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The Top 50 Thrash Bands

Sure, everyone who’s a true metal fan knows about “The Big 4” of Thrash, but do you know the other 46 bands that make up the “Top 50 Thrash Metal Bands”? Check out the entire list below counting down from #50 all the way to the #1 Thrash Metal band of all time.

#50 Tankard

 This German metal band was formed in 1982 and is considered one of the pioneers of the German thrash scene along with Destruction, Kreator, and Sodom. The bands’ lyrical theme has centered around alcohol and the love of drinking. Both vocalist Andreas “Gerre” Geremia and bassist Frank Thorwarth remain from the original lineup. Tankard has released the following studio albums: Zombie Attack (1986), Chemical Invasion (1987), The Morning After (1988), The Meaning of Life (1990), Stone Cold Sober (1992), Two-Faced (1994), The Tankard (1995), Disco Destroyer (1998), Kings of Beer (2000), B-Day (2002), Beast of Bourbon (2004), The Beauty and the Beer (2006), Thirst (2008), Vol(l)ume 14 (2010), A Girl Called Cerveza (2012), R.I.B. (2014), and One Foot in the Grave (2017)

 


#49 Onslaught

Formed in 1982 in Bristol, England. The band is known as a major influence on the British thrash metal scene. Guitarist Nige Rockett is the only original band member remaining in the current lineup. Onslaught has released the following albums: Power from Hell (1985), The Force (1986), In Search of Sanity (1989), Killing Peace (2007), Sounds of Violence (2011), VI (2013), and Generation Antichrist (2020). Onslaught is currently working on a new album for possible release in 2022.

 

 

 


#48 Nasty Savage

Nasty Savage was formed in 1983 in Brandon, Florida. The band was known for vocalist “Nasty” Ronnie Galetti’s theatrical stage shows in which he often smashed television sets over his head. The band is currently working on a new album that is supposed to be released in 2022 Nasty Savage has released the following studio albums: Nasty Savage (1985), Indulgence (1987), Penetration Point (1989), and Psycho Psycho (2004). Nast Savage has been listed as a huge influence on the bands that would build the Florida death metal scene during the 80s and 90s.

 

 


#47 Warbringer

Formed in 2004, Warbringer hails from Los Angeles, California. The band has had numerous lineup changes over the years with vocalist John Kevill being the only original and constant member. Warbringer has charted as high as #14 on the Billboard charts and has been considered part of the thrash metal revival movement. Warbringer has released the following albums: War Without End (2008), Waking into Nightmares (2009), Worlds Torn Asunder (2011), IV: Empires Collapse (2013), Woe to the Vanquished (2017), and Weapons of Tomorrow (2020). They are currently working on new material to be released in the near future.

 

 


#46 Grip Inc

Formed in 1993 by Slayer drummer Dave Lombardo as a side project, Grip Inc. released the following albums: The Power Of Inner Strength (1995), Nemesis (1997), Solidify (1999), and Incorporated (2004). Vocalist Gus Chambers died in 2008. The bands’ albums showcased Lombardo’s double-bass style and received good reviews from fans.

 

 

 


#45 Havok

The band formed in 2004 and has had numerous lineup changes ever since. David Sanchez (lead vocals, rhythm guitar, lead guitar) is the only constant member. Havok has received praise from fans and critics for being one of the bands to revive Thrash Metal. Havok has released the following albums: Burn (2009), Time Is Up (2011), Unnatural Selection (2013), Conformicide (2017), and V (2020)

 

 

 


#44 Exhorder

This American thrash band from New Orleans was formed in 1985 and has been highly influential on the scene despite the fact that Exhorder has only released three studio albums: Slaughter in the Vatican (1990), The Law (1992), and Mourn the Southern Skies (2019). Exhorder is often compared to Pantera in both style and sound. Vocalist Kyle Thomas is the only remaining original member.

 

 

 


#43 Municipal Waste

The band formed in 2001 in Richmond, Virginia in the United States with a sound that utilizes thrash with a mix of hardcore. The band’s style and lyrics have seen them labeled as “Party Thrash”. Municipal Waste has released the following studio albums: Waste ‘Em All (2003), Hazardous Mutation (2005), The Art of Partying (2007), Massive Aggressive (2009), The Fatal Feast (2012), and Slime and Punishment (2017). They are currently working on a new full-length studio album expected to be released in 2021-2022.

