Best Thrash Metal Bands of the '80s, '90s, '00s

All of the bands below have careers that span these decades.

The Top Ten

1 Megadeth Megadeth is an American thrash metal band from Los Angeles, California. Megadeth was formed in 1983 by guitarist Dave Mustaine and bassist David Ellefson, shortly after Mustaine was fired from Metallica. They have released 15 studio albums to date, and have gone through many lineup changes, with Dave more.

Megadeth and Metallica... Definitelly two best thrash metal bands in history.
But my vote goes to megadeth. I think they are more fitting to thrash metal
Genre. Metallica has its great song : "One" is my favourite in all metal genre, "Unforgiven", "Fade To Black", "Ride The Lightning", "Seek And Destroy", "Phantom Lord", "Sad But True", "Enter Sandman" and finally "Master Of Puppets" are also great...
But Megadeth has much more of great songs. They're first 6 albums are awesome... "Th1rt3en" also is great in my opinion.
My decision is an effect of listen to "Rattlehead", "Killing Is My Business... And My Business Is Good", "Mechanix", "Wake Up Dead", "Conjouring", "Peace Sells", "My Last Words", "In My Darkest Hour",
"Holy Wars... The Punishment Due", "Hangar 18", "Five Magics", "Poison Was The Cure", "Lucretia", "Tornado Of Souls", "Rust In Peace... Polaris"
, "Symphony Of Destruction", "Skin Of My Teeth", "Train Of Consequences", "A Tout Le Monde", "Elisian ...more

Both bands lost their way in the mid 90's (Load, re-load from Metallica and Megadeths Youthanasia is simply cringe worthy! ) but are epic 80s metal bands. Metallica has 3 albums that would make my top ten list (Ride, Puppets, Justice) but I just love Megadeths attitude and anger that come out in their songs. Rust in Peace (1990) is better than anything Metallica have done, and Peace Sells definitely rivals them too. While they haven't put out any albums of this magnitude again all albums since have masterpiece tracks and they just shade Metallica as the best. And for all those people who say that they wish Dave hadn't left Metallica and all that garbage, there's no way that would have worked. Lars and Mustaine have massive ego's that was always destined to create fireworks.

Stoked to see Exodus as 4th, Bonded by Blood is the best thrash metal debut album released

everytime I hear their music.. , it rocks the hell out of me.. and of course, because of dave mustaine's ability to rock their listeners. keep rocking megadeth

This is the best list because it isn't completely filled with Metallica fanboys. Megadeth is better than Metallica in every way.

2 Metallica Metallica is an American Thrash Metal band formed in 1981 . The original lineup was James Hetfield (Vocalist and Rhythm guitarist), Dave Mustaine (Lead Guitar), Lars Ulrich (Drums), Ron McGovney (Bassist). The group came into mainstream from their Self-Titled album and the hit single "Enter Sandman". more.

Metallica= GODS OF METAL! Megadeth is good to, but this should definitely be number 1! I love Megadeth and Metallica, but come on, Metallica is defintely better! They've got a lot of really good songs!

Metallica was the greatest thrash metal band In the 80s hands down. Every metal band knew that - Sabbath

WTH? 'tallica should't be in 9th. At least 3rd. Slayer in 2nd. Megadeth 1st! But Metallica is one of the BIG 4! - joaocarvalho

Love Metallica and megadeth, but still I prefer Metallica.

3 Slayer Slayer is an American thrash metal band from Huntington Park, California, formed in 1981 by guitarists Jeff Hanneman and Kerry King. They rose to fame with their 1986 album Reign in Blood, and is credited as one of the big four of thrash metal bands, the others being Metallica, Megadeth, and Anthrax. more.

Slayer are the defonition of thrash. They're dark, fast, brutal & just make every band explode. Tom, Kerry, Jeff & Dave are the Kings of thrash. My opinion

Best band of ALL TIME! Slayer has been my favorite band sing I can remember and I own every album from them. Love their music more than any other band out there.

Definitely. The best metal band on here where is pantera? Seen slayer live best mosh pit out of all the bands there

Kerry King its awesome man. Slayer is double awesome! Raining blood is very cool songs

4 Pantera Pantera was an American Heavy Metal band formed in 1981 by guitarist Dimebag Darrell and drummer Vinnie Paul. The band started out as a Glam Metal act in the 1980s with little success. After discarding their original lead vocalist and enlisting Phil Anselmo, the band signed a major record deal with more.

Does Pantera count because their "real debut" was in 1990? And their last album was '00?

They should be number one for sure they blow Metallica away in the 90's best metal.

Groove metal, not thrash metal. Idiots.

