The eight volumes of Metal Massacre released by Metal Blade Records in the 1980s were massively instrumental in chronicling (and furthering) the burgeoning heavy metal movement, particularly in the United States. Here, the earliest songs of Slayer and Ratt, for example, stood side by side each other as a declaration of intent: that HEAVY METAL was here, and it was here to stay. Those who grew up in the ’80s and heard these compilations have fond memories of them, as each song was almost always exclusive and almost always exciting – a new stone to unturn, a new head to bang.
For the members of OCTOBER 31, these compilations are so cherished and enduring that they’ve recorded a covers album comprising songs all exclusively on these comps, appropriately titled Metal Massacre. For over 20 years now, OCTOBER 31 are no strangers to the heavy metal fight, so it’s a no-brainer that the US quintet would reverentially cover the revered likes of Omen, Hallow’s Eve, Sacred Blade, and America’s Tyrant alongside the more obscure likes Aloha, War Cry, Final Warning, and Canada’s Death Dealer among others. From early, more melodically inclined traditional metal to heads-down proto-thrash and speed metal, OCTOBER 31 cover all bases on Metal Massacre, rendering the record a veritable time-machine back to the early-to-mid ’80s. However, with erstwhile DECEASED frontman (and scene legend) King Fowley on the mic, the band brims with the confidence and elan to make these songs their own – or, at least, songs that could easily be among their original repertoire – serving as a fully satisfying stopgap album before their next full-length for HELLS HEADBANGERS. All you metal merchants, step forth and prepare for OCTOBER 31’s Metal Massacre!
Keep It True, the name says it all. Here the most dedicated metalheads gather every spring to trade records, meet friends, raise glasses and most of all, to witness pure and honest bands. Held once again in a small village Lauda-Königshofen, this now the 13th time. This year the lineup was so tempting I just had to travel to Lauda after one year break. KIT has been organized since ’03 and at first it was also on autumn but has now been held only on spring. Same organizers have now other events too so people hungry for quality old school metal should check out…
Most of the bands here are old ones, especially the headliners, and some of them have never been in Europe. So there’s a huge amount of expectations and feelings towards the bands. Of course there are also newer bands who represent the same style, mostly traditional metal but also some thrash and doom metal bands here and there giving a nice touch of variety. Most of the bands are from the 80’s but some from the later years. Also bands like Quartz are from the 70’s so all eras of metal are present.
In many cases the bands are doing exclusive shows, some having the original lineup and some doing their classic albums from the start to the last song. The audience has always been a bit older folks who have been waiting to see these bands for few decades. It’s hard to describe the feeling there is but definitely there is magic on the air and the fans are really into it from the bottom of their hearts.
By Saku Nurminen
THE FIRST DAY
After adventuring with German trains, taxis and buses I finally got into the sports hall which is the arena of KIT. A young Chicago based band High Spirits were just playing their last songs.
Morbid Saint took the stage next. They released their only album on ’88 and after it got re-released some time ago they finally got more attention from the metal fans. Formed in the early 80’s they played very brutal death/thrash in their early stages and now they’re continuing where they left in the 90’s. They played the whole album Spectrum of Death and from the first notes it was clear that these guys have not softened in their thrash metal. Extremely agressive vocals and the playing was tight as well. Great to see a band in this genre who after all the years are still energetic thrash as some comebacks are not like that as the aggression can sometimes fade away when people are ageing. Some minor things were probably irritating to some part of the audience like touches of modern metal on the stage precence but after all it’s music that matters the most so I find this a very enjoyable gig of violent in your face metal.
Next was Quartz, an old British group formed in the 70’s. Also didn’t expect to ever see them live but in KIT everything is possible it seems. Their metal is very much influenced by a certain band from their times, Black Sabbath, yet they still have a lot of their own magic in their music. There are actually linked to Sabbath as their first LP was produced by Tony Iommi and their bass player Geoff Nicholls did a lot of keyboards to many Sabbath albums. This time their singer was wearing a jacket with strings just like mr. Osbourne used to do in the past and his stage manners were straigh there from the 70’s. I didn’t hear their doing some of their golden oldies but got a good set of their classics, the playing time just don’t allow bands to just do every song people wanna hear. They closed their enjoyably by playing “Satan’s Serenade” from the same named EP, probably their biggest hit. In that time the audience was really on fire and were singing along this great tune.
More old British metal, this time in the form of Holocaust. Unlike many other bands from NWOBHM era, Holocaust have never split up but continued to record material all these years. Finally bands like Holocaust are getting some recognizability as many younger metal fans are finding them and they really deserve to play for a bigger audience. They were really energetic on stage which always nice to witness and especially their bass player was on fire. I have to say some of the newer songs are quite weird stuff and even a bit difficult to follow when played live but old and new ones were both played so this was a very good set they offered for us. Nothing surprising of what song was played last. Yes, Heavy Metal Mania, and now the crowd was singing louder than on any case so far. A perfect ending from a fine band.
