Walk through illusions of terror to come
And I could tell you of things I have done
I saw the gates
The future I've grasped
I've been beyond Gates of the past

-- Possessed - Beyond The Gates

PANACEA - Is It A Human?
Germany 1993

1. Megalomania 2. Desert Storm 3. Is It A Human 4. Depression 5. Masquerade 6. Delusion

In a blind test it would be very hard to guess that Panacea were hailing from Germany, as the sound of this band must be as close to typical American thrash metal of the late 1980s and early 1990s as reasonably possible. Is It A Human? is a full-featured package of some very crunchy thrash metal, a mixture of both high-speed and stomping variety, and production-wise there is little left to wish for. It just plays almost exactly in the way you would expect to hear, and with some more original and memorable songs this album could have been a direct rival to its counterparts from the other continent. In its current form Panacea's sound is rather neat but not much of it truly stands out. Whether or not this lack of inventive touches should be considered a serious drawback, at least formally Is It A Human? is about as good as it can be without really catching fire and letting it loose.

PANIC - Rotten Church
Brazil 1987

1. Seeds Of Hate 2. Satan Shall Return 3. God's Death 4. Empire Of Violence 5. Rotten Church 6. Mutilator Of Bodies 7. Megaforce 8. F.O.D.

You can be sure that a band had a strong impact in the local scene when newer groups faithfully repeat the same style. This was obviously the situation with Vulcano in Brazil, as Panic's Rotten Church follows the musical approach of their predecessors to the letter. The album is equally raw and forceful in such way that it could be a part of Vulcano's discography with very little difference. Maybe Panic sound slightly more frantic and better produced (probably due to their more famous countrymen's generally bad production values than any actual technical edge on this album), but essentially there is very much common in these bands' efforts. This is not a complaint, though, since Rotten Church is not too bad for such a genre-savvy effort. It definitely sounds familiar and all, but if you're into the style then this album is probably just as good as anything.

PANIC - Best Before End
Brazil 1992

1. Best Before End 2. Hannibal The Cannibal 3. Twilight In Samarra 4. No York, No York 5. Fuck & Die 6. Only The Strong Survive 7. Equal People 8. Time To Die 9. Noise Kills 10. Shoobydahbydoobah

With their second release Panic seemingly managed to drop the most blatant Vulcano influences from their sound. Best Before End couldn't still be awarded high points for originality, as the album represents even more typical and basic thrash metal than Rotten Church. Only this time it is more difficult to point out any direct references. Most of the time the music plays in a non-distracting way, and as far as presentation goes, Panic's sound is almost as good as anyone's in the same level. At their best the band combine elementary pounding riffage with roaring vocals into a fair thrash metal onslaught, far from memorable but still very adequate. With nothing that would particularly annoy you, Best Before End is just a safe bet with no surprises of any kind.

PANIKK - Unbearable Conditions
Slovenia 2013

1. Panic Attack 2. Dismay 3. Messiah Of Decay 4. Away From Reality 5. The Wave Of Death 6. Playground Of Visions 7. Revelation Of Truth (Acoustics) 8. Cruel World (Society To Adapt) 9. Unbearable Conditions

Sometimes you cannot help but feel that it has become a characteristic feature of contemporary thrash metal that songwriting is more utilitarian than catchy. Panikk's Unbearable Conditions does not avoid this symptom, although it must be admitted that the album is a bit snappier and more coherent than the norm. Everything can be deemed satisfactory just based on a formal evaluation, and on a good day this could be almost mistaken for a comeback album of some mid-level thrash metal band from the late 1980s. And yet it seems that any potential hooks were suppressed in favor of non-stop speed, unvaried chainsaw riffs, and ever-present gang choruses. While a couple of instrumentals provide brief touches of variety, the essence of this recording is on a repetitive side. Maybe it was due to the remaining influences from traditional metal, but many of the better releases in the original scene usually contained several whole memorable songs. This one, not so much.

PARADOX - Product Of Imagination
Germany 1987

1. Opening Theme 2. Paradox 3. Death, Screaming And Pain 4. Product Of Imagination 5. Continuation Of Invasion 6. Mystery 7. Kill That Beast 8. Pray To The Godz Of Wrath 9. Beyond Space 10. Wotan II

Paradox were a good example of some more polished German speed/thrash metal. Their debut Product Of Imagination is a bit rough around the edges, though. While the album contains a lot of stylish touches, it sounds somewhat unorganized and incoherent and the music feels like it's lacking some clear direction. Certainly the band are quite listenable and all, but their output on this album is undeniably missing some edge. Although the general tempo is pretty fast, most songs here sound rather restrained and lack some intensity as well, especially in vocals. Some of the more mellow overtones can actually get quite irritating after a while. Maybe the band had not yet refined their style to the maximum - now many tracks sound rather pointless and fail to really impress. Paradox had a fair start and all, but based on this album only there wouldn't be much to write about this band.

PARADOX - Heresy
Germany 1989

1. Heresy 2. Search For Perfection 3. Killtime 4. Crusaders Revenge 5. The Burning 6. Massacre Of The Cathars 7. Serenity 8. 700 Years On 9. Castle In The Wind

With their second album Paradox created a true magnum opus. Heresy is an ambitious concept album with a theme of historical crusades. Compared to the band's debut, the songwriting has improved considerably and the songs have a remarkably consistent feel to them. The more polished elements are now incorporated much more smoothly in the high-speed tracks and the result is highly stylish yet reasonably intense. The opening title track is probably the most massive piece on this album and plays like a strong, cool wind, whereas Crusaders Revenge is an example of more straightforward but effective fast tracks. It is true that not all of the material is equally memorable and some of this album tends to leave the listener a bit cold in the long run, but at its best Heresy provides some of the more ambitious and stylish music ever created in the genre.

