Mike Abominator of Gravehill: "I like my thrash FAST and DEADLY!"

Gravehill's verbal abuser lays down his version of thrash law...

Hello there Mr Abominator, it's good to have you aboard. As you know, we're talking thrash all this month here at Metal as Fuck, and this little chat will be no exception. First question - the Big Four. Do you agree with it's composition? " I understand why those 4 were selected. They were the start of it, the bands that got the biggest and had some of the classic thrash albums. I doubt many could argue with those selections, especially popularity wise. I wouldn’t have a big 4 myself as there are WAAAAAYYYY more than 4 bands that had classic thrash going on at some point in time".

That's true enough - I think most people would settle for perming eight out of about twenty! Where does the sound of thrash metal come from, in essence? Can you narrow it down to a geographical region? "The Bay Area sound might be the most recognizable sound of all the thrash styles. The German sound was more intense and darker. Same with the South American and Canadian thrash bands, some of that stuff was borderline death metal. The New York and east coast bands had more of a punk/hardcore to feel to their style of thrash. I think the L.A. thrash bands are underrated and got overlooked because of the glam stuff in the 80s. For me, it doesn’t come from a certain region or country. It comes from the heart and conviction of those who are kicking ass doing it. It can be from Siberia or Egypt, Thailand or Tennessee. As long as it has those riffs and beats that grab you and make you bang your head".

Very eloquently put - and hard to argue with! Let's move from the philosophical to the more tangible - give five albums you deem to be essential thrash classics. "Keep in mind that I like my thrash FAST AND DEADLY! So give me: Merciless - The Awakening, Dark Angel's Darkness Descends, Pleasure to Kill by Kreator, Sadus - Illusions and Power and Pain by Whiplash". 

Some new ones to add to our list there! What about live performance? Who delivers the goods on stage? "Vio-Lence was pretty fucking awesome live in their day. Exodus with Paul Baloff just ruled. Kreator around ’88 was hard to top. Nuclear Assault always put on a killer show. VoiVod always ruled live, especially in their thrash period. Dark Angel, when they were on, were unstoppable. Total killing machine. I have seen Hirax just totally destroy. But I would have to say that Slayer were the best. They were THE KINGS! Even topping Metallica. Slayer just had it all. That period of ’85-’90, Slayer were just classic live".

Indeed they were. But for ever ying there's a yang, apparently, so who were/are the worst live thrash band? "Hmmmmm, that’s hard. It did suck in the early 90s when the thrash bands started slowing down and getting “progressive”. It was horrible to watch that decline. Some bands followed that funk metal trend, some bands followed the whole grunge thing. I had stopped paying attention to that shit anyways, as death metal and grindcore was taking over! Coroner at Maryland Death Fest ’11 was pretty bad. Talk about “out of touch”! hahaha. I don’t consider them pure thrash, but Mordred was awful. Demolition Hammer was disappointing live back in the day. Death Angel started becoming a major bummer after ’88. Testament had a bad run in the mid 90s. But their material was horrible. They seem back on track now and I enjoy them live".

That's the most comprehensive shitlist we've had thus far! As a musician, what do you consider to be the key elements for good thrash tuneage? "For a fast banger, you need a powerful intro, something that grabs you right away, forces your attention. It’s a build up... And then BAAMM!!!!!!!!! The fast riff comes in and we are OFF! Ripping and relentless speed with haunting riffs. For the mid paced banger, you need that nice CRUNCH riff. That riff that makes you want to bang your head until it falls the fuck off. Heavy as fuck and plodding along. Dark and evil and BAD FUCKING ASS!!!!!!!!! Almost like a tribal ritual, the drums make you want to kill. A band can write a whole album based on songs like this! Hahahaha. I WOULD BUY IT!"

So would we, Mike, I feel sure of that! Could you put a band together for us to play this dream thrash? "Fucking HARD! Well, I won’t say that these guys are THE BEST. But I will pick MY faves in MY dream line up. I have Paul Baloff on Vox, Mike from Destruction on Lead Guitar, Mille Petrozza  of Kreator on guitar, Cliff Burton on bass and Dave Lombardo on drums".

Again, some new names for us there, and some new people to think about! Last question - what do you consider to be thrash's greatest gift to heavy metal in general? "It was the next step in the evolution of heavy metal! And what a step it was! It put the anger, attitude and aggression to the forefront and kicked the world in it’s ass. Without thrash metal, we wouldn’t have death metal or grind, in the same sense as it turned out. Those gifts are also the classic albums and live experiences that these great bands and artists have given us over the years!"

Amen to that! Thanks for taking part!