Medieval Steel from U.S. next. Their self titled cult EP from ’84 has gained a lot of fans lately and indeed it’s a great release. There has been a reissue of that and other stuff lately and it’s about time they got to play in Europe. They offered us a good show of U.S. Metal and at least one new song was played. The audience, and I think also the band towards the end of the show, were waiting for the title song of the band. And finally it came and I have to say I’ve never ever heard any audience to have a sing along like that. The walls were shaking as the passionate crowd was screaming.
I missed some of Liege Lord as I needed to get something to eat but what I heard was just great portion of high quality US metal. They played a Rainbow cover Kill the King and like their own stuff, it was great. Someone said they played the whole Burn to my Touch album but can’t be 100% sure as I don’t have that particular album. They were co-headlining the first festival day and therefore I had enough time to enjoy their music. Actually they were supposed to play last but at festivals changes are always possible. Now I just need to get the missing Liege Lord albums from somewhere…
Last band today was Possessed from the infamous Bay Area, US. I have to say this must have been the best gig from them and I’ve seen them few times earlier. The lineup was totally changed apart from singer Jeff Beccerra who has been the only original member of the band after the comeback some years ago. The guitars had the same demonic sound on them what is present on the old Possessed albums and the vokals of Jeff were very deadly. One new song was played but it sounded kinda weird among the old tunes. Not bad at all but have to listen to it and get used to as I’ve been so much possessed by the old ones. Besides Morbid Scream they were the most brutal band on the bill and great ending of the Friday.
THE SECOND DAY
After some adventuring from the town where our hotel was we arrived to KIT. First band we catched was Midnight from Cleveland, US. The name was familiar but had not actually heard much of their music ’til now. First thing that I noticed was the band itself, each one of the threesome had a cloth around their head, a bit similar to executioner but without any holes. They started their wild set with a lot of energy which was around all the time. I’m sure these fellows are highly influenced by Venom and the likes, rocking black metal with sing alongs and great solos. One could say that they are today’s answer to good old times of metal from the eighties. Well, actually they aren’t that new as a band but definitely compared to many of the other ones on the bill.
At this point there were already a lot of people in this sold out hall and moving became hard so I knew this was to be a long day. Next was October 31, fronted by King Fowley who must be the most metal person in the known universe, at least of what I know of him. He continued where Midnight left, pure metal orgasm was present when King and his fellow bandmates were finally performing their metal to the fans of old continent. Very enjoyable show and it made me hungry to get their records.
Old NWOBHM act Legend (the one from Jersey) was next to jump on stage. It was time to calm down a bit as their British steel was very epic and more slow than the previous wild bands. This suited just perfectly as it gave variety and eerie sounds. Definitely they had the old yet ageless British sound on their music and especially the vocalist was channeling that perfectly. I liked this one a lot.
Then it was time for some US metal again in the form of Jack Starr’s Burning Starr. Known to many as the original guitarist of Virgin Steele but the man has had quite a few other bands during the years and is still going strong, true survivor from the past scene. Their set offered quality American metal as well as a solo spot of mr. Starr. Vocalist had a suberb voice going very high at times which fitted to this kind of metal perfectly. The highlight came in the end when they performed the song Evil Never Sleep. Well done guys! Unfortunately I had to miss Steel Prophet as it was time to get some food from the restaurant nearby, hope to catch these dudes next time. What I heard outside the venue was that they did a cover of Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen, quite an ambitious song to cover but sounded good and what I heard from my friend is that it was an excellent one.
Angel Witch was the first co-headliner of the Saturday. I’ve seen them a few times so I didn’t expect anything to be differently. Yet with a joy I got to see an great show by them. The reason might be thet the band behind mastermind Kevin Heybourne (vocals/guitars) is now a thicker unit, more like a band and they really seemed to enjoy playing. Most of the songs I recognized as they were from their classic first s/t album as well as at least one from the Loser 7″. The new stuff they played was also excellent so I need to get the album as all the scepticism is now gone.
Finally the festival was reaching to it’s end and there was only Warlord left to play. By this time all the merchandise stands from the back of the hall were unpacked and close to everyone on the whole fest was witing for Warlord to start their performance. The atmosphere was like in a metal church and the soundtrack of Conan the Barbarian was played to the waiting audience. The show was delayed some 20 minutes or so and that made the atmosphere even more full of magic. The waiting was worth it and after a while the band came on stage and started their set with Deliver Us from Evil, one of their most well known songs. Their set continued with such old classics as Child of the Damned, Aliens and Lost and Lonely Days. The guitar harmonies were heavenly and clear which caused people to go in trance in the fully packed hall. Besides the guitars the musianship was perfect all in all, especially the drums. Perfect ending to KIT part 16.
So yet another KIT behind and again it was just a great celebration of old school metal. Many of the bands on the bill each year is more obscure stuff and personally I don’t even know all of the bands by name, let alone own their records. One thing is sure though, they all represent the metal I love, pure and honest. After this spring I now have some nice memories of the bands who played so gotta catch up to get some new records to my collection. Thanks everyone, friends, bands and especially the organizers. See you next year for sure!!!