Last updated
Origin San Francisco Bay Area, United States
Genres Thrash metal
Years active
  • 1985–1994
  • 2001–2003
  • 2018
  • 2019–present
Associated acts
Members Phil Demmel
Deen Dell
Sean Killian
Perry Strickland
Ray Vegas
Past membersEddie Billy
Troy Fua
Jerry Birr
Robb Flynn
Mark Hernandez
Steve Schmidt

Vio-lence is an American thrash metal band formed in 1985 in the San Francisco Bay Area. Throughout its existence, they released demo tapes, one EP and three studio albums. Vio-lence is best-known for their association with the 1980s Bay Area thrash metal scene, and often credited as one of the leading lights of the second wave of the genre, along with Pantera, Sepultura, Sacred Reich, Dark Angel, Annihilator and Flotsam and Jetsam as well as their Bay Area counterparts Testament, Death Angel and Forbidden. [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] Their most stable line-up was Phil Demmel and Robb Flynn on guitars, Deen Dell on bass, Perry Strickland on drums and Sean Killian on vocals; this lineup recorded all their studio albums. After breaking up in 1994 and reforming for occasional live performances from 2001 to 2003, the members of Vio-Lence reunited in January 2018 for a benefit of Killian, who was battling with liver cirrhosis. [6] The band announced their third reunion in January 2019. [7] [8]

Thrash metal is an extreme subgenre of heavy metal music characterized by its overall aggression and often fast tempo. The songs usually use fast percussive beats and low-register guitar riffs, overlaid with shredding-style lead guitar work. The lyrical subject matter often deals with criticisms of The Establishment, and at times shares a disdain for Christian dogma resembling that of their black metal counterparts. The language is typically quite direct and denunciatory, an approach borrowed from hardcore punk.

San Francisco Bay Area Conurbation in California, United States

The San Francisco Bay Area is a populous region surrounding the San Francisco, San Pablo and Suisun Bay estuaries in the northern part of the U.S. state of California. Although the exact boundaries of the region vary depending on the source, the Bay Area is defined by the Association of Bay Area Governments to include the nine counties that border the aforementioned estuaries: Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Solano, Sonoma, and San Francisco. Other sources may exclude parts of or even entire counties, or expand the definition to include neighboring counties that don't border the bay such as San Benito, San Joaquin, and Santa Cruz.

Demo (music) song or group of songs recorded for limited circulation or reference use rather than for general public release

A demo is a song or group of songs recorded for limited circulation or reference use rather than for general public release. A demo is a way for a musician to approximate their ideas in a fixed format, such as cassette tape, compact disc, or digital audio files, and to thereby pass along those ideas to record labels, producers, or other artists.



Initial career

Vio-lence, then-called Death Penalty, was formed in 1985 with the line-up of Jerry Birr (vocals), Phil Demmel (guitar), Troy Fua (guitar), Eddie Billy (bass), Perry Strickland (drums). [9] Not long after playing their first gig, which reportedly took place at a house party, Death Penalty changed their name to Violence and eventually then to Vio-lence, as the former was taken by another band. After recording two demos in 1986, they parted ways with Birr, Fua and Billy, who were replaced by Sean Killian, Robb Flynn (formerly of Forbidden Evil) and Deen Dell respectively. Their live success at local clubs in Northern California – opening for bands like D.R.I., Voivod, Kreator, Dark Angel, Suicidal Tendencies and the Mentors, as well as their Bay Area thrash metal peers Legacy, Exodus, Death Angel, Lȧȧz Rockit and Heathen – allowed Vio-lence to record another demo, this time for major labels, including MCA Records' sister label Mechanic, who offered them a recording contract. [9] [10] [11]

Phil Demmel American guitarist

Phil Demmel is a musician, who played lead guitar in American heavy metal band Machine Head between 2002 and 2018, making him their longest running member in that position. He was also a founding member of Vio-lence, which also included Machine Head guitarist/vocalist Robb Flynn. Demmel was also a member of Torque.

Robb Flynn American musician

Robert Conrad "Robb" Flynn is the lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist for the heavy metal band Machine Head. Flynn formed the band along with Adam Duce, Logan Mader and Tony Costanza after leaving Bay Area thrash band Vio-Lence.

Forbidden was a thrash metal band from the San Francisco Bay Area. Formed in 1985 as Forbidden Evil, the group was founded by Jim Pittman and guitarist Robb Flynn. Since their formation, Forbidden have broken up and reformed twice with numerous line-up changes. The most recent line-up of the band comprised Anderson (vocals), Locicero (guitar), Matt Camacho (bass), Steve Smyth (guitar) and Sasha Horn (drums). After breaking up for the first time in 1998 and briefly returning in 2001, Forbidden reunited once again in 2007 but has been on an indefinite hiatus since 2013.