PARADOX - Collision Course
Germany 2000

1. Decade Of Sorrow 2. Collision Course 3. Rearrange The Past 4. Path Of Denial 5. Saviour 6. Blamed For Nothing 7. Prostitution Of Society 8. Shattered Illusions 9. Sadness 10. Overshadowed 11. Dynamite

Having been away from the scene for a long while, Paradox immediately got back to the right direction with their comeback album. Collision Course appears like a direct sequel to Heresy, as if the break of eleven years between these two albums never took place - that's how accurately the new release implements the band's traditional style of speed/thrash metal with strong melodic touches. You may notice something of a regular formula put into effect, as every second track is a fast thrasher like never before and the rest is more of a mid-tempo kind. Despite the long years of absence the new Paradox play like in the old days, and one could only imagine that this is something Metallica might sound like today if the whole embarrasment of the 1990s had not happened to them. With a massive length of almost one hour, Collision Course is a proof that Paradox still have something fresh to offer.

PARALYSIS - Arctic Sleep
Netherlands 1991

1. Intifadah 2. Special Operations Executive 3. Powers Of Old 4. Inhuman(e) 5. Arctic Sleep

For friends of technical thrash metal, the debut release of Paralysis must be a nice find. Although the band's music is not completely of unheard quality, Arctic Sleep has a flavor of its own. The riffs are often tricky in a way that tends to resemble Target or even Mekong Delta, and the vocals range between medium and high at ease, far from the most distracting style. What Paralysis may lack in comparison to some of their counterparts is more emphasis on actual memorable hooks, but their fast-paced riffwork still has its good points. As the songs flow smoothly in quite a uniform manner, this album should sound very coherent and even stylish to average ears. Even though Arctic Sleep could use some more substance, one can compare it to a brief cool breeze after a long presence of stale air.

PENDEMIA - Narcotic Religion
United Kingdom 1990

1. Intro 2. Narcotic Religion 3. Non-Existant 4. Terminal Agony 5. The World & I Obey 6. Critical Condition 7. As The Walls Close

Pendemia's Narcotic Religion can be categorized as one of the long-lost cult albums of its time, deservedly or not. Musically this is not the hottest platter around, and the sound quality on the whole is only moderate at best, with rather cheap sounding, buzzing guitars. Quite often this band manage to appear like a poor man's Vio-lence, in particular due to the whiney vocals that have a notable resemblance to Sean Killian's unmistakable style. However, the original remains vastly superior in all aspects, and despite being fairly rough around the corners Pendemia's music lacks a definitive edge. Certainly this album is something of a collector's item, but it should be noted that after the initial spin on the turntable it may eventually end up gathering dust in the shelf.

PENDULUM - Skull Fuck
USA 1989

1. Chamber Of Souls 2. Skull Fuck 3. Kindred Spirit 4. Demented Assassins

Ten points for the title. While "charming" might not be the first adjective that comes to mind when you're viewing a release called Skull Fuck, it fits Pendulum's mini album surprisingly well. The opening instrumental Chamber Of Souls is very atmospheric and eerie, a total contrast to the savage rush of the title track that follows. Kindred Spirit is essentially a mixture of these two styles, whereas the last piece focuses on a pummeling attack on the senses. The production quality is rudimentary at best, and the album effectively sounds like a "live" recording, which is just a perfect match for these songs that tend to end almost abruptly. Skull Fuck is awfully short and, in retrospective, a mere drop in the ocean. But it could be also the most important single reason why a lot of those newer bands who desperately try to act tough and sound "underground" should just collectively give up and jump off the cliff, for they cannot possibly re-create the same unique feel of a lost age that this recording so nicely and fully manifests.

France 1990

1. N.N.O.D. 2. Mr. Everybody 3. Better With Blood 4. Alcohol Overdose

Although Penetrator's Now... opens with a heavy and somewhat brooding instrumental, the rest of the album proves to be a dose of fast and rather straightforward thrash metal. The female vocals are appropriately rough and more than occasionally very similar to Sabina Classen's style just before she started using deeper growls, and it is not only for this reason that the band's sound can bring Holy Moses to mind. The list of actually noteworthy features is not that long, but at least it is not too hard to find this recording likeable. Due to the short total length, there is no time to get bored with these songs, and in the end Now... can be something of a small positive listening experience after all.

PENETRATOR - Beyond Your World
France 1991

1. Get Out 2. Hate 3. Eros Abused 4. Happy Beer's Day 5. Through The Screen 6. All Bitches 7. Suicidal Army 8. One Night 9. P.E.N.E.T.R.A.T.O.R. 10. Birds

Like its predecessor, Penetrator's Beyond Your World might initially seem a bit funky on the surface, but there are no real hints of anything unusual in the music. That is, until you are introduced to the playful vocals that now sound almost like an antithesis of common thrash metal antics. With occasional moments of amusing cooing, laughs, and generally an off-kilter approach, the vocal delivery is very different from Now... and easily the most striking aspect of this recording - at least it certainly gives the band's style an original touch. For other than that, there is virtually nothing worth a special mention on this album. It is adequately produced and the riffs are satisfactory, but the lack of distinction and real notable hooks keeps the result down to the nominal level. Only the singing is something bound to catch your attention for real and without a doubt.

PENTAGRAM - Pentagram
Turkey 1990

1. Intro (Wreck) 2. Rotten Dogs 3. Mephistopheles 4. Metal Not Dead 5. Astharoth 6. Bloody Guillotine 7. Powerstage 8. Dimensions Of Death 9. Pentagram 10. Deceptive Bells 11. Los Magandos

There is not exactly an abundance of Turkish thrash metal albums out there, therefore Pentagram's debut release deserves a hail for its origins alone. Not only that, but the music is not too bad at all. With a sharp and crisp sound especially for guitars, plus a laudably fast performance, this album is simply a likeable example of its genre. While most of these songs may appear somewhat unexceptional in the long run, there is an undeniable enthusiastic, even fresh feel to them. In this case, the lack of truly memorable pieces does not actually hamper the result in a critical way as it still sounds better than many other more original releases actually do. While Pentagram admittedly could have done better in the songwriting department, the finished product carries some nice appeal of its own.

