Thrash metal came up in the '80s and drew from both the new wave of British heavy metal (commonly known as NWOBHM) and punk rock. But there's one song from the '70s that might've had an influence as well.
In an interview with Guitar World, guitarist Brian May said he's been told numerous times over the years that Queen's 1974 single "Stone Cold Crazy" was the "birth of thrash metal." May admits he's not too sure that's actually true, but notes that it wasn't common to be playing that fast and furious in 1974 either.
"I think so. 'Stone Cold Crazy' goes back a long way. It was one of the first songs we ever played together, so it's interesting that it never made it onto a record until the third album," said May. "That's quite unusual, isn't it? I think we were playing 'Stone Cold Crazy' in our very first gigs.
"Freddie had written the lyrics with his old band, and the original riff was very different – it sounded like the riff in 'Tear It Up' [from 1984 album The Works]. So that original version of 'Stone Cold Crazy' sounded like a lot of other things which were around at the time, with quite an easygoing riff. It didn't have much pace to it.
"But I thought: these lyrics are kind of frenetic, so the music should be frenetic as well. So I put this riff on it, which people are telling me is the birth of thrash metal or something! I don't know about that. But was unusual at the time to play at that pace.
"That song was a bit of fun, really. I don't think we regarded it as that serious, which is perhaps why it never made it onto an album until number three. But it's nice and heavy. I still remember going in to do the definitive version of it, and it was faster than ever – we just went for it! There's a lot of adrenaline: let's go for it! It really does burn. And I liked the sounds that we had in place by that time."
As far as recognizing "Stone Cold Crazy" as a thrash song, we've got one word – Metallica. The band originally covered the song in 1990 for the Rubáiyát: Elektra's 40th Anniversary compilation, though you probably know it from its inclusion on the band's famous 1998 covers album Garage Inc.
Anyway, here's Queen performing "Stone Cold Crazy" with Metallica's James Hetfield and Black Sabbath's Tony Iommi at the Freddie Mercury tribute show in 1992.