With thrash metal threatening to make a commercial comeback in the mid-2000s, you can't fault Earache Records for acting quickly to compile this timely 16-song sampling, not least because of their vested interest in several of the bands contained herein. To be fair, though, there are many different metal labels and even unsigned acts represented here, and perhaps the most encouraging thing about these musicians is the fact that many weren't even born when the original thrash wave hit in the early '80s. That and the music itself, of course. Conspicuously, unlike most members of the original generation (Metallica, Anthrax, Slayer, et al.), these new-millennium upstarts don't like singing very much, preferring a more current, post-death metal style of growling instead or, at most, a ragged screaming style in the Paul Baloff tradition. But in most other respects, sonic purity and authenticity is obviously prized, and in terms of utmost perfection at replicating the sounds of old, this collection's winners are probably L.A.'s tellingly named Bonded by Blood, sonically and visually convincing trio Merciless Death, and San Francisco's Exodus-channeling Dekapitator -- even though the latter was formed by a bunch of aging death metal veterans (members of Exhumed). Elsewhere, one will find heightened technicality, generally unimagined by musicians of the older generation thanks to the jaw-dropping escapades of England's Evile, California's Fueled by Fire, and Brazil's Violator; new-fangled crossover candidates like Virginia's Municipal Waste and Liverpool's SSS; melodically nuanced mosh merchants like Wisconsin's Lazarus and Sweden's notably female-fronted Decadence; and both sides of the genre's topical extremes -- from the dead serious (Deadfall, the very impressive Warbringer, and others already cited above), to the dangerously comical (Gama Bomb, Send More Paramedics, again Municipal Waste). In short, enough head-banging, fist-pumping, neck-snapping thrash metal mania to make one believe in the second coming, after all.
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Review by Eduardo Rivadavia