Bay Area thrash metal

Bay Area thrash metal

Bay Area thrash metal, or "Bay Area thrash," refers to a steady following of heavy metal bands in the 1980s who formed and gained international status in the San Francisco Bay Area, California. [ [ Bay Area Thrash ] ] Along with Tampa, Florida, the scene was widely attributed as a starting point of American thrash metal and death metal. [ [, A To Z Of Thrash Metal | Rockdetector ] ] [ [] ]


Although Metallica had initially formed in Los Angeles, it wasn't until their relocation to the East Bay area in 1983 that Cliff Burton and Kirk Hammett joined as bassist and lead guitarist, sealing the band's first, formative line-up.

Burton and Hammett's friendship with other local acts, notably Oakland's Exodus and Testament, and San Francisco's Death Angel - among others - strongly vitalized the scene, leading to intensive touring and tape-trading that would cross borders and seas, and eventually graduate to record signings. [ [ allmusic ((( Testament > Biography ))) ] ] [ [ allmusic ((( Exodus > Biography ))) ] ] [ [ allmusic ((( Death Angel > Biography ))) ] ]

El Sobrante's Possessed would bring a turning point to the genre with 1985's "Seven Churches", regarded as the first album to cross over from thrash metal to death metal for the largely "growling vocals" and subject matter dealing with horror and the occult. [ [ allmusic ((( Seven Churches > Overview ))) ] ] In addition to the inspiration of black metal, it would predate other albums, such as Los Angeles-based Slayer's "Reign in Blood" and Death's San Francisco-recorded "Scream Bloody Gore", which had also been regarded as influential to thrash and death metal. [ [ allmusic ((( Scream Bloody Gore > Overview ))) ] ] [ [ allmusic ((( Reign in Blood > Overview ))) ] ]

Key Musical Characteristics

As different thrash metal scenes began to develop starting around the mid-80's each had their own distinct sound that differentiated the bands from other bands on the scene.

More-so than any of the other thrash metal scenes, Bay Area thrash borrowed from the New Wave of British Heavy Metal scene. This was obvious in its melodic and powerful vocal style and dual lead guitar systems. Punk rock was also important in the scene's earlier years (though not so much as in the New York or German scenes). The scene's earliest bands like Exodus, Metallica, Detente, Indestroy, and Laaz Rockit perhaps best examplified the early straight up NWOBHM meets punk style of the scene. Albums that very much highlighted this era of Bay Area thrash included Metallica's "Kill Em All" and Exodus's "Bonded By Blood".

Around the mid-80's the sound of the scene changed considerably. Virtuosic musicianship (particularly lead guitars) had become a defining characteristic of the scene. The second wave of bands coming out of the scene, led by Testament, Death Angel, Forbidden, and Heathen, played a style of thrash considerably different from their predecessors. This new brand of thrash featured longer and more harmonically and rhythmically complex songs, with often neo-classical styled dual lead guitar playing highlighting the album. The songs also borrowed more from NWOBHM vocals and melodies. A progressive rock influence became apparent for the first time in the genre. The punk influence that was once crucial to the genre was now almost completely absent. This sound, highlighted by albums like Testament's "The Legacy" and Death Angel's "The Ultra-Violence", both released in 1987, was the style that many would associate with the classic "Bay Area" sound. This is often attributed to the fact that guitar virtuoso Joe Satriani lived in the Bay Area and often instructed a number of guitarists who would go on to play in some of these bands (some of these guitarists would include Exodus's Rick Hunolt, Testament's Alex Skolnick, and Metallica's Kirk Hammett).

In the late 80's, many of the bands from the Bay Area thrash scene, including Testament, Exodus, Death Angel and especially Metallica were enjoying considerable commercial success. At this time the Bay Area scene itself began to diversify. For the most part, bands were expanding on the more technical and progressive style of the Second Wave bands. Metallica rode on this style with their highly successful "…And Justice for All" album. Bands like Forbidden, Heathen, and Defiance expanded on their own already technical sounds, going as far as to be grouped in the "progressive thrash metal" division of the subgenre with bands like Watchtower, Coroner, and Dark Angel. Blind Illusion emerged in 1988 with their debut "The Sane Asylum" with an obvious influence in classic progressive rock, further expanding this movement in the Bay Area, as did Sadus with their later period material. Mordred in 1989 with their debut was accused of being the cause of the end of metal in the Bay Area because of the funk influence in their sound.

