NO EXCUSE

METAL FORCES ISSUE 37 MARCH 1989

NO EXCUSE


Out of all the female fronted rock bands populating this Earth, and there’s ahealthy plethora of ‘em, Britain hasn’t really managed to make much of a mark. Following the aggressive and totally unjustified vilification of once proud acts such as GIRLSCHOOL and ROCK GODDESS (and don’t forget both of these bands reached their peak by headlining Hammersmith Odeon) Britain has been totally unable to respond to a market thoroughly ignored. Seems to be that if your band just so happens to be led by a member of the fairer sex then kiss goodbye to success, the obvious preoccupation press-wise for the singer becoming doubly exaggerated and thus doubly lethal for the band in question. The rock press has never truly taken female fronted acts seriously.
NO EXCUSE are a London based band with a female singer – one Sue Hunt. The remainder comprising of drummer Andy Lloyd, bassist Alex Poray and lead guitarist Richard Scott.

NO EXCUSE came my way via an impressively packaged demo, far superior to the run of the mill shoddy efforts I generally receive from British acts. No sellotape encrusted second hand brown envelope, no photocopy or Polaroid out of focus snap either. Truth be told, it made a pleasant change to obtain something that had had a bit of thought and care put into it.

For a band with only a handful of club dates to their credit NO EXCUSE have achieved a great deal. They feature on two New Renaissance compilation albums, namely “Guitar Mania” and “Ladykillers 2”.

The band’s sound is difficult to define, there are marked VAN HALEN leanings which I pointed out in the demo review, but this doesn’t distract in any way from the remarkable power and maturity of their material. Guitarist Richard Scott is an extremely accomplished and adept player who utilizes Jazz chops and even a dash of Hendrix, anything to make that NO EXCUSE sound ‘different’.

It wasn’t too long ago that NO EXCUSE nearly lost their guitarist when SABBAT ‘borrowed’ Richard for their UK tour, and were subsequently so impressed they tried to half-inch the man. I asked Sue how that situation developed.

“SABBAT’s producer Roy Roland had worked with Richard for quite some time,” she told me. “And when SABBAT decided they needed another guitarist for live work to reproduce the album properly onstage, Roy immediately suggested Richard to them. NO EXCUSE weren’t really doing much at that particular time, so we had a band meeting and decided It would be OK. Richard had a great time on tour and SABBAT made it obvious they were very impressed with his playing. In fact, they were so impressed that at the end of the tour they asked him to join on a full time basis.”

Were the band worried about losing Richard at that juncture? “Not really,” Sue admits with confidence. “Richard felt he had to decline the offer immediately opting to stick with NO EXCUSE. Joining SABBAT would obviously have been a big boost to Richard’s career in the short term, but we’re all convinced NO EXCUSE will make it, so in the long run it’s better to stick with this band. We’re all totally committed to NO EXCUSE. Everyone has put so much hard work into this band it would be just silly to waste it. Also, when the SABBAT offer came, NO EXCUSE were starting to generate some interest Obviously it was very flattering for Richard, but he said ‘No thanks’ straight away.”

The band’s biography claims Sue only recently discovered she could sing. Listening to the tape makes that rather hard to believe, as Sue is in possession of a rich and magnificently powerful voice which belies the biogs assertion that it is only a newly found talent. Is it true? “Well, I have had a few vocal training lessons,” Sue admits a bit sheepishly before adding that, “they were only because people had pointed out that I wasn’t using my voice properly. I thought about it and realised it would be stupid to ruin my voice even before I’d started sol got a few lessons in which were invaluable. I’d advise elf budding vocalists to sort some lessons or some kind of training out, you’ll save yourself a lot of pain later on! It’s really basic stuff like breathing control and posture, but it’s so important”

When did Sue find out she could sing? “When I lived up North I would go along to see a local band rehearse and they asked me to have a go at singing for them. I’d never really sang before, but after one song I really got into it. ft didn’t take too long for me to decide that I’d like to make a profession out of it.”

How would Sue describe NO EXCUSE’s music? “Well, we didn’t have thoughts about how it would turn out, although it was obvious that with Richard’s style of playing it wouldn’t be regular rock music, I can see what you mean about the VAN HALEN comparison. It’s more in that mould of experimental rock. We just try to write good songs with a good catchy chorus. Having said that though we’ve no intentions of sounding American in anyway. I’m glad that we’ve got a musical identity, everyone who’s heard us says that we’re not a regular rock band.”