 

 


#42 Forbidden

Forbidden was another Bay Area thrash band that formed in 1985. Rob Flynn was a founding member who would go on to play with Vio-Lence and Machinehead. The band has released the following full-length studio albums: Forbidden Evil (1988), Twisted into Form (1990), Distortion (1994), Green (1997), and Omega wave 2010.

 

 

 


#41 3 Inches Of Blood

This Canadian thrash band has released the following albums: Battlecry Under a Wintersun (2002), Advance and Vanquish (2004), Fire Up the Blades (2007), Here Waits Thy Doom (2009), and Long Live Heavy Metal (2012). The band was plagued by an unstable lineup over the years. Their most successful album “Fire Up The Blades” saw the band get heavy airplay on both video channels as well radio. The band eventually called it quits in 2015.

 

 

 


#40 Destruction

German thrash veterans Destruction started in 1982 and is considered one of the top thrash metal bands in Germany alongside Kreator, Tankard, and Sodom. Marcel “Schmier” Schirmer bass/lead vocals is the only remaining original band member. Destruction continues to release new albums and tour and has released the following studio albums: Infernal Overkill (1985), Eternal Devastation (1986), Release from Agony (1988), Cracked Brain (1990), The Least Successful Human Cannonball (1998), All Hell Breaks Loose (2000), The Antichrist (2001), Metal Discharge (2003), Inventor of Evil (2005), D.E.V.O.L.U.T.I.O.N. (2008), Day of Reckoning (2011), Spiritual Genocide (2012), Under Attack (2016) and Born to Perish (2019). The band is currently working on a new full-length album expected to be released in 2022.

 


#39 Tourniquet

Formed by Ted Kirkpatrick, Guy Ritter, and Gary Lenaire in 1990, this Christian thrash band broke new ground with their innovative sound. The band has received critical acclaim from both the Christian music industry as well as mainstream metal. Tourniquet has released the following studio albums: Stop the Bleeding (1990), Psycho Surgery (1991), Pathogenic Ocular Dissonance (1992), Vanishing Lessons (1994), Crawl to China (1997), Microscopic View of a Telescopic Realm (2000) Where Moth and Rust Destroy (2003), Antiseptic Bloodbath (2012), Onward to Freedom (2014; as The Tourniquet Ark), Gazing at Medusa (2018).

 

 


#38 Rage

Rage actually formed in Germany in 1984 under the name Avenger, but changed their name to Rage in 1985 after another band was also using the name. The band has had a large album output over the years releasing the following albums: Reign of Fear (1986), Execution Guaranteed (1987), Perfect Man (1988), Secrets in a Weird World (1989), Reflections of a Shadow (1990), Trapped! (1992), The Missing Link (1993), 10 Years in Rage (1994), Black in Mind (1995), Lingua Mortis (1996), End of All Days (1996), XIII (1998), Ghosts (1999), Welcome to the Other Side (2001), Unity (2002), Soundchaser (2003), Speak of the Dead (2006), Carved in Stone (2008), Strings to a Web (2010), 21 (2012), LMO (2013), The Devil Strikes Again (2016), Seasons of the Black (2017), Wings of Rage (2020) and Resurrection Day (2021). Peter “Peavy” Wagner – lead vocals, and bass is the only remaining original member.

 


#37 Rigor Mortis

Formed in 1983, this Texas-based band had a large cult following. Their self-titled album was released in 1988 on Capitol Records. The band featured Mike Scaccia on guitars, who would later be a regular performer with Ministry. Scaccia died of a sudden heart attack in 2012. Vocalist Bruce Corbitt died in 2019 following a long battle with cancer. Besides their self-titled album, the band also released the following studio releases: Freaks EP (1989), Rigor Mortis Vs. The Earth (1991) and Slaves to the Grave (2014)

 

 


