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Battleaxe

Biography

Battleaxe (1980-1983, 2007-present): a Thrash Metal band from Sunderland, UK.

F

irst appearing on the 'Guardian Records' compilation album Roxcalibur, Battleaxe quickly followed up with the single Burn This Town in 1981 which was soon after followed by the like named album Burn This Town, in 1983 with Dave King (vocals), Steve Hardy (guitar), Brian Smith (bass) and Ian Thompson (drums; Ian McCormack would replace him after their first record). They recorded two albums for 'Music For Nations': Burn This Town (1983) and Power From The Universe (1984). Two albums of British influenced late 80s style thrash metal that received little public interest. They had recorded an album titled Mean Machine in 1987 but it was never released. Long after the group split the Nightmare Zone EP would be released in 2005 despite being recorded back in 1987. The band reformed in 2007 and released Heavy Metal Sanctuary (2014).

An interesting piece of history occurred once a release deal had been struck with 'Roadrunner Records'. The master tapes were forwarded to the record production and the album title for Burn This Town was created. The company requested some concept ideas for the cover artwork, so the band asked a friend and local artist Arthur Ball if he could come up with suggestions. He then produced the first Burn This Town cover artwork as it is known now, however only as a rough proof drawing. Arthur planned to re-draw the whole thing again to a much higher standard once it was to be approved by the record company. However, when 'Roadrunner' received the proof artwork for approval, they went ahead and pressed 2000 units for a worldwide release without the band's consent. The graphic looked amateurish, and the band worried what this might do to their reputation. However, the album sold well. The band began developing a reputation in the region as a solid heavy metal outfit.

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A short time after finishing the recordings of Burn This Town, drummer Ian Thompson was badly injured with a skull fracture when attacked by someone wielding an iron bar. Hew required a long time to heal. During this time, the band's momentum was still growing as they were signed by 'Roadrunner Records' and contracted to complete a second album by the end of the year. Ian McCormack, Satan's ex-drummer, was asked to fill the drum position until Thomson recovered. However, when Power From The Universe was released on both the 'Roadrunner' and 'Music for Nations' labels, the band suddenly found themselves garnering unexpected fame. Listeners stated that this album showed a more refined and mature sound. The band continued on with the same lineup to complete a BBC Radio One Session on the Tommy Vance Friday Rock show, then a nationwide tour supporting Saxon, and invited to a Leeds Queens Hall Festival with Twisted Sister, Girlschool, Anvil, Spyder and Plus.

On the eve of a major appearance at Hammersmith Odeon London in support of Saxon on their Crusader tour, A&R staff from 'Atlantic Records' were in attendance. After the show, they wanted the band to organize a showcase for them. However, Steve Hardy unexpectedly quit, and they had to pull out of what could have been a major signing. It took almost two years before a new lineup was found; a severe blow to their career and put the band on hold until they could regain their footing. They toured the UK in support of Madam X, who had to pull out of the tour due to an illness, leaving Battleaxe to headline. They finished the tour at the Dominion theatre in London.

When it was settled, the new lineup included Mick Percy and John Stormont. Soon after, they went into Neat Records studio to record the tracks for their 1987 EP, Nightmare Zone. John Stormont contributed a lead break performance on the track Killer Woman. But when he left there was a rotating door of musicians until 1987 when Jason Holt was recruited on guitar with Stew Curtan joining on on drums after Ian McCormack retired). During this period of instability, the band met drummer Paul AT Kinson from Newcastle, who filled in now and then but didn't officially join the band until a later date. However, this new lineup lasted only a short time as it became hard for Battleaxe to tour. Metallica, who had recently appeared on the music scene, wanted to tour the UK and Europe with Battleaxe but changed their minds because of politics. However, Battleaxe managed to be added to a compilation album with Metallica, Manowar, and others. Plans were made to record a third album, and they went into the studio to record the demos that would become the Nightmare Zone EP. The third album was originally going to be called "Metal Edge", but they were not able to secure interest from a record label, and the band began to lose interest. Due to financial limitations, touring and performing live gigs simultaneously was impossible. In 2007 the four piece, Mick Percy (guitar), Paul AT Kinson (ex-Jess Cox/Skyclad/Bob Dee (USA)), along with the two founding members, Brian Smith (bass), and Dave King (vocals; not the Fastway of the same name) shot a video to the track Chopper Attack. The video appeared to relaunch the band onto the reemerging NWOBHM scene.

2014 saw the departure of drummer Paul AT Kinson following the Keep It True Festival (Germany). Ricky Squires & Steve Rix would assume drums.

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