix of Nuclear Assault, Anthrax, Suicidal Tendencies, and a fair amount of typical late 80’s Bay Area style thrash. Their production has gotten a lot better but the vocalist is still timid and at the back of the mix, his enunciation and ability to follow the music is sub-punk rock even. Though for all of it’s flaws I found myself enjoying a spin even if Game Over continues to be totally mediocre. They’re genre standard and heavy at the very least, even if they can’t write an interesting riff to save their lives. They get a pass from me basically for keeping at it for a decade and putting out a par release.


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Album Innerself – Phantoms Crossing
Type Full-length
Released November 24, 2017
BUY/LISTEN on their Bandcamp!
Genres
Thrash Metal, Hardcore Punk

What excites me about ‘Phantoms Crossing’ is it’s resemblance to a few of my favorite things: Holy Terror‘s melodic heavy metal influenced thrash and the crazy power/thrash/punk from English Dogs ‘Forward into Battle’/’Where Legend Began’. They have that true metal energy along with some Exploited style intensity that might not be intended to be punk/thrash but it ends up coming across very inspired by ’82 UK hardcore and classic NWOBHM the same way the speed metal of the early 80’s was. If you like power metal influenced thrash with a roughness to it, this should at the very least be passable stuff. Once they move past the Iron Maiden riffing they might catch on in time. Support this type of independent music, it is typically a hard fought battle to see an album finished and realized this well especially in the remote area of Spain they’re from.


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Album Death of Kings – Kneel Before None
Type Full-length
Released June 2, 2017
BUY/LISTEN on their Bandcamp!
Genres

These guys blend thrash and heavy metal influences their style with some power metal and death metal influences for a pretty intense listen. Their rhythm guitar textures are old school heavy metal and paired with the melodic death vocals and general anguished screams of the vocalist makes for taut anxious heavy metal with grandiose riffs that are halfway between Arghoslent and Toxic Holocaust. The unfortunate reality of their production sound is the lack of breathing room for anything but pure and very loud intensity. It ends up being a suffocating album of screams and chugs much like 90’s metalcore was back in the day, and it felt like a pure metal version of Turmoil. Once these guys un-clutter their ideas and try something more epic they’ll be onto something cool.


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Album Bestial Invasion – Contra Omnes
Type Full-length
Released September 2017
BUY/LISTEN on their Bandcamp!
Genres

These Russian kids are wizards of basic neo-classical heavy metal and they happen to focus on Destruction style technical thrash and some Mekong Delta style progressive thrash as well. The album is disjointed and probably plays best if you have attention deficit disorder but the content is more or less generic and the appeal of it speaks to the sort of panache that it is pulled off with. I tend to avoid Russian bands because they generally lack production but it seems these guys had the money and ability to get several guest artists on this thing including members of Atheist and Confessor. Weird! It didn’t play well across repeated listens but this is generally an interesting diversion of an album.


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Album Canker – Earthquake
Type Full-length
Released September 18, 2017
BUY/LISTEN on their Bandcamp!
Genres

One of my favorite post-1991 thrash albums is the Kreator-meets-Sepultura death/thrash of Canker’s 1994 album ‘Physical’. With powerful mastering and excellent guitar riffs it was long the premier coolest thrash album from Spain in my ears. Well, interestingly enough they’ve come back in 2017 after 20 years off and put out a pretty solid death/thrash album that explores a lot of old school genre influences and finesses them into Canker’s relatively rote production sound. The drums are not recorded well but they get the point across and feel appropriately old school. It’s not a perfect album but it goes places that most reformations don’t and their sound is fully realized and solid.


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Album Vulture – The Guillotine
Type Full-length
Released August 25, 2017
Listen on Spotify!
Genres

These guys are insane and their sound is pure 1986 speed metal insanity that perfectly emulates the sound of records like Dark Angel‘s ‘We Have Arrived’ while still conveying some fresh and pumped German speed metal. The drums are going to be annoying as hell to a lot of people, they’re straight out of ‘Pleasure to Kill’ and ‘Schizophrenia’ and I’m not sure how they got them to sound quite as terrible as they’re meant to be but those types of production tricks make for some honest tribute to the old school. The vocalist’s shrieking style is awesome but after a certain amount of time it wore on me and I didn’t make it past 5-6 full spins but man ‘The Guillotine’ is a wild ride to be on as long as you can stick around. If you’re big on pre-‘Reign in Blood’ era of thrash, particularly stuff like Kreator’s ‘Endless Pain’ and the Dark Angel I mentioned, this should be a reverb’d out yard stomper for you.


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Album Entrench – Through the Walls of Flesh
Type Full-length
Released July 17, 2017
BUY/LISTEN on their Bandcamp!
Genres

On their third full-length these Swedish death/thrash masters find a heavier late 80’s sound to work with. Entrench improve so much between releases that it becomes hard to recognize them. This time they remind me of Hypnosia with a fair amount of Kreator and Death influence. The music is relentlessly focused but ends up being their least claustrophobic album overall with thoughtful arrangements and many nods to albums like ‘Scream Bloody Gore’ and ‘Pleasure to Kill’. I’m impressed that these guys have the confidence to work with a more modest production instead of a blown-out pro-tools sound that a lot of groups go for, it makes for a more dynamic listen that isn’t pure sensory overload.


