San Francisco Bay Area thrashers VIO-LENCE have returned with "Flesh From Bone", their first song in 29 years. The track comes from their upcoming EP, "Let The World Burn", their first original release since 1993's "Nothing To Gain". The five-song collection will be available worldwide on March 4 via Metal Blade Records.
"This is the first VIO-LENCE song I had written in close to 30 years," admits founding guitarist Phil Demmel. "I wanted to keep some of those early 'Eternal Nightmare' [debut album, 1988] qualities intact but infuse a lot of what I've culled into my songwriting arsenal over the decades. 'Flesh From Bone' has the frenetic picking/fingering riffs and the solo trade-offs that are pretty old-school, and I'm also wearing my influences on my sleeve with a few EXODUS- and SLAYER-inspired riffs.”
Frontman Sean Killian adds: "'Flesh From Bone' reflects on the true suffering of man during the dark ages of history. Laws and rules of people like Vlad The Impaler were not to be broken. If you did, your sentence would be impalement, or worse. To die in battle was to suffer."
Killian continues: "For 34 years, a creation called 'Eternal Nightmare' has been making memories for people around the world. Now, it is time to create some new memories in 2022. I am very proud of the new music we created, and we are fortunate to have worked with some very creative people. Nothing too polished here, unless fragments of glass and broken razor blades are what you consider polished. I love to create, and we hope your heads explode when you hear the new VIO-LENCE."
Filling out the band's ranks on "Let The World Burn" alongside Demmel and Killian are original drummer Perry Strickland, former OVERKILL guitarist Bobby Gustafson and former FEAR FACTORY bassist Christian Olde Wolbers.
"Let The World Burn" was recorded with Juan Urteaga at Trident Studios (TESTAMENT, MACHINE HEAD, EXODUS), with mixing handled by Tue Madsen (THE HAUNTED, MESHUGGAH) and Grammy Award-winning engineer Ted Jensen (ALICE IN CHAINS, DEFTONES, PANTERA).
"Let The World Burn" track listing
01. Flesh From Bone
02. Screaming Always
03. Upon Their Cross
04. Gato Negro
05. Let the World Burn
In a recent interview with Mark Kadzielawa of 69 Faces Of Rock, Demmel stated about "Let The World Burn": "We had decided to write [some new material]. I didn't wanna do a full-length record. Ten tunes is just… I've got a baby at home. I've got a five-year-old who's just the highest of energies and exhausting. So my time is very valuable and I just don't have the time to write a full-length record. I just felt, let's take little baby steps with the band and see if we can write a couple of tunes — maybe do three or four. It ended up being a five-song EP."
Regarding the songwriting process for "Let The World Burn", Demmel said: "Man, in the 16 years that I was in [MACHINE HEAD], it had thrash moments, but towards the end, there wasn't. And I had written thrash songs. I always have riffs, but it was exciting to… Fuck, [I'm writing an] all-out thrash song. I wanted to capture some moments of 'Eternal Nightmare' [VIO-LENCE's 1988 debut album], and there are some signature VIO-LENCE sounds that I wanted to perpetuate and continue. But also, since I've been playing thrash for a bit too, my right hand has gotten a lot stronger. I'm playing the best that I've ever played. And so I'm pushing the riffs. These aren't songs that you're picking up at Guitar Center and just playing in Guitar Center; they're pretty hard to play. I wanted to push everybody in that sense."
He continued: "I needed [Perry] to be able to accept this material in a language that I could speak with him. And I had to teach him how to understand my language. And it was hard. And it was grueling. It was me and him in a room… Mostly, this record musically was written… I wrote the music but with Perry for… 99 percent of it was just me and him in a room fucking hammering it out. So I'm super proud of him for what he played on the record. It's some of his best playing. It's definitely my best playing that's ever been recorded. Towards the end of my time in [MACHINE HEAD], I wasn't tracking rhythms, so it'd been a long time since I really tracked a metal record. I did a BPMD record and tracked those, but fuck, this is a thrash record, so tracking the rhythms was something refreshing and super cool to me. We did it with Juan Urteaga in his spot, and he's awesome to work with. I had a great time. It was just a great experience recording with Perry. And I kind of let Sean do his own thing 'cause he had his vocals down. Sean is just destroying it on these songs, man; his voice is so unique. And nobody sounds like him. It's sinister, man. 'Cause he had a real high register that he was singing in back in '88, and there's moments of that, really, now. But it's dark, man — he's singing dark. And I fucking love it. I love his lyrics. He's the favorite lyricist that I've ever worked with. He's smart and he's witty and he's colorful with what he does. I thoroughly enjoy his lyrics."
In August 2020, VIO-LENCE released a new digital single, "California Über Alles", a cover version of the DEAD KENNEDYS classic. The band also filmed a music video for the song with director Scott Kirkeeng.
VIO-LENCE released three studio albums between 1988 and 1993. The group reunited soon after Demmel left MACHINE HEAD in late 2018.
The band performed its first comeback concert in April 2019 at the Oakland Metro in Oakland, California and spent most of the ensuing months playing select shows in the U.S. and Europe.
Although MACHINE HEAD frontman Robb Flynn was part of VIO-LENCE's classic incarnation and played on the band's debut album, "Eternal Nightmare", he wasn't approached about taking part in any of the comeback shows.
Killian underwent a successful liver transplant surgery in March 2018. The year before, Killian was diagnosed with stage four liver cirrhosis, which was caused in part by a genetic condition called hemochromatosis.
VIO-LENCE's last album, "Nothing To Gain", was recorded in August 1990, but wasn't released until 1993.
Photo credit: James Willard