I’m starting a series of posts where I chronicle the history of extreme metal from 1981 to present day. Here’s the first one. Enjoy.

The Rise of Thrash and First Wave Black Metal

Metal Mix I – Dawn of Extreme Metal

01 Venom “Angel Dust” Welcome To Hell (1981)

Raw and dirty, but catchy as hell. Widely considered the first extreme metal band. Also considered by many to be the first black metal band, but as I have noted before in this forum, that seems to be primarily due to the title of their next album (“Black Metal”, doh). Venom are hugely influential on development of thrash and black metal genres, although they are probably best categorized as speed metal, ala Motorhead (but evil-er).

02 Venom “Countess Bathory” Black Metal (1982)
03 Venom “To Hell and Back” Black Metal

Second LP, builds on the first in terms of songwriting and is even darker.

04 Hellhammer “Crucifixion” Satanic Rites (Demo, 1983)
05 Hellhammer “Reaper” Satanic Rites

Primitive. That’s probably the word you’d want to use to describe Hellhammer. Hellhammer would release a few demos and then morph into Celtic Frost (sampled a bit later), with both bands being heavily influential on the first wave of black metal and pretty much every extreme metal band to follow.

06 Metallica “Phantom Lord” Kill ‘Em All (1983)

As Joker says, “here we go…” This is the first thrash album. Some people who think they’re too cool for school ‘dis Metallica as an influence, but that’s just silly to me. This album blew up the thrash scene. Period. And it’s easy to see why. They could actually write good songs.

07 Mercyful Fate “Evil” Melissa (1983)

Not quite thrash or black metal at all, but King Diamond’s vocals are extreme enough to warrant inclusion.

08 Voivod “Live for Violence” War And Pain (1984)

Often overlooked, but these early Canadian thrashers had a unique style that is widely respected by those “in the know”. I got into Voivod in the early nineties, well after their best stuff, and so never had a great opinion of them until recently when I dug through the back catalog. Great stuff.

09 Metallica “Trapped Under Ice” Ride The Lightning (1984)

It’s tough to decide whether this or Kill ‘Em All is the better album. Certainly, one can argue that Metallica had “grown” a bit musically – of course, if you don’t think “growth” and “metal” should be uttered in the same sentence, that would be an insult.

10 Celtic Frost “Into The Crypts of Rays” Morbid Tales (1984)

So here the Frost are fully formed. More refined than Hellhammer were, but still gritty. In my opinion there really isn’t much in metal that has surpassed the stuff that Celtic Frost did 25 years ago (but they keep tryin’).

11 Metal Church “Metal Church” Metal Church (1984)

Hands down, the best metal band name ever, right? Anyway, Church are kind of the bastard step child of thrash, but it’s good stuff. Still a little bit NWOBHM and maybe a smidgeon of glam influences, but thrash enough for me to include.

12 Bathory “War” Bathory (1984)

First wave, second wave, whatever you call it. This is definitely the first black metal album proper. Quorthon said he wasn’t influenced by Venom, but that’s hard to believe. Several of the songs (even the band name) have the same title as songs that appear on “Black Metal”, not to mention the goat horns logo. Whoever his influences were, it’s clear that Bathory influenced every black metal band that followed in the same way that Black Sabbath influenced most every heavy metal band that followed them.

13 Dark Angel “No Tomorrow” We Have Arrived (1984)

They arrived, but nobody would care until their next album Darkness Descends. But I had to do 13 songs, you know?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: