20 Underground Thrash Metal Albums You Missed in 2018

Thrash metal itself has let its reigns slack in 2018 while the glorious power of death metal steals the mindshare and best talent within extreme metal. Between the quiet  post-melodramatic respite of Vektor to the weirdly persisting groove metal movement around the world the traditions of thrash metal have been tested. You might’ve missed many releases this year because thrash has been graced with more and more fully independent musicians choosing to go it alone in relying on social media recognition within digital distribution platforms. There is simply too much music to bother with and few DIY bands understand the collective value of both artistic presentation (commissioned artwork) and even fewer understand the value of a good PR person when getting started.

I don’t want to suggest I am a thrash metal ‘expert’ but I am a weathered fanatic of the genre. My entire teens and twenties were spent obsessively listening to every demo, EP, album and VHS from the history of thrash metal that I could find. My obsession with thrash tapered off as I began to catch up with modern releases and the slew of retro garbage period of the early 2000’s. Some exhaustion followed the completion of my study of technical thrash metal and the realization that retro thrash was an overstuffed and insight-devoid venture. Nonetheless every year I hunger for releases that tribute and append the history of classic thrash metal and thus I scour the internet for it. Because the sub-genre contains many variants (black, death, prog, tech, crossover etc.) I will be fairly inclusive here but if any release leans further towards black metal or death metal they’ll likely end up on those respective lists. I do my best to find compelling and powerful albums stacked with riffs and memorable songs here, but a few of these will just be weirdos for the sake of showing the out-of-the-box thinkers and hidden gems of underground thrash metal today.

I’ve compiled this list not as a “best of” for the wide blanket of thrash metal in 2018 but rather to illustrate what thrash metal is/was in 2018 and where I think it was most interesting yet overlooked. From my experience these albums were overlooked, underrepresented, and/or passed by quickly by media outlets. Thanks to streaming sites like Bandcamp, Spotify and Soundcloud you’ve got instant access to hundreds of independent thrash metal band discographies the world over and hey! I’ve picked through them for you all year long, scouring those sites and a few databases that catalog most every release (Discogs/RateYourMusic). So, here are some bands that stood out to me as I dug through thrash metal’s innards throughout 2018. There are a ton of great bands to pimp here that I’ve already reviewed or put in my Top 50 for this year so don’t think I forgot: Sepulcher, Maligner, Rapture, Psykopath, Hellish, Vomitor, Atrofia, Chemicaust, Oxygen Destroyer, Cemetery Lust, Sabateur, Sacral Rage, Shakma, Dungeonhammer, Deathwards, Revocation, Cultural Warfare, Aura Noir, Axegressor, Invocation Spells, Foul Body Autopsy, Speedclaw, Black Fast, Infrared, Porcelain Helmet, Skeletonwitch, Volition, Crisix, Corpsehammer, Goat Worship, Hammr, Communion, Radux, Degrave, Deathhammer, Nemesis, Dark Hound, Bonehunter, Defiatory, Voight Kampff, Sahon, Malichor, Sense of Fear, Affliktor, Orgullo Nativo, Centauro, Ultra-Violence, Hallux, and tons of other 2018 thrash metal albums I missed.


a2013098303_10

Artist Ancestor
Title [Type/Year] Lords of Destiny [Full-length/2018]
Rating [3.75/5.0] BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

On their second full-length Beijing, China thrashers Ancestor continue the thread of their die-hard Teutonic (read: German) classic thrash worship. This time around they’ve actually begun to work their way into that sweet spot in between ‘Extreme Aggression’ and ‘Persecution Mania’ with a sure lean towards the intricacies of late 80’s Kreator above all else. A little roughness around the edges helps the band create what is essentially a pitch perfect version of what Protector were doing back in the late 90’s with just a bit more freedom of movement and the post-‘Reign in Blood’ sort of soloing that is inconsequential but fittingly builds energy during song transitions. I could sit here and list about fifty bands that sound like this and they’re all pretty good so I take some great joy in adding Ancestor to the stable. I think this band has the potential and ability to add some non-classic elements to their sound a la Hexen but time will tell as they seem pretty dead-set on their style. Some members also play in TumorBoy who, despite their name, are equally professional and noteworthy.