They should be way higher

5 Exodus Exodus is an American thrash metal band formed in 1979 in Richmond, California. Spanning a career of 37 years, Exodus has gone through numerous lineup changes, two extended hiatuses, and the deaths of two former band members.

The H-Team line-up of Holt & Hunolt, they are the "riff masters" of thrash. Holt & Altus / Hunolt & Altus, all the combos equal a full-on blitzkrieg of thrash brutality in it's finest form. No matter what Exodus album it is... It's 100% pure, aggressive, violent, hostile, ass-kicking thrash! For those of you who don't know, that's what thrash is supposed to be.

Bonded by Blood is easily one of my favourite thrash metal albums. - IronSabbathPriest

You do know than Pantera are not thrash, right?

Exodus: Guaranteed Overnight Destruction!

6 Overkill Overkill is an American thrash metal band, formed in 1980 in New Jersey. They have gone through many line-up changes, with singer Bobby "Blitz" Ellsworth and bassist D.D.

Overkill at #7 is way too low on this list. They are simply amazing - they didn't sell out to mainstream so that's why they don't get enough recognition. Blitz and D.D. have kept this band going strong with all the guitarist and drummer changes thru the years. Pick any Overkill album from any decade and you'll be banging your head!

Overkill is definitely the greatest thrash band of all.

Thrash Metal = Overkill.
They define the genre. - IronSabbathPriest

7 Sodom Sodom is a German thrash metal band from Gelsenkirchen, formed in 1981. They have gone through many line-up changes, leaving bassist vocalist Tom Angelripper as the only constant member.

Yeah, sure they're older then Megadeth. Megadeth was formed by Mustaine after he wrote Metallica's first album. And Sodom started as a venom copy-cat.

Sodom is very hard. Sodom is older than megadeth and really harder and better. I hope the best for the band sodom

SDOM are kings of trash metal

8 Testament Testament is an American thrash metal band from Berkeley, California. Formed in 1983 under the name Legacy, the band consists of vocalist Chuck Billy, guitarists Eric Peterson and Alex Skolnick, bassist Steve DiGiorgio and drummer Gene Hoglan.

Who can argue that these guys were some of the hardest thrashers of all time?!

Should be number 2, slayer 3

Testament, Overkill, Kreator = Big 3 of thrash (consistent and not completely sold out in 90s due to crap like Nirvana and Pantera that spoiled the all good old metal that started Judas Priest back in 1976). Luckily (or perhaps just because of that grunge and *-core crap) (D) death metal and prog thrash was bearing the flag above the sea of 90s mediocrity. I am happy that since The Gathering (1999) good metal music is back (sorry Dimebag, R.I.P.). Chuck R.I.P. He left our world damn too early :(

9 Anthrax Anthrax is an American thrash metal band from New York City, formed in 1981 by guitarist Scott Ian and bassist Dan Lilker.

I love anthrax, they're so underrated. Spreading the Disease, Among the Living, State of Euphoria and Persistence of Time are thrash classics. Worship Music is one of the best metal albums released in the past decade. Fistful of Metal, The Attack of the Killer B's (excluding Bring the Noise), Sound of the White Noise and We've come for You all are awesome albums as well and often overlooked. Except for 2 albums (Stomp 442 and Volume 8), everything they've done so far in their career has been epic. Incredibly underrated band. - fidelcanojr

Ridiculously underrated. Anthrax can rival some of the best thrash metal bands and their discography is pretty consistently amazing. If only their new album wasn't trash, but hey, every old thrash band is putting out trash nowadays anyway.

Most underrated of the big 4. But I think it is because of their more raw sound. It makes it a bit less easy-listening for the normal metal fan than Slayer, Metallica or Megadeth.

My personal favourite of the big 4. - IronSabbathPriest

10 Kreator Kreator is a German thrash metal band from Essen. Their style of music is similar to that of their compatriots Destruction, Sodom and Tankard; along with those three bands, Kreator has been referred to as one of the "big four" of Teutonic thrash metal, and they are often credited with helping pioneer more.

They were playing death-thrash before Sepultura and Slayer, much love, but you aren't brutal. Kreator proves it.

Kreator is so underrated. In my opinion, they are better than slayer

Heaviest thrash metal. They make Slayer look like Metallica.

They are like slayer. But heavier. - gemcloben

The Contenders

11 Gwar Gwar, often styled as GWAR, is an American heavy metal band formed in Richmond, Virginia, United States, in 1984, composed of and operated by a frequently rotating line-up of musicians, artists and filmmakers collectively known as Slave Pit Inc.

