It’s been another vintage year for metal’s heaviest hitters with thrash metal’s enduring titans and the genre’s faithful newcomers adding some serious noise to the mix.
Here we count down Rushonrock’s Top 10 Thrash Metal Albums Of 2023.
But did your favourites make the cut?
10. Vendetta – Black As Coal (Massacre Records)
Unleashed in the late 80s and reborn in the mid noughties, German juggernaut Vendetta launched the battle cry that is Black As Coal to little fanfare.
But Rushonrock was immediately captivated by the twin guitar assault of Michael ‘Opf’ Opferman and Jan Hüttinger as tracks like Shoot To Kill and AK-47 exploded into life.
Vendetta’s mix of old school thrash and molten speed metal made for a relentlessly unforgiving assault on the senses. Simon Rushworth.
9. Nervosa – Jailbreak (Napalm Records)
Gary Holt and Lena Scissorhands both guested on Nervosa’s fifth full-length.
But in truth, the multinational outfit didn’t need any outside help in making Jailbreak a triumph of nuclear death thrash and lighting speed axework.
From Endless Ambition onwards, guitarist and founding member Prika Amaral led a new-line up into the fray, tearing up ear canals with savage, hyperspeed attacks like Ungrateful and Kill Or Die, and channelling Lemmy and co. on the title track.
A fine opening chapter in Nervosa’s new era. Rich Holmes.
8. Holy Moses – Invisible Queen (Fireflash Records)
If Holy Moses really are calling time on a career beholden to crafting thunderous thrash metal then Invisible Queen was a suitably raucous sign off.
Sabina Classen sounded more foreboding than ever as the likes of Cult Of The Machine and Visions In Red stood tall against the band’s back catalogue classics.
It’s 42 years since Holy Moses debut Queen Of Siam announced Classen as one of heavy music’s rising stars: in 2023 the veteran frontwoman regained her crown as the undisputed Queen of Loud. SR.
7. Exmortus – Necrophony (Nuclear Blast)
With their neo-classical flourishes, nods to Mercyful Fate and virtuoso guitarwork, Exmortus (below) don’t exactly fit into the HC/crossover-tinged US thrash scene.
Not that Jadran ‘Conan’ Gonzalez and co. would care.
The Californians are too busy making exhilarating records like Necrophony… and creating crisp, technically astounding thrash metal that hits the ‘deth spot.
Necrophony was a worthy addition to their canon, with the searing Oathbreaker and the thrash-symphony of Mask Of Red Death just two highlights on an astounding 13-song set.
Exmortus even threw in a cover of Maiden’s Moonchild for good measure. RH.
6. Mezzrow – Summon Thy Demons (Fireflash Records)
Back from the dead – almost – and more destructive than ever, cult Swedish crew Mezzrow shook up all things thrash with the long-awaited follow-up to 1990’s Then Came The Killing.
New guitarists Magnus Söderman (Nightrage) and Ronnie Björnström (ex-Defiatory, ex-Aeon) added a fresh sense of ferocity to the band’s signature sound.
And while King Of The Infinite Void proved to be a bone-crunching, no-brainer pick as Rushonrock’s Red Hot Track Of The Week way back in March, album highlight On Earth As In Hell was even better. SR.
5. Enforced – War Remains (Century Media)
When Enforced burst out of Richmond, Virginia back in 2019 with At The Walls, we thought something special was in the offing.
And we were proved right.
2021’s Kill Grid was like running through no man’s land dodging shrapnel bursts and machine gun fire.
War Remains, however, has arguably upped the ante, with shock and awe tactics embedded into every bloody riff.
Indeed, whether they’re opting for mid-paced menace (see Nation of Fear) or frantic assaults such as Ultra Violence or Aggressive Menace, Enforced are absolutely relentless.
Missing Slayer? You might want to give this a spin… RH.
4. Eradikated – Descendants (Indie Recordings)
Earlier this year we declared Eradikated the heirs apparent to one-time thrash acolytes Lost Society after the latter threw in their lot with metalcore.
And the sublimely talented Swedes deserved every fresh accolade heading their way after the retro-fuelled Descendants threatened to destroy the opposition.
According to our review ‘every last riff, solo and shriek here reeked of thrash metal’s gung-ho glory days’. Fight us if we were wrong. SR.
Read the full review here.
3. Angelus Apatrida – Aftermath (Century Media)
“We can describe Aftermath as what METAL means to us,” said guitarist/vocalist Guillermo Izquierdo of Angelus Apatrida’s eighth album. And we can describe it as one of the best records of the Spanish act’s career.
Taught opener Scavenger, set the tone and brought a gargantuan, earworm chorus to the party.
Hatebreed’s Jamey Jasta lent his throat to Snob’s spraypainted, metallic HC.
And the near-10 minute To Whom It May Concern, saw Angelus Apatrida combine their keen sense of melody with their keen sense of what makes a great thrash tune.
Aftermath? It was no afterthought. RH.
2. Terminalist – The Crisis as Condition (Indisciplinarian)
Danish/American ‘hyperthrash’ unit Terminalist dropped some technical ecstasy on their second album, drawing on the likes of Confessor, Voivod and even black metal, but staying true to their own vision.
And that vision was of imaginative, cerebral thrash metal that could fire up those synapses while still snapping necks.
Mutating Fractures’ florescent, proggy forays, Last Remains’ ice-waste atmospherics, Life Won’t Last’s blazing, uranium-tipped riffs… there was plenty to get even the most jaded thrasher excited here. RH.
1. Overkill – Scorched (Nuclear Blast)
Over-hyped? Overblown? Over the hill? Nope. Just Overkill.
Twenty albums in and the New Jersey thrashers never sounded more relevant, more focused or more metal.
But then there were the bluesier moments. Yes, you read that right. Wicked Place and Fever served as a reminder that Bobby ‘Blitz’ Ellsworth and co. are anything but predictable.
Overkill will always be thrash but these days (as Metallica’s latest hard rock record proved) that’s a broad church.
Scorched blazed a trail for a genre in rude health and 35 years after Under The Influence we got high on Overkill all over again. SR.
Overkill photo (top) by Frank White. Exmortus photo by Hugo Juarez.
Enjoyed our Best Thrash Metal Albums of 2023? Check out our Best Trad Metal Albums of 2023 here.