The Golden Years of British Extreme Metal: The Other Guys Of pubs, pain, and pulverizing power.

Bolt Thrower, Live in the '90s

Bolt Thrower, live in the ’90s. Courtesy of boltthrower.com

Much ink has been spilled about the blossoming of extreme metal around the world. The United States – particularly the Florida scene which spawned so many great bands – has been well represented. Sweden/Norway gets plenty of love, from the chainsaw guitar tone to the unchained hedonism. That’s all fine and good as those were the blood-stained birthing grounds of our beloved genre.

What about England, then? In those glorious pre-Internet days of tape-trading and DIY promotion, metal wasn’t bound by geography: it spread like a sickness over the entire world. Let’s consider that in the last fifty years, those fog-bound island dwellers have had a serious impact on music, especially music that has a bite to it, a little edge, or my favorite: a fucking massive overload of steam-powered jackhammers pounding the earth. Black Sabbath. Black Sabbath! Just, you know, four guys from Birmingham who altered the very foundations of rock and helped create a genre. Led Zeppelin. Deep Purple. Motörhead. Judas Priest. Iron Maiden. Venom. Carcass. Anaal Nathrak. It’s a progression forward from one extreme to the next, the next band in line doubling down on what had come before them.

When extreme metal began to violate the ears of the world, the Brits were ready to step up and prove they could do guttural vox, grinding guitars and blast beats as well as anyone. This was a wonderful time for extreme music, as musicians were constrained only by their imaginations, genres were still being defined, and labels weren’t afraid to take chances on bands that had cobbled together a demo. Venom, Carcass and Napalm Death have earned a spot in the top tier of the golden era, when extreme metal was poised to move from the grave to the living room.

But what about the others guys? The names you might have heard bandied around in conversation standing around the beer keg, and you nodded your head and said, “Oh yeah, they’re awesome,” without having a clue what they sounded like? Then let us pry open the Sickening Vaults and get elbow deep in the guts of British metal.

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Defecation, “Purity Dilution” (1989) In Which Two Chuffed Lads Make a Difference

defecation-purity-dilution-cassette

I’ve tried and tried but can’t remember, not even a little bit, how I got hold of this tape but there are enough clues to give me a general idea. What I’ve got is the cassette reissue (NBA RED 6050 – 4) that came out in 1992 with different cover art and a bonus song on side one. What that means to me is that I almost certainly bought it in Florida, probably at Vinyl Fever, and like much of what I picked up at that time, the only thing to recommend it was the band name. My thinking was probably something like this:

Defecation! Huh-huh, yeah, okay, right on, I bet it sounds like shit. Oh well it’s on Nuclear Blast, how bad can it be?”

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Righteous Pigs, “Stress Related” (1987)

Righteous Pigs: Stress Related

No fucking clue when this entered my life, it was that fuzzy time in the late 80’s early 90’s when Bush Da First was still in power and all seemed bleak and cold in the world.  But maybe that was just the roofies.  So this is Mitch Harris on guitar and vox, better known these days as a stalwart member of Napalm Death and Defecation and side projects galore. On Stress Related we’re also treated to Alan Strong on drums, Stephen Chatovich on bass and Joe Caper on vocals.  This would be the Pigs second album after Live and Learn. No one I ever knew heard of that one at the time; they still don’t, the bastards.

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