An Abridged Guide to Technical Thrash Metal (1984-Present): 50 Key Full-Lengths

Here I present the 50 most essential technical thrash metal releases in chronological order. Technical thrash metal might initially seem like an odd distinction to make, especially if you’re not interested in much more than “the big four” and their inspirational variations. But there is a cosmos worth of Coroner, Watchtower and Voivod influenced music available to the sub-genre sensitive and the more you discover the more vital the distinction between pedestrian thrash and technical wizardry becomes. This list more or less celebrates both the history of this sub-genre delineated musical innovation and influences, but also argues for it’s validity and importance over the last 30+ years of heavy metal.

Without innovative demos from bands like Watchtower, Annihilator, Realm, Sadus, Hellwitch and Realm technical thrash metal wouldn’t have been a thing. So, don’t think that I’m overlooking those demos as historically important. In fact if you just want to look over every technical thrash metal release (with lots of mislabeled progressive thrash too) you can visit an old completionist list HERE. Album art displayed is smaller in size because I’ve formatted this list to fit on mobile devices easier. If you’re mostly here for album art ogling you’re shit outta luck.


1

Artist Watchtower
Title [Type/Year] Energetic Disassembly [Full-length/1985]
LISTEN on YouTube!

The true innovators in the genre started out with a complex take on heavy metal that took the sound and intensity of ‘Feel the Fire’ and paced it with challenging prog-metal drumming. The vocals are wailing, shrieking heavy metal howls not unlike early Trouble if the guy was being electrocuted. Does it truly have the punkish pulse of thrash metal at all? Maybe, but the drumming here doesn’t allow for that predictable chugging flow. The recording is cheap and has long needed re-recording especially the toms which sound digitally inserted. Absolutely essential heavy metal listening no matter who you are, it was an album that musicians like Chuck Schuldiner (Death, Control Denied) could never shut up about.


2

Artist Mekong Delta
Title [Type/Year] Mekong Delta [Full-length/1987]
LISTEN on YouTube!

This highly talented progressive metal band from Germany were never satisfied just making straight heavy metal and their debut full-length from 1987 shows a darker, experimental side rarely seen in speed metal. For all of the incredible things Watchtower did with virtuoso drumming Mekong Delta focused on the guitars and in turn inspired musicians to find those off-set, off kilter takes on standard thrash metal instrumentation. They would become increasingly progressive and conceptual while moving away from this thrash influenced sound, but you could still hear echoes of this album in everything from Depressive Age to Vektor over the years.


3

Artist Voivod
Title [Type/Year] Killing Technology [Full-length/1987]
LISTEN on YouTube!

If you’ve listened to Vektor or Droid and thought “Wow, nothing else has ever sounded like that! You’re kinda way off because Voivod had been fusing speed metal and punk for years before stumbling upon the complex and raucous ‘Killing Technology’. Voivod have been hugely influential throughout their career but this album is arguably the style that defined them for the most people. Punk and thrash drumming, snotty conceptual lyrics, and guitars sent from cyber-Hell here can’t be overlooked. The real draw for me with Voivod is the two albums after this, but ‘Killing Technology’ is the album that most obviously represents technical avant-thrash influence.


4

Artist Coroner
Title [Type/Year] R.I.P. [Full-length/1987]
LISTEN on YouTube!

Coroner are what I would consider the archetypal technical thrash band that is more in the thrash metal tradition than albums by Watchtower, Doom and Mekong Delta before them. ‘R.I.P.’ is more or less a shred album with some real propulsive thrash metal shoving things along. The guitar runs are directional and perhaps not ultimately ‘technical’ on paper, but certainly a challenge to replicate without a high level of skill. Much of the lead guitar runs almost remind me of ‘Seven Churches’ but extended a few light years ahead in terms of skill and concept. Coroner are the first band so far on this list featuring technical skill in unison with thrash metal standards of the time. Though it isn’t the best album from these guys, it is an impressive start for one of the best bands ever to be labeled technical thrash.


5

Artist Destruction
Title [Type/Year] Release From Agony [Full-length/1988]
LISTEN on YouTube!

Though their drum production and style was still stuck in 1985, Destruction made strides in terms of technical thrash guitar material with the addition of a second guitarist. They fully resemble a less intense, maybe more thoughtful, version of what Coroner was doing on their first album. Schmier and the gang were smart in the sense that their sound is self-aware, but also conscious of what the rest of the world of thrash metal was doing at the time. If there is an ‘underrated’ Teutonic thrash album it might be this one, but really if you are looking for AAA quality material from this band there is little else to choose from. A classic for sure, and definitely an enjoyable guitar album.


