John Serba is a film critic, unapologetic dad thrasher and writer of words. He's based in grand rapids, mi, but his mind occupies various pop cultural niches.

Dad Thrash 101: A playlist

Dad Thrash 101: A playlist

Overkill, doing what Overkill does best: killing us over and over.  (Photo credit: By Cecil [GFDL ( or CC BY-SA 3.0 (], from Wikimedia Commons)

Overkill, doing what Overkill does best: killing us over and over.

(Photo credit: By Cecil [GFDL ( or CC BY-SA 3.0 (], from Wikimedia Commons)

Dad Thrash is not a genre, it’s a state of mind.

Actually, that’s not necessarily true. Dad Thrash is not a descriptor of a generational gap embedded deep in a niche, it’s an elite club for veteran hetpengers*.

I don’t know if that’s necessarily true, either. Dad Thrash is most likely something some hipster wiseass concocted as a snarky dig at music they don’t understand, because they have weak ankles and only eat at restaurants where hamburgers are served with kale on them. Their strongest connection to it is likely the compilation video of Bobby Blitz laughing that went viral for 23 minutes back in 2014.

And even then, that’s bull roar. The truth? Dad Thrash is whatever the eff I say it is. I’ve lived it for 30 years. I’ve seen it and heard it and felt it and bled it and put it on the back of a Levi’s acid-washed denim jacket that I once sweat right through at a Slayer concert from the “Seasons in the Abyss” tour - a show I never fully recovered from, which is precisely why I’m here now, capitulating my madness.

I am also a dad, and my son is going to love Overkill or be sent to the gulag.

On top of that, I bought the domain. Which automatically qualifies all who don’t own to be posers on one level or another.

For my initial missive on the topic, I initially intended to define the term in some highfalutin philosophical framework, but decided that was too much thinkpiece, not enough neck-wrecking. Instead, I thrashed out a playlist of must-thrash thrash metal tracks, a Dad Thrash 101 primer, an Intro to Dad Thrash course in a Dad Thrash program which will someday conclude with a doctorate degree in thrashing and a 700-page dissertation on the weird chords Voivod uses.

So here are 21 heavy cuts, the basics, lots of stuff you had on the compilation VHS tapes you assembled from Headbanger’s Ball, which you watched obsessively every Saturday night while your mullet grew and you didn’t go on dates. This is a delectable vintage thrash salad proving, perhaps, that rock achieved perfection somewhere between 1986 and 1989. Call it a Dad Thrash greatest hits collection of sorts. I also tossed in a leather-gloved fistful of vintage classic metal songs that aren’t thrash in the pedantic sense, but they are Dad Thrash in the spiritual sense. I sequenced all 21 songs via my tinnitus-addled ear for maximum thrash dynamic. Turn it up and rip the knob off, then be upset at the costly repair! If it’s too old, you’re too loud! I’ll see you in the pit**!

S.O.D., “March of the S.O.D./Sergeant D. and the S.O.D.” (“Speak English or Die,” 1985)

The “March” riff should be the intro to the universe. Yes, all of it.


Motorhead, “Ace of Spades” (“Ace of Spades,” 1980)

Raw, greasy, overdriven rock 'n' roll that defined life as we know it. Yes, all of it.


Venom, “Witching Hour” (“Welcome to Hell,” 1981)

Here is where all hell breaks loose.


Metallica, “Master of Puppets” (“Master of Puppets,” 1986)

The greatest thrash epic ever written. Every riff is the perfect marriage of brains and brawn.


Overkill, “Hello from the Gutter” (“Under the Influence,” 1988)

Blistering, speedy, streetwise thrash that never takes itself too seriously. Vocals: totally Blitzed. I’m convinced Overkill is the greatest thrash band ever to riff your skin off, possibly because they’re not in the Big Four. Well, I’ll show you who’s the Big One, pal. (It’s Overkill. The Big One. Get your head out of the- well, actually, it’s just fine if you keep it there.)


Slayer, “Angel of Death” (“Reign in Blood,” 1986)



Megadeth, “Peace Sells” (“Peace Sells… But Who’s Buying?”, 1986)

Nobody snarls like Dave Mustaine. Nobody writes riffs like he does, either - and this one is a classic.


Testament, “Disciples of the Watch” (“The New Order,” 1988)



Anthrax, “Caught in a Mosh” (“Among the Living,” 1987)

Who says thrash metal pit rituals can’t generate a metaphor for universal human struggle at 100+ bpm? OK, maybe the metaphor is loose and wild, but so is that riff.


Voivod, “Tribal Convictions” (“Dimension Hatross,” 1988)

Words often fail in the presence of Voivod, especially this thundering war-march track building to a big cathartic release with the exquisite balance of technical prowess and gutsy potency.


Metal Church, “Badlands” (“Blessing in Disguise,” 1989)

A mountainous anthem gilded with a poignant metaphor: persevere! The World’s Most Underrated Metal Band™ at its peak.


Exodus, “Toxic Waltz” (“Fabulous Disaster,” 1989)

A very, very dumb ode to ye olde pit shenanigans, catchy and shouty with an unforgettable riff. No drunk Dad Thrash party exists without this beer-chugger/pizza-chucker of a mosher-stomper.


Death Angel, “Bored” (“Frolic Through the Park,” 1988)

Don’t hate them because they’re funky. Thrash diversified, but still youthful, angry and spiteful.


Sepultura, “Inner Self” (“Beneath the Remains,” 1989)

Dextrous, speedy, tempo-shifty deathrash from Brazil, tamed for (relative) mass consumption. Sepultura set aside the sloppy, Satanic, hormonal aesthetic characteristics of their country’s metal roots, and soon would conquer the world.


Kreator, “Betrayer” (“Extreme Aggression,” 1988)

Teutonic rifferama cuts apart scummy disloyal humans, here barked at by thrash keeper-of-the-flame Mille Petrozza. Clean, precise and very, very nasty.


Celtic Frost, “Circle of the Tyrants” (“Emperor’s Return”/”To Mega Therion,” 1985)

OOH. A guttural, ugly speed-chug, this thuggish track is the perfect representation of Frost, whose guitar tone is the sound of slugs being tortured. Wither and die all ye who stand in its path.


Bathory, “Reaper” (“Bathory,” 1984)

Trashcan clatter, assembled ramshackle, Satanically sloppy. This tank’s treads are about to fall off and the barrel’s bent, but it still manages to destroy everything in its path.  


Mercyful Fate, “Evil” (“Melissa,” 1983)

Any previous Satanism on this list was all show. This Fate rave-up is all show AND bona-fide devil worship. It has to be - riffs aren’t this torrid without some divine black influence from the other side of the gates. And King Diamond on vocals. What the devil is up with that guy, and why do I love him so?


Judas Priest, “Sinner” (“Sin After Sin,” 1977)

The lightning strike that cracked the earth and created the fissure from whence many thrash demons emerged, hungry and wearing puffy hightop sneakers. Taut, quick, razor-sharp.


Iron Maiden, “Caught Somewhere in Time” (“Somewhere in Time,” 1986)

Thee perfect Maiden track to my ears. Not a hit, but who cares. Someone will probably want to fight me on this, but bring it on - they’re probably just as old, weak and flabby as I am.


Dio, “Rainbow in the Dark” (“Holy Diver,” 1983)

I’ll conclude this session with a most profound anthem that should summon the goosebumps of any self-respecting 40-odd-year-old metal thrashing madperson, because the greatest voice in metal history is here literally singing it from the rooftops. Fade out.

*Translation from German: hungburgers.

**Actually, I’ll see you also looking defeated in line at Home Depot.

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