PERPETUAL - Everything Will End
Spain 1994

1. The Story 2. Stop War (Under W.E.) 3. Domination 4. Perpetual Sacrifice 5. Fatality Night 6. Walking To Destroy 7. More Than Animal 8. This Is The World 9. Walk Strong 10. Get A Life

At the first sight Perpetual's offering can certainly raise curiosity, as this must be one of the less known releases in the vast and saturated field of thrash metal. One needs to be careful not to expect anything special, though - as it turns out, Everything Will End is quite an ordinary product, no matter how you look at it. It must be said that there is some substantial quality in the band's heavy and stomping sound, but their music does not always flow in the best possible way and some of these songs can get rather tedious. Again, this album is not really bad but it would have appeared unexceptional already in the late 1980s, even more so when released at this late point of time in the genre. Although Perpetual's output is technically fine and all, it can leave an average listener pretty indifferent in the long run.

PERSEVERANCE - Slaves To The Darkside
Brazil 2002

1. Slave To The Darkside 2. Bringin' Your Death 3. Buyers 4. Prison Without Walls 5. Crushed In The Chaos

There is practically nothing about Perseverance's Slaves To The Darkside that would make it stand out, and yet this album is kind of novel in all its unpretentious nature. The latter is particularly true when it is taken into account that this recording was released when the scene was still mostly in an inactive state. Worth a separate note could be the vocals that closely bring Katon W. De Pena's clean style to mind, but otherwise the quality is quite ordinary on all grounds. Most songs are on the lengthy side which contributes to the fairly notable total length of this recording despite its small number of tracks. In all honesty, Slaves To The Darkside is a sympathetic little thrash metal release, but ultimately the music it contains is rather forgettable.

PESTILENCE - Malleus Maleficarum
Netherlands 1988

1. Malleus Maleficarum / Antropomorphia 2. Parricide 3. Subordinate To The Domination 4. Extreme Unction 5. Commandments 6. Chemo Therapy 7. Bacterial Surgery 8. Cycle Of Existence 9. Osculum Infame 10. Systematic Instruction

Although Pestilence were probably better known for their contributions to death metal, Malleus Maleficarum alone makes them one of the most important thrash metal exports from Netherlands as well. The band's debut release is full of impetuous thrash metal with a way more grim sound than on average. While not nearly as extreme as his later style, it's Martin Van Drunen's harsh voice piercing through the guitar wall that adds to the distinctive feel of this album by a notable factor. While the constantly fast and heavy performance creates an effect that is almost comparable to being crushed by a freight train, the album as a whole is somewhat one-dimensional at times, with many songs appearing to follow the same patterns. Then again, this is one of the rare occasions where the music can be called both brutal and stylish at the same time, with no slightest signs of ridicule. As one of the more consistent albums of the time, Malleus Maleficarum maintains notable quality throughout.

PHALANX - The Judas Touch
Germany 1992

1. Do You Think 2. The Seeds We Plant 3. Towards The Pearly Gates 4. I Will Devour 5. The Judas Touch 6. A Winterday's Thought 7. Lethal Toy 8. Closed Eyes 9. On The Beach

Apparently deriving their inspiration from more complex grounds, Phalanx managed to produce an album with a fairly professional style. The Judas Touch is a varied piece of German speed/thrash metal with a tendency to experiment with tempo changes and technical song structures. The first half of this album appears stronger than the second, mainly due to the better focused approach on the first few tracks. Despite some complex touches, the tracks flow rather effortlessly but with enough power to satisfy most requirements for heaviness and speed. While the quality of this album varies from track to track and the result could have used a bit more energy at times, Phalanx could have also done a lot worse than this.

Sweden 1994

1. Stones Are Cold 2. The Fool Lead The Blind 3. Your Obligation 4. Life In Pain 5. People With Power 6. Complete Deafness 7. I Hate You More... 8. Someones Elses Words 9. Master Of Disaster 10. Brainkilled 11. Undress Your Soul

Except for their weird name, Physical Attraction did not fail to deliver some typical thrash metal antics. The Fool Lead The Blind sounds more refreshing than your usual offering at first, especially the opener Stones Are Cold is a snappy presentation with a slight punkish feel, whereas the title track is an awesome heavy stomper with occasional speed bursts. After that, however, most tracks tend to sound the same though maybe not quite as monotonous as to completely shake off the initial positive impression. In some ways Physical Attraction's style has a slight resemblance to bands like Cerebral Fix - although they do not really sound too much alike, there's something similar in the band's attitude. At least The Fool Lead The Blind can boast a few genuinely catchy moments of its own, which is not a common treat indeed.

PIRANHA - Worlds Grave
Greece 1992

1. Intro 2. Unholy Lie 3. Worlds Grave 4. Burn 5. Human Fear

Piranha's mini album may be one of the more sought-after items from the old scene, therefore it is a pleasant find that the contained music bears at least some value on its own. The tracks on Worlds Grave mostly employ an almost constant high tempo, and combined with a rough low vocal tone the band's sound would be close to monotonous if it weren't for a few short cinematic intros and passages that nicely add to the antique feel of this album. While the whole thing is certainly not of unheard quality, even less capable of providing any notable long-time appeal, Piranha deserve some merit for trying to make their music stand out by adding some small distinctive touches. This kind of scheme might not be enough to support a full-length album, but on Worlds Grave it works out to a fair degree.