What about the age old maxim that a female fronted rock band just isn’t
going to make it big time? “Well, this is a band first and foremost” Sue states resolutely. “NO EXCUSE is not ‘The Sue Hunt Band’. I think there have been a few bands recently who have used a girl singer to get them some press, but it always backfired. Having said that there have been some good bands like NIKKI BROOKS and WILD! That’s one of the reasons I asked you to use a band shot as opposed to a single shot of me for this interview. NO EXCUSE is a band with equal members.”

How’s it going on the gig scene? “We’re getting our hands on as many gigs as we can in London and we hope to branch out further into the country as soon as we can. The London club scene is pretty tight to get into unfortunately. We’ve been booked alongside pop hands and all sorts, but as long as we get the opportunity to play in front of people it doesn’t matter. We’re starting to pick up interest from record companies and we’ve had a few people down to our gigs – including KeIv Hellrazer!”

WITCH MASTER GENERAL

METAL FORCES ISSUE 37 MARCH 1989

WITCHMASTER GENERAL

Formed in 1986 by Mark Beaudoin (lead guitar) and Tom Kavanagh (drums), WITCH MASTER GENERAL are a power metal band based in Ottawa, Canada.

The band’s current demo was recorded in October last year and features five songs “October Frost”, “Scarlet Fever”, “Reduced To Ashes”, “On The Warpath” and the title track “Winds Of Salem”.

Musically, the band, whose line-up is completed by Randy Chase (vocals), Dan McNamara (rhythm guitars) and Bryant Dale (bass), mix early METALLICA and SABBATH influences with injections of thrash and enhanced with a strong sense of melody. Vocalist Randy Chase reminds me a lot of Ozzy Osbourne with a touch of CANDLEMASS’ Messiah Marcolin thrown in, which suits the complex story structures perfectly.

On the evidence of this tape, WITCH MASTER GENERAL have some strong material especially “October First” and the pacey “On The Warpath”, which displays excellent musicianship and a desire to be creative and original, and hopefully they shouldn’t have too many problems in securing a record deal in the near future.

BERNARD DOE

FATAL

METAL FORCES ISSUE 37 MARCH 1989

FATAL

Reading based FATAL are a young British metal band who’ve been together for a little over a year and consist of Yeti (vocals/bass), Dave Caton (guitar) and Nigel Farrow (drums).

The band have already supported the dreadful TATTOOED LOVE BOYS which seems a complete mis-match because FATAL’s music is at the heavier, bordering on thrash, end of the metal spectrum.

FATAL’s three song demo kicks off with the title track, “Lynch Law”, a pacey MAlDENesque affair, well structured with some great guitar fills. In fact, guitarist Dave Caton plays with a lot of feel and melody, especially on “First Born”, which puts an exciting edge to bands music. Unfortunately, the final song “Passive Aggressor” is none too clever, sounding like a disjointed early CELTIC FROST, but if FATAL can polish up their song writing a little and get some decent gigs under their belt then they could well be a band to look out for in the future. The band are already planning to record a new demo so l look forward to that with interest.
BERNARD DOE

NO DIRECTION

METAL FORCES ISSUE 37 MARCH 1989

NO DIRECTION

Originally based in Knoxville, Tennessee but now residing in Seattle, Washington, NO DIRECTION are a five-piece outfit whose mixture of speed metal and hardcore reminds me a lot of Chicago’s underrated AFTERMATH who appeared on the MF “Scream Your Brains Out” compilation album last year.

NO DlRECTlON have been together in some shape or form since ’87 and their current line-up reads: Tim Allen (vocals), Hank Bate (lead guitar), Lenny Burnett (guitar), James Atkins (bass) and David Knight (drums).

The bands four song demo is well produced and the material is fairly strong, ranging from the thrashcore frenzied “Circle Of Fear” to the more metalized “Brain Daze” with brutal METALLICA-like rifling. “Blind Reproach” is a punchy plodder with some blatant SLAYER “Reign In Blood” era riffs, whilst the more pacey “Gestures Of Faith” ends a promising enough tape.
BERNARD DOE

NIAGARA

METAL FORCES ISSUE 37 MARCH 1989

 NIAGARA – The Marquee, London


Whether it was just curiosity or actual interest in the band I couldn’t say, but the Marquee had a large crowd for Spain’s hottest new export: (just edging ahead at San Miguel lager!) NIAGARA.
From the offset they were out to impress – their stagecraft, learnt on stages far larger than this one tonight, was fluid, projective and perfectly executed – culminating in a SCORPIONS style synchronised set-piece (note the alliteration!) which served as an introduction to “Now Or Never” one of the band’s most potent cuts.

Vocalist Tony Cuevas has the voice and the look of a star – his English is virtually flawless and his mike-spinning acrobatics make him the centre of attention, a compliment indeed bearing in mind the quality of the band beside him.

Although touted as a ‘melodic rock’ band NIAGARA really crank it up live. Guitarist VIM. has the ability to caress your ears one minute, then hit you in the guts the next! – which makes for an interesting show I can tell you!
Clearly NIAGARA have got what it takes to be the next big thing their material is excellent, check out the beauty of “Take My Hand”, or the aggression behind “Power” (a fantastic instrumental). The latter displays the perfect Interplay between keyboardist Ricky Castaneda, bassist Angel Alias, drummer Joey Matos, and, of course, guitarist V.M. Arias.

Needless to say the crowd lapped it up, which seemed to spur the band to even greater heights and resulted in a singing contest which actually worked (!) and a couple of encores, one being a cover of DOKKEN’s “Into The fire”.
Hopefully NIAGARA will remove the stigma that so far has been synonymous with Spanish rock.
DAVE SHACK

HOLY TERROR

METAL FORCES ISSUE 37 MARCH 1989

EXODUS/NUCLEAR ASSAULT/HOLY TERROR
Rolling Stone, Milan, Italy
I’ve got to say that this gig had all the ingredients for turning into a “Fabulous Disaster” itself and considering the trauma’s suffered throughout the day by bands and crew alike, I was very relieved when it had actually got underway.

On arriving mid-afternoon at the Rolling Stone, a seedy but fairly amiable venue close to the centre of Milan, it became apparent that all was not exactly what you would call…er, well. Problem. The truck carrying all the equipment, PA, amps, etc had not yet turned up and as far as I could make out, nobody seemed too sure about its location either. As time drew on faces grew longer and longer, including my own. By now plans were afoot to hire gear locally, an idea not relished by most, but something that looked like becoming a reality and better than not playing at all.

Moving on to the early evening, things were still unchanged and with proceedings meant to commence at 8 o’clock then time was running very short, However, shouts of ‘the truck’s here’ and a general buzz which suddenly spread around the hall, signalled time for a mad panic in order to get the gear in and setup.

Admirably enough, soon after eight, HOLY TERROR broke the strained atmosphere by promptly strolling out onstage and shredding the crowd with their excellent and I think very underrated set of songs and although this was not one of their better shows, it was still well above average. The sound was pretty dismal which was hardly surprising and it was this factor that did most damage to the songs – a lot of them being pretty unintelligible. That said though, HOLY TERROR possess some truly excellent material, particularly tine stuff from most recently, “Mind Wars”, combining interesting and cleverly constructed song structures added to relentless thrash rhythms. “Judas Reward” managed to rise above the messy P.A. sound just long enough to grab tine crowd’s shell-shocked attention before disappearing once again and, alongside “Do Unto Others”, about which vocalist Keith Deen declared “you may like it, or you may not”, were the two standout numbers for me.

That quote from Deen though probably sums up HOLY TERROR, because they are a band whose music needs to be worked at before it can be fully appreciated and they don’t follow any real speed metal clichés. Based around the razor sharp guitar axis of Kurt Kilfelt and Mike Alvord then coupled to the blitzkrieg of the Flanary/Mitchell rhythm section, topped off by the snarling vocals of Keith Deen, who’s more of a shouter than a singer but fits in well all the same, HOLY TERROR have some way to go before they reach their full potential and faced with opening up a show like this, may not have excelled quite as much as they may have wished. I’d like to see this band given a tour of their own ideally, because they have the ingenuity, yet more importantly, the ability to turn into something really special.

After the show I asked Kurt Kilfelt what he thought of the show and the audience? “God, it ruled actually man, it was a really happening crowd. The crowds are real good in Europe, they really go for it, you come over here and it’s like ‘Wow, we’re really somebody’.

What’s happening after this tour? “I think we stop in Frankfurt, after that we’re supposed to play over in the U.K., now l don’t know whether that’s going to happen for sure, I mean, we only got one weeks notice about this and all the posters say other bands are supporting so the promotion’s been nil, it’s the second time we’ve been over here with no promotion, but that first tour was pretty happening too.”