Although people don't take Gwar seriously because they have a sense of humor, their sense of humor makes them very influencial in style.

12 Annihilator Annihilator is a Canadian thrash metal band founded in 1984 by vocalist, guitarist, bassist, songwriter, engineer, producer, mixer and mastering engineer Jeff Waters and former vocalist John Bates.

I think they deserve to be on a list for a change. - michaelhughes

They are underrated and amazing. - gemcloben

Annilihator the band to get me in to thrash metal they should be on every list along with Judas Priest

13 Sepultura Sepultura is a Brazilian heavy metal band from Belo Horizonte. Their first album, Morbid Visions presented a proto-black metal sound with Wagner Lamounier of Sarcófago. Sepultura's sound varies by the album, from thrash metal, groove metal, and even death metal.

I've always thought of them as more of a groove metal band. Either way they are amazing. - IronSabbathPriest

Sepultura as a thrash metal band ended in 1996.

14 Death Angel Death Angel is an American thrash metal band from Daly City, California, initially active from 1982 to 1991 and again since 2001. Death Angel has released seven studio albums, two demo tapes, one box set and two live albums.

The Ultra Violence is a classic. It's even more impressive when you consider the ages of the band members when it was recorded

Act 3 is better than the Ultra Violence, if not next to it.

Act 3 was simply one of the best thrash albums of all time.

They are the best thrash band today in my opinion - Sabbath

15 Sacred Reich

The American way was a great album, except for the last song 31 flavors. Ignorance and surf Nicaragua were awesome too

16 Nuclear Assault Nuclear Assault is an American thrash metal band from New York City, formed after bassist Dan Lilker left Anthrax in 1984. After releasing five full-length albums and touring relentlessly throughout the 1980s and early 1990s, Nuclear Assault split up in 1995. They briefly reunited in 1997 and again more.

Yes! This one better get a few votes. - michaelhughes

17 Austrian Death Machine

I know this band does not succeed to the calibur of Megadeth or Metallica, I still love this band due to the ability to perform a satire along with some great music. It is also a side project from one of the greatest metal bands, 'As I Lay Dying'. This band takes away the seriousness of the typical thrash genre and offers something new and bold. Definitely has my respect, and vote - mickeyG94

18 Destruction Destruction is a German thrash metal band. They are considered one of the "The Big Four" of the German thrash metal scene, the others being Kreator, Sodom and Tankard.
19 Flotsam and Jetsam Flotsam and Jetsam is a thrash metal band that formed in Phoenix, Arizona in 1981. The band currently consists of vocalist Eric A.

Unique sound...

20 Heathen Heathen is an American thrash metal band originating from the San Francisco Bay Area , founded in 1984 by guitarist Lee Altus and drummer Carl Sacco.

Some of the most technical and interesting thrash metal ever heard. Best thrash band for solos if that's your thing.

21 Razor Razor is a Canadian thrash metal band formed in 1984 at Guelph, Ontario. The group shot music videos for songs such as "Evil Invaders", "Shotgun Justice", "American Luck", and "Sucker for Punishment".
22 Sacrifice
23 Forbidden Forbidden was a thrash metal band from the San Francisco Bay Area. Formed in 1985 as Forbidden Evil, the group was founded by Russ Anderson and Craig Locicero, who were both ever-present members.
24 D.R.I. D.R.I. is an American crossover thrash band that formed in Houston, Texas in 1982. As of 2015, the band comprises two of its founding members, vocalist Kurt Brecht and guitarist Spike Cassidy, as well as drummer Walter "Monsta" Ryan and bassist Harald Oimoen.

Hardcore Punk

25 Evil Invaders
26 Legion of the Damned Legion of the Damned is a thrash metal/death metal band from the Netherlands. The band was formed in 2005 following the demise of Occult and the departure of former singer Rachel Heyzer.
27 Dead Horse
28 Municipal Waste Municipal Waste is a crossover thrash band from Richmond, Virginia. They performed at the UK's Download Festival on June 15, 2008. They also joined At the Gates on their "Suicidal Final Tour" along with Darkest Hour, Toxic Holocaust and Repulsion.

Great thrash music right here

29 Machine Head Machine Head is an American heavy metal band from Oakland, California. Formed on October 12, 1991, the group was founded by vocalist and guitarist Robb Flynn and bassist Adam Duce. They have received great critical success especially for their album "The Blackening" which is considered a modern metal more.
30 Vio-Lence Vio-lence was an American thrash metal band formed in 1985 in the San Francisco Bay Area. They released demo tapes, one EP and 3 LPs between 1985 and 1993. Their most stable line-up was Phil Demmel and Robb Flynn on guitars, Deen Dell on bass, Perry Strickland on drums and Sean Killian on vocals.