a2380543523_10

Artist Crimson Slaughter
Title [Type/Year] Surveillance States [Full-length/2018]
 Rating [4.0/5.0] BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Here is what is perhaps one of the best thrash metal releases of 2018 thanks to a mix of crossover inspired politico-thrashing and some massive brutal thrash kicks along the way. They go from Demolition Hammer-like wallop right into Vio-lence styled riffing on a dime and ‘Surveillance States’ feels entirely comfortable in that 1987-1991 space between peaking thrash heaviness and death metal’s one-upping blasts. If you’re a fan of Epidemic or Gammacide but always wanted them to play a bit tighter there will be a lot to like on Crimson Slaughter‘s second album. The album’s lyrics and themes aim for the anti-capitalist and pro-human rights spectrum and they not only go deep in their research of journalists, activists and political figures but their lyrics come with intellect and not simply primal calls to violence. This focus on serious and current politics that go beyond distractions is very inspired, though I think if you’re the type who just wants to headbang you won’t be able to avoid their message at all while listening.


a1321504614_10

Artist Septagon
Title [Type/Year] Apocalyptic Rhymes [Full-length/2018]
 Rating [3.5/5.0] BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Hailing from Heilbronn, Germany Septagon‘s fairly unique approach to 90’s power metal influenced thrash metal plays well upon the prog tendencies and love for slightly irregular song structures and AOR melodies shared by members of prog-power band Lanfear and veritable King Diamond impersonators Them. As a classic thrash riff-hound I would consider this a bit too far on the late 80’s Helloween spectrum to really call power-thrash so much as throwback power metal since the pacing tends to jog along rather than really thrash. I think the most challenging aspect of this album comes with the melodic vocals from Markus Becker (Atlantean Kodex) who dominates the tracks but never really wails due to some very wordy and melody-specific, socio-political lyrics with -a lot- to say. I didn’t really like Septagon‘s first full-length, but this one grew on me a bit after a few listens. It is a ‘fun’ power/thrash metal album that points a very entertaining finger towards modern politics the sheer absurdity of humanity today.


a1693933189_10

Artist Supremate
Title [Type/Year] Uniting Flaw [Full-length/2018]
 Rating [3.25/5.0] BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Inspired by the biggest names in 90’s thrash and groove metal in 1999, Finnish thrash metal band Supremate have evolved considerably across the space of about twenty years and now find themselves landing upon a unique form of progressive thrash metal driven by intricate, understated guitar riffing. On this second album they focus on further developing those tightly knit compositions into effective songs and in doing so some of the abstract ideas and melodic hard rock influences of their self-titled debut rescind to allow for a certain ‘flow’ that defines the listening experience ‘Uniting Flaw’. It isn’t a pure thrash metal record by any stretch of the imagination but their focus on melody and riffcraft do fit into the realm of a few classic bands like later Stone, Indestructible Noise Command, and Psychosis‘ long lost ‘Life Force’ record. I really enjoyed this one and found myself coming back to it whenever I could. There is some greater value within the thread of guitar work that runs through ‘Uniting Flaw’ and I found following that thread from start to finish was a worthwhile ride despite some of the less successful ‘rock’ moments that creep in and out of the tracklist.


a3783564339_10

Artist Strikeback
Title [Type/Year] The Plague [Full-length/2018]
 Rating [2.75/5.0] BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Yet another professional and polished retro groove/thrash metal full-length that really doesn’t do a lot to pull in the listener, but features no troublesome elements other than a slight blandness. If you’re pretty well tied up in bands like Crisix, Havok, Angelus Apidatra, Evile, etc. then this will feel pretty familiar. They do the same sort of stadium metal ‘mosh’ guitar work that Crisix does and that level of polish seems to be their ultimate goal. They so nail the sound they’re going for that there is something to be said for how sharp the sound of ‘The Plague’ is but I understand that this might be overlooked for its generally uninspired songwriting.


a1657732249_10

Artist Mental Slavery
Title [Type/Year] Our Legacy [Full-length/2018]
 Rating [3.75/5.0] BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

You might not be expecting much from a Russian thrash band named after an MX record in 2018 but the debut full-length from Moscow’s Mental Slavery comes as a righteous club to the head with riffs, group shouts, and an understated influence from 80’s hardcore/crossover that could be likened to early Power Trip. I love the sound of this tape as the reverberation of the group shouts and heavy hitting riffs started to remind me of the first No Return album (before they went death metal). The crossover aspect of their music never goes full hardcore punk like Take Offense or Leeway but often belongs in that same wheelhouse when they do hit upon it.


a0473062388_10

Artist Sacred Fire
Title [Type/Year] Slave to Structure [EP/2018]
 Rating [3.5/5.0] BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Another Power Trip influenced thrash/crossover band with heavy vocals but this band split up like a frickin’ month ago (October) just a few months after their first official release. Who cares? Well, damn listen to this frickin’ thing. They play on the Cro-Mags/Nuclear Assault side of the fence and are clearly influenced by the success of Power Trip but they were by no means an objective clone or anything. It is a total shame that they split up because they aren’t enough quality crossover thrashers out there attempting a style this heavy with respect to late 80’s hardcore at the same time.