NUCLEAR ASSAULT

METAL FORCES ISSUE 37 MARCH 1989

EXODUS/NUCLEAR ASSAULT/HOLY TERROR
Rolling Stone, Milan, Italy


I’ve got to say that this gig had all the ingredients for turning into a “Fabulous Disaster” itself and considering the trauma’s suffered throughout the day by bands and crew alike, I was very relieved when it had actually got underway.

On arriving mid-afternoon at the Rolling Stone, a seedy but fairly amiable venue close to the centre of Milan, it became apparent that all was not exactly what you would call…er, well. Problem. The truck carrying all the equipment, PA, amps, etc had not yet turned up and as far as I could make out, nobody seemed too sure about its location either. As time drew on faces grew longer and longer, including my own. By now plans were afoot to hire gear locally, an idea not relished by most, but something that looked like becoming a reality and better than not playing at all.

Moving on to the early evening, things were still unchanged and with proceedings meant to commence at 8 o’clock then time was running very short, However, shouts of ‘the truck’s here’ and a general buzz which suddenly spread around the hall, signalled time for a mad panic in order to get the gear in and setup.

And so to NUCLEAR ASSAULT. Well, as I’ve said before, these guys are just so much fun and have some crushing songs that you can’t fail to enjoy. The set featured was a very familiar one featuring all the old faves, one of which I was particularly interested in seeing what sort of reaction the Italian crowd would give it, They must have had a few doubts about playing “Hang The Pope”, but actually it went down surprisingly well, as did the other quickies “My America” and “Lesbians”. NUCLEAR ASSAULT managed to entice the odd stage diver or two and also succeeded in whipping those down the front into a frenzy. With “Butt***k” we got the usual looning around on stage, promptly copied by the crowd out front, but sound wise it was still a bit of a disappointment – but then I haven’t yet seen a NUCLEAR ASSAULT show where l thought that the sound was excellent.

Whatever, it didn’t matter to the crowd and we got some barnstorming versions of songs that have now become like old favourites. what the band lacked in clarity they made up for in pure. raw energy: “F Sharp”. “Game Over”. “Nuclear War”. “Fight To Be Free”, all manic run throughs which gave the cue to go berserk and it looked like NUCLEAR ASSAULT had succeeded in winning the crowd over. “This one goes out to EXODUS,” announced Dan Lilker before the band burst into “Justice”. With a brutal version of “Vengeance” and the quick inclusion of crowd pleaser “Good Times, Bad limes” this was a set that offered few surprises, but gave the Italian crowd just what they’d hoped for, expected and got, so despite the iffy sound I’d have to say NUCLEAR ASSAULT 10, The Pope 0.

After the show I asked guitarist Anthony Bramante whether the band have been at all worried about doing “Hang The Pope”? “At first I was and then I said to hell with it, they wanted it, they asked for it and they got it”

So how do the Italian audiences compare to elsewhere? “This has been our best so far, no bullshit, after we record our next album in May ‘89 maybe we’ll come back. As of now we have about five songs together, it’ll just be as heavy, maybe a little more progressive, with a little more taste and style,”

Have the band suffered because of the equipment hassles’ ‘Well, we did the show even though we didn’t have our road crew here, we still did the best we could do but we’ve only got two guys, no monitor man, no sound man, y’know, but we still did it and got the best response, so it was fun.”

ROB CLYMO


 

EXODUS

METAL FORCES ISSUE NUMBER 37 MARCH 1987

EXODUS/NUCLEAR ASSAULT/HOLY TERROR
Rolling Stone, Milan, Italy


I’ve got to say that this gig had all the ingredients for turning into a “Fabulous Disaster” itself and considering the trauma’s suffered throughout the day by bands and crew alike, I was very relieved when it had actually got underway.

On arriving mid-afternoon at the Rolling Stone, a seedy but fairly amiable venue close to the centre of Milan, it became apparent that all was not exactly what you would call…er, well. Problem. The truck carrying all the equipment, PA, amps, etc had not yet turned up and as far as I could make out, nobody seemed too sure about its location either. As time drew on faces grew longer and longer, including my own. By now plans were afoot to hire gear locally, an idea not relished by most, but something that looked like becoming a reality and better than not playing at all.

Moving on to the early evening, things were still unchanged and with proceedings meant to commence at 8 o’clock then time was running very short, However, shouts of ‘the truck’s here’ and a general buzz which suddenly spread around the hall, signalled time for a mad panic in order to get the gear in and setup.

