20 Underground Thrash Metal Albums You Missed in 2019

This wasn’t a great year for thrash metal, at least not compared to the overwhelming stream of black, death, and doom metal being released otherwise. I’ve been writhing in a constant state of starvation for riff-centric thrash metal that tributes and/or appends the history of classic thrash metal to rare avail. 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 suck or just be less traditional weirdos for the sake of showing the out-of-the-box thinkers, the “almost there” stinkers, and the hidden gems of underground thrash metal today. Don’t focus on the ratings, I’m keeping it brief with most of these lists this year. Make your own judgments.

I’ve compiled this list not as a “best of” for the wide blanket of thrash metal in 2019 but compiled to illustrate what thrash metal is/was beneath the surface in 2019 and where I think it was most interesting [or, sometimes terrible] yet overlooked. From my own point of view these albums were overlooked, underrepresented, and/or passed by quickly by media outlets and many for very valid reasons. 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 (for GOOD and BAD reasons) as I dug through thrash metal’s innards throughout 2019. 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 hit the search icon to see if I’ve already covered something vital, otherwise let me know what I’ve missed!

cover Andralls - Bleeding For Thrash

Artist Andralls
Title [Type/Year] Bleeding For Thrash [Full-length/2019]
Rating [3.5/5.0] BUY/LISTEN on Spotify!

As the world was turning back towards Brazil for their contributions to brutal death  metal in the late 90’s and early 2000’s it’d soon become evident that a we’d all been missing the powerful and strangely modern revival of thrash metal within major metropolitan areas across the country. 2001-2004 was when I’d been personally paying the most attention as major records from Terror Squad, Violator, and the São Paulo based Andralls hit. ‘Force Against Mind’ still holds up as it skates the line between purist old school riffs and modern moshable sounds, they call it ‘fasthrash’ and I’d say they haven’t really fucked up that formula since. ‘Bleeding For Thrash’ maintains this, hell kick the album off with “We Are the Only Ones” clearly stating who they are as a point of solidarity while the tracklist wastes no time continuing old threads (“Andralls on Fire Part III”) and letting everyone know they’re back. They’ve got more than enough reasons to celebrate, too, as vocalist/guitarist Alex Coelho would have to post-pone his vocal sessions due to thyroid cancer making for an even more inspiring return from the band; They really lay it all out in the best way possible (“Noiséthrash”). This one takes me back to the early days of the band and I really appreciated straight thrash without any of the groove metal influences that’d crept into some of their post-2005 releases.


Artist Terravore
Title [Type/Year] II [Demo/2019]
 Rating [3.75/5.0] BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Varna Bulgaria based thrashers Terravore brought an intricate level of street-thrashing mania on their ‘Unforeseen Consequences’ debut back in 2017 and not too long after they announced a cassette version of it from Heathen Tribes the band had posted this three song demo, ‘II’ on their Bandcamp. I was sure they were headed in a brutal thrash direction but wasn’t expecting more of a pre-’89 Kreator vibe to edge its way into their sound. This is the kind of concrete-slapping galaxian thrash that I love, the stuff that crushes out each riff in a way that is the narration itself. “Poltergeist” is this howling, raw, group-shouted, beast of a song that is as epic as it is forcefully traditional. The menace is real on this demo and I love it. It looks to be a peek at what they’re going to be up to on their planned full-length in 2020 and I can’t wait for it to axe my shit in half.


Artist Hellnite
Title [Type/Year] Midnight Terrors [Full-length/2019]
 Rating [2.5/5.0] BUY/LISTEN on Spotify!

Now based out of Edmonton in Alberta, Canada this project began in Mexico City among youngsters Manipulator who’d change their name to Hellion before vocalist/guitarist Paul Belmar would move country and establish Hellnite. I’ve seen some pretty raw reviews of this since it released that revolve around the vocals and, fair enough, yeah they’re basically spoken and buried in the mix; I’d come out of the full listen not minding how terrible the vocals are if only because I’d been more focused on the guitar work which takes heavy influence from traditional heavy metal. The galloping heavy metal pace with progressive thrash movements strewn in between makes for listen that is admittedly almost up to par with professional heavy/thrash metal acts. Normally I’d say skip it in 2019 but many of my favorite heavy metal records from the 80’s are slightly busted, take a closer look at 80’s US power metal in particular, and I can forgive some of what makes ‘Midnight Terrors’ a bit of a bungle. As a guitarist and arranger the dude has the right stuff, it’ll just take a few more releases to fully get there.