United Kingdom 2006

1. Toxic Choke 2. Day Of Darkness 3. In The Pit 4. Cannibal Attack 5. Mark Of The Eagle 6. Holding Cells 7. Mentally Insane

It would be nice to be able to say something positive about Toxic Choke - after all, it is evident that Pitiful Reign put some real effort into their first full-length release. Unfortunately, the total lack of thrills does not give much chance for that. This recording completely manages to avoid any genuine tricks, falling into the category where it doesn't really matter which album is playing in the background as long as it sounds like thrash metal - a situation where it is actually only better if the music is not distinctive in any way, like it happens here. Some parts of Toxic Choke just kind of plod along, and while the band at least try to speed up every now and then, it always ends up sounding average and dull. This is an item for those individuals who wish to have a complete collection of all thrash metal albums ever released, most others might prefer to pass on it.

PITIFUL REIGN - Visual Violence
United Kingdom 2008

1. Visual Violence 2. Human Coleslaw 3. D.I.V.E. 4. Fatality 5. Malevolence Of The Butcher 6. Rapid Deployment 7. Pushed To Prime 8. Thrash, Boobs And Zombies

A good thing about a total bore of an album is that usually you can only improve from there, and fortunately Pitiful Reign didn't disappoint in that aspect. The band's sophomore effort Visual Violence is radically less tiresome and more dynamic than Toxic Choke, and while it would be an exaggeration to call this release an extraordinary piece of thrash metal, it is really pretty enjoyable. The music is much better produced, having something of a fresh tint, and with some particularly cool songs like the title track and Fatality you are far more likely to consider listening to this album also outside a mere background setting. With a more consistent and even sleek style this time, the impression is simply convincing enough. Take it as a sign of natural development or just a welcome correction for a previously dull direction, but Visual Violence is quite a fine album.

PIXIE KILLERS - One Size Fits All
Denmark 1993

1. Even A Sailor Can Go Wrong 2. I Recall Evil 3. Conscience 4. Lights 5. The Other Shore 6. Strubesnittersangen 7. The 5 Minute Adventure 8. Introseduction 9. Poottah

One can only wonder what kind of thrash metal band would choose Pixie Killers as their name. Then again, this can serve as a hint of One Size Fits All being slightly more varied than the most standard products in the scene. The sound is fairly heavy and convincing, the vocals are more versatile than the norm, and there are occasional signs of thinking outside the box. Unfortunately many songs (and the album as a whole) are a bit too long as far as their average strength is considered, and the repeated pounding can sometimes become awfully dull. Many of these tracks could have turned out better if their length had been trimmed down by a couple of minutes or so. The most memorable detail here must be some particularly twisted humor in the lyrics of songs like Even A Sailor Can Go Wrong and Poottah. Although there are some promising ideas on One Size Fits All, it seems that this album could have used more work to improve the experience.

PLAGUE ANGELS - Reign In Terror
Italy 2013

1. Operation Rolling Thunder 2. Human Detector 3. Plague Angels 4. Exhumer 5. Militia Of Undead 6. Pain On The Battlefield 7. Federal Bureau Of Investigation (F.B.I.) 8. Soul Reaper 9. Reign In Terror

Those were much simpler times when the number of genuine thrash metal bands was still somewhat limited, at least considering the groups that were sufficiently known also outside their local circles. Not to forget that several of them had something of a sound of their own - not necessarily vastly original or unique, only recognizable enough that it was actually feasible to remember without too much effort what their releases were all about. Unfortunately that hasn't been the case for a long time anymore, and although Plague Angels deserve a note for being able to sustain the intensity of Reign In Terror through the whole album, you could not be compelled to recall much of it even only days after. Again, this is not really a bad release, just something that escapes memory far too quickly.

POISON ASP - Beyond The Walls Of Sleep
Germany 1990

1. Intro - Hellfire At The Airbase 2. Euthanasia 3. Beyond The Walls Of Sleep 4. I Am The Grass 5. Traitor

On one of the better days it can happen that you get to spot a little known but surprisingly nice album like Poison Asp's Beyond The Walls Of Sleep. This short recording is all about heavy speed/thrash metal done mostly in the right way. While not really innovative, the music is more than sufficiently energetic and it is evident that the band were not afraid to break a sweat. On a couple of occasions you can sense a certain Megadeth-like tint and not only due to the vocals, but this is by no means a dominating factor in the band's sound. Although Beyond The Walls Of Sleep is not to be mistaken for true classics, there is some persistent kind of sleeper hit quality to it that becomes obvious already after a couple of listens.

POLLUTION - Modern Warfare
Serbia 2010

1. Gate Of Madness 2. Black River 3. Modern Warfare 4. Devil's Henchman 5. Massive Overload 6. Absolute Pollution 7. Ruined Planet 8. Manic Depression 9. Elimination By Radiation 10. Deceiver 11. Open The Void

Pollution's debut album is as unsurprising as it gets. Modern Warfare is firmly middle-of-the-road thrash metal in all aspects - the speed is adequate, most riffs are satisfactory in a functional sense, and the lyrics deal with some of the most typical topics in the genre. After all this, it should not come without warning that the result is nearly indistinguishable from a load of other albums of the same kind. It is not even necessary to give any special mention to the very appropriate production as pretty much every band can have the same nowadays. The presentation is fairly good and all, and there are no distracting features that would actually hamper the listening experience. It's just that the outcome does not stand out in any notable way.

POLTERGEIST - Depression
Switzerland 1989

1. Three Hills 2. Depression 3. Inner Space 4. Writing On The Wall 5. Wheels Of Sansara 6. You've Learned Your Lesson 7. Prophet 8. Ziita 9. Shooting Star 10. Strutter (bonus)

Coming from Switzerland, Poltergeist would later wander into some more mellow directions in their music, however, the band's debut remains a rather thrashy effort. Depression is a fast and fairly heavy album of unsurprising speed/thrash metal. Somehow the music feels a bit restrained as if the band clearly could have put more energy into it. The result is not terribly bad though undeniably very generic and hardly memorable. Incidentally, vocalist Andre also sang on Destruction's Cracked Brain which, despite its somewhat ordinary nature, sounds more distinctive than this album. Even with no particular faults in the music, Poltergeist's delivery on Depression is really nothing that wouldn't have been heard countless times before and after this one.