6

Artist Deathrow
Title [Type/Year] Deception Ignored [Full-length/1988]
LISTEN on YouTube!

This is one of my favorite thrash metal albums of all time, though I’m not sure I ever considered it a technical thrash metal album. The songs are ambitious and this is perhaps one of the most riff-packed thrash albums up there with Dark Angel‘s ‘Time Does Not Heal’ and I think that is an apt comparison in general. What impresses me to no end on this particular album is when these songs begin and appear to be riff salad until they form a sort of thematic cyclone that manages to make sense before the track ends. ‘Deception Ignored’ is a high concept German thrash record that keeps up with the ambition of albums like ‘…And Justice For All’. If “The Deathwish” doesn’t sell you on this album, you’re just not fit to read the rest of this list at all.


7

Artist Sadus
Title [Type/Year] Illusions aka ‘Chemical Exposure’ [Full-length/1988]
LISTEN on YouTube!

Sadus‘ first album “Illusions” aka “Chemical Exposure” is more or less the best tracks from their popular demo tapes but with a new sort of sound. The basslines are now very audible, and the pace is similarly fast but there are slower moments worked into the Dark Angel-like barrage of speed. The earlier parts of “Illusions” are such a blur they start to sound like Cryptic Slaughter but with guitar solos and audible basslines. I’d say this is when Sadus starts to earn their technical thrash label, but it also passes for early Florida death metal at the same time. However you label it, this is a fantastic high energy album that is both highly technical and ripping fast.


8

Artist Target
Title [Type/Year] Master Project Genesis [Full-length/1988]
LISTEN on YouTube!

I think this was a rather big change for this band, both in the recording quality and song-writing. The riffs are more intricate, varied, and the only knock on the album is the bland vocalist. The vocals are somewhere between the swagger of Hallow’s Eve and something more generic you’d expect from a German power metal band of the time. This is passable as a technical thrash album as the level of intricacy is fairly high, even if they are playing at a mid-pace. Some parts remind me of the first I.N.C. album or the second Drifter record, but faster and more adventurous. Technical, but with progressive metal influences I’m guessing, and only marginally interesting. I’d say skip to the song “Digital Regency” and decide if you need to hear more after that.


9

Artist Coroner
Title [Type/Year] Punishment for Decadence [Full-length/1988]
LISTEN on YouTube!

Coroner‘s second album was (arguably) their masterpiece as they combine truly heavy metal themes with sharp and unmatched technical ability. The flirtatious guitar runs of ‘R.I.P.’ are replaced with smart leads that punctuate heavier sections and build tension between verses. Coroner were genius in the construction of this and the album that came after it as they created heavy thrash metal that was technical, memorable and even melodic. ‘Punishment for Decadence’ comes close to being a shred album at points, but I always felt like they kept things restrained to just the right amount. For all the praise Coroner gets as an example of technical thrash their first three albums still deserve more headspace from metal fans.


10

Artist Equinox
Title [Type/Year] Auf Wiedersehen [Full-length/1989]
LISTEN on YouTube!

Equinox are an unusual beast as one of the very, very few thrash metal projects out of Norway that ever released anything. They are also arguably the best quality band from that unique situation. The style here is sort of a heavier, more metal, take on what Voivod had been doing since ‘Killing Technology’ but with several nods to Coroner‘s aggressive approach. The result is a crunchy, disturbing album with all kinds of great ideas. This band would get better over time and ‘Auf Wiedersehen’ is fairly rough around the edges, but I think this is as close to that period of Voivod as anyone ever got, although with no vocal similarity.


11

Artist Helstar
Title [Type/Year] Nosferatu [Full-length/1989]
LISTEN on YouTube!

‘Nosferatu’ is one of the most important shred thrash/power albums ever recorded. Everything by this band is excellent, but this is the one where they peaked and put out the heaviest and most focused material of their career. It was all downhill from there sadly, but this is one of the best power/thrash/technical things from that time period. Their use of traditional and burgeoning power metal elements and lining them up within the heavy thrash metal style of the late 80’s makes for a record on par with King Diamond‘s ‘Abigail’ and ‘Them’. Essential heavy metal listening.


12

Artist Bezerker
Title [Type/Year] Lost [Full-length/1989]
LISTEN on YouTube!

Too obscure and unknown to really be properly labeled as technical thrash in most databases online but this is one of those obscurities that really deserves a mention. Even if it was never really on anyone’s radar, ‘Lost’ is a fine technical/progressive thrash metal record from Australia. The style here is sort of clean and fiddly traditional metal mixed with bursts of Laaz Rockit and Artillery style speed metal.


