Most Important Albums in Thrash Metal History

Without these albums Thrash Metal wouldn't be as popular as it would be today.

The Top Ten

1 Welcome to Hell - Venom

It's simple - no thrash without this album (1981). - Metal_Treasure

Thrash metal before Metallica!

2 Kill 'Em All - Metallica

Objectively, this album inspired so much of what thrash metal is. But I think that this shaped all future thrash metal. I'd say second most important is Peace Sells.

This is how thrash metal got going. One of the best.

3 The Years of Decay - Overkill

Supposedly this was the album (or one of the albums) that inspired Pantera work with Terry Date (who also produced this album) as the producer for "Cowboys From Hell".

Dimebag owned this album. He was impressed with Terry Date's production work on it that Pantera decided to hire him to produce "Cowboys From Hell".

Other albums like "Taking Over" and "Under The Influence" are awesome, but I agree that this is an important album.

The fact this album isn't all the way up to #1 makes me wanna cringe.

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4 Reign In Blood - Slayer

You can't leave "Reign In Blood" out of a list like this. It was heavily influential for, not only thrash metal, but a certain amount of genres such as extreme metal, death metal, black metal and grindcore.

"Kill 'Em All" and "Welcome To Hell" are great albums, but this one's far more important.

5 Peace Sells... But Who's Buying? - Megadeth
6 Alice In Hell - Annihilator

Important because it was one of Roadrunner's best-selling records.

Supposedly this is what inspired Mustaine to make Rust in Peace. He even asked Jeff Watters to join Megadeth in '89 after hearing this record.


7 Master of Puppets - Metallica

Metallica's last album with Cliff Burton

This was the album that broke Metallica into large-ish mainstream audiences.


8 Bonded by Blood - Exodus

"Bonded By Blood" was somewhat more important than anything the "Big 4" had released up to that point (1985). Like the first two Metallica albums ("Kill 'Em All" and "Ride The Lightning"), "Bonded By Blood" inspired so much of what the Bay Area thrash metal scene is all about. Most people say that if the album had been released immediately after its completion in the summer of 1984, it would've been remembered just as much as "Kill 'Em All" or received credit for launching the thrash metal scene.

9 Among the Living - Anthrax
10 The New Order - Testament


The Contenders

11 Pleasure to Kill - Kreator

This is one of the thrash metal albums that influenced the death metal genre.

Why isn't this album in the top 10 yet?

One of the "Unholy Trinity" of 1986!

Kreator's finest hour!

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12 Practice What You Preach - Testament

Not only was this Testament's first album to enter the top 100 on the charts, but it also helped build the band's status as one of thrash metal's finest bands. Thanks to the considerable amount airplay of "Practice What You Preach" and "The Ballad", the album has sold more than 450,000 copies in the years since its release despite never achieving Gold Certification.

When this album dropped in '89, Testament was already becoming one of the hottest thrash metal bands.

Their first two albums are great, but I agree how important this album was.

13 Darkness Descends - Dark Angel

Supposedly, Randy Burns' production on this album inspired Kreator to work him as the producer for "Extreme Aggression".

The album that introduced the mighty Gene Hoglan!

14 Cowboys from Hell - Pantera

After a period of transitioning, from glam (as heard on "Metal Magic", "Projects In The Jungle" and "I Am The Night") to metal (as heard on "Power Metal"), Pantera finally got not only their biggest break yet, but reputation as one of the world's biggest metal bands with their fifth album "Cowboys From Hell". It was the time of that album's release in 1990 that many thrash metal bands (including "The Big Four" aka Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer and Anthrax, as well as others like Testament, Overkill and Exodus) were at their creative peak. The success of "Cowboys From Hell" also allowed Pantera to embark on their first-ever tour, opening for up Suicidal Tendencies and Exodus in America and for Judas Priest on the "Painkiller" tour in Europe.

Rob Halford became a huge Pantera fan after hearing this album. He even joined them on stage when Pantera opened for Judas Priest and did a collaboration with them on his solo song "Light Comes Out Of Black". And more importantly, Rob's love for Pantera inspired him to form the band Fight, one of the bands he was in during his hiatus from Priest.

This album not only changed the metal scene of the 90's, but influenced lots of groove metal, alternative metal and even thrash metal bands.

15 Extreme Aggression - Kreator

Supposedly, Randy Burns' production work on Dark Angel's "Darkness Descends" inspired Kreator to work with him as the producer of this album. This makes sense as Kreator and Dark Angel are good friends, and Gene Hoglan even mentioned "Extreme Aggression" as his personal favorite Kreator album in one interview.

Probably the second best Kreator album, behind "Pleasure To Kill".

Not only was this Kreator's major label debut, but the album that finally broke the band in America, thanks to the airplay of their video for "Betrayer" on MTV's Headbangers Ball.

16 Beneath the Remains - Sepultura

Important because, by the time this album was released in '89, Sepultura was starting to build a following.

This was the album that broke Sepultura outside of their home country Brazil.


17 Ride the Lightning - Metallica
18 Control and Resistance - Watchtower

Technical thrash metal classic!

19 Man of Straw - Viking

Underrated classic!

This was Brett Eriksen's band before he replaced Jim Durkin as the guitarist of Dark Angel and played on their "Time Does Not Heal" record.

20 Agent Orange - Sodom

This was the first thrash metal album to enter the German charts!

21 Forbidden Evil - Forbidden
22 The Legacy - Testament
23 Doomsday for the Deceiver - Flotsam and Jetsam

The only album F&J did with Jason Newsted before he went on to replace Cliff in Metallica.

24 Rust in Peace - Megadeth
25 Act III - Death Angel
26 Lights... Camera... Revolution! - Suicidal Tendencies
27 Eternal Nightmare - Vio-Lence
28 Arise - Sepultura
29 Metal Church - Metal Church
30 By Inheritance - Artillery

Criminally underrated Danish thrash metal band!

31 Show No Mercy - Slayer
32 Hell Awaits - Slayer
33 For Whose Advantage? - Xentrix
34 The Force - Onslaught
35 Dreamweaver - Sabbat
36 Handle with Care - Nuclear Assault
37 Thrash Zone - D.R.I.
38 Why Play Around? - Wargasm
39 Annihilation of Civilization - Evildead
40 Eternal Devastation - Destruction
41 Killing Technology - Voivod
42 U.S.A. for M.O.D. - Method of Destruction
43 Think This - Toxik
44 Terror Squad - Artillery
45 Terrible Certainty - Kreator
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List Stats

200 votes
45 listings
1 year, 295 days old

Top Remixes (4)

1. Welcome to Hell - Venom
2. Kill 'Em All - Metallica
3. Reign In Blood - Slayer
1. Welcome to Hell - Venom
2. Reign In Blood - Slayer
3. Kill 'Em All - Metallica
1. Welcome to Hell - Venom
2. Kill 'Em All - Metallica
3. Reign In Blood - Slayer

View All 4

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