POLTERGEIST - Behind My Mask
Switzerland 1991

1. We Are The People 2. Behind My Mask 3. Act Of Violence 4. Grey 5. Delusion 6. Drilled To Kill 7. Make Your Choice 8. Chato's Land 9. Still Alive 10. Driftin' Away

Poltergeist's second album Behind My Mask starts off with some adequate intensity and speed, very similar to its predecessor, but it soon introduces more diverse elements in the band's sound. Unarguably the output is more varied than on the band's debut, but whereas Depression at least maintained some decent speed throughout the album despite its occasional dullness, this second effort gets just too sluggish at times. It doesn't help the result that even with some stylistic development the music has not essentially improved over the debut release, actually almost the opposite. On this album Poltergeist still sound as unconvincing and forced as ever, and even though the tracks flow seemingly easily, listening to this thing is far from a pleasant task. One release of this kind from Poltergeist is already more than enough.

POSSESSED - Seven Churches
USA 1985

1. The Exorcist 2. Pentagram 3. Burning In Hell 4. Evil Warriors 5. Seven Churches 6. Satan's Curse 7. Holy Hell 8. Twisted Minds 9. Fallen Angel 10. Death Metal

With their debut album Possessed created the base for death metal to grow on, and not only due to having a song titled Death Metal. Upon its release Seven Churches was brutal to the extent that very few other bands were capable of providing anything comparable. This album features the heaviest and most extreme thrash metal at the time, combined with raspy proto-death metal vocals. Although this raw sound wall can be a bit short on finer details, there is a lot of interesting guitar work throughout the album, and the pummeling riffs make a powerful impression. While it might not appeal to everyone, Seven Churches remains an essential release already due to its influential position in the scene.

POSSESSED - Beyond The Gates
USA 1986

1. Intro 2. The Heretic 3. Tribulation 4. March To Die 5. Phantasm 6. No Will To Live 7. Beyond The Gates 8. The Beasts Of The Apocalypse 9. Seance 10. Restless Dead 11. Dog Fight

Possessed's sophomore release Beyond The Gates turned out more complex and refined than its savage predecessor. In general, the sound of this album is cleaner and more akin to normal thrash metal than Seven Churches, although many sinister overtones ultimately make it more of a unique experience. The highly stylish intro gives way to an endless stream of relentless and enthusiastic guitar attacks, and all the songs together contain a great number of memorable riffs. While the lyrics follow the same kind of consistent satanic theme as on the band's debut relese, you cannot fail to notice development towards more ambitious grounds. From today's perspective, the dark atmosphere of Beyond The Gates easily surpasses an awfully lot of slicker and more forgettable productions in the whole genre.

POSSESSED - The Eyes Of Horror
USA 1987

1. Confessions 2. My Belief 3. The Eyes Of Horror 4. Swing Of The Axe 5. Storm In My Mind

Making an honorable end to Possessed's classic run in the 1980s, the band's final recording The Eyes Of Horror was already far removed from the raw and brutal nature of Seven Churches. Completing the development started on Beyond The Gates, this mini album contains menacing thrash metal with a lot of captivating and fairly inspired riffs. The sound quality is noticeably better than ever before, sufficiently clear and heavy in the right way. An interesting detail is that here the songs completely abandoned their usual satanic imagery, focusing on depictions of violent crime and mental anguish instead. Maybe The Eyes Of Horror does not have the same kind of highlights as its predecessors, but on the other hand the music is more consistent and technically more advanced.

POSSESSOR - City Built With Skulls
USA 2012

1. Intro 2. Fire From Hell 3. Taste The Blade 4. Heavy Metal Underground 5. City Built With Skulls 6. Hammer And Nails 7. Hellbound Drifters 8. Champions Of Chaos 9. Who's There? (Slicer Intro) 10. Slicer 11. Reaper Of Death 12. Metal Meltdown 13. Outro

City Built With Skulls does a good emulation of typical underground speed/thrash metal from the 1980s. After a hokey intro, Possessor's debut really kicks off and delivers a satisfactory dose of thrashing in the most old-fashioned way possible. The presentation couldn't be further away from novel, but that just adds to the unpolished charm of this whole thing. Admittedly the riffs could be more distinctive, and individual songs may not impress too much, but the album in general deserves something of a thumbs-up despite some of its most cliched antics. While City Built With Skulls may be more valuable for its faithful reproduction of the old 1980s sound than any real musical creativity, it definitely shows that certain traits of the original genre continue to stand against time.

POWER TRIP - Manifest Decimation
USA 2013

1. Manifest Decimation 2. Heretic's Fork 3. Conditioned To Death 4. Murderer's Row 5. Crossbreaker 6. Drown 7. Power Trip 8. The Hammer Of Doubt

It should be no big surprise if Power Trip's debut full-length promptly starts to bring memories of Devastation's most classic works to mind, as the band openly recognize their influences. Manifest Decimation sports some insanely heavy riffs that contribute to a huge sound wall, and the hoarse shouts perfectly add to this crushing manifestation. The production is a tad raw, satisfactory but somewhat hollow, and one can only wonder what kind of living destruction would have come out of it all if some old-school wizard like Scott Burns had been given this material to work with. Even then it positively decimates - especially the first half of this release never ceases to impress with the way how the band can lead a frantic speed fest and then suddenly interrupt it by a massive cranial stomp out of nowhere. Admittedly the latter part of the album sometimes spends a bit too much time in the mid-tempo realm, but at the end The Hammer Of Doubt restores the course and truly delivers a finishing blow. Despite some unrefined parts, Manifest Decimation is simply one of the most convincing releases in this millennium, and that is an unreserved recommendation if anything.

