Sunday Old School: Vio-lence
One of the wonderful things about thrash metal is that while some bands became superstars, others have earned eternal credibility amongst metal fans for their furious live shows and underground classics. Perhaps one of the best examples of the latter comes, unsurprisingly, in the form of a band from San Francisco, Vio-lence. The group was formed by guitarists Phil Demmel and Troy Fua, vocalist Jerry Birr, drummer Perry Strickland and bass player Eddie Billy, brother of Testament frontman, Chuck Billy.
Changes were soon made to the band, most notably when Birr was replaced by Sean Killian, who utilised a unique cadence in his singing style and former Forbidden guitarist, Robb Flynn. They soon signed a contract with Mechanic Records and entered the studio to record their first full length album, "Eternal Nightmare." The record is now considered to be one of the best thrash metal albums of all time by dedicated thrash fans, thanks to such songs as "Kill on Command" and "Bodies on Bodies."
Following the release and hype generated by "Eternal Nightmare," several labels were interested in signing the band, with Megaforce eventually winning them over. Though they signed with Megaforce, new material would be distributed by major label, Atlantic. This would prove to be a stumbling block for the band, as after recording and releasing their sophomore album, "Oppressing the Masses" the title somewhat lived up to its name and found the band in hot water with Atlantic, who objected to the lyrics of the song, "Torture Tactics."
An initial pressing of twenty thousand copies included the track, but all editions since have omitted the track. The song was not removed from history however, as Vio-lence released it as an EP through Caroline Records in 1991. The EP is also notable for featuring a live track which wasn’t actually recorded live. Instead, the band used audio from a live show in Florida and spliced it into the song.
They would not release an album through a major label again, as the group decided they would be given more creative control with a smaller company, choosing to sign with Bleeding Hearts Records. They released their third full length album, "Nothing to Gain" in 1993, however the album itself was actually recorded in 1990. By the time the album hit the shelves, Flynn had left the band to form Machine Head and was replaced by Ray Vegas. Another departure soon impacted Vio-lence, when Perry Strickland decided to leave, causing the band to call it a day soon afterwards.
Like many of their contemporaries,Vio-lence reunited in 2001 to perform at the Thrash of the Titans benefit concert, staged in order to raise funds for Chuck Billy and Death mastermind Chuck Schuldiner’s cancer treatments. As most bands who returned for the night did, the group continued to perform live shows and recorded a live DVD entitled, "Blood and Dirt," which was eventually released in 2006 through Megaforce Records. Unlike many other returning thrash bands however, Vio-lence decided not to record a new album and in 2003, laid the name to rest once more. They have yet to announce a return, either to the stage or the studio, but fingers of thrash fans will remain crossed that they reveal such plans some day.
Vio-lence - "Kill on Command"
Vio-lence - "Calling in the Corner"
Vio-lence - "World in a World"
Vio-lence - "No Chains"
Vio-lence - "Officer Nice"
Vio-lence - "Eternal Nightmare"
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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