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The 10 best Proto-Thrash songs, by Scott Ian

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Anthrax guitarist Scott Ian selects some of lesser-known heavy, brutal sounds that every thrash fan should feel the jolt from.

VENOM – Witching Hour (1981)
For us metal fans, Venom was huge kick in the ass. And the way that Venom dressed, with the satanic imagery, they were like an evil version of Kiss. At the time, ’81-’82, Venom was the most extreme band in metal. Witching Hour is just so brutal and creepy-sounding. 

RAVEN – Hellraiser/Action (1981)
Like Venom, Raven were a thrash band before thrash existed. Raven had a pop sensibility that Venom never had. With this medley of two Sweet songs, they turned something that was classic rock into a thrash anthem. There was so much energy in what they were doing. 

RIOT – Swords And Tequila (1981)
Riot were not a thrash band, they were a metal band from New York. And just from a purely headbanging perspective, we loved what they did. Riot gave us a kick in the ass that we really hadn’t felt before. What Riot did was more aggressive than what had come before. In the early 80s, Swords And Tequila was a true metal anthem. 

ANVIL – March Of The Crabs (1982)
Back in ’82, so many bands were in awe of Anvil. Their second record, Metal On Metal, was a classic of its time. A lot of that album is straight-up rock, but March Of The Crabs is a thrashy instrumental with a really aggressive feel and attitude to it. 

ACCEPT – Fast As A Shark (1982)
This is proto-thrash. The intro is this crazy German folk song, then there’s the sound of a needle scratching the record, and a scream, and then this riff comes in with the fastest double- bass drumming anyone had ever heard. And it still stands up today as one of the heaviest songs ever written.

MERCYFUL FATE – Satan's Fall (1983)
Back in 1983 there was no better band on the planet as Mercyful Fate. Satan’s Fall is a real thrash metal opus – 11 minutes of thrash riffs, one after another. The album, Melissa, is what people need to listen to if they want to hear the beginnings of this type of music. Melissa is one of the templates for thrash metal.

SUICIDAL TENDENCIES – Institutionalized (1983)
Suicidal Tendencies were true originals. They put metal and punk together before anybody else did. This was the beginning of crossover. That first Suicidal record was so influential. It was fast, brutal, with huge hooks. Institutionalized is a song that everybody should know.

METAL CHURCH – Merciless Onslaught (1984)
The album this is from, Ground Zero, is super-super metal, but these guys could also write great hooks. Merciless Onslaught is an instrumental, and it’s exactly what it advertises itself to be – a merciless onslaught of thrash riffs. Those riffs were way ahead of their time. The first time I heard Merciless Onslaught I thought: this is some ‘next level’ shit!

D.R.I. – God Is Broke
(1985) This is the perfect combination of punk, hardcore and metal. In the early 80s, hardcore bands like D.R.I. and Corrosion Of Conformity were listening to metal bands like Slayer and Anthrax and incorporating that into their sound. God Is Broke is like most of the songs on the D.R.I. album Dealing With It – basically it’s a short, sharp punch to the face.

CRUMBSUCKERS – Trapped (1986)
Crumbsuckers were a New York hardcore band unlike any other. In fact I always considered them a metal band. Most of the bands that were doing crossover in the 80s came from the punk scene, but the Crumbsuckers were metal guys adding hardcore to the mix. Trapped is from their first album, Life Of Dreams, and it’s straight-up metal with these insane riffs and leads. The Crumbsuckers were a pretty obscure band, but they had a huge influence on me. 

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