The ten best thrash-metal bands

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7. Death Angel The Bay Area has always cradled thrash bands, and one of its most notable exports is Death Angel. An actual metal family of brothers and cousins formed the band. Young and brash, they jumped into the Bay Area scene with an eye-catching demonstration of technical thrash metal. Before Death Angel could take off with an increasingly strong growth of musicianship, the band's career slammed short due to a tour-bus crash that left several bandmembers severely injured. Today, thankfully, they are back in the game, running strong and currently in the midst of a North American tour.

See also: The ten geekiest metal bands

6. Testament Another of the original Bay Area thrash-metal bands, Testament was a big help bringing thrash "Into the Pit." A strong contender because of its unusual ability to meld the melodic with controlled chaos, Testament joined the game with 1987's The Legacy. Unfortunately, the band didn't have enough time to grow into the juggernaut it should have been before thrash was poorly commercialized and grunge opened up the '90s.

5. Exodus Exodus has gone through several lineup changes over the past three decades; it even had to recover from the loss of lead shredder Kirk Hammet. But the band produced a solid debut album, Bonded by Blood -- a huge, sloshing bucket spilling over with sheer violence and havoc. That helped the group cement a claim as the original king of Bay Area thrash and gave it an undeniable slot as a big influence on the genre as a whole.

4. Anthrax Anthrax is a healthy representation of thrash metal at its best. Now far removed from its heyday, the iconic band still plays hard day in and day out, gearing up this year to put out another brutal album. Anthrax was the first thrash band to bring a little bit of levity to the aggression, with songs like "Fight 'Em 'Til You Can't," which is about fighting zombies, and "I Am the Law," which nods to comic-book character Judge Dredd.

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Adam Steininger