22 killer old school thrash songs that will instantly improve your day

(Image credit: Pete Cronin/Redferns)

Metal Hammer writer Dom Lawson has been a diehard thrasher since he was a spotty teenager, so who better to make the greatest mixtape ever? He has plundered his record collection and created the ultimate old-school thrash compilation. Crank up our Spotify playlist and bang your head!

Metallica – Metal Militia

A ferocious statement of intent from the biggest of the Big Four, promising “the metallisation of your inner soul!” Metal up your ass, indeed.

Exodus – Piranha

Gleefully vicious insanity from Paul Baloff and the Bay Area kings. Quite possibly the most outrageously thrrrraaaaasssshh song ever recorded.

Overkill – Rotten To The Core

Still a staple of these New York veterans’ live sets nearly 30 years on, this is the sound of metal on steroids and cheap street speed. Fucking lethal.

Anthrax – Caught In A Mosh

An ageless classic from the rightfully revered Among The Living album. Thrash with furious singalong power and some of the greatest riffs ever written.

Testament – Into The Pit

Does exactly what it says on the thrash tin. If you want to know why Testament are many people’s favourite non-Big Four thrashers, listen to this. Loud.

D.R.I. – Couch Slouch

A seething blast of flat-out thrashing skate-punk from the masters of the genre. Short, sharp, snotty and delivered at neck-wrecking velocity.

S.O.D. – Kill Yourself

Some prime stupidity from Scott Ian, Dan Lilker, Billy Milano and Charlie Benante. Obnoxious? Yes. Thrash as fuck? Double yes.

Onslaught – Metal Forces

Proof that the British thrash scene had plenty to offer, Onslaught’s early records were dirtier, nastier and heavier than most. The title says it all.

Dark Angel – The Burning Of Sodom

The only band capable of challenging Slayer for the coveted “most vicious band in thrash” trophy, Dark Angel kicked opened the gates of hell with this gem.

Kreator – Pleasure To Kill

Germany’s finest brought a new level of violence to thrash. The title track from their 1986 masterpiece is an ageless chunk of murderous mayhem.

Slayer – Angel Of Death

Written by the late, great Jeff Hanneman, the opening track from the immortal Reign In Blood is simply the greatest thrash metal song ever recorded.

Possessed – The Exorcist

Blurring the lines between thrash and death metal, Possessed embraced the dark side of the force with alacrity. This creepy classic still slays three decades years on.

Destruction – Bestial Invasion

A whirlwind of chaotic riffs and heads-down aggression, Destruction gave neighbours Kreator a run for their money in the sonic savagery stakes.

Suicidal Tendencies – War Inside My Head

Raging thrash from a gang of skate-punk hoodlums from Venice Beach, Los Angeles, this legendary anthem marked a high point for the crossover scene.

Voivod – Tribal Convictions

Canada’s groundbreaking thrash scientists tore up the rulebook at will back in the 80s. If you like your metal inventive and weird, Voivod fit the bill.

Sacred Reich – Death Squad

Best known for the wilfully daft Surf Nicaragua, Sacred Reich remain criminally underrated. This opening track from their debut album is utterly crushing.

Sepultura – Inner Self

The sheer intensity of Brazil’s undisputed thrash gods took the metal world by surprise. And 25 years later, Inner Self still slays like Saint George on a meth binge.

Nuclear Assault – Critical Mass

Faster, heavier, angrier… Nuclear Assault upped the ante for the entire thrash scene, injecting hefty doses of hardcore grit and rampant adrenaline. This is 100 per cent killer.

Sabbat – A Cautionary Tale

The scything riffs of Andy Sneap collided with the inspired lyrics of Martin Walkyier and British thrash suddenly had its own unique standard bearers.

Xentrix – No Compromise

Forget the Ghostbusters cover… this was Xentrix’s finest moment. Three minutes of breathless precision and Bay Area-meets-Preston riff madness. Fuck yes.

M.O.D. – The Accident Scene

Billy Milano’s post-S.O.D. crew kept the flag flying for obnoxious lyrics delivered at a blistering pace. This warped car crash fantasy will rip your fucking face off.

Megadeth – Holy Wars… The Punishment Due

Obliterating all-comers with a jaw-droppingly audacious display of technical precision, Megadeth circa 1990 were unstoppable. This is epic thrash perfection.

Dom Lawson

Dom Lawson has been writing for Metal Hammer and Prog for over 14 years and is extremely fond of heavy metal, progressive rock, coffee and snooker. He also contributes to The Guardian, Classic Rock, Bravewords and Blabbermouth and has previously written for Kerrang! magazine in the mid-2000s.