Artist Black Mass
Title [Type/Year] Warlust [Full-length/2019]
 Rating [3.5/5.0] BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Black Mass haven’t changed drastically, at all, since their debut ‘Ancient Scriptures’ (2015). They’re still cranking out that crusted, brazen form of ’84 thrash that is always right on the verge of ‘Haunting the Chapel’ evil thrash but pulls back towards barbaric speed metal every chance they get. That shouting punk (but totally not) presence gives me flashbacks to Poison Idea shows with fucked up crossover bands opening and hey, I appreciate the sentiment. This was the record that got me to check out what Iron Shield Records have been doing with throwback thrashers these last few years and I was glad to discover this along with Fatal Embrace and Fusion Bomb records from this year. Otherwise this will be a pretty straightforward speed metal blast for folks who already know these Bostonians. Check out “Graveyard Rock” if you’re an English Dogs fan.


Artist Evil Angel
Title [Type/Year] Unholy Evil Metal [Full-length/2019]
 Rating [3.25/5.0] BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Finally, something that actually kills. Finnish sacreligious, goat sodomizing, urn chugging necromantic black/thrashers Evil Angel say all they need to say on the box with ‘Unholy Evil Metal’, their second album and first since 2007’s ‘Unholy Fight For Metal’. These guy do the Bestial Mockery thing better than the Swedes did it themselves if we’re being straight up here and Evil Angel deserve some extra credit for being about that outrageous. It isn’t a riff album, hell it isn’t that much of thrash album so much as it is a first wave Finnish black metal album at heart but they break through on a few tracks, “Sacrificial Slaughter” and opener “Necro Black Mass” in particular. I’d meant to put Alastor‘s ‘…The Dark Tower…’ here but I was a year late so, this stands in well enough.


Artist War Curse
Title [Type/Year] Eradication [Full-length/2019]
 Rating [3.0/5.0] BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

I’ve got no reservations in saying that I’m not at all interested in the legacy™ created by bands that have made sounding like 90’s Testament a sub-genre of Bay Area thrash all its own thing. That blend of 90’s groove/half-thrash metal guitar crunch cranked to a modern standard of fidelity has been popular as hell for decades, though, and that’d be my first thought in approaching Ohio thrashers War Curse. Trouble is that no matter how much better a band like this might be, a year with records from Death Angel, Sacred Reich, XentrixFlotsam & Jetsam… ugh, Acid Reign? Exhorder? Whatever my point was, teah, those were all legacies we’ve all got to move beyond because they’ve each shit the bed in some respect. War Curse are good at that kind of stuff, big huge sound and bleeding that 90’s thrash metal blood alongside their heroes. I mean they’ve literally got members of Forbidden, Psychosis, and Exhorder contributing guest spots while Jason Viebrooks (ex-Grip Inc.) provides session bass guitar. Not my thing personally but a big, glossy release that I didn’t see the ‘legacy lovers’ crew dying over as much as far inferior records released this year.


Artist Death Above
Title [Type/Year] Digital Breed [Full-length/2019]
 Rating [3.0/5.0] BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Flip the channel all the way over to the Canary Islands for a shot of crossover influenced thrash from Death Above. I wouldn’t say ‘Digital Breed’ does enough to make a big first impression but the second album from this quintet is leagues better than their mushy Iron Reagan-esque debut. They drop into that slow shit everyone is doing ever since Power Trip hit upon a bigger audience but it ends up sounding more like ‘Survive’-era Nuclear Assault in Death Above‘s hands. I usually prefer a crossover band to be way better at actual hardcore punk songs or at least nod to the intensity of the 80’s with that sort of speed so I didn’t end up spinning this one all that often beyond February when it self-released.


Artist Opposition Party
Title [Type/Year] Tales to Horrify [EP/2019]
 Rating [3.75/5.0] BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

These guys started out as a hardcore punk band in Singapore circa 1986 and they’d never really slow down too much until about 2005 after the release of their ‘Zombified’ album. Their style would turn towards thrash pretty quickly but I’ll be honest I haven’t been able to track down the exact release when it’d happened, 1995 or so. Today Opposition Party return with a pretty quick burst of crossover thrash that invokes that grey area when a lot of crossover bands of the late 80’s had turned towards death metal but hadn’t changed their name yet. ‘Tales to Horrify’ is fast, energetic, moshable, and pretty much just having fun ripping out its high speed horror themed hardcore at a raw pace. A lot of cool details that made me want to pick this 7″ up: The Ed Repka artwork, the Necromorbus Studio mix, and even a guest solo from a member of Valkyrja make this a weird-but-cool collectors item.


