ALBUM REVIEW: Heathen – Evolution Of Chaos

Although formed in 1984, Heathen didn’t arrive on most people’s radars until the release of their debut album, Breaking the Silence (Combat Records) in 1987. Part of the legendary Bay Area Thrash scene, Heathen followed established acts such as Exodus and some bunch of relocated no-hopers called Metallica out of the region, joining the likes of fast-moving up-and-comers Testament, Vio-Lence, Death Angel, and Forbidden, among many others. Continue reading

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EP REVIEW: Black Talon – Existential

Formed in 2010, Edinburgh thrashers Black Talon follow up their 2015 debut Endless Realities (Wasted State Records) with independently released five-track EP Existential. Sounding like a modern Scottish version of the 1980s Bay Area, this short release is replete with riffs and melodies similar to the likes of Forbidden, Testament and Dark Angel with vocals owing a debt to Vio-Lence and UK thrashmonkeys Acid Reign. Continue reading

ALBUM REVIEW: Exhorder – Mourn The Southern Skies

 

 

Formed in 1985, Louisiana’s Exhorder left a brief but lasting impression on a dying thrash scene with their controversial 1990 debut Slaughter in the Vatican and its more mature, but equally impressive 1992 follow-up, The Law (both Roadrunner). Just as thrash was making way for the unplugged introspection and tatty woolly jumpers of grunge, Exhorder arrived in an attempt to revitalise the scene. Continue reading

Former Forbidden And Nevermore Guitarist Tim Calvert, Dead At Age 52

Sad news as Tim Calvert, who played on essential metal albums for both Forbidden and Nevermore, has passed away at aged 52 from ALS. Tim’s passing was shared on Facebook by his sister Vicky Calvert-Hawkins. Tim played on Forbidden’s Twisted Into Form, Distortion, and Green and Nevermore’s Dreaming Neon Black. Following a career in music Calvert served as a Pilot for United Airlines. We send out condolences to Tim’s family, friends and fans at this time. Continue reading

Josh Middleton (SYLOSIS): My Top 5 (Non “Big 4”) Thrash Albums

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To celebrate the upcoming release of dark, progressive thrash opus Dormant Heart (Nuclear Blast) Josh Middleton of Sylosis spoke of his love of Thrash, including his Top 5 (non-Big 4) Thrash albums…

In no particular order (except the first one, apparently):

 

SEPULTURA ‘Arise’ (Roadrunner)

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After upping the ante in a serious way with the seminal Beneath The Remains Max Cavalera and crew cemented their place in the annals with one of the heaviest and one of the best slabs of thrash known to man, beast or beyond. Produced by the legendary Scott Burns at Morrisound, Brazil’s greatest musical export refined their delivery while maintaining the aggression, with an album chock full of anthems from ‘Dead Embryonic Cells’ and its neck-snapping groove, to the epic ‘Desperate Cry’ and the crunching pace of closer ‘Infected Voice’, while the opening title track boasts one of the greatest heavy riffs of the last forty years and is a bone-fide extreme anthem. A genuine Death/Thrash classic.

 

VIO-LENCE ‘Oppressing The Masses’ (Megaforce)

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There’s a certain writing team currently topping the metal charts (and coming in third in Ghost Cult‘s Albums of the Year 2014), a writing team that includes Messrs Philip Demmell and Robert Flynn. Back in 1990, Machine Head‘s creative force were cutting not just their teeth, but an album of jagged thrash intent with no lack of cerebral content, from stomping tour-de-force ‘I, Profit’ to closing title-track, more of a traditional thrasher operating in the Overkill ball park, replete with Sean Killian‘s Blitz-deranged vocals.

 

FORBIDDEN ‘Twisted Into Form’ (Combat/Relativity)

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Another band that operated as a stepping stone for some of its’ members, with drummer Paul Bostaph to move on to Slayer and Testament and highly-regarded guitar-wizard Tim Calvert to later join Nevermore for their defining album Dreaming Neon Black (Century Media). Twisted Into Form was the San Franciscan’s second opus, and with Calvert joining (at the expense of Glen Alvelias, who himself was later to also join Testament), saw a more melodic, technical and progressive approach to the debut.

 

 

HEATHEN ‘Victim of Deception’ (Roadrunner)

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Another early 90’s great, “This is pretty much …And Justice For All Part 2!” states Middleton. Along with the Vio-lence and Forbidden selections, this is another sophomore album that saw a band at the top of its game really define their sound second time around. Widely regarded as one of the most technical thrash albums, Victim… is renowned for its many complex structures, time changes and guitar work, retaining little of the NWOBHM influence exhibited on their debut. Coming in at over an hour, with the majority of its tracks over six minutes in length, Heathen made a statement that thrash could be complicated and could be progressive.

 

TESTAMENT ‘First Strike Still Deadly’ (Spitfire)

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“I haven’t had any Testament yet… and, you know what, I know it’s a cop out, but I really enjoy First Strike Still Deadly. I know it’s effectively a best of, but I like it.”

Featuring guest appearances from original vocalist/Exodus screamer Steve “Zetro” Sousa and Joey Tempesta, who had sat on the drum stool at various points in Testament’s career, as well as Alex Skolnick returning for the first time since 1992’s The Ritual, this compilation of re-recordings was Steve Di Giorgio‘s last with the band. Comprising of tracks from their classic first two albums, The Legacy and The New Order (Atlantic/Megaforce) and old demo track ‘Reign of Terror’, this was the start of the re-recording trend and has been widely panned by critics, which seems harsh as the tracks are, still, incredible. Besides, at least one person (Mr Middleton) likes it… Here at Ghost Cult we support First Strike… but would recommend getting hold of the first two Testament albums, if you don’t already own them. You can pick up pretty much every Testament release while you’re at it, too…

 

 

Words by STEVE TOVEY