Other bands went in different directions. The band Vio-Lence showed off their signature sound on their 1988 debut "Eternal Nightmare", which largely combined the more complex and technical structures and virtuostic musicianship of second wave bands with the punkier aggression of thrash's originators. Texas-formed crossover band D.R.I. relocated to the Bay Area, and another crossover thrash band Attitude Adjustment was formed in the Bay Area. As early as 1985, Possessed had been pioneering death metal in the Bay Area with their decidedly more brutal, demonic style. Chuck Schuldiner even briefly rellocated Death to the Bay Area (acquiring former DRI drummer Eric Brecht in the process).


In the early to mid 80's, thrash metal was the heaviest form of music anyone had ever heard, being more fast, aggressive, and crushing than the NWOBHM, and hardcore punk bands before them, which often led to aggressive attitudes. Many thrashers displayed a wide hatred towards glam metal. Paul Baloff was a key character in this movement, as he would often yell to the crowd to "Kill the Posers" in the audience. Often there would be "Raiding Parties" after shows, where a group of people would literally prowl the streets looking for posers to pound on. Exodus guitarist Gary Holt recalls him and Baloff pulling knives out on people with glam metal shirts such as Ratt or Mötley Crüe and demanding them to let them cut it up. After they would tie these scraps of shirts around their arms as "Badges of Honor".


By the early 1990s, the scene had mostly died down, with many groups disbanding, going on hiatus, or venturing to musical styles deemed more commercial or accessible at the time. Oakland thrash metal band Vio-lence, for instance, would dissolve, leading guitarist Robb Flynn to form and front Machine Head, who would help popularize the groove metal genre. [ [ EOL Audio - Groove Metal ] ]


In August of 2001, a small "reunion" of Bay Area thrash metal bands organized "Thrash of the Titans", promoted to help Testament vocalist Chuck Billy, who had been diagnosed with cancer, as well as Death's Chuck Schuldiner, who was ailing from a brain tumor. The classic Vio-lence line-up (minus Machine Head's Robb Flynn), Death Angel, Heathen, Forbidden (going under their original name, Forbidden Evil), Anthrax, Sadus, Stormtroopers of Death and Exodus were among the performers. Schuldiner would lose his battle with the cancer 4 months later, and Exodus' singer Paul Baloff died from a stroke the following year. [ [ Nuclear Blast America ] ] However, Testament's singer, Chuck Billy survived cancer.

On July 9, 2005, a "sequel" concert, "Thrash Against Cancer" took place, which featured Testament, Lääz Rockit and Hirax, with Death Angel guitarist Ted Aguilar. [ [ ] ]

Notable Venues

The Fillmore, San Francisco

*Testament, 1995

Kabuki Theatre, San Francisco

Metallica, 03/15/1985 [ [ | Download Metallica March 15, 1985, Kabuki Theater, San Francisco, CA MP3 FLAC ] ]
Megadeth, 05/31/1985 [ [ The Realms of Deth - Megadeth Tour Itinerary - 1985 ] ]

=The Keystone, Berkeley=

Megadeth & Slayer, 04/15/1984 [ The Realms of Deth - Megadeth Tour Itinerary - 1984 ] ]

=Ruthie's Inn, Berkeley=

In addition to bringing to light many punk rock groups, the club was an early local venuefor Metallica, Megadeth, Exodus, Possessed and
Death Angel from 1983-1987. Cliff Burton had also been a regular in the audience. [ [ Death Angel: The San Francisco, Bay Area thrash metal band's Official Website ] ] The club was eventually converted into a restaurant, "Rountree's", in 2002. On December 31, 2006, the venue's original founder, Wes Robinson, died at age 77. [ [ BLABBERMOUTH.NET - Legendary Ruthie's Inn Promoter WES ROBINSON Dead At 77 ] ] [ [] ] .

The Stone, San Francisco

The Stone is attributed for hosting Burton's first concert appearance with Metallica [ [ Tribute to Cliff Burton ] ] , andwould lead to repeat performances from other thrash acts, such as Megadeth [ [ The Realms of Deth - Megadeth Tour Itinerary - 1987 ] ]

The Warfield, San Francisco

The 1920s vaudeville theatre featured a myriad of thrash metal bands during the 1980s, and was the exclusive locationfor Slayer's "War at the Warfield" video in 2003.

Notable bands

*Attitude Adjustment
*Blind Illusion
*Death Angel
*Lääz Rockit
*Ulysses Siren


External links

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