Dad Thrash 201: The thrashucation continues
I once again presumptuously don my mortar board and put it on my motor head and quasi-professorially lead you through the Dad Thrash Hall of Flame. You’ve surely already assimilated my Dad Thrash 101 playlist, where I succinctly guided you through the touchstones of old-guy ’bangerdom. No doubt, you’ve been inspired to listen to it endlessly as your flab melts in your La-Z-Boy, and you drink shitty beer and pump your fist and slowly turn into dust.
This is the next step, the 200-level discourse on classic frilly metal, moldy doom metal, increasingly violent thrash metal and a couple deathlike metal things that all fall under the specific vagueness of the Dad Thrash banner. A fresh old playlist here follows, with annotations below. Enjoy or die! Or not.
Warlock, “All We Are” (“Triumph and Agony,” 1987)
Queen of Metal Doro Pesch leads us into Valhalla with this towering anthem that should’ve rocked stadiums. Instead, it rocked an opening slot on a Megadeth tour, rocked a modestly successful career for the ageless voice of Doro, and now rocks the festival and metal-cruise circuit. What are we all? We are metal, of course!
Helloween, “I’m Alive” (“Keeper of the Seven Keys Part I,” 1987)
The greatest song Maiden never wrote. More high-flying, major-key affirmation anthems like this, and the world would undoubtedly be a better place.
Candlemass, “Mirror Mirror” (“Ancient Dreams,” 1988)
Euro gods of doom, heaving riffs like Hercules chucking boulders, and deploying operatic vocal hooks so big, they kept snagging blue whales. Note: this is one of the dumbest metal videos ever made.
Trouble, “At the End of my Daze” (“Trouble,” 1990)
American gods of doom, heaving spiritual pain like a morning-after drunkard with nothing left in his stomach, and deploying depth-charge hard-rock riffs so excoriating, they made our hearts burst.
Angel Witch, “Angel Witch” (“Angel Witch,” 1980)
All the best moves of the NWOBHM in three minutes. By the end, I’ll be an angel witch, you’ll be an angel witch, we’ll all be angel witches.
Grim Reaper, “See You in Hell” (“See You in Hell,” 1983)
This is a horribly dated track embracing every heavy metal cliche of ’83 unabashedly. But it also bangs, rocks and soars. Its hook is delectable.
Savatage, “Hall of the Mountain King” (“Hall of the Mountain King,” 1987)
Lock up your hobbits, we’re all moussed-up in our frilly shirts and ready to rock! The definitive Savatage track hits the sweet spot smack in the middle of the thrash and the classic and the power and the prog metals.
King Diamond, “Sleepless Nights” (“Conspiracy,” 1989)
Fight me if you must, but “Conspiracy” is the King’s best record. (Which isn’t to say “Abigail” is bad - just not as great, mate.) This track is in wholly Satanic possession of all the dynamism that defines King Diamond - mood and tempo switchbacks, meticulous guitars, eerie and wormy hooks, and the kind of unhinged vocal performance that only emerges from a seance with lotsa candles, goat guts and, probably, cocaine. There’s really no other way to explain it.
Suicidal Tendencies, “You Can’t Bring Me Down” (“Lights...Camera...Revolution” 1990)
WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON AROUND HERE?!? The revolt begins with a skateboard upside the head of The Man, who’s trying to shut us up and oppress us and insult our mothers, and all that just can’t happen. No, no, no, no. Especially when that badass Rocky George is playing guitar.
D.R.I., “Suit and Tie Guy” (“Four of a Kind,” 1988)
Never, ever, ever, ever sell out, kids.
Annihilator, “Alison Hell” (“Alice in Hell,” 1989)
The first troo thrash track on this playlist is - light a campfire and bellow it with me - CANADIAN METAL! It’s a mean cut with a deadly riff in a precision-Megadeth vein, and a stabby, screamy vocal. Total great!
