It’s been a metal thrashing mad year for fans of breakneck riffs and unrelenting rhythms and we’ve enjoyed our fair share of heavy hitters in 2020. Rich Holmes and Simon Rushworth put their banging heads together to compile Rushonrock’s Top 10 Thrash Metal albums of 2020.

10. Plague Years – Circle Of Darkness (eOne Music)

Detroit’s Plague Years unleashed one of the most impressive thrash debuts of 2020 with Circle Of Darkness. Inhabiting a similar irradiated landscape to Power Trip, Enforced and Red Death, the quartet were clearly in the mood for mayhem when they recorded this armour-plated opus… and there’ll need to be ambulances on standby when it eventually hits the pit. Mixing the deadly chug of metallic hardcore with rapid fire spine snappers such as Witness Hell, Circle Of Darkness kicked 2020 right in the nuts. 

9. Havok – V (Century Media)

Welding together elements of classic Exodus, Death Angel and Megadeth, this merciless metal monster devoured the opposition in 2020. Denver thrashers Havok had it all to do in their bid to stand out from the ear-bleeding crowd but this bullish statement of intent demanded to be heard. Havok caused aural chaos with the five-star V and frontman David Sanchez delivered he performance of his life.

Read the full Rushonrock review here

8. Devastator – Baptised In Blasphemy (Clobber Records)

Blackened thrashers Devastator made a pact with the dark lords of Sodom and Venom to produce this hellhound of a record. With songs like Worship The Goat and Send Them To Hell, the quartet went straight for the jugular, using relentless speed and deliciously vicious riffery as their instruments of death. And the Derby act doffed their caps to classic metal too, on the NWOBHM-influenced Spiritual Warfare. An assured, laser-focused debut from Devastator, Baptised In Blasphemy proved the UK can still deliver the goods. 

7. Sodom – Genesis XIX (Steamhammer/SPV)

Sweet 16 for Sodom? Well there’s never been anything sweet about these Teutonic titans of the thrash metal scene but Genesis XIX reminded the masses that Tom Angelripper and co. aren’t finished yet. The fantastically named Frank Blackfire traded flaming riffs with six-string buddy Yorck Segatz on a record that bludgeoned the senses from start to finish. Glock N Roll’s serial killer narrative and the social commentary underpinning Nicht Mehr Mein Land proved Sodom’s relevance remains undiminished by time or trends.

6. Bonded – Rest In Violence (Century Media)

Bernd ‘Bernemann’ Kost and Markus ‘Makka’ Freiwal didn’t waste any time after being unceremoniously ejected from Sodom. Pulling together a new band under the Bonded moniker, the German duo quickly returned to the fray with Rest In Violence, an album gleaming with thrash class. Bonded’s debut wasn’t without its flaws, but in songs like Arrival and Suit Murderer, the quintet served up some truly earth-scorching riffery while flexing their melodic muscles too. Hell, even Overkill’s Bobby ‘Blitz’ Ellsworth joined the party for the neck-snapping title track. 

Check out the full review of Rest In Violence here

Read our interview with Bernemann here

5. Onslaught – Generation Antichrist (AFM)

The best of British? You bet. Brutal Bristolians Onslaught dropped one of the most destructive metal albums of the year in the shape of the joyously unapologetic Generation Antichrist. Frontman David Garnett’s assured debut ended the debate surrounding long-time frontman Sy Keeler’s departure and suggested this is the end of the beginning — rather than the beginning of the end — for a band fast approaching its 40th anniversary. A Perfect Day To Die was about as perfect as it got in 2020.

4. Gama Bomb – Sea Savage (Prosthetic Records)

Detonating in November, Sea Savage was the perfect antidote to a year of unrelenting misery. Philly Bryne and the lads turned in a big daft grin of an album, replete with tales of nautical horror and Floridian crime fighters, and bursting with 80s thrash, crossover and good old, Priest-worshipping heavy metal. Powered by new drummer James Stewart of death metal legends Vader, Sea Savage was also a technical step up for Gama Bomb, and it showed that while the band are still great entertainment value, they can raise their musical game too.   

Check out the full review of Sea Savage here.

3. Sepultura – Quadra (Nuclear Blast)

Some metalheads have never embraced the post-Max Sepultura era. But by dismissing Quadra, they’d have missed out on one of the band’s finest works to date. Fusing the quartet’s progressive tendencies with the searing thrash of Arise, Quadra was a lesson in technical dexterity and sonic ambition, replete with jaw dropping performances from guitarist Andreas Kisser and superhuman sticksman Eloy Casagrande. From savage opener Isolation to Fear; Pain; Chaos; Suffering – a track showcasing the formidable talents of Far From Alaska singer Emmily Barreto – Sepultura’s 15th studio album blazed with Brazilian flair. 

Check out the full review of Quadra here.

2. Annihilator – Ballistic, Sadistic (Silver Lining Music)

Adopted Geordie Jeff Waters rode the crest of a revivalist wave on Ballistic, Sadistic as the über-creative Canuck dropped an absolute banger of an album to kick off the year in fine style. Annihilator could — and should — have been a much bigger deal back in the day but a constant flow of consistently supreme original music means a burgeoning back catalogue grows ever more powerful. Psycho Ward, Armed To The Teeth and Lip Service saw Waters convert a hat-trick of modern metal classics ready made for a festival near you in 2021.

Read the full Rushonrock review here

Read about the making of Ballistic Sadistic here.

1. Testament – Titans Of Creation (Nuclear Blast)

Titans Of Creation? More like titans of thrash metal. With Slayer gone for good there’s a vacancy in the genre’s Big Four and Chuck Billy sounded like a man ready to fill the void on this truly remarkable record. This was Bay Area fury at its bullish best and Titans Of Creation somehow eclipsed 2016’s Brotherhood Of The Snake as the band’s best work since their late 80s heyday. A masterwork in a year when a consistently unfashionable genre continued to spew out molten rivers of modern metal. Just magnificent.

Read the full Rushonrock review here

Enjoyed this? Check out out top 10 death metal albums of 2020 here and our top 10 black metal albums of 2020 here.