13

Artist Watchtower
Title [Type/Year] Control and Resistance [Full-length/1989]
LISTEN on YouTube!

Watchtower continued to be highly relevant to progressive thrash metal as they put out this angular, challenging technical thrash metal album. It is, for some, the pinnacle statement of this style. I would argue that the power metal vocals detract from the music a bit, but they don’t offend me. The guitar and drum interplay is impeccable, unique and impressive. It is surprising how the drum work seems a little subdued compared to the first album while the guitar and bass work have kicked into gear completely. However impressive the instrumentation is here, I think once I heard Atheist’s “Piece of Time” I couldn’t go back to this as often because it felt like a regression. I can picture Chuck from Death listening to this album’s guitar work and salivating at the possibilities.


14

Artist Toxik
Title [Type/Year] Think This [Full-length/1989]
LISTEN on YouTube!

Toxik‘s second album is more everything. Heavier, more commercial, more… terrible vocalist. He really isn’t bad, just very loud in the mix and the corny lyrics don’t help his cause. Once you get over his extreme style you get a unique thrash metal album that verges on groove metal, with wailing power metal vocals. Their riffing became more complex and concerned with fast pacing changes and some time signature diddling, but the fiddling never gets really over-indulgent. This still feels like an 80’s metal band doing their best to stretch into the 90’s unsuccessfully, and keep up with maturing efforts from bands like Heathen, Vio-lence and Anthrax. They kinda do keep up with their songwriting, and these are largely memorable tracks. I like to think of this band as a more realized vision of what Death Angel were doing on their earlier albums.


15

Artist Annihilator
Title [Type/Year] Alice in Hell [Full-length/1989]
LISTEN on YouTube!

If you have never seen the video for “Alison Hell” then you are missing out on the funniest thing since Candlemass‘ “Bewitched” in metal music videos. So, there was zero way of knowing Annihilator would shift from being basically a death/thrash band on their demos to a full on thrash metal band that sought to compete with the big four, and nearly did. ‘Alice in Hell’ is an impeccably produced and performed album, and only the pop-rock songwriting occasionally fails. The punch of the A side is pretty much awesome and a few of the later tracks are solid, but this is an inconsistent experience overall. This is technical in the sense that it is fast, intricate and has a lot of shred-worthy moments throughout. The riff style is imaginative and refined, almost as theatrical as Queen might have been as a thrash band, and seemingly out of nowhere.


16

Artist Wolf Spider
Title [Type/Year] Kingdom of Paranoia [Full-length/1990]
LISTEN on YouTube!

Probably the finest release from Poland’s Wolf Spider, a band that always had recording quality issues but managed some technical and competent thrash metal. I would say this reminds me of classic German heavy metal but also had some similarity to the thrash that came out of New Jersey at the time (I mean, not like Gothic Slam…) the vocalist has a true heavy metal wail and the guitarists go for flair and technique beyond simple heaviness and the result is a album that is a thrill to listen to. There is also a lot of shredding, jazzy drum rolls, and solo trade-offs for fans of that sort of thing. Great stuff. The follow up ‘Drifting in a Sullen Sea’ is also highly recommended.


17

Artist Sadus
Title [Type/Year] Swallowed in Black [Full-length/1990]
LISTEN on YouTube!

Sadus‘ second album is their best release and one of my favorite thrash albums of all time. This is the point where they took on more technical and progressive elements into their sound. The prog side of things wouldn’t overtake their style at all until the next album, but this is a concerted and notable improvement. The album cover might suggest a heavy amount of death metal influence here, though it is surprisingly more thrash oriented than something like early Atheist (but hey, it -is- similar). Steve DiGiorgio‘s basslines are an incredible highlight to the album’s sound and I think he does a lot to make Sadus distinct and brutal on this album. This always comes with the highest recommendation from me.


6534931

Artist Atheist
Title [Type/Year] Piece of Time [Full-length/1990]
LISTEN on Bandcamp!

This was a tough inclusion to the list because I see Atheist as one of the major players in the formation and creation of technical death metal as a sub-genre but really ‘Piece of Time’ is a technical thrash record at it’s core just like Sadus is. That isn’t to say this isn’t a death metal record, R.A.V.A.G.E. and Atheist demos were clearly just a clear a mix of death and thrash metal as Death, Sadus, and Cynic among others at the time. I felt like this was important enough and qualified enough to be mentioned, moreso than a band like Realm was after listening to both. So, if you protest this inclusion, it replaced Realm‘s ‘Suiciety’ album a traditional metal record with an incredible guitarist.


18

Artist Artillery
Title [Type/Year] By Inheritance [Full-length/1990]
LISTEN on YouTube!

