Eric Musall: "I'm not eager to hear thrash turn into a parody genre"...

The Unspeakable Axe Records head honcho gives us the benefit of his thrash metal-related thoughts...

Hello again Eric, it's nice to have you back on Metal as Fuck! and thanks by the way for taking part. As you know we've co-opted you onto our think tank to give us your thoughts on the last thirty years of thrash metal, so let's get into it and open up with the first question we're asking all our contributors - the Big Four - do you agree with it's component parts? "Well, the 'Big Four' designation always made sense based solely on how popular those bands were in their day. It's hard to argue with raw sales. If I were to list my four favourites, of course, it would be a very different list - and probably would change from year to year or even day to day, depending on what I'm in the mood for. Right now my mood says: Sepultura (pre-Chaos A.D.), Slayer, Sadus, and Possessed. Yes, I do think of Possessed as a thrash band".

So do I. Albeit a proto-death metal thrash band. And whilst we're skirting around the edge of 'sounds' and 'labels' what to you, is the quintessential sound of thrash? And from whence does it emanate? The Bay Area, from Germany, Canada, Chipping Sodbury? "All the branches are essential to the tree. Start stripping them off and you just end up with dying branches. If pressed I would say I tend to think of Bay Area thrash as being more essentially what the genre is about, but tend to like the wilder, death-infused varieties a bit better".

I hadn't thought of it like that - but it's a good way of looking at the subject. Next the all important five essential thrash albums – your selections? "Dark Angel - Darkness Descends, Possessed's Seven Churches, Beneath the Remains by Sepultura, Slayer - Hell Awaits and Metallica's Master of Puppets".

Who are the best live thrash outfit of all time in your opinion? "Slayer".

No further embellishment required. And the worst? "No comment".

No worries. Now, What, would you say, are the key elements for writing a classic thrash tune? "It starts with the riff... and twenty of his closest friends. You have to be able to write something that combines intricacy, aggression and catchiness all in one. That's not easy to do - you're basically spinning plates. Plenty of guitarists can do one or two of those at once; it's a special talent to consistently deliver on all three. Once you have a bunch of riffs that relate to each other, then it becomes about constructing them in a way that is logical and meaningful, into a song people will want to hear more than just once (if that). Lyrics are less important to me, but I prefer them to be not stupid. I'm not a fan of jokey thrash, or songs about pizza, mutants, beer, thrash itself, or any combination of those (you won't like the new Lost Society album, then - Ed). And zombies are on notice. For me, the original era of thrash was mostly quite serious - songs about death, apocalypse, corruption, the crushing grind of life and society and urban existence. I'm not eager to hear it turned into a parody genre".

Parody, nostalgia, tribute - I think sometimes we in the metal community get these three things a bit mixed up. Anyways, We don't wsnt to get too philosophical - on with the quastions. It's dream band time - Which musicians would make up your dream thrash outfit from the last 30 years? "I don't usually do supergroups - chemistry is important in a band, you can't just throw good players together and have it come out right. Nonetheless, I'll say Jeff Becerra (vocals), Steve DiGeorgio (bass), Max Cavalera (rhythm guitar and backing vocals), Tommy Baron (rhythm and lead guitar), Gene Hoglan (drums). Honourable mention: Piggy, the great Voivod guitarist, who barely played thrash in the conventional sense but was unbelievably creative - if you included him you might have to rethink the entire band. Maybe we can get Daniel Mongrain, who based on his playing on the latest Voivod album studied both Piggy and thrash extensively" .

Thanks for being a sport and naming names! And now finally, what do you think is the biggest gift given to heavy metal by thrash? "Easy - it gave us extreme metal. Thrash is what bridges Iron Maiden to Dismember. That transition doesn't make sense without Kill 'em All in the middle".