Label: Morbid Skull Records
The third EP from Corpsehammer sounds like it could have been unearthed from some decaying tomb, buried in a nuclear wasteland at some point in the 80’s and only recently discovered. Perversión is a celebration of the days when black and death metal were one and the same, with more than a hint of old-school South American madness to it. This is extreme metal for those who like their music to be utterly uncompromising in its blasphemous ways, drenched in bloodsoaked riffs and possessed of demonic spirit.
Label: I, Voidhanger Records
That The Crowning Quietus didn’t make my 2017 top five can only be explained by how late in the year I came to the album. Since encountering it towards the end of last year, the latest album from Inconcessus Lux Lucis has been one of my most listened-to albums, with its fearlessly creative take on black-thrash being a constant delight. The initial rush of energy has never worn off, and the progressive aspects of the album find new ways to impress me. It’s one of the best black metal albums of recent times, and deserves to be huge.
Label: Indie Recordings
What do you want from an Aura Noir album? Trick question. You shouldn’t go in to an album by this band wanting anything – you go in expecting something, and being confident that you’re gonna get it. Specifically, what you expect to get is ugly, gnarled black-thrash that plays with reckless abandon and no fucks given – and that’s exactly what you’ll get from Aura Noire. The latest album is as solid as the band (one of the best of the genre) have ever been, an unadventurous – yet still thrilling – blast of eight songs (and an outro) that put the metal in to black metal, horns raised to the sky and heads banging without restraint.
Label: Austenized Records
Look at that cover. Look at it! A black horned goat! The non-more-80’s font of the album title! A dude in a leather jacket and gasmask, holding a scythe and a machine gun! If the cover to Machine Gun Reaper isn’t the best/worst cover you’ve ever seen, well, I want to know what is. Even better, the third album by Ophicvs sounds exactly how you’d hope from the cover; blackened heavy metal that’s stuck somewhere in the late 80’s, full of trashy heavy metal tropes that somehow, in the hands of the sole member of Ophicvs, come to sound so very vital and thrilling.
Label: Dark Descent Records
You can probably have a good guess at what The Unchaste, the Wicked, and the Profane by Gravehill sounds like just from the artwork. Black-thrash riffs and lightning-fast leads? Check. Pummeling drums that offer no respite? Check. Rough and raw vocals bellowed from ravaged throats? Check. It sounds just like an album with artwork featuring naked nuns, demons, and a conquering Baphomet should do. Ugly and violent, but also with undeniable appeal for those so inclined, The Unchaste… is a perfect example of how to combine death, black, and thrash metal into primal, demonic, and hugely enjoyable forms.
Of all the different forms of extreme metal, there is arguably none that captures the raw excitement and energy of music better than black-thrash. A musical manifestation of Venom’s line about “riding hell’s stallions bareback and free”, black-thrash is, at its best, music of unrestrained chaos, tapping in to a raw, primal nature and unleashing it via the medium of savage, lawless metal. Since effectively being given its name by the mighty Aura Noir in 1996 – with debut album Black Thrash Attack – the genre has had a consistently devoted fanbase in the underground, with bands carrying the dark flame that was birthed by the likes of Sodom, Venom, and Sarcófago (pictured above); all done with a wicked grin and blasphemous spirit.
Here, then, are what I feel are five of the best bands of the style; some are veterans, some are young blood keeping the flame burning bright, whilst others are twisting it in to new, exciting forms. Enjoy!
Label: Nuclear Blast
Consisting of Venom’s Prime Evil line-up, the pedigree of Venom Inc. should be beyond dispute – after all, two-thirds of this line-up are responsible for such classics as Welcome To Hell and a little album called Black Metal. And yet, the release of Avé initially felt under-whelming, due in large part to initial single ‘Avé Satanas’ being over eight minutes long and, well, kinda underwhelming with its mid-tempo stomp. Yet look past this song, and Avé features some really strong songs, that capture a beastly hell-raising spirit, full of a love of metal and blasphemy.