POWERMAD - The Madness Begins
USA 1988

1. Terminator 2. Hunter Seeker 3. Gimme Gimme Shock Treatment 4. Blind Leading The Blind

Powermad's approach to speed/thrash metal was more refined than on average, their style bearing some close resemblance to Intruder with medium to relatively high-pitched vocals. The band's mini album The Madness Begins is well produced and performed, but it does not really contain anything that could be called too exciting or interesting. While the songs are of rather easy listening kind, there are no real memorable riffs or catchy hooks to speak of. Although Powermad could crack up the speed in a fairly satisfying manner, somehow the whole presentation seems only superficial at best. The last track Blind Leading The Blind is closer to the more effective and streamlined style of the follow-up release Absolute Power, but on the whole this album is a bit too bland. With three original songs and one Ramones cover, The Madness Begins was basically just a teaser of the things to come.

POWERMAD - Absolute Power
USA 1989

1. Slaughterhouse 2. Absolute Power 3. Nice Dreams 4. Return From Fear 5. Test The Steel (Powermad) 6. Plastic Town 7. B.N.R. 8. Failsafe 9. Brainstorms 10. Final Frontier

Powermad's full-length release Absolute Power is something of a mixture of straightforward thrashing and some more varied elements. The production is very professional and makes the band sound great, helping to cover some lack of originality in songwriting. Also, the vocals have a lot more variety and power than in your average band. Without any doubt Powermad were at their best with fast thrashers like the title track and Test The Steel (Powermad). But although most tracks are pretty decent, the blatant hard rock piece Nice Dreams is quite terrible to say the least. Surely it's extremely catchy and all, but based on this one track only you'd have a hard time believing that the band could actually play fast and heavy, too. Nevertheless, despite a few shortcomings Absolute Power builds up enough momentum to make a fair mark in the scene history.

PRAYERS OF SANITY - Religion Blindness
Portugal 2009

1. Religion Blindness 2. Waiting On Death Row 3. Evil May Die 4. No Redemption 5. Shards Of Evil 6. Monochromatic War 7. Something Kills You All 8. Shadow-Crawler

Religion Blindness is yet another modern-day thrash metal album composed and recorded in a seemingly traditional vein, and let it be said that the band succeeded in an adequate manner. Mainly it's only the clean, more than sterile production that makes a clear difference from the old. That and a lack of the authentic sound and spirit of the original 1980s scene which is quite hard to specify in scientific terms. In other words, you most probably cannot mistake this even for any veteran band's modern album, no matter how souped-up their production was. Apart from that, Religion Blindness is a passable release for casual listening. It is not quite as dull as it may initially seem, but not too likely to become a long-time favorite either.

USA 2009

1. Intro 2. Death March 3. Power Wolves 4. Creepers 5. Ghosts Of Kampala 6. Blind Faith 7. Endless Genocide 8. Master Of Disaster 9. Exsequor Exequor 10. Vengeance 11. Awaited In Vain

On an objective scale, Creepers might end up somewhere near the bottom of the pit. The sound of this album is more or less homespun, even a bit shabby. But there is certainly more life to this one than many other contemporary recordings out there, especially when often the downright unnatural soundscape of the latter is considered. Premunition's debut sounds imperfect and even spontaneous in a healthy way, which alone deserves an honorable mention. Make no mistake, Creepers is not an example of great songwriting, and there are heaps of better thrash metal albums available. Still, it's somehow this kind of grass-level approach that seems more valuable than that of making releases that sound like they came straight out of an automated assembly line.

PRESTIGE - Attack Against Gnomes
Finland 1989

1. It's Over 2. Force Of My Hate 3. Dead By Drugs 4. Attack Against Gnomes 5. Rotten Angel 6. Gods 7. Punishment 8. Brain Outburst 9. Rabb-it 10. Angels Cry 11. This World

Although Prestige didn't play the biggest role in the original scene, they were more productive than an average band in those days and remained faithful to their roots, with three full-length albums of pure unaltered thrash metal. Released around the time when the genre had already reached its saturation point, the band's debut Attack Against Gnomes is musically not too spectacular, with passable but rather generic riffs and pretty unmemorable songs. Nothing about it really stands out, and as such this album lacks some character. Except for the amusing cover art, the whole thing eventually falls into the group of quite forgettable releases.

PRESTIGE - Selling The Salvation
Finland 1990

1. Species To Pieces 2. Maggots 3. Help The Science 4. I Don't Wanna Play With Teddy 5. Selling The Salvation 6. Prestige 7. Bed Time Story 8. Miserable Life 9. Sexual Education 10. Naughty Granny 11. Violence (Makes No Sense)

Prestige's second album Selling The Salvation provided more of the same unsurprising thrash metal as their debut release, with no notable touches of originality. Despite the production being very decent, the band continued to have something of a homespun and even clunky sound especially in the vocal department. Most songs are energetic enough but far from groundbreaking, although Naughty Granny does deserve an honorary mention for its particularly amusing lyrics. In the end Selling The Salvation is just another typical minor thrash metal album from the time period, probably more interesting for its collectible status than actual music.

PRESTIGE - Parasites In Paradise
Finland 1992

1. Parasites In Paradise 2. Will This Ever End? 3. Crack Children 4. Sniff 5. Barbarella 6. Offender 7. That Makes Me Sick 8. Too Greedy 9. From The Cradle To The Grave 10. Hop 2, 3, 4 11. Break The Ice 12. Thursday The 12th 13. Lack Of Sanity 14. I Ain't The One

As their last release, Parasites In Paradise turned out to be faster and more intense than Prestige's previous works. This actually makes a slight but clearly audible improvement, as complex compositions never were this band's strong asset anyway. Arguably this eager presentation makes the music sound more convincing than before, even though there are not too many distinctive riffs to catch your attention. Again, the most noteworthy detail about this album may be the lyrics in songs like Barbarella and Thursday The 12th - while nothing to lose sleep over, they can be at least reasonably funny in a specific silly way.

