The 10 best thrash metal albums of 2023

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Any year where Metallica release a new album is automatically a great year to be a thrash fan. However, extreme music’s fastest, scrappiest genre would have still thrived in 2023 even if we didn’t hear a peep from the Four Horsemen.

While Overkill kept the genre’s roots alive with the reliably blistering Scorched, cult beloveds Sylosis blasted out some of the strongest songs of their career and a host of up-and-comers, from Pest Control to Enforced, announced themselves. To celebrate the intense strength of thrash in 2023, Metal Hammer’s compiled the 10 greatest albums it procured in the last 12 months.

Metal Hammer line break

Enforced – War Remains

From the rampaging pace and squealing guitars of opener Aggressive Menace, it takes Enforced less than 20 seconds to declare themselves one of thrash metal's most exciting new bands with their third album War Remains. It'd be glib to say Enforced sound like they've been thawed out from a state of stasis from the late-80s, as the fact is hardly anyone in the world of crossover thrash has sounded this infectiously enthusiastic about the style since Municipal Waste offered their own take almost two decades ago, Enforced ignoring the party crown to instead embrace thrash's most apocalyptic visions direct from their Discharge-inspired roots. RICH HOBSON

Gama Bomb – Bats

With songs entitled Living Dead In Beverly Hills, Egyptron and Speed Funeral, Gama Bomb resumed their rambunctious ways in 2023. The Irish thrashers’ eighth album wove 11 endearingly campy horror yarns, singer Philly Byrne howling about zombies and mummies’ curses atop music that sounded as fast as it did flamboyant. The band even reanimated their deceased mascot, Snowy The Gamabombinable Snowman, to hammer home all of their spooky sonic antics. MATT MILLS

Hellripper – Warlocks Grim & Withered Hags

Straddling the line between black metal and all-out thrash, Hellripper drew on the folklore of their native Scotland for their third record, bringing forth a snarling, venomous beast every bit as evil-sounding and menacing as anything Slayer have produced. More than that, James McBain's project is showcasing a sense of theatricality and scale seldom seen before, elevating their songwriting craft whilst never losing sight of their underground roots, each Iron Maiden like gallop and melodic lead guitar counteracted with a double-barrel blast of blackened bile straight from the belly of the beast. RICH HOBSON

King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard – Petrodragonic Apocalypse

 King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard release a lot of albums. To date, they’ve popped out 25 studio albums (last year they released five!) and 16 live albums. For those who struggle to keep up with their ever-increasing load, their first record of 2023, PetroDragonic Apocalypse, makes for the perfect getaway back into their weird and wild world of genre-jumping and rushed release-rates. On this LP, the psychedelic wizards trade in for a thrashier sound, packing to the brim with amphetamine-fuelled, racing riffs and scorching tempos. The cherry on the cake: super smoky vocals that sound remarkably like Sleep’s Al Cisneros for that added doomy touch. LIZ SCARLETT

Metallica – 72 Seasons

With the title of Metallica’s 11th album referencing the first 18 years of life, frontman James Hetfield bore his soul on 72 Seasons. “Lost his way through wicked streets, but he is someone’s little boy,” his lyrics unloaded during Chasing Light. Underscoring the anger and sorrow was some of Metallica’s most full-throttle music to date, eschewing ballads in favour of immense groove and, on single Lux Æterna especially, unabashedly unfettered thrash. MATT MILLS

Mutoid Man – Mutants

It had been six shitty years for Mutoid Man. Between Mutants and 2017 predecessor War Moans, bassist Nick Cageao left, drummer Ben Koller broke his elbow and frontman Stephen Brodsky lost his best friend, Caleb Scofield, in a car accident. The trio’s screams for catharsis during their new album made it a masterpiece of sludgy, primal thrash, and the band’s fortunes have since been reversed thanks to a stacked European tour. MATT MILLS

Nervosa – Jailbreak

Forced to rebuild from the ground up for a second time in as many records, Nervosa's fifth record nonetheless maintains the all-out blitz on the senses that the Brazilian band have become beloved for in the past decade. Bandleader Prika Amaral acquits herself excellently as the chief vocalist in Nervosa 3.0, delivering a decidedly Teutonic-inspired blackened sound that evokes the likes of Sodom and Kreator whilst feeling decidedly fresh and vicious, rising above internal drama to produce another top-tier thrasher. RICH HOBSON

Overkill – Scorched

Overkill might not command the same respect as their contemporaries in the Big Four, but they should. 20 albums in and their brand of trad-metal infused thrash remains a staple of East Coast thrash, Bobby 'Blitz' Ellsworth injecting each shriek and roar with a wild-eyed energy that is electrifying. Released on the same day as Metallica's 72 Seasons, this showed how to thrash into your fifth decade. RICH HOBSON

Pest Control – Don’t Test The Pest

Newcomers from the North of England, Pest Control's debut Don't Test The Pest is an all-out assault on the senses, flying through 11 songs in a little over 20 minutes and riding so hard you can practically hear their bones wearing down. Crossover thrash with an emphasis on short, sharp, shocks, this record is a much-needed lightning bolt that should electrify the competition into streamlining and trying to be half as anarchically brilliant. RICH HOBSON

Sylosis – A Sign Of Things To Come

After 2015 album Dormant Heart, Sylosis felt trapped in a songwriting rut thanks to their ‘no downtuning or breakdowns’ rule. 2020 comeback Cycle Of Suffering saw the Brits push against those constrictions, but it was Sign… that showed their true potential when flying free. Deadwood was a barrage of hyper-catchy death/thrash, while Josh Middleton dabbled in melodic singing for Eye For An Eye and Thorns, opening a new world of possibilities. MATT MILLS

Matt Mills
Contributing Editor, Metal Hammer

Louder’s resident Gojira obsessive was still at uni when he joined the team in 2017. Since then, Matt’s become a regular in Prog and Metal Hammer, at his happiest when interviewing the most forward-thinking artists heavy music can muster. He’s got bylines in The Guardian, The Telegraph, NME, Guitar and many others, too. When he’s not writing, you’ll probably find him skydiving, scuba diving or coasteering.

With contributions from