I Exist's Josh Nixon: "If a thrash band is boring then that's the ultimate sin"...

He might be more well known for playing doom and hardcore, but Canberran axepert Josh Nixon thrashes like a maniac, too...

Welcome to our latest Q & A, Mr Nixon - As Metal as Fuck is currently in the midst of Metal Thrashing May, we're talking thrash, and specifically the last thirty years of thrash metal.

To whit, the scene has been dominated in that time by The Big 4. But is it the right big 4 in your opinion? "In terms of album sales I suppose it's the right four. That said, if that's the qualifier it seems odd that you'd even talk about albums sales as that wasn't why you listened to thrash back in the day. Post Some Kind of Monster it's pretty impossible to describe how exhilarating it was to get a copy of  Cliff Em All on VHS in 1987 before the first Metallica tour of Australia. Being into thrash metal was never about bragging rights on sales figures. But if it was my own personal big 4 it would go on what I listened to the most in the genre. Metallica and Slayer are still in, but I listened to a lot more Kreator than I ever did Megedeth, whom I never really liked. I put that down to the fact that Rage on metal night (Rage is an Aussie late night TV show - internationally-minded Ed) played the Betrayer video a lot and I thought they were much more brutal and aggressive than even early Megedeth.

And Anthrax? "I loved Anthrax a lot too, but I listened to the SOD record probably more than everything up to and including Persistence of Time - but then again - I listened to a lot more early Sepultura than either - So I guess it's Metallica, Slayer, Kreator & Sepultura based on volume. That's not to say I didn't have bang overs from underage drinking sessions in friends garages to all the classics - Nuclear Assault, MOD, Sodom, Death Angel and especially DRI - a mate of mine had the moshing roadsign emblem stencilled on the bonnet of his Toyota Corolla and they played Canberra in 1987 with Massappeal which was a legendary violent gig from back in the day after a big fight with skinheads that showed up to the show at the Old Canberra Inn".

Whare would you say the quintessential sound of thrash came from? "It comes from teenagers that wanted speed and aggression in the music. That doesn't have a border or a language. It requires hormones, maybe some booze or pot, a mullet and a little denim to prosper. In the 80's that was as as extreme as it got til crossover elements of  hardcore punk like Discharge or Siege spun off into early grind and death metal - but those two also came out of thrash that bridged the NWoBHM period and the diversification of metal. In Australia I experienced it locally through Armoured Angel, Exceed, Precursor and a bunch of others - but I guess I felt we could contribute as a nation to the worldwide answer above when Mortal Sin supported Metallica in 1989 and you had to pay attention with a bit of national pride when you saw Mayhemic Destruction with a winged demon on top of the Opera house to know thrash was alive here in Australia too"

So what would you recommend to a thrash newbie as five essential thrash albums? Your selections will come mostly from amongst those bands you've mentioned already I suspect.."Reign in Blood by Slayer. Kill 'Em All by Metallica. Kreator's Extreme Aggression and Beneath the Remains by Sepultura. Also the Wings of Death cassette by Armoured Angel because it was local and was one of the reasons I got into playing in a band.They're safe big ones, Ride the Lightning is my number 1 Metallica record but Kill Em All started thrash for me. Also,  I just can't consider them purely a thrash band - but VoiVod up til and  including Nothingface were perfection to me...There's just so many records"...

Haha, ain't that the truth! I think most people are having trouble stopping at five! Out of the studio now, and into the live arena - who would you say is the best live thrash outfit of all time? "I can't answer that outside of coming from seeing all the bigger thrash bands past their primes being that it took Metallica til after Cliff Burton died to make it here, Slayer's first oz tour was without Dave Lombardo (Divine Intervention period), Anthrax was Persistence of Time period - I think the closest to their peak powers was probably Sepultura in 1992 which was the Arise tour - they were all phenomenal but Sepultura fstands out or being prime."

So what about the worst then? "I can't say one stands out - but if a thrash band is boring then that's the ultimate sin. You gotta have good chops in all departments. There's a ton of shit bands in every genre of metal, but there's no room for error in thrash."

Bearing that in mind, what are the key elements to take into consideration if you're planning on penning a thrash classic? "It's easy to say speed, aggression and accuracy - but I think a classic needs to have a bit of breathing room for a classic riff section and the solo has to be able to be sung even if it's widdly. Also the lyrics have to cause you to involuntarily make a fist and hold it at waist height when you sing along to them".

Yes, I think you've hit on something there. The balled fist does indeed have a big part to play in thrash metal. So, to write some classic thrash tunes, wj=ho would be your dream outfit from the last thirty years? "Lombardo or Charlie Benante from Anthrax on drums, Piggy (VoiVod) on lead guitar, 80's James Hetfield  on rhythm guitar, Blacky (VoiVod), Cliff Burton or Dan Lilker (Anthrax/Nuclear Assault) on bass, Mille Petrozza on vocals".

A formidable unit. Finally, what do you think is thrash's greatest gift to the metal worl in general? "The need to play not just fast, but with precision against a backdrop of glorious aggression. Not to mention some of the most classic riffs of all time!"

Can't argue with that! Thanks for taking part mate!