Flotsam and Jetsam, “Suffer the Masses” (“When the Storm Comes Down,” 1990)
The discography of this second-and-a-half-ish-tier thrash band has aged not gracefully, but esoterically, I guess. This dark, angry track still stands out to my ear, a muscular mosh neatly synthesized with the more characteristically brainy and intricate techy Flots elements.
Forbidden, “Through Eyes of Glass” (“Forbidden Evil,” 1988)
All the half-to-double-time speed shifts, divebombing guitars and gritty, screaming vocals make this a true neck-snapper from the greatest of the second-tier Bay Area thrash bands.
Sodom, “Remember the Fallen” (“Agent Orange,” 1989)
The ugliest of all Teutonic metal bands forges one hell of a burnt and soot-caked set of riffs for this mid-tempo chugger, carving out a trenchlike groove bordering a landmine-peppered no-man’s-land. Sodom is famous for its astonishing speedy blackened blosh, but this is probably the truest song Onkel Tom Angelripper ever welded together out of old beer cans and scrap metal.
Destruction, “Curse the Gods” (“Eternal Devastation,” 1986)
Destruction unleashed some serious mega-caliber riffs from its arsenal for this, the slashy, blitzing lead cut on a classic record full of hyper-brutality. And that Schmier shriek - it’ll clear the room of all cats.
Nuclear Assault, “Critical Mass” (“Handle With Care,” 1989)
Paradigmatic thrash here with a double-time riff hastening atop half-time drums, albeit with the 19 percent panicky punk vibe that the Nukers (and most all East Coast thrashers, actually) carry around like a treasured childhood teddy bear. Gotta love the blurry, slurry, way-goofy John Connelly vocal, reminding us not to litter or thoughtlessly dump toxic sludge out behind the toolshed.
Vio-lence, “Calling in the Coroner” (“Eternal Nightmare,” 1988)
Thrash rarely gets more aggressive than that of Vio-lence, an aptly named bunch of basketball-shoed Bay Area bashers. This track, which builds to an eye-bulging, frenzied mania, is bent on inspiring the type of breakneck mosh that ends with ambulances.
Dark Angel, “The Promise of Agony” (“Leave Scars,” 1989)
This cut is buried deep on side B of “Leave Scars,” but it’s vintage Dark Angel - amphetamine speeds smeared with depressant tones, flayed and tortured, all things bleak and horrible, riffs choked on gnarled necks by knotty hands, like crude oil wrung out of soaked beach towels. And Gene Hoglan’s drums are roiling and massive, aircraft carriers being pounded by airplanes in Godzilla’s hands. Few more heavy. Very few.
Coroner, “Masked Jackal” (“Punishment for Decadence,” 1988)
Here’s an exquisitely engineered arrangement of top-flight riffs capped with haunted-gargoyle vocals. It’s some cold, coal-black Eurothrash art for your brain to enjoy as it slams into the insides of your skull. Fleet, incisive and quite demonstrably surgical in execution, this cut is classic Coroner before they added more avant to their old garde.
Death, “Pull the Plug” (“Leprosy,” 1988)
A club-footed masterpiece of vintage chromatic death, this track is a mass of black worms agitating under a tombstone, eating some unrecognizable slab of putridity. Other death metal bands came first, but few were as influential as Chuck Schuldiner’s crew, who, in their early days, pulverized yer disemboweled bowels with this kind of ugly, crud-caked blarrgh.
Pestilence, “Out of the Body” (“Consuming Impulse,” 1989)
A heart of thrash and the sensibilities of death - consider the bridge built and crossed by Pestilence, as genres subsequently evolved and progressed and splintered. These riffs are all guts, savage yet catchy, guitars recorded like blackflies eating you alive, madman Martin Van Drunen - greatest extreme metal vocalist ever, no contest - roaring hoarse over headbanging grooves quick-cutting to speedy gallops. A work of brash, young, insatiably hungry genius.