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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Memoriam sign with Nuclear Blast Past and current members of Bolt Thrower and Benediction retaliate.

Memoriam 2016

This slipped under the radar! Apparently, back in January, Karl Willets (vocals; Bolt Thrower) and Frank Healy (bass; Benediction, Sacrilege) started a new band with Andy Whale (drums; ex-Bolt Thrower) to “jam out some cover versions of old classic songs that had influenced us in the past along with some cover versions from the bands we had played with over the years, and maybe eventually do a few low key gigs” in the wake of Martin “Kiddie” Kearns’ death and all Bolt Thrower activities being put in indefinite hold. When Benediction’s live guitarist, Scott Fairfax came into the picture, he brought with him a bunch of music and things turned more serious.

The band just announced their signing with Nuclear Blast. CEO Markus Staiger says in the press release:

“Being a lifetime fan of both Benediction and Bolt Thrower, it is with great pride that I announce that the new band of Frank Healy and Karl Willets has now joined the Nuclear Blast family! Following the first news regarding the band, I have been keeping a close eye on them and was very curious to hear their material. After hearing their first demo songs I was completely sold and knew that I had to get in contact with Frank and Karl to seal the deal. Memoriam will please all the fans of old school death metal and especially the worldwide fan base of Bolt Thrower and Benediction!

This is all very promising stuff and it’s great to see some old dogs back to their old tricks.

Memoriam released a 7″ called The Hellfire Demo with the songs “War Rages On” and “Resistance”. Take a listen to the B-Side of the 7″ below and check out their various sites:

Memoriam – Resistance

Thursday Three: Mitch & Mick Harris Get your grind on, with 33% more saxophone.

In light of Sebastian’s recent musings on Defecation and Righteous Pigs, here’s a 3-pack of grind featuring everyone’s favorite not-brothers, Mitch & Mick Harris.

  1. Mitch Harris on Righteous Pigs‘ “Ruinous Dump” from Stress Related (1987)
  2. Mitch & Mick Harris on Defecation’s “Side Effects” from Purity Dilution (1989)
  3. Mick Harris on Painkiller’s “Scud Attack” from Guts of a Virgin (1991)