Armed And Ready – Kerrang! 1981 GEOFF BARTON
HOLOCAUST: Criminal as it may sound, and despite the fact that it’s been on release since July 1980, I’ve only recently managed to lend a lambasted old lug ‘ole to the Holocaust single ‘Heavy Metal Mania’. And boy was I surprised when after just a single spin it revealed itself to be an awesome anthem for our times, up there with the likes of ‘Denim And Leather’ and ‘Rock’n’Roll Mayhem’ as a 24 karat Kerrang! Klassic.
Three minutes of delightfully gonzoid goonery, ‘Mania’ begins with the wailing of san air raid siren, is based around a slow deliberate riff and contains some of the most powerfully pea-brained lyrics you’re ever likely to hear.
‘Rock’n’Roll was far too slow / And so the adrenaline does not flow’ runs one particularly stimulating couplet, punctuated by hoarse Di’annoesque cries of ‘Wowghh!’
But the highlight of the record is the rousing caveman chant ‘It’s HEAVY! HEAVY! HEAVY! HEAVY! Heavy Metal mania all the way!’ Absolutely devastating, I kid you not.
First called ‘Buzzard’, the group came together in Edinburgh during school holidays in June 1977. They went through a variety of names before settling on one “Which represented all the power and the force of the group members” – Holocaust.
With a stable line-up of Garry Lettice (vocals), John Mortimer and Ed Dudley (twin lead guitars), Robin Begg (bass) and Paul Collins (drums), the group worked steadily, quickly graduating from playing schools and community centres to the dance hall and night-club circuit, supporting the likes of the Tygers Of Pan Tang, Vardis and Saxon.
But it wasn’t until singer Lettice started work in a local record shop (no not a grocer’s) that matters really began to take shape. Storeowner John Mayer was swift to spot the potential of his employee’s outfit and signed them to his Phoenix record label. The ‘Heavy Metal Mania’ debut was followed by another 45, ‘Smokin’ Valves’ and then in April of this year, by an album the name of ‘The Nightcomers’.
Now the LP, I gotta admit, is very disappointing – a re-recorded ‘Mania’ isn’t a patch on the original, the title track is a pretentious disaster and the playing is pedestrian to an extreme (not helped by flat, uninspired production). It’s as if the band were overwhelmed by the importance of the big studio occasion and were too tense to display their true capabilities.
Perhaps with this criticism in mind, Holocaust’s next release will be a live, four track EP, recorded at Edinburgh’s Nite Club on September 10th. The band also filmed this gig for transfer to video . . . no small-time operation, this! It’ll be interesting to see and hear the end result.
Kerrang! Issue 46 – July 1983
HOLOCAUST – Holocaust Live (Phoenix)
HOT, SWEATY, full of feedback squeals, this is rock on the run. Appropriate then that the sub-title is ‘Hot Curry & Wine’. Holocaust attack their musical fare with the gargantuan appetites of champion onion bargee eaters. Recorded in Edinburgh back in September ’81 it has the unconscious enthusiasm of those times, and the gig has all the wild atmosphere that Scots fans traditionally create.
There is a touch of the Stones – with balls- about their music, particularly in the bluesy way the lead vocalist communicates with his band. There may be a hint of Jagger in the vocals, but the grinding guitars are pure Metal and the bass guitar is pure plutonium as it stokes up the extended version of ’Smokin Valves one of the highlights of the album.
Other titles include ‘No Nonsense’, ‘Long The Bell Will Toll’, ‘Jirmakenyerut’, and ‘Forcedown- – Breakdown’, all played with drive and flair. The drums are well to the fore on ‘Heavy Metal Mania’ which sounds like a tribute to a certain music press headline writer. The drummer must have slipped the sound mixer a few bottles of ‘Hey Jimmy ‘79’ or else he is the leader of the group. The drums certainly add electrifying atmosphere to ‘The Small Hours’ where Holocaust get into a Sabbath mood.
It takes a brave band to release a live LP. What sounds great at the gig often simply turns out rough and tedious on tape. But in this case the raw, ‘warts and all’ sound is exciting and gives a rap over the knuckles to all who think eight months in the studio is the only way to capture rock on wax, or whatever it is they use to make records- probably monosodium glutamate.
Not too keen on the name of the band-it has unfortunate connotations. Maybe they should call it Hypercaust in honour of the Roman central heating system. Something to think about as they count the £14.6Op worth of royalties they can expect to flood in over the next ten years.