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Album Madrost – The Essence of Time Matches no Flesh
Type Full-length
Released June 27, 2017
BUY/LISTEN on their Bandcamp!
Genres

Don’t let folks compare this album to Vektor much, because the two groups are hardly similar. This has more in common with Revocation in terms of technicality and death metal influences though I would consider ‘The Essence of Time generally more progressive than technical. If not for the screaming hardcore-ish vocals this would have been on my Top 50 of the year because the music is stunning in it’s composition and exploration of technical death metal within a thrash metal sound. Odd how I could sit through this like twenty times this year but I couldn’t make it through the latest Blood Feast, which has similarly awful vocals by all accounts. If you check out anything from this list I’d say this would be my biggest recommendation outside of Expander and Extravasion. You’ll get used to his grating screams and find a lot of really solid prog-death/thrash.


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Album Ancient Dome – The Void Unending
Type Full-length
Released May 26, 2017
BUY/LISTEN on their Bandcamp!
Genres

‘The Void Unending’ is a small leap in quality for Ancient Dome’s progressive thrash metal style. They generally take equal parts power metal pomp and bay area chugging and the album ends up having more in common with an old Iced Earth album than most modern street thrash records. The vocals are definitely a power-thrash sort of deal and remind me of Artillery at best. This is essentially what Sanctuary were for a lot of people in the early 90’s, power metal for folks who hate power metal but love thrash. They borrow influences from death metal and prog metal throughout, but the style is mostly going to appeal to power/prog folks at the end of the day.


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Album Distillator –  Summoning The Malicious
Type Full-length
Released May 1, 2017
BUY/LISTEN on their Bandcamp!
Genres

Distillator didn’t blow my mind with ‘Revolutionary Cells’ the way it did with most folks I know but this one has a great sound to back up their noisy, furious thrash sound. They pull off mid-paced riffs just as well as they do the high speed stuff and they’re all the more metal for it. In fact “Estates of the Realm” is one of the best tracks on the album due to that mid-pace and it gave me a chance to warm up to their lyrics which have a much better message than I’d expected. With a name like Distillator I just always expect some kind of inane Tankard style beer metal drivel. While I don’t think these guys have put out a masterpiece in old school thrash yet, they’re coming closer with each release.


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Album Deserter – Coils of the Lesser Serpent
Type Full-length
Released April 20, 2017
Listen on YouTube!
Genres

Deserter’s album is one of the more obscure releases here coming from a small label without an official digital release. While I apologize for the YouTube link I would like to praise the record as full worth a listen. They’ve created a really interesting mixture of sinister old school death metal like Insanity and given it a modern thrash treatment while still filling out the edges with mosh riffs, progressive metal nuances. The dance between orthodoxy and the unexpected is thrilling to witness as it reminds me of what The Chasm used to do before they became so predictable. This leans more towards death metal than most of the albums included here with plenty of double bass drumming and growling but it never veers off so completely into any one type of death metal as to become predictable.


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Album Condor – Unstoppable Power
Type Full-length
Released April 28, 2017
 BUY/LISTEN on their Bandcamp!
Genres

Condor are pure evil Norwegian thrash/speed metal with classic first wave black metal influence and sound. From the start this should remind you of albums like Destruction‘s ‘Infernal Overkill’ and perhaps a more genuine version of what Vampire has been trying to do on their most recent album. ‘Unstoppable Power’ is pure adrenaline and classic speed metal from start to finish and will make you wish Slayer had never changed after ‘Hell Awaits’. I feel like they’ve almost outdone fellow Norwegians Black Magic at thier own game here and kept up the energy that this type of music needs. A must listen this year, even though it didn’t make my Top 50 as it didn’t hold up against more nuanced releases of the year.


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Album Witheria – Infinite Recollection
Type Full-length
Released June 2, 2017
 BUY/LISTEN on their Bandcamp!
Genres

Witheria is a band I slept on for ages and never gave a really fair spin until this last month. I’ll likely review this if my release pool runs dry late December. After Kreator released their groundbreaking return ‘Enemy of God’ which fused their reinvigorated thrash sound with melodic death metal a new generation of progressive metal bands have taken on melodic death/thrash metal combinations with mixed results. Witheria is one of the few that gets both things generally right and in turn create some of the more epic melodic death metal of the year. It isn’t as technical or mind-blowing as it was hyped up to be but the thrash elements aren’t completely absorbed by the Scandinavian metal influences. The harsh vocals might be a bit loud in the mix for some but they’re far more effective than Hatesphere, Witchery or Skeletonwitch.

 


If I missed your favorite thrash metal album from 2017 I’m not surprised! E-mail me or hit me up on twitter if you want me to review your favorite thrash album (past or present). If you’re in a thrash band and you want a review of your latest, hit the Contact page up and send me a copy. No thrash metal will be left unheard!

 

 

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