While pop metal ruled the airwaves, fans of bands like Motorhead and Venom panicked as they saw metal become a softer, more mainstream gender of music. They were relieved, however, by the rise of thrash/speed/power metal (the last label being separated sometimes because of its strong epic characteristic), spearheaded by Metallica. Metallica began combining multiple riffing, snarling vocals, and a wide use of double-pedals in drumming to produce music that was totally uncompromising and ferocious, therefore being shunned by MTV and commercial radio stations. Shortly after, bands like Mercyful Fate and the crunching Exodus (an important part of the blooming San Francisco Bay Area thrash metal scene) were increasing their presence to back up Metallica and bring the harder metal fans together again.
At this time, three other thrash metal bands took over along with Metallica: Megadeth, Anthrax, and Slayer. Megadeth, founded by ex-Metallica guitarist Dave Mustaine, created what would be later known as techno-thrash, characterized by numerous tempo changes and complex riffs, which backed Mustaine's sharp snarl. Meanwhile, Anthrax produced hard-hitting riffs and began experimenting with rap, while Slayer made the heaviest riffs of its time and its members developed their obsession with Satanic imagery. Later on, Suicidal Tendencies would reach similar heights with releases such as Lights... Camera...Revolution, which would incorporate punk, alternative, and rap influences into singer Mike Muir's extroverted ramblings, while Testament would enjoy commercial success through the mid-period of the 80's with albums such as Practice What You Preach and what many consider to be the disappointing Souls of Black. Also noteworthy is the fact that Testament was at one time considered part of the "Big Four" of the thrash metal scene, before Slayer took over its position with what is considered by many to be one of the crucial thrash metal albums of all time: 1986's Reign In Blood.
The scene would have died out if it hadn't been for an underground network in which band demos and records were quickly exchanged and distributed throughout the world. Exciter, Overkill, Nuclear Assault, Dark Angel, Razor, and a number of other bands became known by the thrash scene underground and developed strong cult followings. Additionally, Germany was feeding the general enthusiasm with what was one of the most important thrash metal scenes apart from the one in the San Francisco Bay Area, placing acts such as Destruction, Kreator, Tankard, and Sodom in the movement and injecting it with what at one time was labeled Teutonic thrash. Even then, however, thrash metal was still far from achieving the success it deserved and strived for.
Hard History Part IV Page 2