Eternal Nightmare simply just thrashes like no other. Even though they werent really innovators, their music was something else (not just sean killian's vocals).

It surprises me that Machine Head got on this list first considering two members of Vio-Lence are in it, one of them responsible for starting it

31 Venom Venom are an English extreme metal band formed in 1979 in Newcastle upon Tyne. Coming to prominence towards the end of the new wave of British heavy metal, Venom's first two albums—Welcome to Hell and Black Metal—are considered a major influence on thrash metal and extreme metal in general.
32 Evile Evile are an English thrash metal band from Huddersfield, formed in 2004. The band's debut album, Enter the Grave, was produced by Flemming Rasmussen at Sweet Silence Studios in Copenhagen, Denmark and was released worldwide in 2007 by Earache Records to critical acclaim by fans and critics alike.
33 System Of A Down System of a Down formed in 1994 as an Armenian-American Alternative Metal group from Glendale, California. The band name is sometimes shortened to System or SOAD. more.

Not thrash metal.


34 Suicidal Tendencies Suicidal Tendencies is an American crossover thrash band founded in 1980 in Venice, California by vocalist Mike Muir, who is the only remaining original member of the band. The band is often credited as one of "the fathers of crossover thrash".
35 Dream Theater Dream Theater is an American progressive metal band from Boston, Massachusetts. The band was formed in 1985 under the name of "Majesty", only to change its name to Dream Theater later. more.
36 Dark Angel Dark Angel is an American thrash metal band from Los Angeles, California formed in 1981. Their over-the-top style (extremely fast, heavy and lengthy songs with lots of tempo changes, lyrics and extended instrumental parts) earned them the nickname "the L.A. Caffeine Machine". Although Dark Angel had more.
37 Tankard Tankard is a thrash metal band from Frankfurt am Main, Germany, founded in 1982. Along with the bands Kreator, Destruction and Sodom, Tankard is often considered one of the "The Big Teutonic Four" of Teutonic thrash metal.
38 Motorhead Motörhead were an English heavy metal band formed in June 1975 by bassist, singer, and songwriter Ian Fraser "Lemmy" Kilmister, who was the sole constant member; guitarist and songwriter Larry Wallis; and drummer Lucas Fox. The band's harsh vocals and fast paced tempos helped inspire speed metal and more.
39 Exumer Exumer is a thrash metal band from Frankfurt, Germany. It consisted of Mem Von Stein, Ray Mensh, Matthias Kassner, Anthony Schiavo, Bernie Siedler, Paul Arakaki, Syke Bornetto, Holger Kolb, J P Rapp, and more, and was founded in 1985.
40 Onslaught Onslaught are an English thrash metal band from Bristol, England. Initially active from 1983 to 1991, they reformed in 2004. The band initially drew influence from second wave hardcore punk bands such as Discharge and The Exploited, and then adopted a straight forward thrash metal sound.
41 Havok Havok is an American thrash metal band from Denver, Colorado. Formed in 2004, their members currently consist of David Sanchez, Nick Schendzielos, Pete Webber, and Reece Scruggs.
42 Coroner Coroner is a Swiss thrash metal band from Zürich, formed in the early 80s. They have been called "the Rush of thrash metal" for their increasingly complex style of progressive rock-infused thrash. They garnered relatively little attention outside Europe .
43 Demolition Hammer Demolition Hammer is a thrash metal band from the Bronx, New York. The band formed in 1986 and released three full-length albums between 1990 and 1994. Century Media Records made a complete anthology available in 2008.
44 Stormtroopers of Death Stormtroopers of Death, known as S.O.D., was an American crossover thrash band formed in New York in 1985. They are credited as being among the first bands to fuse hardcore punk with thrash metal into a style sometimes referred to as crossover thrash, and is also known for reuniting Anthrax members more.
45 Toxik Toxik is an American thrash metal band originally from Peekskill, New York. Initially active from 1985 to 1992, in 2013 it was announced that Toxik would reform again and start work on its third album.
46 Exciter Exciter is a Canadian speed metal band from Ottawa, Ontario, formed in 1978 as Hell Razor. In 1980 they changed the name Exciter. They are widely considered to be one of the first speed metal bands and a seminal influence of the thrash metal genre.
47 Black Sabbath Black Sabbath were a Heavy Metal band formed in Birmingham, England in 1968 by guitarist and songwriter Tony Iommi, singer John "Ozzy" Osbourne, bassist and main lyricist Geezer Butler and drummer Bill Ward. more.
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