Thrash? I'll give you thrash...

Quick children, gather round; an old man is talking...

Thrash, you say? I remember when, way back – quite possibly the early eighties – when metal was metal and everything else was shit. There was Motorhead and Saxon, Sabbath and Judas Priest, plus a whole bunch of other sweet bands whose names escape me at this moment. Back then it was a simple musical division; there was metal and non-metal but then (if memory serves me correctly) a cassette tape made its way into my possession; it was from a little known group by the name of Metallica and suddenly the musical landscape began to shift in a dramatic, and arousing, fashion.

Kill ‘Em All was raw and the artwork was shit but the passion of these young whippersnappers was quite apparent. Suddenly there was a band called Slayer on the scene and Anthrax and Megadeth – we were spoilt for choice with this new genre that the peeps were calling ‘thrash’. Many an old metaller grumbled at this new wave of upstarts, complaining that (can you Adam and Eve it?) this ‘thrash’ stuff was too fast and too heavy but for us young ones, in our prime, it was an impossible idea that something could be too fast or too heavy. Thrash was here and we took to it like a new born to a mother’s teat.

They were mad times (I think) back then – I have only the vaguest of memories; seeing the whole unruly mob of American thrashers such as Exodus (who surely deserved to be part of the Big Five as opposed to the Big Four that everyone bangs on about), Overkill and Testament at stinky venues such as The Astoria and The Marquee in London. It was a heady time full of piss and cheap whizz, young metal-heads in this newly coined thing called a mosh-pit (it didn't seem that much different to what was already going on at most decent gigs but anyway...) but all the peeps were getting sweaty and battered by flailing limbs and lashed by strands of sweat soaked hair. We loved it and it’s heart-warming to see a lot of these bands still going (and reforming and collapsing etc etc) – you have to remember that none of these fellows are young stud-muffins any more – they’re getting longer in the tooth but still delivering the goods to old and new generations alike.

There were others such as Sacred Reich, Acid Reign, Lawnmower Deth and Nuclear Assault (how I loved the bass driven blasphemy of Hang the Pope) – I could go on and on – a whole raft of bands that I loved, and still love – some of them made a bigger impact than others but all of them thrashed their hearts out to a sea of metallers hyped up on amphetamines and booze (surely it wasn’t just me?).
And now we have the next generation of thrashers with bands such as the UK's Evile and Australia’s Alkira busting our chops with their own take on the genre. Shit like that makes an old man (such as myself) smile and my heart is warmed (as are my legs as my colostomy bag gives out and I’m drenched in my own plop). It reminds me of the old days. Bless you thrash metal. Bless you, I say.

Our dear, sweet MaF editor asked me to recollect some of the gigs from those halcyon days but when I attempt to dredge up memories from the far distant past, I'm (slightly) terrified to realise that there are vast black holes in my mind. I can recall the urgent sensation of anticpation as my friends and I made our way to gigs, all twitchy in the line outside the venue, itching to get in and see whoever we'd opted to spend our hard earned cash on - I particularly recall the whiff of stale beer, sweat and patchouli oil along with a lot of denim cut off jackets, patches and leather jackets - but no distinct memories are forthcoming. I remember the pit and the fun-times, grinning like a loon as I picked a mate up off the floor, but when I recollect, it's more about invoking the experience as a whole rather than specific events; the whole truly is greater than the sum of its parts. So said the demented old man in a moment of lucidity.

Onslaught? Yep, saw them - it was sweet. Slayer; indeed caught them too. Even Anthrax at the Hammersmith Odeon - that was definitely a great gig. I even recall seeing Metallica NOT headlining the bill at Monsters of Rock (and I can certainly tell some tales about that particular day but they would horrify even the most hardened of fans) in the late eighties - can you imagine that happening now? A similar thought crossed my mind at Soundwave last year as I imagined Hetfield and company whining about being the biggest and the best. But that's it as far as memories go; a list of boxes ticked on a list of, what are now, big name bands yet I know I was there because I used to have the t-shirt to prove it and my innards are warmed as I fondly fail to remember much about those long gone days. As a wise man once said "I've seen so many bands but I can't always rermember them - I was there but I wasn't, if you know what I mean?" And that pretty much sums it up for me too.