Think “first wave of thrash metal,” and what has been come to be known as “the Big 4” immediately come to mind – Metallica, Slayer, Anthrax, and Megadeth. But that’s not to say that there weren’t other bands from the era that lent a hand in the trailblazing of the genre – especially, Heretic. And now, fans can hear what the band was all about on a recently-released box set, ‘From the Vault…Tortured and Broken,’ via Metal Blade Records.
Collecting a pair of classic early releases from the band and expanding them with extra tracks (the 1986 EP ‘Torture Knows No Boundary’ and the 1988 full-length ‘Breaking Point’), ‘From the Vault’ also includes a DVD comprised of two vintage live performances (the Country Club from 1985 and Jezebels in 1986 – the latter recorded while supporting Megadeth) and a bonus video clip (for the track “Let Em Bleed”).
Hailing from Los Angeles, the band was founded by guitarist Brian Korban in 1985. Including singer Mike Howe in their ranks from 1986-1988 (before he would go on to join Metal Church for a trio of releases), Heretic quickly found themselves in the midst of a musical movement that would take the world by storm. “Heretic opened for so many great bands back in the 80’s,” recalls Korban. “Metallica, Saxon, Motörhead, The Plasmatics, Megadeth, Armored Saint, Riot, Lizzy Borden to name a few. I think opening for Metallica, and winning their crowd over was one of my fondest memories. During our first song, the crowd was chanting ‘Metallica!’ louder than we we’re playing live. But by the third song, we had their full attention.”
It wasn’t long before Heretic was penning hard-hitting thrash tunes, including a pair that sticks out as favorites for the guitarist. “My personal favorites are ‘Betrayed’ and ‘The Search.’ ‘Betrayed’ because it really spotlights every member of the new line-up, and it’s fun to play live. ‘The Search’ is a song I’m proud of for its lyrics. Pretty heavy thought for a young songwriter. They still ring true with all the crazy things going on in the world today.”
As Korban stated, there is a new Heretic line-up, which is comprised of himself, as well as singer Julian Mendez (who sang with the band in 1986), second guitarist Glenn Rogers, bassist Angelo Espino, and drummer Ignazio Coppola. “We plan to keep recording new music, and play as much as we can,” says Rogers. “We want to grow the band and bring it to its rightful place in the world of heavy metal.”
Looking back, Mendez explains why he feels Heretic was overlooked by many the first time around. “I think because there were too many line-up changes, and by the time Heretic was recognized as a national act, the line-up changed again and the grunge scene came into play. Literally killing the scene.” But with the band resuscitated in 2011 (after going their separate ways in 1988) and issuing a strong comeback album (‘A Time of Crisis’) and video (“Blood Will Tell,” which can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CWU1shhvHCM&feature=youtube_gdata_player), Heretic has big time goals set for the future, according to Espino – “New record, bigger and better shows, world domination!”
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