Essential metal listening. One of the truly great products of the technical thrash movement. The material here put Coroner, Priest and most German power metal to shame all at once. It is a shame that the band never really recaptured what they did here. Produced by Flemming Rasmussen (Metallica, Morbid Angel). Artillery made an urgent, beautifully produced mix of speed metal melody, thrash metal technicality, and 80’s power metal pomp. The result is a metal album that is always a huge adrenaline shot every time I hear it.


19

Artist Obliveon
Title [Type/Year] From This Day Forward [Full-length/1990]
LISTEN on YouTube!

One of my favorite albums of all time. I’ve memorized it front to back, listened a million times. I used to put it on my iPod and talk walks at night, waiting for aliens to abduct me. I was never abducted, but there was a nice cat that would show up and let me pet him at the park. This isn’t necessarily “cat petting” metal for everyone, but it is warm and fuzzy feeling for me. Things have been cleaned up since the “Fiction of Veracity” demo tape though the songs remain almost completely the same in arrangement. It doesn’t borrow so much from Voivod other than a science fiction concept and nods towards their interesting riff style. I have never heard another album that has rhythm guitar lines anything like this. The atmosphere of the record is cold and just always feels like a progressive thrash Moon landing every time I listen to it.


20

Artist Forbidden
Title [Type/Year] Twisted into Form [Full-length/1990]
LISTEN on YouTube!

This album gets the secondary tag for technical thrash and I suppose it makes sense, the first two Forbidden albums are both technically proficient with some flashy solos and some impressive riff changes on this album. This is a personal favorite of mine, and one of the best thrash albums ever recorded. When it comes to Bay Area thrash I’d usually pick this band over most others, there is so much power to the performances on guitar and vocals and the dynamics of the two are really stunning at times. The level of creativity with solos and riffs really elevate this album above similar efforts from Vio-lence, Dark Angel, Metallica and Heathen around the same time. Not a hugely stylized technical thrash album, but I think the secondary tag works enough to warrant mentioning.


21

Artist Astharoth
Title [Type/Year] Gloomy Experiments [Full-length/1990]
LISTEN on YouTube!

Fiddly Polish thrash metal album that takes themes from Kreator and Coroner of the day and puts their own Sadus-like high speed spin on things. This is probably one of my favorite albums out of Poland beyond some death metal stuff. It is technical but also heavy in a Coroner sort of way, where songs are aggressive but with a balance of intricate guitar work. Some off the guitars remind me of stuff on “Dimension Hatross” but only vaguely, there is that junky feeling that reminds me of Voivod often. For how obscure it is, once this made it’s way online it sent huge waves of interest across collectors and it can be very expensive to find a physical copy.


22

Artist Usurper
Title [Type/Year] Divine Spiritual and Intellectual Development [Full-length/1990]
LISTEN on YouTube!

Usurper remind me of a more straight-forward and aggressive take on the first Obliveon album. The vocalist sounds kind of like the guy from Stone, too. I love the meandering and heavy riffing on this album, but I don’t enjoy the poor drum sound. The style is technical but not anxious, so there is a sort of relaxed confidence to the music that comes out when it counts. This is -not- the Usurper that did a death metal/Celtic Frost kind of style, these guys are from Netherlands and only put out one album and then disappeared. An oft overlooked, and probably semi-mediocre thrash album that has great style and showcases interesting use of technical thrash riffing style.


23

Artist Hellwitch
Title [Type/Year] Syzigial Miscreancy [Full-length/1990]
LISTEN on YouTube!

These guys had all the raging energy and prowess of demo-era Atheist, Sadus or Cynic when they finally made it to album. The appeal here, for me, is the balance of the primitive brutality and the technically impressive. My main gripe with this album boils down to the opening track “Nosferatu”, hey it’s a cool song and all but it was the first song they’d ever written (first release on this list, too) because by 1990 this band had really evolved into something far more impressive and technical than the opener would suggest. Songs like “Sentient Transmography” tower above “Nosferatu” in both technicality and style, this reads as inconsistency to the listener and dulls an otherwise brilliant recording. I love it, one of my favorite albums of all time, but it is by no means a perfect metal album. Highly technical and thrashalicious.


24

Artist Believer
Title [Type/Year] Sanity Obscure [Full-length/1990]
LISTEN on YouTube!

Slower and heavier moments punctuate Believer’s sound this time, with less emphasis on speed and more on technical moments. The vocals are more snarly too, which I don’t particularly like. I’d lump this into the same crowd as bands like Invocator and Exhorder with how ballsy it is. It is hard to just call this technical thrash metal because most of this album, while intricately written, is still just standard late 80’s style thrash metal. I only wish they had somehow become some kind of embarrassing mess like Vengeance Rising or Mortification and put out Decide-like Jesus humping records. A missed opportunity to be a laughingstock, unfortunately. A very good technical thrash metal release, though. Jesus lyrics included.


