Genre Course: Thrash Metal

Stylistic Origins:

Sub-Genres and Derivative Forms:

  • Crossover Thrash
  • Groove Metal
  • Death Metal
  • Grindcore
  • Black Metal
  • Melodic Death Metal



Taking cues from the NWOBHM movement in Britain, the Hardcore Punk moments in Washington D.C, Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York and Speed Metal acts such as Anvil,

Thrash Metal rose to prominence in the early 1980s in the Bay Area of San Francisco, California and New York. However the earliest band to use the Thrash Metal style was Exciter from Ontario, Canada who released their first album Heavy Metal Maniac on January 14th 1983.


Thrash is loosely characterized by the use of double bass drums, chaotic and heavy lead guitar work and high tempos. Additionally palm muting, galloping and chugging is commonly used by bands such as AnthraxSlayer and Metallica.

Lvl 1: The Big 5

The biggest Thrash Metal bands a commonly referred to as the “Big Four” this group includes Metallica, Megadeth, Anthrax and Slayer. However Dave Mustaine (Lead Guitarist, Lead Vocalist of Megadeth, Ex-Lead Guitarist of Metallica) commonly refers to the “Big Five” including Exodus in the Group.



As the biggest of the Big Five, Metallica are hailed for bringing the Thrash Metal style to the public’s attention with their first four released “Kill ‘Em All”,  “Ride The Lighting”, “Master Of Puppets” and “…And Justice For All”, however with the release of their sixth studio album (referred to as “The Black Album“, “Metallica“, “The Self-Titled” or “The Untitled“) the band’s style began to delve more to Alternative Rock. This continued until the release of “Death Magnetic” which was a return to their original style.



After Metallica’s original lead guitarist Dave Mustaine was kicked out of the band, he recruited members to form a new band, taking their name from the unit to signify the amount of deaths cause by an atomic bomb, Megadeth. Megadeth is somtimes referred to jokingly as MegaDave as Mustaine is the primary song writer and only constant member in the band. Additionally Megadeth is famous for its constantly rotating cast of members such as Kerry King from Slayer, James Macdonough from Iced Earth and Chris Adler from Lamb of God. However Megadeth’s style has also not been consistently Thrash Metal as they have also delved into the Alternative Rock style.



Signifying the looseness of the genre, Anthrax style was more reminiscent of Classic Heavy Metal bands such as Iron Maiden and Judas Priest. Additionally is well known for its number of lead vocalists, the most famousand longest lasting being Joey Belladonna, however John Bush, and Neil Turbin have also sung on albums, as well as the bands first singer being Scott Ian who now resides as Rhythm guitarist. Anthrax are also hailed as helping create the Nu Metal genre, due to their collaboration with rap group Public Enemy



Sometimes referred to as “The Heaviest Band in The World” Slayer picked up the speed of the rest of the style, began to down tune their guitars, extreme use of palm muted guitar lines and are known for other-worldly sounding solos. Slayer’s most famous album was their third titled “Reign in Blood” included songs such as “Raining Blood” and “Angel of Death“.



Originally including member Kirk Hammett who went on to join Metallica after the departure of Dave Mustaine, Exodus released their most popular record “Fabulous Disaster” including the title track “Fabulous Disaster” and pit anthem “The Toxic Waltz“.

Lvl 2: Regional Scenes

The Big Five weren’t the only bands to incorporate the Thrash Metal style, there were regional scenes all over the world that used this style.

Bay Area bands:

  • Attitude Adjustment
  • Autopsy
  • Blind Illusion
  • Death Angel
  • Defiance
  • Epidemic
  • Forbidden (Forbidden Evil)
  • Sadus
  • Testament
  • Trauma
  • Vio-lense

German bands:

German Big 4

  • Destruction
  • Kreator
  • Tankard
  • Sodom

Brazillian bands:

  • Attomica
  • Chakal
  • Dorsal Atlântica
  • Executer
  • Holocausto
  • Korzus
  • Lobotomia
  • Mutilator
  • MX
  • Sarcófago
  • Sepultura
  • Soulfly

Lvl 3: Sub-Genres

Crossover Thrash

As Thrash fused elements of Heavy Metal and Hardcore Punk there would of course be a spectrum of bands who use different amounts of each genre in their sound. This is where Crossover Thrash comes in.

Crossover Thrash (sometimes simply referred to as “Crossover“) used the ideas used in Thrash Metal although was more simplistic and higher energy like Hardcore Punk.

Crossover bands:

  • Agnostic Front
  • Cro-Mags
  • D.R.I
  • M.O.D
  • Muncipal Waste
  • S.O.D
  • Suicidal Tendencies

Groove Metal

Created by bands such as Exhoder and Pantera,this style is driven by grooves and the impact they will leave on a crowd. Groove Metal is commonly reminiscent of Mid-Tempo Thrash Metal and incorporates many elements of the genre.

Melodic Death Metal

The Gothenburg Melodic Death Metal scene (also known as “Gothenburg Extreme Metal” or “Gothenburg Thrash Metal”) took elements of Death Metal, Classic Metal and Thrash Metal to make a unique sound that has inspired later-Death and Melodic Death Metal bands, Metalcore and Thrash Metal revival.

Melodic Death Metal bands:

  • At The Gates
  • Cardinal Sin
  • Dark Tranquility
  • Despite
  • Entombed
  • Grotesque
  • In Flames

Lvl 4: Thrash Metal revival

Headed by Lamb of God and Municipal Waste this scene began in the mid-2000s and is still going strong in 2016. A revival included Crossover Thrash and Groove Metal bands along with Thrash Metal bands. This revival is thought have been brought to mainstream attention with the release of “Thrashing Like A Maniac” a compilation album release in 2007 by Earache Records including signed and unsigned bands such as Bonded by Blood, Evile, Dakapitator, Fueled by Fire and Toxic Holocaust.

Revival bands:

  • Black Kreek
  • Bonded by Blood
  • Decadence
  • Deadfall
  • Dekapitator
  • Evile
  • Fueled by Fire
  • Gama Bomb
  • Lamb of God
  • Lazarus A.D
  • Merciless Death
  • Municipal Waste
  • Send More Paramedics
  • SSS
  • Violator

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