a2284499327_10

Artist Flageladör
Title [Type/Year] Predileção Pelo Macabro [Full-length/2018]
 Rating [3.5/5.0] BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

To the cursory listener and/or track-skipping sycophant, Flageladör may appear as ‘just another’ Brazilian old school speed/thrash metal project but their deeper relevance comes from really kicking that scene into gear almost twenty years ago. Vocalist/guitarist Armando Exekutor has a love for both early Destruction along with early 80’s US/German heavy metal and as a result Flageladör often nail the ‘true metal’ feeling of their sound without necessarily giving in to the dance of extreme metal. This is one of their best records to date thanks to very strong songwriting on the first half of the album and I really like the early Voivod nod on “Micromega” though the latter half of the record revolves around the nearly 12 minute epic title track which is bold but doesn’t necessarily hit as hard as similar efforts from Deathhammer and Whipstriker more recently. Essential stuff if you’re into the wave of satanic speed metal the world over but  find yourself wanting a better study of classic 80’s songwriting.


a3391638763_10

Artist Kobold
Title [Type/Year] Death Parade [Reissue/2018]
 Rating [3.0/5.0] BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Serbian speed-thrashers Kobold went largely unnoticed with the self-released digital version of their second album ‘Death Parade’ back in 2017 and this reissue gives the band a chance to reintroduce their sound as they press on. Although the trio would lose two thirds of its members after the release of ‘Death Parade’ that original 2015-2017 formation features as a tightly knit, shred-happy speed metal band a la Lääz Rockit with some Cacophony thrown in there too. They’re driven by a love for 80’s speed/thrash and in turn they resemble it well enough. I think the guitar soloing is often excessive as they tend to drop the rhythm guitar tracks during solos leaving a weird flatness that should probably be reserved for live shows. If you’re the type who always looks for bands that fuse the old ways with the new there will be some value within this reissue but if you’re looking for a well-oiled and highly conceived thrasher ‘Death Parade’ will appear mild and pedestrian.


51-uNozbfQL._SS500-350x350

Artist Dissentience
Title [Type/Year] Mask of Pretense [EP/2018]
 Rating [3.0/5.0] LISTEN on Spotify! | BUY on CDBaby

This sharply dressed and tightly performed melodeath/thrash record from some young fellows calling themselves Dissentience, who’ve been at it in various incarnations since 2010, ‘Mask of Pretense’ was overseen by a couple of notable melodic metalcore related folks with production from God Forbid drummer Corey Pierce and a key figure in melodic metalcore’s bigger picture Eric Rachel (see: Dead to Fall, God Forbid, A Life Once Lost). The sound is highly professional as a result and the takes are flawless though the compositions are just a bit green in terms of ‘feeling’. There is a great sense of movement and progression here that’ll appeal to fans of modern thrash metal with some holdover ‘-core’ tendencies comparable to those of Madrost or Revocation. If anything the moment-to-moment action is more relevant to the melodic metalcore movement were the sub-genre standard of clean singing never approached. Though I wouldn’t claim some kind of ‘false’ thrash tag here, tracks like “Tombstone Currency” have less to do with classic thrash and far more to do with that early era of Killswitch and Shadows Fall. I think fans of Revocation‘s ‘Teratogenesis’-adjacent era will like this quite a bit.


a1206664830_10

Artist Filii Nigrantium Infernalium
Title [Type/Year] Hóstia [Full-length/2018]
Rating [3.25/5.0] BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Portuguese blackened heavy metal thrashers Filii Nigrantium Infernalium were a startling revelation back in 2005 as their take on blackened heavy metal was one of the roughest, toughest and frantic black-thrashers I’d heard up to that point. 2018 has allowed me to catch up on most of their progression since with the reissue of ‘Pornokrates: Deo Gratias’ (2013), a full re-recording of ‘Fellatrix Discordia Pantokrator’ (now titled ‘Fellatrix’) and this brand new album ‘Hóstia’ thanks to Osmose Productions. I’ve always admired bands like FNI who create their own language and rhythm within the raw and sexualized space of first wave black metal, on ‘Hóstia’ they’re blasting it out like an old Root or Mortuary Drape record with some of the frantic, punkish freakout of Hellhammer and Nifelheim as well. All of those comparisons come with the caveat that this is Filii Nigrantium Infernalium and they do not really ascribe to the structures of those with a similar sound. There are a few classic speed metal surprises here beyond the black-thrashing metal furor and they try to make the tonal shift towards “Autos de Fé” as easy as possible with it’s chiming 80’s riffs and howling vocals. It feels like a different band for the couple of tracks that follow and because of this tonal shift ‘Hóstia’ was difficult to really wrap my head around at first. Imperfect, unfocused, and brilliantly so.