24b

Artist Toxodeth
Title [Type/Year] Mysteries About Life & Death [Full-length/1990]
LISTEN on YouTube!

I’d avoided this record because of the production and sound for a long time, but I think I was misguided because the style of this record is unique and kind of great. “Mysteries…” is largely the effort of one songwriter who, over the course of three years, pieced together a band and made an album of it. The result is an uneven sounding, sometimes too surprising record full of oddball long-winded lead guitars and angry death metal growls. It ends up working really well, and fits into the strange Wild Rags Records catalog just right. It feels so cobbled together that I have to skip a few parts… but yeah, another “love it but kind of don’t get it” album for me. Such an obscure and cool-ass record has to be recommend. It might seem like just another bad death metal rarity at first, but really the music is mid-paced thrash metal with some highly ambitious guitar playing that occasionally falls flat in an endearing way.


25

Artist Sindrome
Title [Type/Year] Vault of Inner Conscience [Demo/1991]
LISTEN on YouTube!

Sindrome gets a lot of underground hype in thrash completionist circles because their brand of progressive technical thrash is unique and very high quality. Their style often reminds me of Nocturnus and Demolition Hammer, but they have an old school thrash feel to the soloing. The material isn’t as amazing as folks make it out to be, but it is nonetheless quite good. I almost wonder if this band didn’t get signed because they were dated by the time this came out, and everyone wanted death metal in their area rather than Dark Angel with keyboards. I like this demo quite a bit and love the use of keyboards alongside the technical riffing. It’s a shame they didn’t get their dues outside of a Century Media release of their demos.


26

Artist Invoker
Title [Type/Year] Excursion Demise [Full-length/1991]
LISTEN on YouTube!

Invocator were basically Denmark’s Exhorder, and they sound a lot like “Slaughter in the Vatican” here, but yeah these guys were anticipating the movement towards simplified groove metal already on this release. People call it death/thrash and technical thrash and while you do get slight touches of that here, it is really just a heavy thrash metal album with some almost-death metal vocals. The riffing is heavy as fuck, and this is a brutal thrash album if I’ve ever heard one. A lot of the guitar work and style of vocal reminds me heavily of Dark Angel‘s fourth album. Is it essential thrash metal? Not really, but if you like the heavier side of thrash this is something you should try. If you don’t dig this try: Forced Entry or Num Skull instead.


28

Artist Deafen
Title [Type/Year] Deafen [EP/1991]
LISTEN on YouTube!

One of my favorite technical thrash obscurities. Deafen‘s EP is certainly somewhat amateurish in the drum department but the guitar performances are worth the clatter of the drums. The scope of some of these tracks is truly epic and captivating, particularly the two tracks I’ve linked below. I would have loved to have heard what these guys would have done in the space of a full-length, even if it was mostly mediocre I love the pace and structure of the music on this EP.


29

Artist Meshuggah
Title [Type/Year] Contradictions Collapse [Full-length/1991]
LISTEN on Spotify!

So, I’m not a fan of Meshuggah but I will gladly listen to anything they did before and including “Nothing”. The cool thing about “Contradictions Collapse” is that it was a straight up thrash metal album that was brutal and technical, with a lot of Bay Area thrash influences beyond simple Metallica. In fact the shouted vocals are a big detractor from the gracefully flitted-out riffs which are highly technical and impressively arranged. These are artists that were talented and capable of huge stylistic leaps within short periods of time, and whether you like it or not they did eventually become a very original thing eventually. This makes it even more interesting to see their earliest releases as a brutal thrash album that was at least halfway derivative. Don’t let the band’s reputation keep you from listening to their early material, as abrasive as the vocals can be this is a good thrash record.


30

Artist Dark Angel
Title [Type/Year] Time Does Not Heal [Full-length/1991]
LISTEN on YouTube!

The final Dark Angel album is famously hailed for having a sticker with a “riff count” (240+, I think) that suggests it might be the most ambitious (perhaps least musical) album from any thrash band to date. It isn’t, much of this album is riff salad and needed to be edited down. But I still think this is one of the best thrash albums of all time not only for the technical wizardy, an essential study for any rhythm guitarist in terms of creating variation on a theme, but also for the really depressive content otherwise. The style of thrash here is similar to their “Leave Scars” album but with cleaned up production and a greater emphasis on speed and technicality.


31

Artist Anacrusis
Title [Type/Year] Manic Impressions [Full-length/1991]
LISTEN on YouTube!

