What Is The New Wave of Thrash Metal?

(TheBRHM.com) Let’s get into another wave of heavy metal in the “New Wave of Thrash Metal”. This wave came along in the late 90s-early 2000s following an odd downturn in quality albums from major thrash metal bands.

Thrash Metal In the Early 90s

There was this odd period in metal music—particularly thrash metal—where some of the releases from bands formed in the 80s just began to fall flat.

If you look at it on a larger scale, the second half of the 90s was this mystery swamp. Some bands just called it quits or disappeared while a few managed to thrive at a high level despite their releases from the time being adequate at best.

You also had those cult-level bands that were going to be fine because of two reasons. First, a lot of those bands kicked it into touring mode over in Europe, Asia, and South America.

The other reason for cult-level bands doing well is proximity to up-and-coming bands and performing with them. I liken it to Atlanta in hip-hop.

Atlanta is experiencing a strong run at the moment because older artists have always dapped up and worked with younger rappers in that scene. That isn’t to say that all of them work with each other but Atlanta is a team when it comes to hip-hop.

Some major bands worked with their younger bands but for the most part that would either be years later or when they crossed paths as a result of being booked on the same festivals.

At any rate, thrash metal had fallen off but there was a wave of younger bands that were inspired by these faltering bands.

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The New Wave of Thrash Metal

It’s hard to put an exact period on when this wave started. I tend to go with 1997 to 2000 as the starting point but actually, the wave kicked off towards the middle of the 2000s.

You see, a few notable bands formed in the late 90s such as Toxic Holocaust, Apokalyptic Raids, and Witchery. Most of the notable bands such as Skeletonwitch, Municipal Waste, Avenger of Blood, and Deathhammer were formed in early 2000s.

Just like any new wave of music, the inspirations are various but the dominant sound for a lot of the new wave of thrash metal was the peak aggression approach of 80s bands such as Slayer, Slaughter, Kreator, and Sodom.

If there was one flaw from this period, it was probably that after a while, you could get the feeling that you’ve heard it all from a band. There were just so many fast, loud, aggressive young bands releasing quality albums at the time.

It could become boring if that’s all you listened to and didn’t mix it up a bit. A lot of bands hand similar lyrical content and inspirations and the internet allowed metalheads to find all of this stuff easily and without paying when YouTube came along.

To a degree, overexposure is on the fan themselves and not the music scene since they’re just putting out music. The reason we’re taking a brief look at the new wave of thrash metal is because I’ll be doing a couple of Best of the Decades for the bands in this wave.

Being familiar with a few of names, the genre, and where we are in music at the time helps when going into the albums and finding similar bands.

Standout Bands

A “Best of” or “Standouts” is based on preference. One person’s list might be based on technical ability while mine will typically lean towards speed and consistency.

With that, someone could look at my list and say “A lot of these bands are kind of sloppy” and they might be correct in some cases. Likewise, I could look at someone’s list full of really technical bands and think “They make boring music for the most part.”

Using those parameters, bands such as Toxic Holocaust and Skeletonwitch would obviously make my list. These are two bands that just fit what I look for in thrash metal and they presented in at a time when it was on short supply from the more established acts.

Obvious picks aside, bands such as Municipal Waste, Gama Bomb, and Hospital of Death that play fast but fun humorous thrash could slip into the list based purely on offering something different.

There are also those bands that showed a ton of potential in their initial demos or their debut album but never really followed through with something bigger or better.

Even worse are the bands that followed up with a better album but were still unable to pop big. This wave of thrash metal had all of these kinds of bands. Even bad ones featuring band members in better bands!

Why Was The New Wave of Thrash Metal Important?

This was an extremely interesting period in heavy metal and this was the wave that really kept thrash metal alive. If thrash would’ve totally faded out in the 1990s, I wouldn’t have been surprised as the from those flagship acts, the quality of music was in critical condition.

Mind you, the quality was better among the German Big Four during the 1990s but a band of Metallica’s stature didn’t come out of the German scene.

As a result, the attention is on the strength of the Big Four of Metallica, Slayer, Anthrax, and Megadeth and how they delivered in the decade. That in turn amplified the attention on these newer bands who were also using early streaming and social media to get their music out to a larger potential fanbase.

Staff Writer; James Swift, Jr.

This talented writer is also a podcast host, and comic book fan who loves all things old school. One may also find him on Twitter at; metalswift.