The top 10 best 1990s thrash songs

Machine Head circa 1995
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Continuing our deep investigation into the greatest songs per era of thrash (starting with the best songs from 1983-85 and then the best songs from 1986-89), we now enter the 1990s. No, it's not the decade most renowned for genre-defining thrash metal, but there were some diamonds in the rough. Here are 10 of the best thrash songs from 1990-99. Turn it up loud!

Megadeth – Holy Wars... The Punishment Due (Rust In Peace, 1990)

A razor-sharp epic about religious conflict dovetails into a righteous stomp about a Marvel comic anti-hero, as Megadeth set the bar high for 90s thrash.

Slayer – War Ensemble (Seasons In The Abyss, 1990)

Released just as the dogs of war were unleashed in the Persian Gulf, for many troops this song became the conflict’s theme tune.

Kreator – People Of The Lie (Coma Of Souls, 1990)

Punchy twin guitars, spiky death-punk riffs, a gorgeous solo, an infectious chorus and Mille Petrozza taking on neo-Nazis with his most hateful snarl = Kreative perfection.

Heathen – Hypnotized (Victims Of Deception, 1991)

The Bay Area’s most underrated band, Heathen were ready for glory with this labyrinthine crunch epic. Alas, the 90s had other ideas.

Pantera – Fucking Hostile (Vulgar Display Of Power, 1992)

These game-changers weren’t thrash in the 80s sense, but the OTT energy and attitude of Fucking Hostile was total manic thrash to the max.

Sodom – The Crippler (Tapping The Vein, 1992)

Preposterously brutal, The Crippler is as heavy as thrash gets, with its crazed bombardment of sheet-metal riffing, dentist-drill solos and sadistic lyrics.

Machine Head – Blood For Blood (Burn My Eyes, 1994)

Other songs on this album may have been more iconic, but when that madly Slayerized riff kicked in, it left absolutely no doubt that Bay Area veteran Robb Flynn could still cut the thrash mustard. Machine Fucking Head, indeed.

Witchery – The Reaper (Restless & Dead, 1998)

Thrash through a black metal prism, ravening revivalists Witchery hit the sweet spot with this beautifully simple, insanely catchy, propulsive Swedish classic.

The Haunted – Hate Song (The Haunted, 1998)

Witchery’s Patrik Jensen again on ‘riff guitar’, this time nailing a more hardcore-infused strain of thrash on this homicidally aggro, vein-popping debut opener.

Testament – Down For Life (The Gathering, 1999)

Testament’s all-star line-up fused the best of thrash past with millennial levels of renewal and excitement, the whole LP a thrilling end to a troublesome decade.

Chris Chantler

Chris has been writing about heavy metal since 2000, specialising in true/cult/epic/power/trad/NWOBHM and doom metal at now-defunct extreme music magazine Terrorizer. Since joining the Metal Hammer famileh in 2010 he developed a parallel career in kids' TV, winning a Writer's Guild of Great Britain Award for BBC1 series Little Howard's Big Question as well as writing episodes of Danger Mouse, Horrible Histories, Dennis & Gnasher Unleashed and The Furchester Hotel. His hobbies include drumming (slowly), exploring ancient woodland and watching ancient sitcoms.