The elder statesmen of heavy metal are getting, well, elderly. From the fortysomethings in Metallica and Slayer to the true geezers in Sabbath, Priest, and Maiden, the scent of true metal in 2007 is about as fresh as a bootleg cassette or yellowing fanzine. But in San Francisco, the original home of American thrash, a new movement is forming a daisy chain of Levi's-clad warriors and Flying V commandoes, and none of these groups are more poised to break out of the wolf pack than the barely legal thrash act Hatchet.
With a median age of 21 (their frontman, Marcus, is the undisputed leader at the ripe old age of 23), these kids photograph just as sleazy, zitty, and pure as the young Hetfields and Hannemans of 1984. Hatchet's mission is simple—make the best anthemic thrash metal music, and drink a lot of beer. Surely not a new idea, but it's still a classic model that unerringly guided many '80s heroes to their goals. In less than two years, the fledglings caught the ear of Metal Blade Records—the very same label that introduced Metallica, Slayer, and Celtic Frost to the world. Says Marcus, "They had found us through our band page on MySpace, unsolicited. We were all pretty stoked to hear from them!"
Certainly it can be said that the thrash revival is one more cycle in the retro phenomenon. But according to Marcus, "We aren't here to pretend we are our influences. We are in it to forge a new sound and carry on the name of heavy metal rather than stagnate it with unoriginality." He continues, "If you don't like thrash, chances are you don't like metal, plain and simple. Without thrash, none of the newer forms of heavy music today would exist."
The kid knows what he's talking about. Listen to the track "Attack Imminent" on their MySpace page. The melodic leads, blistering riffs, rapid-fire drums, and shouted choruses will take you back to thrash's golden age, which is right around the time the kids in Hatchet were probably conceived.