#36 Laaz Rockit

This 80s pseudo-thrash band released City’s Gonna Burn (1984), No Stranger to Danger (1985), Know Your Enemy (1987), and Annihilation Principle (1989) during their 80s run. While these guys were part of the Bay Area metal scene, they have never gotten the recognition that bands like Metallica, Testament, Death Angel, and Megadeth have. When the band signed with Enigma Records and released Known Your Enemy, it was a much-needed shot in the arm for the band and saw them get larger record distribution. The album as well as the follow-up, Annihilation Principal both received good critical reviews and the band hit the tour circuit with bands like Metallica, Anthrax. Megadeth, Overkill, and more. However, the band just never seemed to reach a large commercial audience The band is currently thought to be still technically active, but their last recorded album was in 2008.

 


#35 Shadows Fall

Formed in 1996, the band has mostly been composed of Jon Donais (lead guitar, backing vocals), Matt Bachand (rhythm guitar, clean vocals), Paul Romanko (bass), Brian Fair (lead vocals), and Jason Bittner (drums) with Phil Labonte (All That Remains) handling vocals of the very first album. Jon Donais currently handles guitar duties in Anthrax. Shadows Fall has released seven studios albums to date.

 

 

 


#34 Prong

Prong was formed in 1986 and guitarist/vocalist Tommy Victor, remains the sole constant member. Over the years Prong has released the following studio albums: Force Fed (1989), Beg to Differ (1990), Prove You Wrong (1991), Cleansing (1994), Rude Awakening (1996), Scorpio Rising (2003), Power of the Damager (2007), Carved into Stone (2012), Ruining Lives (2014), X – No Absolutes (2016) and Zero Days (2017)

 

 

 


#33 Sodom

This German thrash band, formed in 1981 features bassist/vocalist Tom Angelripper as the only constant member over the years. Originally the band dabbled in a more Black metal sound. Along with Kreator and Destruction, Sodom is considered one of the most influential thrash metal bands in Germany. Since its inception, the band has released sixteen studio albums: Obsessed by Cruelty (1986), Persecution Mania (1987), Agent Orange (1989), Better Off Dead (1990), Tapping the Vein (1992), Get What You Deserve (1994), Masquerade in Blood (1995), ‘Til Death Do Us Unite (1997), Code Red (1999), M-16 (2001), Sodom (2006), The Final Sign of Evil (2007), In War and Pieces (2010), Epitome of Torture (2013), Decision Day (2016), Genesis XIX (2020) and Bombenhagel (2021)

 


#32 Soulfly

Created by former Sepultura vocalist Max Cavalera, Soulfly incorporates a lot of the same lyrical and musical themes that early Sepultura did. However, the band has incorporated a wide range of experimental sounds to their albums including Nu-Metal and even a little bit of hip-hop. Soulfly has released the following studio albums: Soulfly (1998), Primitive (2000), 3 (2002), Prophecy (2004), Dark Ages (2005), Conquer (2008), Omen (2010), Enslaved (2012), Savages (2013), Archangel (2015) and Ritual (2018). Primitive is considered one of their best albums and is also the best selling of their career to date.

 

 


#31 Vio-Lence

Vio-Lence started in the San Franciso Bay area in 1985. Vio-lence is probably most famous for having both Phil Demmel and Robb Flynn on guitars, who would later go on to form the band Machinehead. Vio-Lence is another band that despite a long history has only three studio albums released thus far: Eternal Nightmare (1988), Oppressing the Masses (1990) and Nothing to Gain (1993). Let the World Burn is the title of their upcoming new EP, which will be released in early 2022.

 

 

 


#30 Voivod

This unique Canadian thrash band has released 14 studio albums to date. The band was formed in 1982. Voivod has had numerous line-ups over the years including a stint by Metallica bassist Jason Newsted. Guitarist Denis (Piggy) D’Amour died at the age of 45 in 2005 due to complications from colon cancer. Two of the original members still remain, Michel Langevin (Away) and Denis Bélanger (Snake). Voivod often lyrically references themes of science fiction and bleak, post-apocalyptic type futurism.

 

 


#29 S.O.D.