Within a very short space of time, something that was not at a premium, headliners EXODUS emerged and made everything seem worthwhile after the past days events leading up to the gig, which had at first made for rather a bleak picture what with the all round chaos and confusion. Nevertheless, this was an important gig for EXODUS, one they couldn’t afford to miss, and with a mere hours worth of playing time left you could tell they didn’t want to hang around.

Opening up with “Last Act Of Defiance” Messrs Sousa, Holt, Hunolt, Hunting and McKillop turned the place upside down, although one thing did become immediately apparent the gremlins were still at large. Lack of soundcheck cannot have helped matters much and the problems continued to affect the sound right thorough the title track from the new album “Fabulous Disaster” and the somewhat older, but nonetheless effective, “‘Till Death Do Us Part”, guitars being buried in a sea of drums and bass. By “Braindead” things have begun to improve, in fact, this song as with all the other numbers from the “Pleasures Of The Flesh” album sound a hell of a lot better live than on record, they take on whole new dimension, perhaps because they’re endorsed by the lunatic behaviour of the band on stage, having got their act these days, well and truly together. You can’t fail to be grabbed instantly by the vocals of Steve Sousa, this guy has really developed an incredibly gruff style, one which is all his own and anybody who still yearns for Baloffs growl must surely now be convinced that Sousa is the perfect successor, having plenty of aggression yet being musical enough to handle a touch of melody here and there, when and if it’s needed.

EXODUS are fast emerging as one of the tightest thrash outfits currently on the circuit and although some say they took a step backward with “P.O.T.F.”, I think songs such as “Chemi-Kill”, which went down a storm here, only help to give their show a new and varied dimension, plus the songs are that much heavier live any way. All too much obviously for some of the more adventurous in the crowd with the odd one or two fans making a break for the stage only to be quickly restrained by the rather lacklustre bunch of security guys.

Guitarists Holt and Hunolt are always entertaining, particularly Hunolt who was performing some bizarre leaps to the front of the stage while peeling off some ever impressive solos. Old favourite “And Then There Were None” was an instant success which only served to strengthen the crowd’s enthusiasm, so much so that a stage diver managed to land practically on Sousa’s head – a perfect lead up to the “Toxic Walt”. With the sound having improved we got “Like Father Like Son” and the mayhem of “Deliver Us To Evil” at which point the PA. suddenly decided to emit some appalling feedback before cutting out entirely! At first the band seemed unsure of what was happening and the crowd reacted similarly, a shame, but they recovered well and when the PA. did finally cut back in again the sound was altogether better, better than it had been all evening, so the band grabbed the chance to tear through “Parasite” and “Strike Of The Beast” before being told that was it… or was it..? What else, but one of the all time classics, “Bonded By Blood”, a track that sounds as fresh now s when it originally appeared, brilliant and what better way to round of the show.

I asked Steve ‘Zetro’ Sousa if he thought the show had been a success?

“It was f*cking heavy. You can tell I’m losing my voice ‘cos this is the ninth
show in a row, tonight was the heaviest so far, the Italian crowd was amazing, these kids are like relentless. As soon as we do another album we’ll be back.”

Could you hear the problems with the P.A. up there on stage? “I could hear a little bit through the monitors, but the thing was that our equipment got held up at the border and we didn’t get it until about 7 o’clock tonight and there wasn’t a soundcheck, so we went on there in like a suicide pact, we didn’t know what was going to happen, we just went up there and did it. For the first song or two it was not miked at all, so when the guitars aren’t miked and the vocals are loud it’s trouble, but by “Braindead” things got ironed out. On the first song, I don’t know if you noticed, but we were all looking at each other like ‘what the f*ck is this sound like?’ and then about “Braindead” it started to click in, you could really hear it.. that’s just what happens on the road in rock’n’rolI! But we were definitely happy with the crowd and the show. The Italian crowds are completely nuts for thrash metal and we gave it to ‘em!” Miss them at your peril.
ROB CLYMO


 

AUGUST REDMOON

KERRANG! ISSUE 33 JANUARY 1983

Singles reviewed by Xavier Russell

AUGUST REDMOON: ‘Fools Are Never Alone’ (Metalworks Records)


Yet another tacky masterpiece from an LA copy band. August Redmoon (doncha just luv the name?) seem to draw inspiration from early Rush, throwing in a little something of their own. It’s a blend that makes this five-track EP a must – no holds barred. OTT Metal and fairly catchy too. My own personal faves are ‘Bump In The Night’ (even the ‘oohs’ are in the right place). ‘We Know What You Want’, which boasts a catchy riff. One for the Metal charts.