From February to April 1988, Vio-lence recorded their debut album, Eternal Nightmare , at two studios: The Music Grinder in Los Angeles and Alpha & Omega in San Francisco. The album received mostly positive reviews upon its release in the summer of 1988, and peaked at number 154 on the Billboard 200, becoming the band's only album to enter that chart; [12] [13] this can be attributed to the album selling over 30,000 copies. [9] Vio-lence toured throughout 1988 and 1989 in support of Eternal Nightmare, with bands such as Testament, Voivod, Death Angel, Sanctuary, Nuclear Assault, D.R.I., M.O.D. and the Cro-Mags. [9] [10] [11] The underground success of the album also caught the attention of several labels, including Megaforce Records (then-home to bands such as Testament, M.O.D., Anthrax, and Overkill), who eventually signed the band. [9] [10]

<i>Eternal Nightmare</i> (Vio-lence album) 1988 studio album by Vio-lence

Eternal Nightmare is the debut album by the San Francisco Bay Area thrash metal band Vio-lence. It was released originally in 1988 on MCA Records' Mechanix sublabel. A limited 10" promo single was released, with two tracks 'Eternal Nightmare' and 'Phobophobia'; the release was quite unique, as it came in a sealed plastic cover, containing (fake) vomit. Shortly after, thrash metal innovators Slayer released a single in a similar format, but with fake blood and alternative rock band The Revolting Cocks released a single with fake semen.

The Billboard 200 is a record chart ranking the 200 most popular music albums and EPs in the United States. It is published weekly by Billboard magazine. It is frequently used to convey the popularity of an artist or groups of artists. Often, a recording act will be remembered by its "number ones", those of their albums that outperformed all others during at least one week. The chart grew from a weekly top 10 list in 1956 to become a top 200 in May 1967, and acquired its present title in March 1992. Its previous names include the Billboard Top LPs (1961–72), Billboard Top LPs & Tape (1972–84), Billboard Top 200 Albums (1984–85) and Billboard Top Pop Albums.

Testament (band) American metal band

Testament is an American thrash metal band from Berkeley, California. Formed in 1982 under the name Legacy, the band's current lineup comprises guitarists Eric Peterson and Alex Skolnick, lead vocalist Chuck Billy, drummer Gene Hoglan, and bassist Steve Di Giorgio. Since its inception, Testament has had numerous lineup changes, leaving Peterson as the only constant member. Billy replaced original singer Steve "Zetro" Souza in 1986, prior to the recording of their first studio album, The Legacy, and has been a member of the band since. He and Peterson are the only members to appear on all of Testament's studio albums.

In December 1989, Vio-lence entered the studio to record what would be their second album and only release on Megaforce (distributed by Atlantic), Oppressing the Masses , which faced multiple delays until its release in the summer of 1990. [9] [10] [11] Although the album's success did not match that of Eternal Nightmare, it received some positive reviews and a video for the song "World in a World" was released. Oppressing the Masses also generated some controversy, when the original album (which reportedly sold only 20,000 copies) was destroyed because of Atlantic's objection to the lyrical content of "Torture Tactics"; [9] [10] as a result, the album was reprinted without this track. Vio-lence toured in support of the album for about a year, with bands such as Overkill, Exodus, Forbidden, Flotsam and Jetsam, Prong, Defiance and Rigor Mortis. [11]

Atlantic Records American record label

Atlantic Recording Corporation is an American record label founded in October 1947 by Ahmet Ertegün and Herb Abramson. Over its first 20 years of operation, Atlantic earned a reputation as one of the most important American labels, specializing in jazz, R&B, and soul by Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, Wilson Pickett, Sam and Dave, Ruth Brown and Otis Redding. Its position was greatly improved by its distribution deal with Stax. In 1967, Atlantic became a wholly owned subsidiary of Warner Bros.-Seven Arts, now the Warner Music Group, and expanded into rock and pop music with releases by Led Zeppelin and Yes.

<i>Oppressing the Masses</i> 1990 studio album by Vio-Lence

Oppressing the Masses is second album recorded by the San Francisco Bay Area thrash band Vio-lence. It was released originally in 1990 on Megaforce Records. The original print (20,000) contained the song "Torture Tactics," but all copies were destroyed because of Atlantic's objection to the lyrical content. However, that song can be found on the Japanese version of the album. The re-release version contains the tracks from Torture Tactics EP.

