Turn back the clock to the 1980s and you'll find thrash metal is the heaviest thing since mercury. Exploding out of the Bay Area in San Francisco, the hardcore punk-inspired take on traditional metal blew many a headbanger's socks off at the time.
Spawning subcultures in Germany, Brazil and several additional locations in the United States, thrash had a dedicated, fearsome following. By the '90s however, as is so often the case with hot new trends, thrash metal had cooled off. The invasion of grunge in the rock world and new subgenres like nu metal and groove metal took hold.
Even at the underground level, thrash would, at best, butt heads with death metal, an especially crazed style it had partly inspired. The notable cooling off period lead to a variety of top notch thrashers slipping under the radar. In turn, there's a whole host of fiery gems now just waiting to be unearthed by interested listeners.
Of course, for reasons both trivial and controversial, some phenomenal bands struggled to break out in the genre's '80s heyday as well. Many didn't quite secure the interest of Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer and Anthrax during that explosive boom period.
However, that doesn't mean they aren't on a similar (or even better) level of audio destruction.
10. Sodom - Code Red
Following several years of toying with other genres, German shredders Sodom made a well-received return to form in 1999. The result? 'Code Red', a suitably gruesome, fast-paced, nuance-free thrill ride.
After several years of disappointing output, frontman Tom Angelripper rediscovered his fury here. The lyrics are ferocious and apocalyptic. The grim vibe they provide is accentuated and then some by Bernd 'Bernemann' Kost's wildman guitar work and Bobby Schottkowski's brain-rattling drums.
Arguably the kings of Teutonic thrash metal, Sodom helped inspire a wave of subgenres such as black and death metal in their earlier days. By the time of 'Code Red', the crew were in increasing danger of being disregarded as relics of the scene. Thanks to a modernised and elaborate approach to production, coupled with more intensity than ever, they put such notions to bed with this one.
While the '90s was, overall, a brutal decade for thrash, it still has some gems. 'Code Red' is one of them, an easily re-listenable, no-nonsense classic. Every track is kept under the five minute mark, ensuring a relentless pace that matches the bad intentions of the artists behind this pricelessly savage LP.