Several huge comebacks and an upsurge in new talent? 2021 was a fine year for thrash.
Yes, sadly shows were non-starters in many parts of the world, but the scene still crackled with creative energy… and brought us a clutch of awe-inspiring records.
So pull on those hi-tops and get set for Rushonrock’s 10 best thrash metal albums of 2021…
10. Vulture – Dealin’ Death (Metal Blade)
Teutonic thrash, speed metal and Painkiller Priest all converged around Dealin’ Death.
Opener Malicious Souls was an adrenaline shot for the soul.
Flee The Phantom was turbocharged mayhem.
Gorgon got fists pumping.
And you could tell Vulture were having a lot of fun recording this horror-themed heart stopper.
A worthy follow up to Ghastly Waves & Battered Graves, Dealin’ Death sizzled with metal’s true essence.
9. Desaster – Churches Without Saints (Metal Blade)
A blackened thrash lightning bolt, Desaster’s ninth studio album was their finest work in years – and it spat anti-religious venom.
Learn To Love The Void, Armed Architects Of Annihilation, Failing Trinity and a host of other neck crackers proved that the Germans still had plenty of black magic up their sleeves, more than 30 years after their inception.
A veteran band with plenty left to say, Desaster re-asserted themselves on Churches Without Saints.
8. Death Angel — The Bastard Tracks (Nuclear Blast)
Filling in time before next year’s The Bay Strikes Back tour, Death Angel dropped a surprise reimagining of some deep dive classics. And Christmas came early for fans of the Big Four’s noisy little brothers.
Recorded live and with the rule book ripped to shreds, The Bastard Tracks bled bold authenticity and blinding originality.
Thinking of dismissing this lockdown compilation as a lazy covers cash-in?
Death Angel only ever deal in quality and this cracking set raised the bar.
7. Steel Bearing Hand – Slay In Hell (Carbonized Records)
What is it with the Lone Star State?
Texas is producing quality extreme metal by the truckload.
And Dallas crew Steel Bearing Hand, who released their self-titled debut in 2015, are one of its most thrilling new acts.
Dipped in deathly ooze and unbridled in its ferocity, Slay In Hell was a nuclear assault on the thrash underground.
If you’re not launching yourself through the nearest wall when Command Of The Infernal Exarch kicks in, there’s clearly something wrong with you.
6. Enforced – Kill Grid (Century Media)
Enforced’s twin demo collection, At The Walls, was one of the most exciting thrash metal releases of 2019.
Thankfully the Richmond, Virginia act built on that momentum with the sensational Kill Grid.
This was dark, extinction-level thrash, drawing on hardcore’s spite and taking cues from Sacred Reich, Slayer and the crossover scene.
Yes, in many ways this was made for the pit.
But thanks to Knox Colby’s vehement lyrics and the band’s taught, intelligent delivery, Kill Grid was much, much more than mosh fodder.
5. Bonded – Into Blackness (Century Media)
Brutal times demand brutal music…so said the PR blurb announcing the latest long player from the crown princes of German thrash.
And Into Blackness was about as bleak and as brutal as it gets as far as bone crunching modern metal is concerned.
Former Sodom pair Bernd Kost and Markus Freiwald have plenty of experience when it comes to crafting peerless, merciless heavy music.
But in Bonded they’ve found a natural home for their new take on Teutonic thrash. Wicked opener Watch (While The World Burns) was one of thrash metal’s tracks of 2022.
4. Criminal – Sacrificio (Metal Blade)
Born in the heat of Estallido Social – a period of protest and civil unrest in Chile – Sacrificio burned with anger and frustration.
And it was a reminder of how just intense thrash metal can be.
Indeed, Criminal’s ninth album was a masterstroke from founder Anton Reisenegger, who used 36 years in the metal game to great effect.
Slick grooves mixed it with hardcore spit…. and there were even nods to Reisenegger’s role in Lock Up.
A raging record, in every sense.
3. Evile – Hell Unleashed (Napalm Records)
What a comeback.
After eight tumultuous years, Evile strode back into the fray with Ol Drake back in the fold and behind the mic, following the departure of his brother Matt.
And they unleashed hell on Hell Unleashed, a rapid, rabid opus that heralded the band’s rebirth.
With the likes of Gore and Disorder, the quartet channelled the intensity and aggression of 2007’s Enter The Grave… and gave the thrash scene a huge kick in the balls.
Evile 2.0 had arrived.
View the full review of Hell Unleashed.
2. Exodus – Persona Non Grata (Nuclear Blast)
A seven-year gap between studio albums could have stripped Exodus of any semblance of momentum and relevance. Could have.
In reality, the punishing follow-up to the quite brilliant Blood In, Blood Out, only served to reinforce the Holt-Hunting axis as pivotal to a genre in rude health.
Persona Non Grata proved Exodus still know how to turn heavy into heady…this mind-bending set of ‘Zetro’-fuelled belters was cerebral thrash at its thrilling best.
Read our review of Persona Non Grata.
1. Nekromantheon – The Visions of Trismegistos (Indie Recordings/Hells Headbangers)
Norway’s Nekromantheon set the world aflame with 2010’s Divinity of Death and its incredible follow-up, 2012’s Rise, Vulcan Spectre.
Since then, we’ve barely heard a peep out of the band, with Sindre Solem, Christian Holm and Arild Myren Torp busy with the likes of Obliteration and Deathhammer.
But Nekromantheon more than made up for their absence with The Visions of Trismegistos, a record filled with Deutsche thrash riffery, unhinged solos and vicious hooks.
From the opening title track to closer Zealot Reign, The Visions of Trismegistos didn’t let up.
And we didn’t want it to stop.
Check out the full review of Nekromantheon’s third album.
Enjoyed our Best Thrash Metal Albums of 2021 list? Check out last year’s list.
You can also view our top 10 death metal albums of 2021 here.