Overkill (band) American thrash metal band

Overkill is an American thrash metal band, formed in 1980 in New Jersey. They have gone through many line-up changes, leaving bassist D. D. Verni and lead vocalist Bobby "Blitz" Ellsworth as the only constant members. In addition to Verni and Ellsworth, Overkill's current lineup includes Dave Linsk on lead guitar, Derek Tailer on rhythm guitar and Jason Bittner on drums. Along with Nuclear Assault and Anthrax, whose one-time lead guitarist Dan Spitz was also an early member of Overkill, the band is one of the most successful East Coast thrash metal bands, and they are often called "the Motörhead of thrash metal". The band has a notable mascot named "Chaly", a skeletal bat with a skull-like face, horns, bony wings and green eyes, who has appeared on most of their album covers.

In 1991, after being dropped from Atlantic/Megaforce, Vio-lence released an EP Torture Tactics , which included three studio songs (recorded in 1989 during the sessions of Oppressing the Masses) and one "live" track from 1988. Internal conflicts in 1992 resulted in the departure of Robb Flynn who would move on to form groove metal band Machine Head. [9] A year later, Vio-lence released their third and final album, Nothing to Gain , which was actually recorded in 1990. They never toured in support of that album, and Strickland left the band after its release. [9]

<i>Torture Tactics</i> 1991 EP by Vio-Lence

Torture Tactics is an EP recorded by the San Francisco Bay Area thrash metal band Vio-lence in 1991. It was released originally on Megaforce Records and the studio tracks are old songs from the demo times of Vio-lence.

Groove metal is a subgenre of heavy metal music. Music journalists and fans have used groove metal to describe Pantera, Exhorder and Machine Head. At its core, groove metal takes the intensity and sonic qualities of thrash metal and plays them at mid-tempo, with most bands making only occasional forays into fast tempo.

Machine Head (band) American metal band

Machine Head is an American heavy metal band from Oakland, California. The band was formed in 1991 by vocalist/guitarist Robb Flynn and bassist Adam Duce. The band's aggressive musicianship made it one of the pioneering bands in the new wave of American heavy metal, and it is also considered to be part of the second wave of thrash metal bands from the 1990s. Machine Head's current lineup comprises Flynn and bassist Jared MacEachern. Duce, guitarists Logan Mader, Ahrue Luster and Phil Demmel and drummers Tony Costanza, Chris Kontos and Dave McClain are former members of the band; Mader and Kontos are currently touring with the band as part of the 25th anniversary tour for its first album, Burn My Eyes (1994).


After an attempt to make a fourth album, and performing what would be their final show for eight years on December 18, 1993 with a new lineup in San Francisco, Vio-lence split up. [9] [10] [11]

Phil Demmel, Deen Dell, Ray Vegas and Mark Hernandez formed a groove/thrash metal band called Torque which disbanded after releasing a studio album and playing several live shows. Demmel then went to form Technocracy.

Robb Flynn has been the guitarist and singer of Machine Head since its inception in 1991. Demmel joined Machine Head in 2003, first as a session guitarist and later becoming a full-time member of the band; he would stay in Machine Head until his departure in 2018. [14]


Initially planning only a few shows as part of the tribute to Testament frontman Chuck Billy during the Thrash of the Titans benefit in 2001, the band decided to reunite with early guitarist Ray Vegas replacing Robb Flynn.

In addition to their 2005 re-release of Eternal Nightmare , the band released a 7-inch vinyl record containing two demo tracks from their original 1986 demo tape as well as one previously unreleased track. Only 1000 copies were produced and pressed by Bone Crusher Records. The 7 inch collectible was well marketed and advertised, but due to disagreements between the band and the Bone Crusher record producers, only Vio-lence was allowed to distribute and sell the 500 given to them by the producers. A deal was made to distribute a small quantity (about 100) through a Seattle record store, the only known store to stock the item for sale to the public.

A DVD entitled Blood And Dirt was produced by Jerry Allen - (Tales From The Pit video magazine) and released on August 8, 2006 through Megaforce.

