Thrash Metal



Thrash metal is a subgenre of the music genre metal that started in the early 1980s and is the most popular style of the genre.  Thrash is defined as a short, fast, loud piece or passage of rock music.  Characteristics of thrash include fast percussive beats, low-registered guitar riffs, double bass drumming, and shred-style lead guitar work.  The most complex and fast guitar solos take place in thrash and prove to take the most talent.  The speed and down picking at which rhythm guitar in thrash is played is very impressive when mixed with palm muting.  Thrash is widely considered as the hardest music to play.  The subgenre takes much musicianship to perform.  There are many thrash bands from all around the world such as Sodom or Kreator.  In America there are three that take the place of the very best among all thrash bands.  These bands are Megadeth, Slayer, and Metallica.  These three bands are part of what is considered “The Big Four” in America along with Anthrax.  However, I personally believe that Anthrax is infinitely inferior to all other thrash bands and should be replaced by the thrash metal band Exodus in The Big Four.  Due to that reason this article will only cover brief descriptions of the following bands: Megadeth, Slayer, and Metallica.


Megadeth is considered the greatest thrash metal band by metal fans around the world.  I include myself with those fans.  Megadeth was formed by Dave Mustaine, who was originally the lead guitarist for Metallica.  Mustaine is credited for partial writing on Metcallica’s first two albums, Kill ‘Em All and Ride The Lightning.  On April 11, 1983 Mustaine would be kicked out of the band for his alcohol and drug abuse, which led him to behave aggressively.  Mustaine would then form Megadeth along with bass player Dave Ellefson.  The first line up of Megadeth consisted of Mustaine on guitar and vocals, Ellefson on bass, Gar Samuelson on drums, and Chris Poland on guitar.  This lineup would last for the first two Megadeth albums, Killing Is My Business…And Business Is Good!, and Peace Sells…But Who’s Buying?  These two albums came out back-to-back in 1985 and 1986.  KIMB is stapled as one of the best thrash debuts ever, and PSBWB is not only seen as an amazing sophomore album, but one of the greatest thrash albums of all time.  In 1988 the band would release their third album, So Far, So Good… So What!.  This album saw a line up change with new drummer Chuck Behler and new guitarist Jeff Young.  Megadeth had established themselves as a major name in thrash by this album, and they did not fail to deliver.  A noticeable song on this album is “In My Darkest Hour,” a song that Mustaine wrote immediately after hearing about the news of Cliff Burton, Metallica’s bassist and Mustaine’s former band member/ friend, dying in an unfortunate bus accident.  Their next album Rust in Peace would be the best work the band has ever done.  This album came out in 1990 and featured  not only the greatest Megadeth lineup, but one of the greatest thrash lineups of all time.  With Mustaine and Ellefson, still the only original members, along with new members, Nick Menza on drums and Marty Friedman on guitar, this album is seen as the greatest thrash metal album of all time in the metal community. Marty and Nick added a lot to the band as Marty is an extraordinary guitarist, one of the greatest ever, and Nick is an unbelievable drummer.  Marty is seen as the greatest guitarist in thrash as his style fits the subgenre perfectly with fast, high-pitched shredding solos.  Nick is also seen as a great musician in thrash with his fast, loud pounding on the drums.  Megadeth has released fifteen studio albums, but these first four are the peak of the band.  Mustaine was kicked out of a band and formed what I, and many others, believe to be an even better band.  Mustaine is seen as the biggest icon in the thrash community for his story and his music.  Fans of thrash love Mustaine and his band, and he, along with Megadeth, will go down among the greats in the world of metal and music.


There is no other band like Slayer.  Their style of thrash metal is so perfect and so discrete that they stand alone from any other bands in thrash and metal.  It is no wonder why so many people consider them the greatest band not only in thrash, but ever.  Slayer’s theme of anti-religious, satanic evil is the pure embodiment of metal.  From their appearance, to their album covers, to their lyrics, everything screams evil, sadistic intent.  Slayer was formed in 1981 and consisted of bass player and vocalist Tom Araya, guitar players Kerry King and Jeff Hanneman, and drummer Dave Lombardo.  These four created the perfect thrash metal band and delivered album after album of perfect thrash.  From 1983 through 1990 the band released five albums and one EP.  Their albums list off as Show No Mercy, Haunting The Chapel (EP), Hell Awaits, Reign In Blood, South Of Heaven, and  Seasons In The Abyss.  These releases are the prime of Slayer and are recognized as the best works of the band.  With album covers that feature Satan himself and depictions of hell, the band was very underground.  Many people were frightened by Slayer for this reason, but it was all for show to scare people.  Satanic themes are popular in all metal, and they simply embodied that.  Songs such as “The Antichrist,” “Altar Of Sacrifice,” and “Kill Again” contain some of the more satanic lyrics the band has delivered.  Slayer is known for their fast playing and Tom Araya’s wide vocal range.  The high pitched screams of Araya can be heard on Show No Mercy, while on Reign In Blood Araya can be heard shouting the lyrics at the listener.  The band has been successful from their beginnings to now.  On May 2, 2013 guitarist Jeff Hanneman unfortunately died of liver failure.  His loss was tragic news to Slayer and metal fans all around the world.  Despite the loss of such a great member, the band still continues to play.


Metallica is the most popular and well-known of all thrash and metal bands.  The reason for this is due to the band selling out in 1991 and releasing their self-titled album, Metallica, better known as “The Black Album.”  When Metallica released this album they betrayed thrash metal and recorded a “heavy metal rock” record.  Fans of thrash and metal ended their relationship when Metallica did this and despised the band for becoming mainstream rock stars.  But before this awful album, Metallica released four albums from 1983 to 1988.  These four albums are recognized as some of the best thrash of all time, and this four-album run is considered one of if not the greatest four-album run in history.  The band formed in 1981, and their debut album Kill ‘Em All was released in 1983.  The lineup consisted of Kirk Hammett on guitar, Lars Ulrich on drums, James Hetfield on vocals and guitar, and Cliff Burton on bass.  This was the line up for Metallica for their next two albums, Ride The Lightning (1984) and Master Of Puppets (1986).  KEA and RTL are the thrashiest albums the band has released with their fast rhythm guitar and drums, shredding guitar solos, and screaming vocals.  MOP features an instrumental, “Orion,” which Cliff Burton composed.  Cliff was the most talented musician in the band by far and had a great knowledge of music theory and composition.  Unfortunately he was killed on September 27, 1986 in a bus crash.  This loss was very tragic, as he was a very talented young man that went to early.  The band would acquire new bassist Jason Newsted for their next album …And Justice For All.  This album came out in 1988 and was the final album of the four-album run.  It was also the last thing Metallica put out that was any good.  Even though Jason played bass for the album, Lars Ulrich lost the files, and so this album has absolutely no bass on it.  Lars is hated in the metal community for this, along with being a not-so-good, mediocre drummer.  This album was focused on attacking the U.S. government and was very political.  Many people struggle with ranking these four albums because they are so good and lack a single bad track.  Metallica still plays and releases music today, but they have never been the same since the time when they ruled the 80s.