Technical and progressive from their inception, Anacrusis‘ first two albums toyed around with style until they found their greatest peak with ‘Manic Compression’ which is almost entirely unique in approach and style. The closest comparison might be Sadus‘ ‘Swallowed in Black’ in terms of vocals and progressive metal influence, and each is still an aggressive thrash album on their own. I’m a big fan of New Model Army‘s first 3-4 albums, so having the second song on this album a cover of “I Love the World” probably threw a lot of people for a fuckin’ loop, but it really works with what Anacrusis were doing on the rest of ‘Manic Impressions’


2523988

Artist Heathen
Title [Type/Year] Victims of Deception [Full-length/1991]
LISTEN on YouTube!

Well, yeah… This is like top 5 best thrash albums ever recorded if you didn’t know already. If this hadn’t come out three years after ‘…And Justice For All’ it might have made bigger waves, so it’s genius is forever left to the underground. The production is very similar to AJFA thanks to Rob Beaton, who also did Exhorder‘s ‘The Law’ and Defiance ‘Beyond Recognition’. ‘Victims of Deception’ is a skillful blender of relentless riffing and classic metal melody. I consider it a cleaner, better edited version of the approach that Dark Angel took with ‘Time Does Not Heal’ and the lyrics are some of my favorite of any thrash album. I suppose this is technical in many respects, complex and maze-like at times, they really out-do a lot of their peers in this regard… but the style is much more ‘classic thrash’ than it is ‘technical’ to me (same distinction as Forbidden). The label fits, but I think the technicality is easily veiled by strong melody and a sense of pacing that is never cluttering. An absolute classic.


33

Artist Аспид [Aspid]
Title [Type/Year] Кровоизлияние (Extravastation)[Full-length/1992]
LISTEN on YouTube!

Also known as ‘Extravastation’ on decades-later reissues. This is one of those albums that quite densely packs itself with riffs across a very long 50 minutes of technical thrash. The sound is absolutely menacing, but with a lot of surprises throughout. There is a great deal of intentional detail in the arrangement of riffs here. The real downside to this album, in my opinion, is the dated sounding keyboards which are peppered throughout the recording. They don’t do anything to enhance or compliment the ripping thrash that surrounds them. A very interesting rarity, but perhaps not quite a classic.


33b

Artist Depressive Age
Title [Type/Year] First Depression [Full-length/1992]
Listen on YouTube!

With so much Mekong Delta and Psychotic Waltz getting noticed by Euro-prog metal fans at the time, why not toss together something more coherent that touches upon the strengths of both? Depressive Age did so. This is progressive thrash metal with a moderately technical approach. ‘First Depression’ manages to be very musical and very heavy on this album most of the time but it does venture towards alterna-rock at certain junctures. The vocals can be pretty bad, but I think they’re worth putting up with most of the time. There is a sort of skittering power metal pace that will be familiar as soon as the album gets going, and this will likely appeal most strongly to fans of prog-power metal and 90’s metal because of the vocalist and the style of melodic metal they’re taking on.


35b

Artist Despair
Title [Type/Year] Beyond All Reason [Full-length/1992]
LISTEN on Spotify!

I think I called this Deathrow‘s less interesting little brother in my short review on here. It still remains true for me, and I wouldn’t say this is necessarily better than the first two albums from this band, but perhaps a better example of technicality. The vocals are still kind of off, but the music has become more varied and technical as a whole. Lead guitars continue to be fantastic with this band. The history of this band is somewhat important as their original vocalist founded Century Media, and their guitarist Waldemar Sorychyta, best known for heading Grip Inc., was also producer on these albums which gained him notoriety as he went on to bigger things. A good German thrash album with a lot of technical appeal.


37

Artist Disciples of Power
Title [Type/Year] Invincible Enemy [Full-length/1993]
LISTEN on Bandcamp!

This Canadian band had fully developed their signature sound by this album. I personally prefer ‘Ominous Prophecy’ but the real technicality they were capable of is best displayed with ‘Invincible Enemy’. They’d more or less increased the death metal elements while wiping all melodic thrash metal elements out; The result is a highly technical death/thrash metal album that is, along with Obliveon‘s material, hugely underrated. The vocals are a little flat, but I always liked the style as it doesn’t detract from the business of the other elements. I recommend all of this band’s discography.


38

Artist Enslaved
Title [Type/Year] Where is the Meaning? [Full-length/1994]
LISTEN on YouTube!