S.O.D. (Stormtroopers Of Death) mixed hardcore punk with thrash metal to create a unique sound at the time of their formation in 1985. S.O.D. was famous for having Anthrax members Scott Ian, Charlie Benante, and former Anthrax bassist Dan Lilker together with vocalist Billy Milano. the band lampooned society and went out of their way to offend people with their lyrics. of course, this stirred controversy and brought attention to the band, as they had hoped. The original band members officially split up after 2007 after releasing three albums together: Speak English or Die (1985), Bigger than the Devil (1999), and Rise of the Infidels (2007).

 

 


#28 Sacred Reich

Formed in 1985, this band from Phoenix Arizona has been an important part of the thrash metal scene. Sacred Reich has released the following studio albums: Ignorance (1987), The American Way (1990), Independent (1993), Heal (1996), and Awakening (2019). Over the years Sacred Reich has toured the world with almost every well-known thrash metal band. Founding member and guitarist Jason Rainey died on March 16, 2020, from a suspected heart attack. The band is currently working on a new studio album.

 

 


#27 Possessed

Possessed originally started in 1983 and most likely paved the way for the bay Area metal scene which featured Metallica, Megadeth, Death Angel, Exodus, and many more. Primus guitarist Larry LaLonde was a member of the band for several years. They have been described as both thrash and death metal over the years. Despite the fact that they started in 1983, the band has only released a total of three studio albums to date. In 1989, vocalist Jeff Becerra was robbed at gunpoint and shot twice, which left him paralyzed from the chest down. He now performs from a wheelchair.

 

 


#26 Body Count

Formed in L.A. in 1990, Body count featured vocals by rapper Ice-T and made big headlines when they released their controversial song called “Cop Killer” which brought the plight of black Americans being unjustly singled out by some police officers. Three of Body Count’s original six members have died. D-Roc died from lymphoma, Beatmaster V from leukemia, and Mooseman died in a drive-by shooting. Body Count continues to this day with their latest album winning a Grammy award in 2021 for Best Metal Performance with their song “Bum Rush” from the album Carnivore. They are currently working on their 7th studio album.

 

 


#25 Children Of Bodom

Over the course of their career, the band released ten studio albums, two live albums, two EPs, two compilation albums, and one DVD. The band often mixed a form of melodic death metal with thrash and power metal. Alexi Laiho died in late December 2020 from health complications at the age of 41. Laiho who was also the vocalist is often considered one of the best guitarists of the genre.

 

 

 


#24 Corrosion Of Conformity

Starting out as a hardcore punk band, C.O.C. quickly turned to a more thrash metal sound. The band’s one constant member is Woody Weatherman but the classic lineup is considered by most to be: guitarist Woody Weatherman, bassist Mike Dean, drummer Reed Mullin, and vocalist and rhythm guitarist Pepper Keenan. The band’s first album was released in 1984.

 

 

 


#23 Machine Head

Formed in 1991, Machine Head now only features guitarist/vocalist Robb Flynn as an original member. The band was highly influenced by the Bay Area thrash scene. They are considered among the leaders of the new wave of thrash bands. Machine Head has released the following studio albums: Burn My Eyes (1994), The More Things Change… (1997), The Burning Red (1999), Supercharger (2001), Through the Ashes of Empires (2003), The Blackening (2007), Unto the Locust (2011), Bloodstone & Diamonds (2014) and Catharsis (2018)

 

 


#22 Suicidal Tendencies

Crossing thrash, punk, and hardcore, Suicidal Tendencies have generated a unique sound often referred to as groove metal since they first formed in 1983. The only remaining original member is vocalist Mike “Cyco Miko” Muir. Their sound has been listed as an influence on many bands including a large portion of the Nu-Metal movement. They have released the following studio albums: Suicidal Tendencies (1983), Join the Army (1987), How Will I Laugh Tomorrow When I Can’t Even Smile Today (1988), Controlled by Hatred/Feel Like Shit…Déjà Vu (1989), Lights…Camera…Revolution! (1990), The Art of Rebellion (1992), Still Cyco After All These Years (1993), Suicidal for Life (1994), Freedumb (1999), Free Your Soul and Save My Mind (2000), No Mercy Fool!/The Suicidal Family (2010), 13 (2013), World Gone Mad (2016) and, Still Cyco Punk After All These Years (2018).

