Though it had served as the birthplace of heavy metal back in the '70s, not to mention revitalized the genre via the New Wave of British Heavy Metal at the start of the '80s, England had watched its previously uncontested supremacy quickly slip away across the pond as the decade unfolded. Leading the charge were bands like Metallica, Slayer, and Anthrax (all of them diligent students of these historical developments in British rock), who, after absorbing all the lessons they could, transformed them into their own, beautifully vile perversion: thrash metal. So overwhelming was their advance that, closing on the end of the decade, British bands had yet to mount any kind of resistance, much less a counter-strike. Just when it seemed like all hope was lost, Sabbat arrived, ready to correct that discrepancy by releasing their seemingly prophetically titled first album, 1988's History of a Time to Come. A razor-sharp, incredibly powerful slice of pure thrashing intensity, the album also came packed with a few very original twists, not least of which had to be peculiar lead singer Martin Walkyier. Utterly obsessed with mysticism, witchcraft, and pagan legends, Walkyier's unusually original and idiosyncratic (some would say crackpot) lyrical interests served as the perfect foil for guitarist Andy Sneap's lightning-fast but relatively traditional thrash attack. Pagan odysseys like "Hosanna in Excelsis," "I for an Eye," the anti-witch-hunt rant "For Those Who Died," and the formidable, eight-minute masterpiece "Horned Is the Hunter" rank with the best British thrash ever produced. All of which makes this an essential purchase for serious fans of the genre.