a0191270932_10

Artist Intent
Title [Type/Year] Vox Populi [Full-length/2018]
 Rating [3.5/5.0] BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Not to be confused with the Boston/D.C. hardcore punk band, newfangled Mesa, Arizona project Intent kick around the spirit of mid-to-late 80’s thrash metal on their debut full-length ‘Vox Populi’. Beyond the wrecking ball double bass drumming and (actually pretty standard) set of riffs involved I found myself impressed by the amount of personality vocalist Jeremy Lambert (ex-Varken) brings to the record. His delivery is somewhere in between the constipated post-Mustaine groove metal grunters of the early 90’s and Bruce Corbitt (Rigor Mortis) while the record’s style lands kinda Bay Area-ish with Evildead, Death Angel, and Exodus getting small nods within Intent‘s intense delivery. ‘Vox Populi’ has some rhythmic growing pains and the riffs are sometimes ‘meh’ but they’re on a pretty damn good track with an album that finds the band just barely sticking their heads above the water of their formative stages. If they can kick up the riffcraft a notch and tweak the double-bass drum sound to be slightly more present they’ll be a big deal soon enough.


blurryhorizon_albumcover

Artist External
Title [Type/Year] The Blurry Horizon [Full-length/2018]
 Rating [3.0/5.0] BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

As the noose of retro thrash constraints tightened atop the shoulders of these young and ambitious Finnish musicians the rope was slashed and expectations lifted. Four years later they arrive as a progressive metal band with a strong foundation of classic thrash metal, a talent employed only when a piece calls for it. ‘The Blurry Horizon’ feels like a modernization of the sort of progressive thrash metal that became wildly popular in early 90’s Germany and within smaller pockets across Europe and North America. Think along the lines of Depressive Age, Thought Industry, and Psychotic Waltz but instead of taking from the past External look to modern progressive heavy music groups, such as Amorphis or Leprous, for rhythmic and dynamic structure. This is not an ‘aggro’ record in most senses, rather a far-reaching and truly progressive feeling experience largely guided by the songwriting of drummer Julius Lehtonen (ex-Radux, ex-Drearyym) and an instantly recognizable Finnish cadence that is beautifully realized. The ambitions are notable yet I think this will be the hardest sell for pure thrashers as the riffs don’t exactly pour out of External‘s eclectic, ‘kitchen-sink’ sound. Thrash related at best but  still might be something worth grabbing for prog-thrash fans.


a4220881882_10

Artist Homicide Hagridden
Title [Type/Year] Effect Lucifero [Full-length/2018]
 Rating [3.0/5.0] BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Self-released on digital platforms in 2016 the third full-length from this Turin, Italy thrash metal band was a sort of return to their roots in terms of the early 90’s thrash metal sound Homicide Hagridden formed around in 1994. Though they verge on something like Grip Inc. when they’re being highly melodic the bulk of this bands sound revolves around the 90’s output of Bay Area thrash bands like Testament and Slayer in turn their sound leans towards that of groups like Tantara, Hatriot, and Cultural Warfare. This isn’t the type of stuff that excites me personally, and I’m surprised they’ve not done much to improve the artwork of the release in the two year wait to get a physical copy out. I think the loud and flatly shouted vocals will certainly take people back to the late 90’s/early-00’s era of Century Media and Nuclear Blast bands trying to capitalize on the popularity of Nevermore and Testament but the melodic vocals are not only kind of weird but the most interesting part of the album, he sounds a bit like the vocalist from Ignite and I think it’d be worthwhile to explore more melodic thrash ideas rather than bang out a Slayer-ized groove record again.


a1943235103_10

Artist PurEnvy
Title [Type/Year] Redemption [Full-length/2018]
 Rating [2.5/5.0] BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Although these Newcastle, Australia based folks have been around for well over a decade I’d not heard of them before this second full-length which appears as a modern melodic thrash metal record with heavy influence from melodeath and power metal. Not my kind of melodic thrash personally but I wanted to find something that was different from the crowd of melodic thrashers out there. The big difference comes in the modern melodic power metal influences that manifest in the lead guitars and vocal melodies. It is way cheesy for my own tastes but I suspect folks will find the mix of Testament (sorry for the catch-all use of Billy & Co.) style post-thrash and harmonized chorales. Likewise the influence of melodic metalcore within modern melodic death metal comes through on ‘Redemption’ making it ultra-ultra not my thing but I wanted to give this record a nod all the same.


