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Thrash Metal

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Got my foot pinned to the floor
You can feel the engines roar
Got thunder in my hands
I'm metal thrashing MAAAAAAAD!, YEAH!

Secondary Stylistic Influences:

Thrash metal is a sub-genre of Heavy Metal. Basically, it's a fusion of Hardcore Punk and the music of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal (NWOBHM; you know, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden). In slightly more detail, thrash metal, also known as "thrash", features very fast, low-register riff-heavy guitar playing, and equally fast drumming accompanied by virtuoso-style guitar solos typically using E minor keys though other keys aren't unheard of.

Thrash metal began in the early eighties and was popularized mainly by the "Big Four" (Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer and Anthrax) as well as the three main bands of the Teutonic thrash metal scene in Germany (Sodom, Kreator, Destruction). By the 90s, its popularity began to wane as the genres it inspired (see below) began to overtake it in popularity, but it still had enough of a dedicated following to begin a "revival" of sorts in the 2000's (see the "New Blood" section). In June of 2010, the Big Four of thrash metal played together on one stage for the first time ever in a historic concert tour in Europe.

Closely related to thrash is crossover thrash, a sub-genre of both thrash metal and hardcore punk started in the mid-80s. It is essentially thrash with much more obvious punk influence, namely less technical songwriting and more shouted vocals (especially gang vocals), but retains many of thrash's riffing and songwriting conventions. Named for the Dirty Rotten Imbeciles album Crossover, and most popularized by them, Suicidal Tendencies and Stormtroopers of Death, as well as Municipal Waste and Power Trip in later years.

Fellow metal genres Death Metal, Groove Metal and arguably Black Metal evolved directly from thrash. Thrash metal evolved from Speed Metal, and was instrumental in the creation of Power Metal.

Bands typically described as thrash metal include:

Old Guard

American West Coast

American East Coast

Misc. American

Teutonic (German)





  • Acid Reign
  • Amebix - Crust mixed with thrash
  • Deathwish
  • Discharge! - (While their early and most beloved material isn't 100% thrash, it's still heavily influential on the genre. The closest they got to pure thrash was their early nineties albums Massacre Divine and Shootin Up the World)
  • Energetic Krusher
  • Hydra Vein
  • Onslaught
  • Sabbat (not to be confused with the Japanese Black Metal act)
  • Sacrilege (also d-beat, and a potential Ur-Example of crust punk)
  • Seventh Angel
  • Skyclad
  • Venom (Actually a heavy/speed metal band, but extremely influential to the genre)
  • Xentrix

Japanesenote :

  • Abigail
  • Anthem - has taken some detours into thrash, though it primarily falls under Power Metal or traditional Heavy Metal.
  • Barbatos (Mixed with black metal, side project of Abigail)
  • Flatbacker/EZO - probably the first well-known Japanese thrash band. Its singer would join Loudness, below, during its thrashiest period.
  • Gargoyle - A thrash metal band with experimental tendencies.
  • King's-Evil
  • Loudness depending on the era, though 1991-93 is the thrash era, with 2010-12 coming up soon after. Also known for the Protest Song component of thrash, being well-known for left-leaning and social libertarian political messages.
  • Narcotic Greed
  • Negarobo
  • Outrage
  • Ritual Carnage
  • Rosenfeld
  • Sabbat - One the best known dedicated thrash metal bands from Japan. Incorporates black metal influences.
  • Tokyo Yankees
  • X Japan, during its days as "X" until around the mid-1990's, combined thrash with Hair Metal, Speed Metal and Progressive Metal


New Blood

Tropes common in this genre are:

