Thrasher, as we are choosing to use it in this context, refers to metalheads who have a specific preference to the thrash metal subgenre. Playing off of the roots of heavy metal, thrash got its start in the early 80s with a group of bands commonly known as the "Big 4" of thrash: Metallica, Slayer, Anthrax, and later Megadeth after Dave Mustaine's departure from Metallica.
James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich, the co-founders of Metallica, often credited Diamond Head and Iron Maiden as influences to their music. This is quite apparent in early thrash, as most of it was very closely linked to the British heavy metal of yesteryear. Thrash, however, was much more loose and aggressive with complex riffs and less of a focus on vocals sounding professional, but rather as aggressive as possible. While consistent themes in their lyrics would develop more into the 90s, most songs of the subgenre focused on partying or just sounding intense.
Most album artwork at this point in thrash's life was illustrated, unlike the heavy metal bands before it that often used edited photos of either the band members or other objects/people for their album covers. Once again likely taking inspiration from Iron Maiden's "Eddie" and Mötörhead's "Warpig", thrash came with its own set of mascot characters, like Megadeth's "Vic Rattlehead" and Anthrax's "Not Man". The album artwork was normally of a professional painter quality with muted colors and off-putting imagery, which gave the albums a very noticeable look on shelves.
When the 90s came around, thrash was making a definite statement about what it wanted to be and the messages it wanted to push. While the themes of anarchism and general anti-authoritarianism had always been a factor, 90s thrash held nothing back when it came to its political messages, almost crossing over with punk at times. Certain bands also delved into a form of satire where the band members would perform as political/moral undesirables in their lyrics, such as S.O.D. (Stormtroopers of Death) and GWAR. The partying aspect of thrash remained strong as well, possibly more heavy handed than before.
While not much had changed in the art scene between the 80s and 90s, certain bands like D.R.I. (Dirty Rotten Imbeciles) and Acid Reign had begun implementing a more comic-like style into their album covers. This gave them a certain edge that would deter parents while still being relatively clean, hinting to the band's anti-authority lifestyle. The style of the 80s albums was still prevalent, but many albums focused more on random imagery like shots of teeth and eyes rather than more complex pieces that seemed to have some underlying meaning.
- Acid Reign
Some people like to believe thrash died in the 90s with the rise of Nu Metal/Metalcore, but this is simply untrue. While not having the mainstream popularity it once did (which some may argue was the point of metal in the first place), many thrash bands still work in the seedy underbelly to give you the music you love. Sound-wise, many bands have gone back to the more comfortable 80s style of thrash, though it hadn't changed much over the decades to begin with. Some bands, like Lich King, use the subgenre to poke fun at how self serving thrash bands used to be, like with Metallica's "Whiplash".
Nowadays, thrash album art serves as a bit of a blend between the 80s' insightful painted work and the 90s' more cartoonish themes. While the skill is there, a lot of the artwork features scenes that would have been utilized in a less complex art style.
- Lich King
- Municipal Waste
- Toxic Holocaust
- Power Trip
For most, dressing like a thrasher is pretty easy; it usually consists of a band tee (sometimes with the sleeves removed), some jeans (but usually shorts, especially in the summer), a pair of sneakers and some long hair. However, some people go above and beyond and create a battle jacket comprised of many patches from several bands. While this exists in all metal subgenres to varying degrees, thrashers and death metalheads create the article of clothing most commonly, with black metal falling close behind and punks doing it in a slightly different fashion.
Another less common but still prevalent item is the bullet belt (bandolier), which is exactly what it sounds like. This is arguably the most expensive item in the thrasher arsenal, with authentic ones running for over $100 each.
(currently a WIP, still have to add in a photo gallery.)