a4294543605_10

Artist Bastardizer
Title [Type/Year] Dawn of Domination [Full-length/2018]
 Rating [3.75/5.0] BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Australian black/thrash n’ roll band Bastardizer cleaned up their act a bit on their second album ‘Dawn of Domination’ and it turned out to be pretty tough shit overall. I’m getting the ‘Infernal Overkill’ vibes that I want and some of that Motörpunk-isms I’d expect; It all works up into a pretty decent full listen that rides the line between between black ‘n roll Darkthrone and the Destroyer 666 of today. I felt like this was fairly overlooked along with a lot of the great stuff that Evil Spells Records and Iron, Blood & Blasphemy pick up and put out.


a2960576577_10

Artist Antiverse
Title [Type/Year] Under the Regiloth [Full-length/2018]
 Rating [3.25/5.0] BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Antiverse aren’t thrash in the classic sense but rather the type of groove metal influenced melodic death/thrash metal that followed the oversaturation of melodic death metal in Scandinavia starting in the mid 90’s. They’re easily compared to bands like Revocation and The Haunted especially on their first release ‘Cosmic Horror’ (2014), so there are no huge surprises on ‘Under the Regiloth’ outside of some general improvements to the fidelity of the recording and some greater focus on Bay Area thrash riffs in addition to their post-melodeath nods. These Minneapolis fellows are definitely on a heavier trajectory as their union progresses and this is a pretty tasteful take on modern death/thrash metal that comes from folks who’ve already showed a high taste level with key members work in Inexorable, one of the better melodic black metal projects out of the US today. “Derelicts” actually sounds quite a bit like ‘Reinkaos’ from Dissection and I almost hope they begin to lean in that direction because it feels like a natural fit for Antiverse‘s European extreme metal influenced sound.


a0759447386_10

Artist Unhallowed
Title [Type/Year] Ab Intus Tenebras [Full-length/2018]
 Rating [3.0/5.0] BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

One of many, many great Santiago area Chilean black/thrash metal projects to pop up in recent years, Unhallowed resemble a cross between their main blackened death/thrash project Hellbutcher and the ranting riffstorm of compatriots Invocation Spells. If you’re not impressed right away, let ‘Ab Intus Tenebras’ do its thing and the fantastic guitar work will eventually win you over. The style really leans into the black metal side of things atop the thrash metal guitar work so it might be darker than expected but they keep it true metal at least seventy percent of the time. The draw here is absolutely the guitar work and if nothing else check out “…Of Sands …Of Mysticism” and “Flames of Lust”.


a0052960393_10

Artist Rage Mob
Title [Type/Year] Beyond the Flatine [EP/2018]
 Rating [3.0/5.0] BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

‘Beyond the Flatline’ is the first official release from Paraguayan thrashers Rage Mob who formed back in 2013. Their influences range from the heaviest of thrash (Demolition Hammer), German ingenuity (Kreator, Destruction) and classic death (Suffocation, Morbid Angel) but their sound is pure thrash with a heavy, abrupt edge not far from early Num Skull, Sepultura, Exhorder and the better years of Exodus. The recording is not perfect but everything hits hard and heavy. I liked the dual vocal approach as they can kind of zip between classic late 80’s thrash and early 90’s death/thrash tonality on a dime. Given some time I think this band has huge potential.


a0294016910_10

Artist Terrorist
Title [Type/Year] Left in Desolation [Full-length/2018]
 Rating [3.75/5.0] BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

El Paso, Texas black/thrash metal band Terrorist have been around since 2005 but didn’t really get noticed on a broader level until their split with death metal band Graveyard in 2009. The line-up has changed entirely since ‘And Then Life Was Death’ leading to a different sound that is perhaps tighter and more aggressive than the previous full-length. Guitarist Alien Morbidfeast (Infestation of Evil) really shows up and shreds on this album between groaning dive-bombs, wailing leads, and riffs that are on the level of bands like Vomitor and early Mutilator. One of the heaviest and most immediately gratifying black/thrash records of the year and in good company with some of the greats.


If I missed your favorite thrash metal album from 2018 I’m not surprised! E-mail me or hit me up on twitter if you want me to review your favorite thrash metal album (past or present). If you’re in a thrash metal band and you want a review of your latest, hit the Contact page and send me a copy, keep in mind I have a strong preference for mid-to-late 80’s heavy stuff, death/thrash, and technical thrash stuff. No thrash metal will be left unheard!

Support Grizzly Butts!

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

$1.00