Sunday Old School: Forbidden
Of all the metal scenes across the world, the eighties thrash metal scene in California is probably of the most well known, having produced such big names as Metallica and Megadeth. It’s been some time since we examined a band from the scene, so this week, Sunday Old School will be taking a look at Forbidden, one of the heaviest and most daring bands from the Bay Area. Forbidden was formed in the San Francisco Bay Area in 1985, originally under the moniker Forbidden Evil, by guitarist Rob Flynn and drummer Jim Pittman, who quickly joined forces with vocalist Russ Anderson, bassist John Tegio and another guitarist, Craig Loicicero. The quintet made a live record entitled, "Live at Ruthies Inn – The Eastern Front" before Tegio, Pittman and Flynn all left the band, (the last of whom would join Vio-Lence before going on to form Machine Head,) and their places were taken by Matt Camacho, Paul Bostaph and Glen Avelais respectively.
This new incarnation of the band decided to shorten their name to Forbidden, as they were afraid that the name Forbidden Evil would stereotype them as a black metal outfit. They soon signed to Combat Records, home of such other thrash contemporaries as Heathen and Nuclear Assault and in 1988, they released their first full length album, "Forbidden Evil." The record was a hit with critics and thrash metal fans alike and has since gone on to be considered one of the true classics in the genre and featured a number of songs that have become live staples such as "Chalice of Blood" and "Through Eyes of Glass," as well as the title track.
The group followed their debut release with two live outputs including a home video which also featured Raven, Death, Dark Angel and Faith or Fear, before guitarist Avelais quit the band and was replaced by Tim Calvert, who made his recording debut with Forbidden on their second album, "Twisted into Form." The sophomore effort was considerably more melodic than "Forbidden Evil," and featured a much progressive approach to the song writing process. The record spawned Forbidden’s first music video for the song, "Step By Step,"
Although "Twisted into Form," was by no means a failure, the band was soon troubled by internal arguments and Bostaph soon to his leave and went on to replace Dave Lombardo after his exit from Slayer. Bostaph’s place in Forbidden was taken by Steve Jacobs. Although this was the only change in personnel that the group made, they wouldn’t release their third album until 1995 when "Distortion" hit the shelves. The record was seen as a significant step away from their thrash metal roots, featuring much slower material than fans were used to and it received a lukewarm reception from critics. The album was also released by no less than three different labels in a three year period, with the last issue coming through Fierce Records, though the band returned to G.U.N. Records for their next album, "Green" in 1997. "Green" was another change for the band, bringing in more alternative and groove metal elements, though ultimately it proved to be an unsuccessful gamble, and the group decided to call it a day soon afterwards.
Like many of their peers, Forbidden reunited in 2001 to take part in the now legendary Thrash of the Titans benefit show to help Death frontman, Chuck Schuldiner and Testament singer, Chuck Billy, who were both suffering from aggressive forms of cancer. Keeping with the old school vibe of the show, Forbidden performed under their original name, Forbidden Evil but decided against continuing as a band after the show, while Exodus, Death Angel and Heathen were rejuvenated enough by it to reform permanently. However, in 2007, the group finally did reunite and set about performing across North America and Europe. Initially, former Dark Angel drummer Gene Hoglan stepped in for Bostaph, who was busy recording the Testament album, "The Formation of Damnation," before Hoglan’s place was taken by former Vio-Lence drummer, Mark Hernandez, who made one of his first appearances with the group when they performed on the main stage of Belgium’s biggest metal festival, Graspop Metal Meeting.
Forbidden soon entered into talks with Nuclear Blast Records, home to a number of other thrash metal veterans, and a record deal was agreed, which saw the release of their first album in thirteen years, "Omega Wave" in 2010. The record received some very positive reviews and was seen as a return to form for the group, as well as one of the better reunion albums from the several thrash metal bands that had reformed. Since then, the band has been performing live to promote the album, as well as making guest appearances at universities and on podcasts. They began writing material for their next studio album last year, but in January, Craig Loicicero stated that it was unlikely they would record again, citing Russ Anderson’s lack of desire and Matt Camacho’s retirement from music. Whatever the future holds for Forbidden, their place in the annals of thrash metal is safely assured, having released one of the best debut albums in a genre studded with diamond debuts, and for being brave enough to take their sound into places others feared to tread.
Forbidden - "Chalice of Blood"
Forbidden - "Step By Step"
Forbidden - "No Reason"
Forbidden - "Turns to Rage"
Forbidden - "Omega Wave"
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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