On November 6, 2017, it was announced that the members of Vio-Lence would reunite for a performance at "Killian on Command: An Evening of Vio-Lence", a benefit for the band's singer Sean Killian, who was diagnosed with stage four liver cirrhosis earlier that summer. [6] The benefit took place at The Midway in San Francisco, California on January 20, 2018, and included performances by the members of Vio-Lence and their Bay Area thrash metal peers Testament, Exodus, Death Angel, Forbidden and Mordred. [6] [15] The show concluded with a performance of "World in a World" featuring four-fifths of the Eternal Nightmare and Oppressing the Masses lineup; vocals were provided by Flynn instead of Killian, who did not perform due to his health condition. [16] On November 11, 2018, Killian's wife Dana posted a photo on her personal Facebook page, cryptically confirming that her husband has recovered from his illness. [17]

The possibility of a Vio-lence reunion was renewed in September 2018 when Flynn announced that guitarist Phil Demmel was leaving Machine Head after a farewell tour with then-current lineup of Flynn, Demmel, Jared MacEachern and Dave McClain; [14] at first it was speculated that Machine Head was actually breaking up, but Flynn announced shortly thereafter that he was going to continue the band with a new lineup. [18]

Musical outlets reported in November 2018 that, following Demmel's departure from Machine Head, there were rumors Vio-lence would reform "in the not-too-distant future" for shows and possibly new music. [19] [20]

On January 8, 2019, it was announced that Vio-lence would reunite for a performance on April 13 at the Metro in Oakland to perform their debut album, Eternal Nightmare , in its entirety. [7] The show intended as a one-off sold out shortly after its announcement, resulting in a matinee appearance at the Metro, which took place on the following day. [21] [22]

On February 16, 2019, it was announced that Vio-lence will play their first European show at the Alcatraz Metal Fest in Kortrijk, Belgium that August. [8] In addition to their first live appearance in Los Angeles in over a decade on May 31, 2019 at The Regent with Sacred Reich, Excel and Sworn Enemy, [23] they will play their first shows in New York in nearly 30 years at the Brooklyn Bazaar on November 8–9. [24] The band also will reportedly play shows with their Bay Area thrash metal peers Testament and Death Angel, and continue their reunion with more shows in 2020. [25]

On August 9, 2019, Bloodstock Open Air announced that Vio-lence will be playing their first ever and only UK show at the festival in 2020. [26]


Current members
Former members





Studio albums




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Flotsam and Jetsam (band) thrash metal group from Phoenix, Arizona

Flotsam and Jetsam is an American thrash metal and progressive metal band that formed in Phoenix, Arizona in 1981. The band currently consists of vocalist Eric "A.K" Knutson, guitarists Michael Gilbert and Steve Conley, bassist Michael Spencer, and drummer Ken Mary. Flotsam and Jetsam went through several lineup changes over the years, and Knutson has been the only constant member of the band. They are also notable for featuring bassist Jason Newsted, who left the band shortly after the release of their debut album to join Metallica as Cliff Burton's replacement.

<i>Burn My Eyes</i> 1994 studio album by Machine Head

Burn My Eyes is the debut studio album by American heavy metal band Machine Head, released on August 9, 1994 by Roadrunner Records. The album's themes generally tie into the social disorder and corresponding inner tension that the band was exposed to in their native Oakland, California, reflected in Robb Flynn's lyrics, such as the Los Angeles Riots of 1992 and the Waco Siege of 1993. The album shipped over 400,000 copies worldwide, becoming Roadrunner Records's best selling debut album until the release of Slipknot's debut album. This is Machine Head's only studio album to feature drummer Chris Kontos.

<i>Hellalive</i> 2003 live album by Machine Head

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<i>Through the Ashes of Empires</i> 2003 studio album by Machine Head

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Bay Area thrash metal, or "Bay Area thrash", referred to a steady following of heavy metal bands in the 1980s who formed and gained international status in the San Francisco Bay Area, California. Along with South Florida, the scene was widely regarded as a starting point of American thrash metal and death metal.

Adam Duce American musician

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Heathen (band) American thrash metal band

Heathen is an American thrash metal band originating from the San Francisco Bay Area, active from 1984 to 1993 and again from 2001 onwards. Despite never achieving commercial success, the band is often credited – alongside Exodus, Testament, Forbidden, Death Angel and Vio-lence – as one of the leaders of the Bay Area thrash metal scene of the mid-to-late 1980s, and they have gone through several line-up changes, leaving guitarist Lee Altus as the only constant member. To date, Heathen has released three studio albums: Breaking the Silence (1987), Victims of Deception (1991) and The Evolution of Chaos (2009).

Thrash of the Titans

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<i>Nothing to Gain</i> 1993 studio album by Vio-lence

Nothing to Gain is the third and final full-length album recorded by the San Francisco Bay Area thrash metal band Vio-lence. The album was recorded in August 1990, but wasn't released until 1993, after the departure of guitarist Robb Flynn. Nothing to Gain was re-released in 1997 with a different cover.

Clash of the Titans (tour)

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