Artist Sins of the Damned
Title [Type/Year] Striking the Bell of Death [Full-length/2019]
 Rating [4.0/5.0] BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

This Santiago, Chile based quartet are the best kind of anomaly in the sense that every part of their sound indicates that they are an epic speed metal band with a love for 80’s power metal melodicism yet none of this translates to their vocalist who has an 80’s black/death metal growl tone. It isn’t such an outrageous sound, especially coming from members of Crime, and it isn’t far from what Deströyer 666, Barbarian and Desaster do these days though the melodic phrasing of Sins of the Damned‘s guitar work is distinctly more ancient in voice. The not-so melodic stance of the vocals was completely off-putting until I’d considered the evolution of bands like Blackrat, Vigilance etc. and began pushing my thoughts past the expectation of extreme metal. The listening experience doesn’t read as ‘dark’ (as in evil) but strangely mystic in its narrative, and this ‘true/power metal’ feeling is an aspect of this release that has been understated and far underrated thus far. At the very least you should listen to the second track, “They Fall and Never Rise Again”, as it really is their sound in a nutshell and their whole vibe in spades.


Artist Infrared
Title [Type/Year] Back to the Warehouse [EP/2019]
 Rating [3.75/5.0] LISTEN on Bandcamp! 

Infrared are kinda blowing my mind here as they break into some of the good stuff they’d brought on their second full-length, ‘Saviors’, from last year. I know they’re Canadian and I should expect good things but few ‘demo only 80’s thrash’ bands have reformed in the 2010’s and don’t any good under their old name. ‘Back to the Warehouse’ is an in-between release to clear house before their planned 2020 release and no doubt they’ve picked out the top tier stuff for it; All of the high falutin personality of thrash metal’s peak melodic viability in the late 80’s applies here with works worthy of ‘Alison Hell’ era Annihilator, Overkill, and Metal Church. I wouldn’t have picked “Wrathchild” to cover, though, this feels more like a “To Tame Your Land” kinda band.


Artist Massive Destruktion
Title [Type/Year] Mercenaries [Full-length/2019]
Rating [2.75/5.0] BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Shit, that is one terrible album cover. I don’t blame anyone who’d overlooked ‘Mercenaries’, it makes a cartoonish first impression and the clarity of the production is bare enough that its programmed drums and thin guitar tone aren’t a good start. Chill out, though, because Puerto Rican thrashers Massive Destruktion still pull off a pretty decent, largely DIY thrash metal record despite those limitations. Most of the riffs show some reasonable grasp of melody and you’ll hear hints of late 80’s Sepultura here and there but the quality of mix does occasionally overshadow the songs, particularly the peaking on “Sending the War”.


Artist Atomic Witch
Title [Type/Year] Void Curse [EP/2019]
 Rating [3.5/5.0] BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Atomic Witch rule, and no doubt you’ll agree/disagree quick because they’ve got a distinct in-your-fucking-face kind of sound. For a bunch of guys who’d named their band Bulk & Skull their rabid filth chamber of snarling blackened thrash (with clean-shrieked/harsh vocals) compressed through a grindcore/math metal gate sounds pretty damned serious from the first listen. Just imagine like, a black/thrash version of Macabre circa ’89 but they’re singing about sin and fucking corpses. Definitely overlooked, and I think the dual vocal approach was probably the hardest part to get my head wrapped around as it kept coming off like, 90’s metalcore to me.


Artist Alcoholocaust
Title [Type/Year] Necro Apocalipse Bestial [Full-length/2019]
 Rating [3.5/5.0] BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Anytime I pick up a Helldprod Records release I know I’m going to get riffs, pure evil, or a fine combination of both just as I’d found in ‘Necro Apocalipse Bestial’, the debut from Portuguese black/thrashers Alcoholocaust. These guys have been at it for years and despite the seven year gap they’re still playing their own brand of Teutonic witching metal influenced black/thrash metal. Their sound leans more towards speed metal in my ears, and they fit in perfectly with the other bands on the labels roster. This isn’t a particularly original record but they hit a good balance of ‘fun’ satanic speed metal and heavy riffs. Constant nods to early Slayer, Possessed, Destruction, and not far from earlier Deathhammer.


Artist Freakings
Title [Type/Year] Rise of Violence [Full-length/2019]
 Rating [3.5/5.0] BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Shouted plainly atop a grating guitar sound from Hell, a Christian point of view? Well, yeah I mean it turns out this is a pretty decent album. ‘Rise of Violence’ is the fourth full-length from Bubendorf, Switzerland DIY thrashers Freakings who’ve been the same solid trio since 2008. Around the time Exodus came out with ‘Tempo of the Damned’ a lot of modern thrash bands started using this type of guitar tone where the mids feel blurred by the overdrive, like the wah pedal never switched off properly, and that is my only issue. Doesn’t become grating until about halfway through the full listen. Otherwise they’ve ripped out another set of ‘always on’ ripping high-speed thrashers not far from the first Distallator album, and when Suicidal Angels sounded way more ’94 Slayer-ish. You can’t sit there and say this is anything but pure thrash metal and I love that about Freakings, they’re there to rip out fast, furious and mostly political/sociopolitical lyrical themes. It is all too one dimensional to return to over and over again but that is more or less the reality of any ‘one-guitar’ thrash record.