PRETRASH - Psychopath
Germany 2009

1. Riding The Flying Carpet 2. Fight Terror 3. Psychopath 4. Funeral Master 5. Black Widow 6. Dialogue Of Mass Destruction 7. Rules Of Peace 8. Chamber Inside My Head 9. Marching Below Zero 10. Zombified

Psychopath must be awfully near the absolute average of all thrash metal albums released to date. It's like a middle ground of everything in the genre, undistracting and mostly unnoticeable although the vocalist could stretch his voice a bit less at times. The outcome of it all may not be pointless enough to cause complete rejection, but on the other hand the effect is too dull to make a favorable impression. Years ago an album like this could have deserved a few more words of attention, nowadays there is simply no point in that. Maybe a better way to describe this thing would be to adapt an old joke about hard rock and ask what makes this band different from countless others in the scene. The answer is, they have two guitars, bass, drums - and they play thrash metal.

USA 1987

1. State Of The State 2. War And Sin 3. Last Breath 4. Scream Till You Bleed 5. Kill The Light 6. Poisoned 7. Ignorance Is No Excuse 8. Megaton 9. Mr. McCreedy 10. Shot On Sight

While not exactly a ground-breaking recording by any means, Primal Scream's Volume One is not the most typical album in its genre. Featuring a specific variation of rolling speed/thrash metal, this release is not too catchy or anything, but there is a certain street-credible feel to this thing that puts it slightly ahead of many more generic albums. With a natural rich and "live" production quality, Primal Scream's outburst of music is free of technical shortcomings which helps the listener receive it in the way as originally intended. Although these songs will hardly leave a mark in the hall of classic tunes, the band's performance deserves an honorable mention. In all its simplicity, Volume One is decent enough to leave a fairly good taste in your mouth.

PROFANATOR - Libido Clerico
Mexico 2005

1. More Dirty Than Any Trash 2. Licking To Mary 3. Thrashic Violence 4. Alcoholic Dementia 5. Tune Of The Maniac 6. Profanator 7. Libido Clerico 8. 666 Days To Follow 9. Praise The Vice

If Mexican thrash metal was to reach worldwide recognition some day, Profanator would make a fine representative in the front row. While Libido Clerico can be hardly compared to any old classics in the field, it is head and shoulders above many of its contemporaries, boasting a warm and throbbing sound texture that gives an emphasis to the band's energetic and devoted performance. Despite their seemingly ordinary elements, tracks like Tune Of The Maniac and 666 Days To Follow are such forcible thrashers that they should raise the bar for any band who still intend to survive the competition. If there was one flaw in this album, it could be the lyrical content which is focused on sex, drugs and thrashing with no deeper message whatsoever, but at least the theme is consistent and the band fully stick to it. With Libido Clerico you don't need to worry about having just one or two standout tracks, as the whole album shares the same kind of solid quality.

PROPHECY - Legions Of Violence
Brazil 2008

1. Overture 2. When Insanity Calls 3. Lying Prophets 4. Agony Within 5. Empty Life 6. Risen From Hell 7. Paradigmatic Reality 8. Evilution 9. Nameless 10. The Game (Is Violence) 11. Legacy Of Ashes

With their roots reaching twenty years back in time, Prophecy cannot be put into the category of latecomers in the scene even though their first official release has certainly been very long in the making. Only based on its sound alone, Legions Of Violence fits into the genre without the slightest problems. All things considered, comparisons to Testament's original style would not be too far off. Alternating almost equally between fast thrashing and slower stomping moments, the overall tone is consistent and classy but occasionally also sort of tedious, not least due to some dry feel in general. While the outcome sounds fully professional, it does not necessarily carry the same kind of youthful energy as some of the most vigorous releases in the scene still do. If you take this restriction into account then Prophecy's offering can be quite sufficient.

Finland 1991

1. Dreams Illusions Hallucinations 2. Like A May Morning 3. Me And My 4. A Rather Charming Day In A Jolly Brutal World 5. ...And The Mood Was Quite Cheerful 6. Teenage Pizzaface 7. Greetings From The Sandman

Nothing short of a cult release, Protected Illusion's Sandman's Store is easily more powerful than most albums out there. Already the intro of the first song is somewhat unordinary, but you are guaranteed to be fully awaken at the latest when the vocals kick in. Whatever you think of the vocal style, this must be some of the most dedicated howling ever recorded in the old times. When the rest of the band is not exactly holding back either, the outcome is fierce enough to blow the cobwebs away for good, not to mention a casual twist of humor that one can observe. In comparison to the norm, the sound quality is quite raw and hollow, but that sort of adds to the violent energy that this recording contains. There are way too many thrash metal albums that practically make no impression of any kind, but you can be certain that Sandman's Store is not one of those.

PROTECTOR - Misanthropy
Germany 1987

1. Intro 2. Misanthropy 3. Holy Inquisition 4. Agoraphobia 5. The Mercenary 6. Kain And Abel 7. Holocaust

Protector must have been one of the heaviest German thrash metal bands in their early days, with a certain death-ish tip audible in the music. Misanthropy is a totally shattering experience, the first couple of tracks attacking the listener with such intensity that you'll have a hard time trying to recover afterwards. Although the style starts to slightly repeat itself near the end, the short length of this mini album just ensures that there are no filler tracks, resulting in a truly fierce pack of thrash metal. Though most tracks on this album are by no means exceptionally well-done or even original, it is simply one of those releases where everything clicks. The great energy involved is not the least of the factors contributing to the convincing outcome. Misanthropy still remains one of Protector's strongest releases to date.