 


#21 Trivium

Formed in 1999, Trivium has released nine studio albums and has sold over 1 million albums. Thrash metal purists will not always include Trivium as the band mixes various styles in their sound, but the band has been heavily influenced by Metallica and other thrash bands which comes through in their overall sound. Trivium was nominated for “Best Metal Performance” in 2019. Since its inception, Trivium has released the following studio albums: Ember to Inferno (2003), Ascendancy (2005), The Crusade (2006), Shogun (2008), In Waves (2011), Vengeance Falls (2013), Silence in the Snow (2015), The Sin and the Sentence (2017), What the Dead Men Say (2020), and In the Court of the Dragon (2021).

 

 


#20 Heathen

While the band got its start in 1984, it wasn’t until 1987’s Breaking The Silence that the band hit its stride. The band released their cover of The Sweet’s “Set Me Free” as the first single and it proved to be quite successful. MTV’s Headbanger’s Ball put the video in rotation which allowed the band to reach a much larger audience than before. The band’s early sound was more reminiscent of the bay area thrash metal but became more technical metal sounding after Breaking The Silence. The band has gone through many lineup changes over time but still releases new material. They are set to release their latest album in 2020 called “Empire Of The Blind”.

 

 


#19 Nuclear Assault

Formed in 1984, Nuclear Assault came from the United States East Coast thrash scene which also included bands like Overkill, Anthrax, and Carnivore. Surprisingly, the band has only released six studio albums over the years. Bassist Danny Lilker was originally the bass player for Anthrax, who started Nuclear Assault after being fired from Anthrax.

 

 

 


#18 Lamb Of God

Originally formed in 1994 as Burn the Priest. The band released two albums under that name before switching to Lamb Of God. The band has two Gold albums to their credit as well as over 2 million in albums sales. Lamb Of God has often been labeled as one of the leaders of the new wave of thrash bands. They have toured with bands such as Metallica, Slayer, and Megadeth and have been widely accepted by old-school thrash fans as well as later fans.

 

 

 


#17 Annihilator

Annihilator is the highest-selling Canadian thrash band having sold over 3 million albums worldwide. The band’s first two albums, Alice in Hell (1989) and Never, Neverland (1990) are highly regarded and the band has released seventeen studio albums thus far. The only remaining original member is Jeff Waters, but the band remains extremely popular and has a loyal following of fans.

 

 

 


#16 Exciter

Hailing from Canada, Exciter is considered to be one of the first speed-metal bands. The 80s saw them release the following albums: Heavy Metal Maniac (1983), Violence & Force (1984) Long Live the Loud (1985), Unveiling the Wicked (1986), and Exciter (O.T.T.) (1988). They started out with Shrapnel Records and then signed to Megaforce Records in 1984. Commercially, the band would never reach the level of other bands of the time including Metallica, Exodus, Megadeth, and Anthrax. Exciter has continued on as a band for many years with different lineups and is currently active.

 

 


#15 Celtic Frost

Releasing their debut album in 1984 this Swiss metal band experimented with their sound more than many others. Some consider that a good thing while some of their fans were confused by their changing styles. Celtic Frost released the following albums: Morbid Tales (1984), To Mega Therion (1985), Into the Pandemonium (1987), Cold Lake (1988), Vanity/Nemesis (1990) and
Monotheist (2006). In 2008 the band officially disbanded. On 21 October 2017, Martin Eric Ain died from a heart attack. Vocalist Tom Gabriel Fischer now fronts his band Triptykon.

 

 

#14 Kreator

Formed in 1982, this German thrash band has released the following albums: Endless Pain (1985), Pleasure to Kill (1986), Terrible Certainty (1987), Extreme Aggression (1989), Coma of Souls (1990), Renewal (1992), Cause for Conflict (1995), Outcast (1997), Endorama (1999), Violent Revolution (2001), Enemy of God (2005), Hordes of Chaos (2009), Phantom Antichrist (2012), and Gods of Violence (2017). Kreator has achieved decent album sales worldwide and is considered one of the most successful German thrash bands.