A really great German technical death/thrash album that leans heavily into death metal territory. Think something like Pestilence‘s first album or Protector but heavily informed by Morbid Angel’s second album. I love bands that skate the line of death and thrash metal and Enslaved is particularly good at shifting between late 80’s death metal and technical thrash seamlessly. This is obscure and underrated enough to warrant a few listens at the least, there is a lot for both thrash and death metal fans alike but this will more likely feel like a gem for obscure death metal collectors despite the heavy thrash influence. Was previously easy to find streaming but it looks like copyright strikes against YouTubers made only clips available. Plus the band is hard to search for as the other Enslaved is quite popular.


39

Artist Aftermath
Title [Type/Year] Eyes of Tomorrow [Full-length/1994]
LISTEN on YouTube!

Aftermath‘s ‘Eyes of Tomorrow’ is a feat for sore ears, meaning it is a shining example of no matter how burnt out one might get with delving so deep into a sub-genre there will inevitably be a really impressive gem hidden out of sight. I’m such a huge fan of Coroner, and this album could be fairly compared to the second half of that bands career, in passing. Though that isn’t enough credit to give a group like this, this is almost ornate in construction and far more than many of the records on this list. What makes it so special is the combination of intelligent riff design that stays brutally 90’s thrash without fully going groove metal, and without getting flowery and indulgent in technique. The real meat of this album lies in time changes, and building on a theme… sort of like a Mekong Delta album if they ever let the riffing ‘breathe’. This is one of my higher recommendations on this list as not enough people know about it and I guess even fewer enjoy it.


40

Artist Droÿs
Title [Type/Year] And If… [Full-length/1998]
LISTEN on YouTube!

Kind of an odd shift in production quality and sound after a pretty badass death/thrash EP a few years earlier. By 1998 it seems like Droÿs had decided to sound more like Sadus than ever, except they went for a paper thin production. This is a pretty good example of technical thrash metal, though I don’t find myself listening to it often because by 1998 there had been years and years of death metal that had been playing stuff like this that was quite a bit better. I’d much rather put on Atheist or Sadus most of the time, but this is a good diversion when those albums get old and it is generally more thrash focused than those bands anyhow. This was not fully available online streaming for many years, so if you missed out listen while it’s still available in full. It is extremely rare.


41

Artist Acid Death
Title [Type/Year] Pieces of Mankind [Full-length/1998]
LISTEN on YouTube!

This is a great album, but I have spent so many years considering it a death/thrash record that it feels kind of unnatural including it in a technical thrash metal list. But hey, my arm isn’t really being twisted either, this does pass for some kind of technical/progressive thrash metal and the death metal elements aren’t prominent compared to their other albums. It all seems pretty standard tech thrash until they whip out the keyboards and wailing dual-leads. A band worth checking out, I’m not sure most people would say this is pure thrash or technical thrash but it would be hard to classify it any other way. Good music either way, very talented Greek band.


42

Artist Mekong Delta
Title [Type/Year] Lurking Fear [Full-length/2007]
LISTEN on Spotify!

After a 10 year absence Mekong Delta was back with, a German speed metal album? The vocals are very 1986 German metal, and this is kinda cool despite the bad production and uninspired compositions. I wanted to highlight this record, despite it’s cheap recording quality, because it showed the band returning to their original and formative sound. This is probably the most coherent vision to come from the band for a long time, and not as avant-chaotic as they were known for. Progressive metal with some speed/thrash roots that touch upon the technical side of things lightly. It is just weird because the drums are almost certainly programmed. Technical thrash metal was basically horrendous between 1998-2008.


43

Artist Immoralist
Title [Type/Year] Progressive Demise [Full-length/2008]
LISTEN on MySpace!  YouTube Video

Technical and somewhat melodic death/thrash metal from Russia. I like the tracks I’ve heard from this album so far, they mix in some harsher vocals and have an interesting take on riffing within a thrash metal context. Would be even better if they dropped the double bass drums altogether and had decent production. It is such a shame that this band have essentially erased themselves from history, being from Russia they put the songs on MySpace and released a few YouTube videos and then slowly let the hosting die for all of their content and official website. It is a shame they didn’t make more music and that it is all but lost to history and stuck not playing on a shitty myspace page.


44

Artist Verdict Denied
Title [Type/Year] Condamned [Full-length/2009]
LISTEN on Bandcamp!

If we are gonna screw, I’ll make sure I’m ‘condamned‘. Great name for an album, I will be thinking of jokes to make from it for weeks. The music is no joke though, it is shouty neo-thrash that is pure and semi-ripping. What a relief to sit down to a real thrash album after all of the garbage Revocation albums I had to sit through to get here, but yeah this feels like a genuine thrash album. This guy nails his solos as cliche as some of them are. It reminds me of the second Heathen album, where they really take their time to develop songs and build them up. The vocals are occasionally weak during the slower parts, but when the energy is up the songs really shine. Their 2015 EP was a bit more aggressive but they haven’t popped up since unfortunately.