  • Berserk Button: Hair Metal, especially during the genre's '80s heyday, to thrash bands and their respective fanbases who regarded them with the same kind of derision reserved for New Kids on the Block. It is not even remotely an exaggeration to say that if you went to a thrash show in the 80s with so much as a glammy haircut, you'd get turned away at the door and be told to go fuck yourself (if you were lucky), and would have a very real chance of getting jumped.
  • Darker and Edgier: Compared to its direct progenitor Speed Metal.
    • Within thrash metal, the Teutonic scene is the Darker and Edgier counterpart to the US scene.
    • And also within thrash metal, Brazillian Thrash, which is even more extreme than Teutonic thrash and bordered on proto-black metal in places with groups such as Holocausto, Sarcofago and early Sepultura.
  • Epic Riff: Being one of the most riff driven genres of music, these are pretty common.
  • Fandom Rivalry: While most thrash fans are perfectly content to listen to, both, Metallica and Megadeth, certain fans still argue about which band is better, which song is originally written by which bands, etc. Notable in that the bands themselves were far from friendly with each other for a long time.
  • Follow the Leader: While there were several thrash metal bands willing to take their own spin on thrash metal in its heyday, the genre had more than its fair share of copycat bands that record labels were more than willing to sign because of its popularity, no matter how unoriginal or uninspired (much like what happened with it's hated enemy, Hair Metal). This happened again with the 2000's revival, with many bands happy to just imitate bands like Slayer, Exodus, Anthrax, etc., without adding anything new to it, and the image of the derivative Exodus, Anthrax, Kreator, or Nuclear Assault clone with a cookie-cutter Ed Repka or Andrei Bouzikov album cover with zombies, monsters, or mutants standing around looking menacing or doing bad things to people who sang about Heavy Meta, beer, and 80s action and slasher movies became indelibly burned into the scene consciousness. The derisive label of "pizza thrash"note  quickly gained traction as an epithet to hurl at bands who fit this mold, and with the general demise of the retro thrash boom in the 2010s, anyone who fits the "pizza thrash" mold is unlikely to see any meaningful success.
  • Gateway Series: Metallica is one for thrash, and often to classic metal as a whole. Slayer and the "big three" German bands (Kreator especially) tend to be this for harsher thrash and often to extreme metal as a whole.
  • Genre-Killer: Thrash never "died" as such, but the rise of newer sub-genres (some of which were directly influenced by thrash), and the fact that some of the bigger bands in the genre underwent stylistic changes, lead to the genre's waning popularity in the 90s. The retro thrash revival, on the other hand, did die, and the causes were a mix of increasing mainstream apathy due to a glut of third-tier acts, the almost universally awful record contracts (particularly from Earache; Bonded by Blood, in particular, was so broke during their touring days that on one tour in 2010, the bigger bands repeatedly gave or bought them food because they couldn't afford to eat) that bled many bands dry and left them hopelessly in debt to their labels, and the omnipresence of tour buy-ons onto bills that they often did not belong on that ultimately hurt their ability to gain reliable fanbases, and the collapse of Heavy Artillery Records in mid-2012 can generally be pinpointed as the last nail in the revival's coffin. While much of the damage has been mended and modern thrash has begun to creep back as of the early 2020s, the scene is far more rooted in the underground than the 2000s acts were and is based heavily around Unspeakable Axe Records, Blood Harvest, and Redefining Darkness Records, and most newer acts that get noticed fall into crossover/hardcore, death/thrash or blackened thrash, or technical thrash.
  • Genre Relaunch: While there were still bands playing thrash metal throughout the 1990's and early 2000's, the genre suddenly saw a surge in popularity in the mid-2000's, mainly thanks to Municipal Waste. Labels such as Earache and Nuclear Blast capitalized on this, and by the end of the decade there were several well known acts playing "retro-thrash."
  • Gorn: Not used as much as death metal, but still occasionally used, most famously by Slayer and some German thrash bands.
  • Harsh Vocals: Used mainly by Teutonic thrash bands, but occasionally heard in bands from other scenes as well.
  • Lighter and Softer: Lyrically, crossover thrash bands tend to be this compared to regular thrash bands, and many songs tend to be more humorous in nature, but they may be just as fast and intense musically, and sometimes more so.
  • Metal Scream: Often more of the operatic or snarling variety.
  • Motor Mouth: Rapid fire vocal delivery is pretty common, especially in crossover but also in more "standard" thrash bands, particularly on the extreme (and extreme speed) end of the spectrum. Tom Araya, Mike Muir, Kurt Brecht, Billy Milano, Sean Killian and Don Doty are just a few vocalists especially known for this.
  • Power Ballad: "Semi-ballads" are pretty common, especially on earlier albums.
  • Protest Song: Being influenced by Hardcore Punk, political songs show up frequently in thrash.
  • Rated M for Manly: Just try to deny it, whether you're a fan of the genre or not.
    • This is evidenced by the joke "What has 2,000 legs and 2 breasts? The audience at a thrash metal concert."
  • Rock Me, Amadeus!: The genre has a huge emphasis on fast yet highly melodic shredding, though not as much as its sister genre, Power Metal.
  • Rock Me, Asmodeus!: A common theme among the more extreme bands, most prominently Slayer.
  • Trope Codifier: Metallica for more melodic or traditional thrash and Slayer for the more extreme side of thrash. Suicidal Tendencies and Dirty Rotten Imbeciles are this for crossover thrash.
  • Trope Maker: It's not exactly clear who should get credit for playing the first thrash song, but it's generally agreed that Metallica's Kill 'Em All is the first thrash album. Venom's Welcome to Hell is a possible Ur-Example.
  • Ur-Example:
    • Two of the most common candidates for "first thrash songs" are Black Sabbath's "Symptom of the Universe" and Judas Priest's "Dissident Aggressor" (later covered by Slayer).
    • Before them was "Stone Cold Crazy" by Queen (if not considered it for this genre, is definitely the first example of Speed Metal). "Parasite" by Kiss is a more obscure one brought up. These were later covered by Metallica and Anthrax respectively.
    • Though the New Wave of British Heavy Metal is a big inspiration, Motörhead, Venom and Diamond Head are perhaps the biggest, with Venom's Welcome to Hell perhaps being the ultimate "earliest thrash album".

Thrash metal songs (excluding the Big Four, with geographies listed):