 

 


#13 Flotsam And Jetsam

Flotsam And Jetsam formed in 1981 in Arizona. This thrash metal band released Doomsday for the Deceiver (1986) and No Place for Disgrace (1988) during the 80s.  Jason Newsted played bass on the debut album before leaving to replace Cliff Burton in Metallica after his tragic death.  Flotsam And Jetsam have a long history and have released many albums since their inception. Their latest release was 2019’s The End Of Chaos.  While the band lineup has changed many times, they still continue to release quality thrash metal albums, time and time again.

 

 


#12 Metal Church

Originally formed in San Francisco, Metal Church relocated to Seattle and signed to Elektra Records. Soon they were touring with artists like Slayer, Testament, Overkill, and Metallica which helped them reach a larger audience with their brand of Thrash Metal. The band hit their commercial peak with the album entitled “The Dark”. However, afterward, the band had a changing lineup of musicians that lead to the band not being able to achieve a consistent sound or message. Metal Church released the following albums during the 1980s: Metal Church (1984), The Dark (1986), and Blessing in Disguise (1989). The band recently recorded and toured with vocalist Mike Howe who died in July 2021.

 

 


#11 Death Angel

A product of the San Franciso Bay area thrash scene along with bands like Metallica and Megadeth, Death Angel was one of the original bands to start the scene. However, the band struggled to find the mainstream success that many of their peers found. The band has consistently created great quality metal albums over the years and received heavy rotation on MTV’s Headbanger’s Ball with the release of their album Frolic Through The Park in 1988. The band is still regarded as one of the classic metal bands of the bay area metal scene.

 

 


#10 Sepultura

Formed in 1984 by brothers Max and Igor Cavalera, this Brazilian Metal band brought a new vibe to the thrash metal scene. The classic lineup released several critically acclaimed albums with Roots, released in 1996 listed as groundbreaking in the genre. Sepultura has sold near 20 million albums worldwide. Max and Igor Cavalera departed the band in 1996 and 2006. Derrick Green has handled vocals for Sepultura since 1998 and the band continues to tour and record to this day.

 

 

 

#09 Venom

Venom was originally tied to the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal in the early 80s. During those years the band released the albums: Welcome to Hell (1981), Black Metal (1982), At War with Satan (1984), Possessed (1985), Calm Before the Storm (1987) and, Prime Evil (1989). With Satanism and pagan symbolism at the forefront of the band’s lyrics and appearance, they often drew criticism for being overtly offensive. Venom inspired a lot of the bands who created the Norwegian Black Metal scene. These days Venom looks harmless compared to the Black Metal bands that emerged after them. However, the band has a rightful place in metal history for stretching the boundaries of metal during the 80s.

 

 


#08 Pantera

Formed in 1981, Pantera’s classic lineup consisted of the Abbott brothers (drummer Vinnie Paul and guitarist Dimebag Darrell), along with vocalist Phil Anselmo and bassist Rex Brown. Originally, the band flirted with glam and traditional metal before moving into thrash territory. Pantera has sold around 40 million records worldwide (An impressive figure considering most of that came from their final five albums. Pantera disbanded in 2003. The Abbott brothers started a new band called Damageplan. On December 8, 2004, Damageplan was performing when a 25-year-old man named Nathan Gale walked onto the stage with a gun, shooting and killing Dimebag Darrell. On June 22, 2018, Vinnie Paul died at the age of 54 from heart-related problems.

 

 

#07 Exodus

Exodus is a thrash metal band that has gone through many changes over the years including the deaths of two band members. Early on, Metallica’s Kirk Hammett was a member of Exodus but left before they recorded their first album. The band released the following albums during the 1980s: Bonded by Blood (1985), Pleasures of the Flesh (1987), and Fabulous Disaster (1989). The band is considered to be one of the top thrash bands in the U.S. Guitarist Gary Holt is the only band member to appear on every album. The band is currently working on material for a new album to be released in 2021.