45

Artist Vektor
Title [Type/Year] Black Future [Full-length/2009]
LISTEN on Bandcamp!

I didn’t really get on the Vektor train until 2010 and felt like I missed out on the hype for this record. It has become one of my favorite post-classic era thrash albums as it has a huge personality all it’s own and captures everything thrash metal should be: Excessive, spontaneous, and rhythmically elevated. I think all three Vektor albums are pretty much on par, though this album has the strongest pure thrash spirit to it. Each record became more progressive than the last and they hit a speed bump after 2016. It will be interesting to see what they do on their fourth album because they’ve basically all left the band besides the guitarist and moved on. To be clear I’m not just recommending ‘Black Future’ here, all three are hugely recommended and ‘Outer Isolation’ is probably the coolest thrash release of the decade.


46

Artist Immaculate
Title [Type/Year] Atheist Crusade [Full-length/2010]
Listen on Bandcamp!

I remember when this came out, well… leaked online. Finally, the army of robotic horse riding Atheists get their moment of crusade against the Christian masses of scum. I am reminded of early Overkill several times while listening to this album. These guys have some decent style and a really fuckin’ vital sense of what constitutes a riff. The vocalist bugs some folks, but I think he is actually fairly subdued compared to bands like Vektor or whatever. The group-shouted vocals really give some of these songs a powerful stomp, and the sharp needling of the guitars makes for a pretty badass technical thrash album.


47

Artist Hexen
Title [Type/Year] Being and Nothingness [Full-length/2012]
LISTEN on Bandcamp!

One of the best thrash albums in the last decade or so. While some label it ‘progessive metal’ this is a pure thrash metal release that can easily be classified as technical thrash (even if just secondarily). Their previous album ‘State of Insurgency’ was smartly melodic, though sometimes pedestrian… or at least lacking some general flair or personality, but this album just puts everything on the table. The second track “Grave New World” lifts licks/riffs directly from Obliveon‘s first album and it probably wasn’t intentional, but you can hear this band had really matured and grown into something special. It is such a damn shame they decided to split not too long ago and we never got the follow up. A modern thrash classic! Please reform!


50

Artist Black Fast
Title [Type/Year] Terms of Surrender [Full-length/2015]
LISTEN on Spotify!

The tough thing with modern thrash metal, especially intricate stuff with lots of melody, is that it often dances very close to the ‘Enemy of God’ school of “Hey, I’m Actually a Melodeath Riff” and Black Fast‘s harsher vocal approach and fast-picked riffs are so fluid it really does sound like some kind of melodeath/thrash mix rather than technical thrash to me. The riffs are great, and take a lot of structural hints from Swedish melodic death/black metal. This actually sounds a lot more like The Haunted (pre-clean vocals alterna rock phase) and I’d mostly recommend this to people who discovered thrash through those melodeath/groove/sorta thrash days in the late 90’s early 00’s era.


6598111

Artist Droid
Title [Type/Year] Terrestrial Mutations [Full-length/2017]
LISTEN on Bandcamp!

One of my favorite albums from 2017 for good reason. They’ve found a progressive thrash metal point to work from that is highly technical, not unlike Vektor’s 2016 album but entirely different in style and conception. Their Voivod influence is overstated but still more apt than most comparison; some of it reminds me of Obliveon a bit too. Comparisons aside this is a great leap in taste and quality for a young band and they stand above most modern technical thrash bands today.


6502493

Artist Madrost
Title [Type/Year] The Essence of Time Matches no Flesh [Full-length/2017]
LISTEN on Bandcamp!

The cool thing about Madrost is the amount of variation they infuse into this album. You get the screamy Revocation style vocals and almost hardcore-ish bang of the guitar tone. Parts remind me of oldies like Forced Entry and there are some influences from tech-death as well. It is a pretty solid example of modern technical thrash metal, it’s a shame the production is kind of ULTRA and would be more fitting for a metalcore band.


Did I miss your favorite technical thrash metal album? Tell me about it. This list is representative of my opinions and personal favorites in the style, taking into consideration influence, innovation, and quality of technical approach to thrash metal instrumentation. There are at least three hundred more technical thrash metal releases that I know of, and could have overlooked something amazing.

Please remember you can contribute to my Patreon @ only $1 USD per month ($12 a year) to help keep me in front of the computer writing about metal. Thanks.

Support Grizzly Butts!

If you like what you read, please consider donating directly to PayPal or to my Patreon: patreon.com/GrizzlyButts

$1.00