Artist Apocalyptic Raids
Title [Type/Year] The Pentagram [Reissue/2019]
 Rating [3.5/5.0] BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil based Celtic Frost/Hellhammer worshipers Apocalyptic Raids have been at it since 1998 and their raw ’85 proto-death/black/thrash sound hasn’t changed since. Their 2018 album came eight years after their last LP and they’d actually released it on their own Hell Music label independently until Hell’s Headbangers licensed all formats mid-2019 and I can see exactly why they picked it up. ‘The Pentagram’ might be their best album yet, they’ve given it a spacious production that sounds live-in-studio (think ‘Born Too Late’ but thrash) and they’ve still got plenty of infectious riffs in ’em. “Satan Laughs” is probably the coolest shit you’ll get from digging through this list.


Artist Némesis
Title [Type/Year] The Beginning of the End [EP/2019]
 Rating [3.0/5.0] BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Death/thrash metal from the far northwestern corner of Spain in Galicia, Némesis play a style that is generally mid-paced with its grooves aimed at early Florida death metal and a groove/half-thrash style of riffing. The vocals are oddly layered, sometimes drenched in effects and more guttural to the point that he sounds like a pitch-shifted Finnish death demo from the late 80’s. The riffs show some love for Death and Malevolent Creation but about half are more in a groove/death metal style which is the difference between a band like Nopresion and a true thrasher like Canker, rhythmically the simpler ‘mosh’ riffs aren’t the kind of thing I like personally. It is a great place to start and a good EP, if it was all a bit more rhythmically fluid I’d love it.


Artist Intoxicate
Title [Type/Year] Cross Contamination [Full-length/2019]
 Rating [3.5/5.0] LISTEN on Spotify!

Intoxicate are a thrash metal band from the Gothenburg area who’d originally formed in the late 80’s and released four demos between 1988 and 1991 before disbanding. There is a very long bio on their Facebook that details everything, you just have to translate from Swedish. ‘Cross Contamination’ is difficult to entirely relate to those demos, which were largely no-frills learning sessions for the songwriters, who’d worked up to some solid intricacy by ’91, because it incorporates a little bit of that ‘Violent Revolution’ style where they’ve used some riffs that recall melodic death metal of their region and it doesn’t always fit. It definitely sounds like an album that is making up for lost time and it is one of the better ‘comeback from nothing’ thrash records I’ve come into contact with this year. The laid back melodeath riffs actually work for me, too, so I loved “Inertia (Creeps)” and “Eyes Unwilling”.


Artist Mortal Vision
Title [Type/Year] Madness of Messiah [EP/2019]
 Rating [3.5/5.0] BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

I’d randomly came across a YouTube video of Ukranian thrashers Mortal Vision covering Sepultura‘s “Arise” live and decided to check out this EP on their Bandcamp. “Deciever” sounds like “Everyone” from Turbo, when that band was heavily influenced by Sepultura so I was already neck deep in the shit that I really like. The title track has more of a “Nuclear Winter” era Sodom feeling to its main verses and you can tell they have a punk influenced side to their sound that hasn’t fully come out yet. I’m looking forward to see what they pull off next.


Artist Transgresión
Title [Type/Year] .​.​.​Hijos e hijas de lo que engendramos​.​.​. [Full-length/2019]
 Rating [3.0/5.0] BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Transgresión are a politically charged progressive metal band from Puerto Rico who largely stick to 90’s thrash metal riffs as their baseline. ‘Progressive’ might suggest that this record is sophisticated and melodramatic but the term applies to their experimental side, which manages to generate some much-needed variety along the way. The rhythms aren’t complex but the ideas they work around those simpler riffs occasionally strikes into something compelling. The ‘spoken’ vocals are definitely going to be a huge detractor for most thrash fans, and only the gang-shouts save that portion of the performance in the long run. I’d wanted to compare this with early Psychotic Waltz at certain points but the riffs aren’t there yet, at all. Something very different sounding and fully thrash.


Artist Mortal Infinity
Title [Type/Year] In Cold Blood [Full-length/2019]
 Rating [3.0/5.0] BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

‘In Cold Blood’ is the third record from German thrash metal band Mortal Infinity and I’d say the first where they sound as heavy as their name and brutal imagery might suggest. Think of their sound as if Overkill made a brutal thrash record or look to newer Exodus for some of their more obvious grooves. Most of the things I’d said about Freakings‘ guitar sound earlier also applies here but this is obviously more balanced. I’m not huge on the Steve Souza style of vocal and that’d be the main reason it didn’t stick with me for all that long. Worth checking out of you lean into the modern versions of old legacy thrashers. I’m more geared towards the old school stuff and want riff salad rather than simple mosh stuff.

If I missed your favorite thrash metal album from 2019 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!

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