 

 


#06 Testament

Along with bands like Metallica and Exodus, Testament was one of the early San Francisco Bay Area Thrash bands to break new ground musically. While the band was formed in 1983, they didn’t release their debut album until 1987. Testament released three albums in the 80s: The Legacy (1987), The New Order (1988) and, Practice What You Preach (1989). While the band never achieved the commercial success of Metallica or Megadeth, they have continued to keep a steady fanbase and a lengthy discography.

 

 


#05 Overkill

Overkill was formed in 1980 in New Jersey as a sort of thrash metal crossover band. The band took the name Overkill from Motorhead’s album of the same name. The band released for high acclaimed albums during the 80s: Feel the Fire (1985), Taking Over (1987), Under the Influence (1988), and The Years of Decay (1989). The band’s success continued throughout the ’90s and 2000s and the band still has a huge following today. Overkill and Anthrax are considered two of the biggest Thrash metal bands on the East Coast in the United States. The current lineup has changed a lot since the early days but still features vocalist Bobby “Blitz” Ellsworth and bassist D.D. Verni.

 

 


#04 Anthrax

Anthrax was New York’s version of Thrash, often compared to West Coast bands like Metallica, Flotsam And Jetsam, Megadeth, and Death Angel. While the Bay Area bands of San Francisco had their sound, Anthrax had a more gritty, inner-city feel to it. While the band has had several singers over the years, the classic lineup featuring Joey Belladonna, Dan Spitz, Scott Ian, Frank Bello, and Charlie Benante is the most recognizable. Anthrax released Fistful Of Metal (1984), Armed & Dangerous (1985), Spreading The Disease (1985), Among The Living (1987), and State Of Euphoria in 1988. The classic lineup, minus Dan Spitz is currently touring and performing.

 

 


#03 Megadeth

Formed after Metallica guitarist Dave Mustaine was let go from the band, Megadeth represented everything Mustaine had wanted to do, but now as a leader and vocalist as well. With lyrics focusing on death, war, politics, relationships, and religion, Megadeth often reflects our society in its songs. Megadeth released the following albums during the 80s: Killing Is My Business… and Business Is Good! (1985), Peace Sells… but Who’s Buying? (1986) and So Far, So Good… So What! (1988). Especially the first two Megadeth albums were instrumental, along with bands like Slayer, Metallica, Anthrax, Overkill, and Testament to creating the Thrash metal movement. Original members Dave Mustaine and David Ellefson still champion Megadeth to this day. The band received their first Grammy award in 2017 for Best Metal Performance for “Dystopia”.

 


#02 Slayer

Formed in 1981 by guitarists Kerry King and Jeff Hanneman, drummer Dave Lombardo, and bassist and vocalist Tom Araya, Slayer is considered one of the most influential metal bands to appear in the 1980s. They are a virtual tie for the best thrash metal band along with Metallica. Over the years Slayer released twelve studio albums, two live albums, a box set, two EP’s, and a cover album. Slayer disbanded in 2019 after their farewell tour.

 

 

 


#01 Metallica

In 1981, Metallica came from the underground metal scene of the San Francisco bay area to become one of the most popular metal bands of all time. Originally featuring Megadeth’s Dave Mustaine on guitar, James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich, and Cliff Burton formed the early version of Metallica with Kirk Hammett replacing Mustaine before the bands’ debut album Kill ‘Em All was released. The band released the albums Kill ‘Em All (1983), Ride the Lightning (1984), Master of Puppets (1986), The $5.98 E.P. Garage Days Re-Revisited (1987), and …And Justice for All (1988) during the 1980s. Bassist Cliff Burton was tragically killed in a bus accident while the band was touring for the album Master Of Puppets. Metallica would replace their longtime friend on bass with former Flotsam & Jetsam member, Jason Newsted who made his first appearance on The $5.98 E.P. Garage Days Re-Revisited in 1987. Metallica received rave reviews for all the first three albums they released with Master Of Puppets being the album to break the band through to the mainstream. Metallica continues to record and tour with all original members and Robert Trujillo on bass.

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About the author

Bobby Caughron

Bobby Caughron is a music journalist and Editor-In-Chief for XS ROCK. He began a life-long fan of hard rock and metal music after hearing KISS as a kid. He is still an avid fan of the 80s metal scene and continues to discover and write about new music in all rock genres today.

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