While the boundaries for what metal can look and sound like are ever-changing - as attested by the massively diverse line-up in the latest issue of Metal Hammer - thrash metal remains a reliable corner of the metal world even as it approaches its fourth decade of speed-drenched thrills.
Metallica might have surprised us all with a surprise new single (and album announcement) at the end of the year, but there's been plenty to unpack in the last 12 months of thrashing. As such, we've assembled the ten best records from 2022 that gave us sore necks - and massive smiles. Without further ado, these are the ten best thrash metal albums of 2022!
10. Hyperia - Silhouettes Of Horror
With their second album Solhouettes Of Horror, Canadian thrashers Hyperia doubled down on the most ferocious elements of their sound to achieve a sound that owed more than a passing nod to Tetonic thrashers Kreator or Destruction. The fact vocalist Marlee Ryley can deliver blackened snarls with as much gusto as trad-metal histrionics helped them stand out from the crowd, firmly establishing Hyperia as promising up-and-comers in the wide world of thrash. RH
9. Vulcano - Stone Orange
Vulcano have been hacking away at the Brazilian metal coalface for over 40 years. Thankfully, they remain obdurately resistant to change, and while Stone Orange clearly sounds bigger and better than anything they’ve done before, the veteran quintet’s feral and militantly old-school spirit is writ large across every last moment.
A wall-to-wall riot of gruff, snotty anthems, Stone Orange peaks with the celebratory thump of Rebels From 80s and the wild thrash hoedown of Cadaverise’s Vulcano Will Live Forever: not so much a manifesto as a simple statement of fact. DL
8. Lawnmower Deth - Blunt Cutters
Arriving a slightly tardy 28 years after their last album, Blunt Cutters is immediately identifiable as the best-sounding record Lawnmower Deth have ever made. Opener Into The Pit is a certified ripper, showcasing the fact that, all silliness aside, these veterans have sharpened up over the years and are a much tighter and more destructive unit than they were when they recorded Betty Ford’s Clinic and Satan’s Trampoline.
In every other respect, Blunt Cutters is a big, stupid dose of top-notch Lawnmower Deth rowdiness. There are countless shout-along choruses and moments of pit-inciting yob-metal fury. And, as is only right and just, there is a large and laudable amount of gleeful idiocy, all delivered with a lot of twinkly-eyed charm and genuinely impressive levels of metal-as-fuck energy. DL
7. High Command - Eclipse Of The Dual Moons
In the thrall of Conan scribe Robert E. Howard’s ripping yarns as much as the rapier riffs of thrash’s first wave, Eclipse Of The Dual Moons saw High Command charge forward with a darker, denser sound.
There’s no shortage of ambition and the grandiose final track, Spires Of Secartha, draws on Ennio Morricone, while the gloriously groovy Imposing Hammers Of Cold Sorcery shows off the band’s impressive technical chops. The likes of the synth-spiced, Dioesque Fortified By Bloodshed helps ensure Eclipse Of the Dual Moons remains as deadly as a barbed wirewrapped mace. DL
6. Skin Failure - Radilac
"Tongue-in-cheek thrash by former members of Black Peaks" isn't one we expected to pop up in our 2022 bingo cards, but that's exactly what we got when vocalist Will Gardner and bassist Dave Larkin teamed up with members of bristol noise rock band Memory Of Elephants to form Skin Failure.
Radillac dove deep into the instantaneous thrills and excesses of pure thrash. When Skin Failure lock into the Motörhead groove of Meat Pond / Down By The River, they’ll have your neck windmilling like a loon. Big, dumb, beer-swigging, headbanging music it may be, but Skin Failure sure know how to make it loads of fun. SH
5. Chemicide - Common Sense
Few subgenres of metal have managed to travel the globe so thoroughly as thrash, even as early as the 80s regional scenes popping up everywhere from Brazil to Australia and Japan. Costa Ricans Chemicide continue that grand tradition, the band's fourth album Common Sense applying the same lightning reanimation to crossover-thrash that Power Trip so memorably did back in 2017.
The result is a roiling, hyperactive blast of classic thrash adorned with massive beatdowns, hooky bark-alongs and exceptional fret-diddling. From the leviathan stomp of Lunar Eternity to the neck-pulverising judder of Barred Existence, Common Sense is the kind of record that can unite old-school thrashers and newbies alike. RH
4. Destruction - Diabolical
Diabolical is German thrashers Destruction's 15th studio record, and like every one of its predecessors, this spits and howls its devotion to heavy metal from spooky beginning to thunderous climax.
No Faith In Humanity rolls back the years to the speed-fuelled, runaway-train chaos of the early German thrash movement, but with several decades of experience and muscle memory ensuring that the impact is precise and brutal. Forty years into his mission, Schmier still sounds like he wants to smash everything and drink the bar dry. DL
3. Dead Cross - II
Despite the pedigree of their most famous members (Mike Patton, Dave Lombardo), Dead Cross remains their own entity: a focused, identifiable unit. And like their first album, II is a furious belching of ribcage, groin and spine. The sound remains rooted in the world of athletic, punk-inspired thrash metal, but there are surprising twists and turns to be found throughout, with nods to post-punk, deathrock, and even black metal along the way.
Reign Of Error is the true killer of the pack, a gaping red wound of a song, but the fun certainly doesn’t end there. Nightclub Canary sounds like Black Flag playing while the walls burst into flame all around them; Strong And Wrong’s head-first hardcore shred bottoms out into a wild psychedelic breakdown; Animal Espionage evokes the darkness of early LA hardcore; and Christian Missile Crisis, a scathing indictment on the US’s obsession with God and guns, is an all-encompassing epic of angular thrash that will melt your headphones, and possibly your brain. KM
2. Megadeth - The Sick, The Dying... And The Dead!
Megadeth’s future and Dave Mustaine’s longevity were called into question when the frontman disclosed his throat cancer diagnosis in 2019. But after aggressive treatment, Mustaine declared himself “100% cancer-free” a year later, reaffirming that MegaDave has more lives than a city of cats. Megadeth's 16th full-length, The Sick, The Dying… And The Dead! showcased a depth and a compositional brilliance that’s rooted in this line-up’s uncanny ability to reimagine Megadeth’s iconic sound in a fresh and compelling way.
All the elements that people love about the band – the scorching riffs, the striking technicality and the brawling, speed metal tempos – are here in spades. Kiko again establishes himself as a thrilling counterpart to Mustaine, with the two fretboard virtuosos doggedly going head-to-head on bruising, mid-tempo beatdowns such as Killing Time, Dogs Of Chernobyl and the title track. JD
1. Kreator - Hate Über Alles
Hate Über Alles feels like an important milestone, despite being Kreator’s 15th studio record. Well-established as one of Europe’s biggest bands, the quartet could easily tread water and get away with it. But from the laugh-out-loud intensity of its title track onwards, Hate Über Alles absolutely screams commitment to the cause and to the noble yet visceral art of heavy metal songwriting.
As if to prove how malleable his band’s sound continues to be, Mille revels in oldschool nostalgia on the Priest-like Become Immortal, before delivering the mother of all thrash mini-symphonies on Conquer And Destroy. One intro, 10 genuinely fantastic songs, absolutely no fucking about. They may have nothing to prove after nearly four decades of active service but Hate Über Alles proves it anyway. When it comes to hitting the thrash metal nail on the head with maximum conviction, Kreator are firmly top of the bill. DL