Top 50 Early Thrash Metal Albums

By brucifercanada brucifercanada
updated about 1 month ago

These are the Thrash Metal albums that had me head-banging early on in life. I had a really tough time ranking these in order, so I put it them in chronological order instead (from 1981-1987). What did I miss?

  1. Venom (8) - Welcome To Hell

    [December 1981] Yes, this album gets dumped in the NWOBHM pile. I don't think this sounds anything like Saxon, Maiden, Samson, Def Leppard or any of the others, to be honest. Just listen to "Live Like An Angel" or "Angel Dust" and tell me that's not more Thrash Metal than anything else at the time. Such an important album, it's scary.

  2. Anvil - Metal On Metal

    [April 1982] This second album from Canada's Anvil is not exactly Thrash Metal all the way through. Remember, this was pretty early on, so guitarist Dave Allison was still singing some of the tracks. Songs like "Jackhammer" and "Metal On Metal" sure sounded like Thrash Metal to me. This is the album that put Anvil on the map. Great cover too.

  3. Venom (8) - Black Metal

    [November 1982] Remember, this was way before most Thrash Metal was even on the radar. This trio was doing things so differently than their peers(?). A perfect album? Hard to argue. And the cover has been copied, stolen and parodied hundreds of times by now.

  4. Exciter - Heavy Metal Maniac

    12 For Sale from $13.00

    [January 1983] Another classic Thrash Album from Canada. Exciter was able to put out 3 top-notch albums in a row. This is the weakest of the three, but has a good bunch of worthy songs. Not exactly sure why the amp is bleeding blood though.

  5. Anvil - Forged In Fire

    [April 1983] More from this four-piece Canadian act. Dave Allison is still singing on some (or is that one?) of the songs. Lips is obviously the voice of the band, so that silliness eventually stops. Songs like "Motormount" or "Butter-Bust Jerky" prove that Anvil are a Thrash act. And let's not forget the best drummer in metal, Rob Reiner (No, not the director dude) behind the kit proving why he's the best. Oh, I stole the lyrics to "Winged Assassin" for a poetry class in high school. I got an A, thanks Lips.

  6. Metallica - Kill 'Em All

    [July 1983] With this debut, Metallica prove they are one of the best Thrash groups in the land. I like how raw it sounds compared to their later releases. Sure, Metallica will turn their back on Thrash Metal (and the fans who made them!), but there's no denying how important this album is.

  7. Slayer - Show No Mercy

    [December 1983] A solid introduction to America's Slayer. This was their first attempt at introducing their version of Thrash Metal to the masses. Certainly not as fast as other albums to come, but a shredder nonetheless. And at the time, Tom Araya could hit the really high notes.

  8. Anthrax - Fistful Of Metal

    [February 1984] Non-sensical cover art aside, this was a very enjoyable Thrash attack. Singer Neil Turbin wasn't long in the band, but did an impressive enough job on this Metal platter. Better things to come? You be the judge, I guess.

  9. Exciter - Violence & Force

    [February 1984] Yes, it's a dumb-ass cover that makes no sense whatsoever. Once you explore the songs inside, all is forgiven. This 3-piece are on a journey to play some Thrash for the crowds and what an improvement from their first one last year. Impressive, to say the least.

  10. Venom (8) - At War With Satan

    [April 1984] A concept album with a nearly 20 minute song? Of course Venom was way ahead of the curve at the time. Not their best, but what a key album from England's Venom.

  11. Metallica - Ride The Lightning

    [July 1984] Album number two sees Metallica tighten up their chops a bunch. There's a reason why this is one of the most famous and loved Thrash Metal albums of all time. No bad songs here and the 4-piece seems to know what they're doing. It won't be long before the money takes over.

  12. Metal Church - Metal Church

    8 For Sale from $22.73

    [July 1984] This debut album from San Francisco's Metal Church is another Thrash classic. Sure, it was nowhere near as fast as Metallica, Slayer or Venom. That doesn't mean this 5-piece are unworthy of some accolades. Still their very best!

  13. Piledriver (2) - Metal Inquisition

    [Summer 1984] Sure, this might have been a label album trying to jump on the Thrash Metal popularity of the time. Either way this is an excellent album. This Canadian Thrash act just joined the exclusive club, it's too bad it wouldn't last.

  14. Celtic Frost - Morbid Tales

    [November 1984] Out of the ashes of Hellhammer comes a Thrash act unlike any other. Blasting speeds, tons of metal grunts, and the slower tempo parts are as heavy as anything else I've heard before. And that Celtic Frost logo is a thing of beauty.

  15. Onslaught (2) - Power From Hell

    [February 1985] This UK ex-punk act did a really good job on this debut album. There's no argument this is early Thrash Metal. On vinyl, they split up the disc into a "Death" side and a "Metal" side. It's really all the same. They'll never be able to top this one.

  16. Slayer - Hell Awaits

    [March 1985] This second album from Slayer really cranks up the speed from their debut album. Some very interesting songs and at the time there was a lot of bands exploding on the scene. Easily one of their best.

  17. Exodus (6) - Bonded By Blood

    [April 1985] I heard this was ready in 1984, but some snags were hit before the release. Either way, this debut album is worshiped for a reason. The guitars are shredding, the drums pummeling, and Paul Baloff was screaming his head off. Thrash Metal royalty for sure.

  18. Razor (2) - Executioner's Song

    [April 1985] Album number one form Canada's Razor is a very impressive debut indeed. Sure, the guitar licks and speed are there, but the most impressive thing has to be Stace "Sheepdog" McLaren's vocals. I expected good things in the future after hearing this, and I wasn't disappointed.

  19. Overkill - Feel The Fire

    [April 1985] This debut from New York's (or is it New Jersey?) Overkill is an excellent piece of Thrash Metal. Bobby "Blitz" Ellsworth's singing/snearing is unique and suits the music perfectly. Another band that deserves more credit than they receive.

  20. Destruction - Infernal Overkill

    [May 1985] Germany's Destruction have joined the fold with this debut album. They are a 3-piece that know how to deliver speedy Thrash Metal. Not their best, but worthy of attention nonetheless.

  21. Megadeth - Killing Is My Business... And Business Is Good!

    [June 1985] I guess Mr. Mustaine needed to do something after leaving (?) Metallica. Some of the songs on this debut album are ex-Metallica songs rewritten. That's okay, they were written by him after all. Not his best work, by any means. Still lots of good stuff here, minus the Nancy Sinatra cover of "These Boots."

  22. Celtic Frost - Emperor's Return

    [August 1985] EP number two and Celtic Frost are onto something. This still sounds like Hellhammer to me, only not as harsh (not to mention the production is 250% better). Every song is killer on this 5-song disc. I can't wait for a full-length.

  23. S.O.D.: Stormtroopers Of Death* - Speak English Or Die

    [August 1985] Talk about perfect timing. This album is so very special. Billy Milano and friends (the guys from Anthrax and Nuclear Assault) were able to blend Thrash Metal, hardcore and aggression into 28 minutes of perfection. It sounds a little dated nowadays, but at the time there was nothing more mosh-worthy than this album!

  24. Kreator - Endless Pain

    [October 1985] It all starts here. An impressive debut, but better things are coming soon. Kreator were as fast as any other band at the time, but hadn't figured out everything quite yet.

  25. Anthrax - Spreading The Disease

    [October 1985] With the 5-piece now set (Joey Belladonna is now the new singer), it's time for some moshing. More Thrashy sounding than their debut for sure. It's good to see that California isn't the only State putting out Thrash Metal now.