Sunday Old School: English Dogs
Band Photo: English Dogs (?)
Punk rock is well documented as having changed the face of music forever. It certainly left it's mark on heavy metal, with many punk bands influencing the fledgling thrash movement, to the point where thrash’s first sub-genre, crossover thrash, almost completely blurred the line over what’s thrash and what’s punk. But interestingly, this new style went full circle and began to influence many punk groups of the day, with bands such as Discharge and The Exploited incorporating it into their sound. Another respected punk band that brought this harder edge to their music and appealed strongly to metal fans was Lincolnshire natives, English Dogs. The group were formed in the market town of Grantham in late 1981 and by the next year had recorded two demos entitled, "Show No Mercy" and "Free to Kill," earning them support slots with bands such as Discharge and G.B.H. The exposure was helpful for the band, who soon signed a record deal with Clay Records and released their first EP, "Mad Punx and English Dogs" in 1983.
The next year, the band released their first full length album, the rather bizarrely entitled, "Invasion of the Porky Men," which was perhaps their most punk rock orientated album to date. Following the release of the album, vocalist Pete Wakefield, also known as, "Wakey," parted company with the band and was replaced by Adie Bailey, formerly of Ultraviolent. It was also around this time that the band brought in guitarist, Graham "Gizz" Butt, who was very important in the history of English Dogs as he brought with him a metal style of guitar playing, which changed the course of the band’s music.
This metamorphosis was clear to hear on the group’s next EP, "To the Ends of the Earth," which was released through Rot Records in 1984 and was embellished further on their sophomore full length release, "Forward into Battle." While it no doubt alienated some of their punk fans, it was nevertheless a stellar album that bridged the gap between the two genres, keeping a heavily accented vocal style found often in punk rock set against a grim and nasty thrash metal style of music.
Metal continued to play an ever increasing role in the sound of English Dogs, as they signed with Under One Flag in 1986, who by this point had signed and released albums by such artists as Tank, Exciter and Onslaught, the latter of which had a similar history to English Dogs as they too had started as a punk band and gravitated towards thrash. English Dogs further cemented their place in the thrash scene with another EP entitled, "Metalmorphosis" and performing at a special show in London which also featured Possessed and Voivod. They then released their third album, "Where Legend Began," in December 1986 which was perhaps the most metal record of their career and proved to be very popular with the crossover crowd. Despite the positive response to the album however, drummer Andy "Pinch" Pinching left the band soon afterwards and the rest of the group decided to let English Dogs lie.
In 1993 however, the band was brought back to life by Pinch and Gizz, who were joined by original singer, Wakey and bassist, Stuart West. They signed a new record deal with Impact Records and released their fourth album, "Bow to None" the next year. This was to be their last full length to date to feature Wakey, who left once again soon after the record was released and was replaced by Stuart "Stu-Pid" Jones, who made his only recording appearance with the band on the subsequent EP, "What A Wonderful Feeling… To be Fucked by Everyone" in 1995, after which Gizz took over the vocals position and English Dogs recorded their only album as a three piece, "All the World’s a Rage," which was also released that year. After a string of shows, English Dogs were put to rest once again, with three members forming Janus Stark in its place.
Members of the band went on to perform with several well known groups, perhaps most notably Pinch joining punk legends, The Damned, who he still performs with to this day, and Gizz becoming the live guitarist for hugely popular electronic act, The Prodigy. Whilst still on hiatus, a live album, "I’ve Got a Gun" was released in 1999, with a compilation, "This is Not a War," following in 2002. Eventually, the English Dogs name resurfaced, brought back to life by original lineup, with the sole exception being Pinch, who was replaced by Stuart Meadows. They recorded an EP, "Tales of the Asylum," was which was released in 2008 but since then have focused on performing live.
It gets a little complicated from here, as another English Dogs reunion occurred in 2011, featuring members of the crossover era, including Pinch, Gizz and Adie Bailey. They toured across North America and received an overwhelmingly positive response, prompting them to begin writing new material. This new music will soon be unleashed on the public when, "The Thing with Two Heads," the first full length English Dogs album since 1995, is released this week through Candlelight Records. Whilst there may be two versions of the group running, there can be no doubt that English Dogs is one name which will continue to be talked about by both metal heads and punks for a long time to come.
English Dogs - "Mercenary"
English Dogs - "Forward Into Battle/The Final Conquest"
English Dogs - "Nightmare of Reality"
English Dogs - "Premonition"
English Dogs - "Nipper Tripper"
English Dogs - "Be What You Are"
Ollie Hynes has been a writer for Metal Underground.com for four years and has been a metal fan for ten years, going so far as to travel abroad for metal shows.
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