Join Policy: Open
Created on: 11 Jan 2008
Join Policy: Open
Created on: 11 Jan 2008
For fans of the British Thrash Metal group.
“you don’t know me, my name’s Stan, I believe your looking for a guitar player” it was this phone call back in 1985 that was the start of one of the U.K.’s most underrated thrash metal bands.
Chris Astley had started Sweet Vengeance when he was still in high school and had embraced the NWOBHM that was changing the sound of Metal that until now had been dominated by Rainbow, Deep Purple and ACDC. Sweet Vengeance went through many line up changes in it’s brief history, including bass player Peter Hiller, drummer John Brennan and vocalist Sean Owens. But it was only when the drummer at the time, Dave Catchpole, invited Dennis Gasser down to a rehearsal (because he was planning on leaving the band) that Astley and Havard realised that with Den on board they could become a force to reckoned with. “I remember we used to do a cover of cold sweat by Thin Lizzy and Dave said to Den do you know it? And Den got behind that kit and smacked F*** out those drums, it was twice as loud and played a million times better and I said to Chris we’ve got to get this guy in our band” recalled Stan.
After Gasser was on board they set out to make their first demo at Amazon studios in Liverpool. The Hunger for demo session included the tracks Blackmail, Hunger for death, nobody’s perfect and the instrumental G.A.A.F. The band went on to rerecord the track ‘Blackmail’ for a compilation album of unsigned acts entitled ‘full force’, but then they started to encounter problems with bass player Ste Hodgson. “We wanted to progress into a more of a technical direction and Ste just couldn’t keep up” said Dennis “so we called upon the services of my brother Mel to step in until we found a replacement”. Vengeance did a handful of shows with the Gasser brothers in the rhythm section including a gig in Coventry supporting the pagan thrash outfit Sabbat, until Paul ‘Macka’ MacKenzie answered an advert in Kerrang magazine and joined what was soon to become Xentrix.
‘Hunger for demo’ received a storming review in Metal Forces magazine and this led to a phone call from Mark Palmer of Roadrunner UK asking as to why they had not yet received a copy. This was quickly rectified and after playing a showcase gig to an audience of just one (Mark Palmer) they were offered a recording contract and set out to write their first album. “We told Roadrunner that we had an albums worth of stuff already written but the truth was we had about five songs, two of which we didn’t like” said Xentrix Front man Chris Astley.
Late nights, the odd argument and a lot of cigs and beer aided in writing the album ‘Shattered Existence’ and in the summer of 1989 they went into Gas street studios in Birmingham with producer John Cuniberti, who had just finished the first Forbidden album and was half way through producing ‘Flying in a blue dream’ for Joe Satriani. The album was recorded and mixed in ten days and was released in September of the same year. A U.K. tour with Sabbat gave Xentrix a chance to reach bigger audiences and make their mark on the developing U.K. thrash scene. “That tour was amazing” Macka recalls “it was the first time we got to play in Ireland and those gigs at McGonagles in Dublin were F**kin insane, the stage diving was mental……it was awesome”.
BBC radio one’s Friday Rock Show wanted Xentrix to go into their studios in Maida Vale in London and record a session. “I remember we were really excited about doing a Rock show session,” said Dennis “but we didn’t just want to go and record just tracks off our album, so we did an old song called ‘interrogate’, a song from the first demo called ‘nobody’s perfect’ and this cover we had been doing live which was ‘Ghostbusters’, the Ray Parker Jnr. Song from the movie. Humour was a big part of the band, we all took the music seriously, but to us it was important to have a laugh and enjoy ourselves. Roadrunner saw an opportunity to release the track as an EP and after a threatening letter from Columbia pictures regarding the original sleeve artwork it was released in 1990.
Opening for Bay area thrash giants Testament at the legendary Hammersmith Odeon was a dream come true for guitar player Stan “They were one of our favourite bands, we used to cover Curse of the legions of Death’, so to get a gig with them was amazing. But the one thing I’ll never forget about that gig was walking onstage expecting it to be half empty, because we were on so early, and then hearing the roar from a packed out venue at the end of our first song, we even had people singing along to ‘Balance of power’ and ‘Crimes’.
‘For whose advantage’ was the title of their second album. Recorded at Loco studios in Wales, this saw the return of John Cuniberti in the production role and the addition of engineer Mark Flannery. A five K review in Kerrang magazine, a video for the title track and a European tour with label mates Annihilator meant that 1990 was a busy year for Xentrix.
“After the ‘for whose advantage’ touring we had these two song that were a bit of a departure from the straight forward thrash thing” recalls Chris “so we decided to record a gig in our home town and release a part live, part studio E.P. and that became Dilute to taste”. The usual thrash metal monster faced pictures that people expected to see on inner sleeves were replaced by baby photos of the band, and all the people at the gig signed a guest book and are credited as live backing vocals. 1991 saw a headlining U.K. tour, taking out the new band Skyclad and a return to Hammersmith, this time opening for Brazilian thrashers Sepultura.
“In ’93 the U.K. thrash scene was more or less finished, Onslaught, Acid Reign, Sabbat and Slammer had all called it a day, so we decided to try a different approach to writing and recording our next album - Kin.”said Macka “we all have a love/hate relationship with that album, it’s got some great songs, but it lacks in passion and energy.” Kin was recorded in four weeks (the longest time the band ever spent in the studio) back in Loco studios and saw Mark Flannery in the producer’s chair. After a European tour supporting German drinking band Tankard the band returned to the U.K. to play, what would be their final tour with Chris at the helm.
Rather than try to replace Chris the remaining three members opted to get a guitar player and a separate vocalist. They enlisted the talents of Simon Gordon (Vocals) and Andy Rudd (Guitar) and set about to reinvent themselves. In late ’95 Xentrix secured a deal with Heavy Metal Records and went into their studios in Wolverhampton and recorded the album ‘Scourge’. After only a handful of gigs it was becoming obvious that the once energetic metal scene in the U.K. had turned on them, and this realisation led the band to finally call it a day.
“All six members of Xentrix got back together to do an invite only gig in November 1999 for my 30th birthday, and until now haven’t played since. Although were not reforming we are doing a gig for Macka’s birthday up in Barrow-in-Furness and a small show in Preston, just to take some Metal back from the Welsh”- Stan
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