Germany 1988

1. Delirium Tremens 2. Apocalyptic Revelations 3. Golem 4. Germanophobe 5. Protector Of Death 6. Operation Plaga Extrema 7. Megalomania 8. Only The Strong Survive 9. Omnipresent Aggression 10. Space Cake (bonus)

Protector's first full-length release Golem continued in the vein of Misanthropy, being a collection of the heaviest thrash metal with some genuine fast riffs and low growling vocals that often border on death metal. This album has the most frantic opening track Delirium Tremens which pretty much crushes the listener right at the start. There are some mid-tempo tracks later on, too, but the band were clearly most effective when putting out fast thrashers like the mentioned opener or Megalomania, for example. Not all songs are that memorable, but the album on the whole has some definite style. (The CD bonus track Space Cake is incredibly silly, though.) Overall, Golem is a fairly good thrash metal album though not quite as uncompromising and energetic as Misanthropy.

Germany 1989

1. Capitascism 2. Sliced, Hacked And Grinded 3. Nothing Has Changed 4. The Most Repugnant Antagonist Of Life 5. Quasimodo 6. Urm The Mad 7. Decadence 8. Atrocities 9. Molotov Cocktail

Protector's third release showed their increased leanings towards death metal. Though there are still many thrashing moments here, Urm The Mad is slower and more plodding than the fairly energetic Golem. This combined with a rougher production and deep growling vocals gives the album an absolutely depressive and hopeless feel. A few faster tracks sound seriously formulaic in comparison to previous releases whereas many of the slower pieces are a bit too tedious to work well. Occasionally, like on the extremely dark and grim Nothing Has Changed (probably one of the most depressing songs ever written), the harsh style sort of works although these moments are rare indeed. While Golem still had some genuinely fresh energy and attitude present, Urm The Mad is nowhere near the same level.

PROTECTOR - Leviathan's Desire
Germany 1990

1. Intro 2. Humanized Leviathan 3. Subordinate 4. Mortal Passion 5. Kain And Abel

With Leviathan's Desire Protector went back to the style of high-speed extreme thrash metal. While just a mini album, this release admittedly packs a notable amount of energy into its short length. After the plodding Urm The Mad these songs simply sound a lot more vivid, with vocals at least as gruff as previously if not even more - a direction that you must either love or hate. Remaining similarities to the band's old recordings are mirrored by the revised version of Kain And Abel which seamlessly fits the mood of the completely new tracks. On the downside, all these songs sound very samey and not too memorable, which doesn't make it too tempting to play this one very often. Although by no means a significant release on its own, at least Leviathan's Desire was a proof of Protector's ability to continue creating forceful music in one form or another.

PROTECTOR - A Shedding Of Skin
Germany 1991

1. Intro 2. Mortuary Nightmare 3. A Shedding Of Skin 4. Face Fear 5. Retribution In Darkness 6. Doomed To Failure 7. Thy Will Be Done 8. Whom Gods Will Destroy 9. Necropolis 10. Tantalus 11. Death Comes Soon 12. Unleased Terror 13. Toward Destruction

A Shedding Of Skin was another dose of Protector's lethal thrash metal, now getting more refined and punctual step by step. Most of these tracks ravage onwards at extreme speed while featuring enough of small hooks and twists to keep you interested. The ripping Mortuary Nightmare lays down the rules for the whole album, and although it is true that many tracks tend to sound similar to each other, it's the consistent feel of quality that adds to the final impression in a positive way. Except for a couple of more plodding pieces, there are no excessive tedious moments that would seriously hinder the result. While A Shedding Of Skin is hardly novel with its carefully selected mixture of thrash and death metal influences, few other bands could carry out this kind of approach better than Protector.

Poland 2011

1. Psychopath 2. Panzer 3. Avaritia 4. Sentenced To Thrash 5. Constant Agony 6. Hate 7. Kings Shall Be Kings 8. No Pain No Game 9. The Point Of No Return 10. Burdel

There is a certain touch of professional quality on Psychopath's Avaritia, to such extent that becoming aware of it all may even catch you by surprise at some point during this album. In practice, the commendable technical characteristics do not fully translate into memorable songs, though. This recording features very consistent and fluent thrash metal, stylistically something in the vein of classic Sepultura, and all tracks are by all means satisfactory, just not really extraordinary. While actual notable highlights may be difficult to find, it should be fair to say that Avaritia can be best recommended to those people who value long-time appeal over immediate catchiness - for them, Psychopath's offering could be just right.

PSYCHOSIS - Lifeforce
USA 1992

1. Twist Of Faith 2. Lifeforce 3. Cold Is This God 4. Thoughts Of Winter 5. Remain Blind 6. Cycled Souls

As an early pre-incarnation of Prototype, a more progressive group to come, Psychosis still followed closely in the vein of the established thrash metal movement on the US west coast. Based on Lifeforce, the band's sound was very professional though even dry at times, and while the riffs are not exactly the most distinctive around, this mini album sports a high level of consistency. While the style is refined enough to avoid direct comparisons, it is safe to say that the music of Psychosis bears a close resemblance to Metallica and the like. The biggest drawback must be due to some lack of striking characteristics, as most tracks here do not stand out as much as one might prefer (for a better example, Cold Is This God is an excellent piece, though). On the other hand, this also ensures that Lifeforce takes a lot of listening before you grow too familiar with it.

PYRACANDA - Two Sides Of A Coin
Germany 1990

1. Top Gun 2. Democratic Terror 3. Delirium Tremens (Tremendous) 4. Challenge Cup 5. Rigor Mortis 6. Welcome To Crablouse City 7. Dreamworld (Goodbye, Mary Ann) 8. Loser 9. Don't Get Infected

At the first listening Pyracanda's debut doesn't sound too interesting. Even though Two Sides Of A Coin starts to appear a bit better when given more time, it is still not among the better German thrash metal releases. Pyracanda's sound is something like a rougher version of Despair's style with many small variations here and there and generally some good elements that just never seem to be able to evolve into whole impressive songs. Now the band are somewhat left behind by their generic, occasionally even dull sound. Of the individual tracks Top Gun has some potential and a couple of others are semi-interesting, but even these exceptions do not save Two Sides Of A Coin on the whole from sounding only average at best.