Virus (British band)
London, England, United Kingdom
|Associated acts||Criminal Damage
|Past members||Henry Heston
John D. Hess
Isa /Dave Sherwood
Virus, originally formed in Brighton, are now based in London, United Kingdom. Stated on several occasions as pioneers of UK thrash metal, and were quoted as "the badboys..." of their genre due to their live shows usually ending up in massive brawls, they have always remained a highly regarded force on the underground circuit.
Speed Kills, Fast & Raw
Originally formed in late 1986 by Henry Heston (vocals/Guitar) and Tez Kaylor (drums). The duo had played together in various punk bands from the age of fourteen, including Criminal Damage but had decided to move into hardcore punk/thrash metal. By the beginning of 1987 they were joined by John Hess (Bass) together they recorded and produced the debut album "Pray For War".
A few months after the recording they were joined by Coke McFinlay on lead guitar and by October the album was released on the Metalworks label.
The new tracks they had been playing formed the basis for their next album, Force Recon. Over the next couple of months they wrote more material, rehearsed, recorded and came out to play two more gigs. The first was supporting Suicidal Tendencies & punk outfit Chelsea at Hammersmith Clarendon and was followed by the Christmas on Earth gig at Queens Hall, Leeds two days later. Virus were to be the first band on stage followed by Laaz Rockitt, Voivod, Cro-Mags, Kreator, Overkill, Nuclear Assault and Megadeth (Voivod were billed, but they were held up by Belgian Customs and did not play the gig). Apart from Megadeth no-one got a sound check and the Virus set was effectively used to get the sound system up and running.
That gig did not do the band a great deal of good with the press. Certain journalists, despite many years in the business, apparently failed to notice the equipment problems and simply slagged the band off. Fortunately the audience turned out to be rather more aware and praised the band for attempting to continue in the face of overwhelming odds.
Blood and Madness
In December they headed to the recording studio to begin work on their second album, this was completed by the end of January in London.
Released three months later the album Force Recon proved a hit with both fans and press and it showed a maturity in both music and lyrics. One reviewer commented "A unique thing about this album is how much instrumental there is. McFinlay and Heston are quite apt with the guitar, talented indeed. The percussion and bass are capable too, extremely fast. The riffs and solos are top caliber".
The band themselves regarded said album as their true debut.
In July 1988 the band took the support slot on the Death Angel UK tour. This took in Brighton, Nottingham, Newcastle, Liverpool and Newport.
In the meantime Combat Records had released Force Recon in America and with minimal advertising the album sold in excess of 15,000 copies.
There's A Tension In The Air
Despite this disappointment, or perhaps because of it, the band returned to their rehearsal rooms and started to write material for a new album. The album, Lunacy, was recorded on SSL at Raezor Studios, London in May 1989 and was scheduled for release worldwide via MetalWorks/AVM in July. Unfortunately, due to distribution problems, the release was delayed until September causing the cancellation of the short tour that had been scheduled for July.
When released it received great reviews though not quite as revered as its predecessor, it remains a true great of the genre.
Towards the summer of 1990 Virus lost two members John Hess and Coke McFinlay due to personal differences within the band. Henry and Tez left England for the East Coast of America settling in New York, then Philadelphia, and proceeded to audition musicians there.
Eventually Virus USA took shape with musicians Benny Herb (vocals), Mark Baranowski (bass), and Syd Sholly (guitar). Demos were recorded and attracted considerable interest from the American press and various major labels. Unfortunately the world recession hit and the funding supporting Henry and Tez in the US dried up.
Leaving the US, Virus made it back to England but the American members were refused entry by immigration and red tape so the band decided to hang up their boots and concentrate on other projects.
The music scene in the UK was changing thanks in part to the emerging "Grunge" movement and the commercialisation of thrash bands like Metallica, at that point in time it seemed like thrash in its pure and raw form was dead.
Coke later went to Dundee and formed the band Splatterhead.
Skulls of My Enemies
In April 2008, Coke announced that he was going to reform the band initially for a one off reunion gig planned for September, however events would lead to something much better.
With thrash now back and bigger than ever in the UK the time was indeed right but the original members declined the offer, undeterred, Coke set about finding the right people not just for a one off show but to completely revamp the old songs and make the name a force again.
After an initial line up, a more settled group was formed with Dave Sherwood from a new generation thrash band 'Tiberium' and Black Metal legends 'DorEterna' on drums, Isa on bass and Pawel Matuszkiewicz ex Tempest on guitar, Coke himself also took on vocal duties as well as lead guitar.
In an interview Dave explained how he got the job "It really started to kick off once Grey (Extreme London Metal Militia DJ) got in touch with me about Virus.... and i replied to Cokes ad which said "'looking for drummer but no 18 year old cunts with big egos'" and i replied with "'im not 18, but im a 17 year old cunt who thinks he can play drums and wants to try out'"
Isa was later replaced by Matt Cooper, the guitarist with Cellbound and Sam Brandon from melodic death metal band 'Matron' took over from Pawel.
The new line up made their official debut at the Rock Attic in Streatham on December 13 (Though they had played a small secret warm up gig the previous week as opening act for Joe Stump at the same venue).
One review put it this way "In those few opening notes Coke had already proved his point and silenced the critics yes he could pull it off, but he went one better this is a new invigorated Virus full of life and power and dedicated to the music now and not on a nostalgia trip."
The Pain Will Pass
As the year closed Virus released a compilation CD with band artwork designed for them by 2000AD artist Michael Fiamanya.
The following year, 2009, had seen the band writing and performing new songs and were steadily starting to attract higher profile gigs with the likes of Lawnmower Deth, Discharge, Gama Bomb and a return bout with Suicidal Tendencies at the Electric Ballroom, Camden.
Towards the end of the year, Sam Brandon was replaced due to other band commitments, with bass player Steve Taylor (ex 'Hostile Dawn'), meaning Matt went onto guitar. The change happened at a critical period as recording for the first release in 20 years were a hand-grab away.
In late 2009, A brand new 4-track EP entitled Raped By Mutants was recorded, with artwork again designed for them by Michael Fiamanya.
Coke stated in an interview "20 years have passed & I'm doing again what I loved doing all those years ago, this time I'm a lot wiser to whats going on & not so naive as to believe anything I hear or read. Yes I've become more cynical, yes I'm the rock that can never be moved, the sword in the stone, it was past experiences that moulded me into what I've become. The passion is still there, the energy is still there & my ability to write good thrash is still there....lookout world here I come....again!"
At the beginning of 2010, Virus started pre-production on a brand new album with ex-live Cathedral bassist, Max Edwards.
In January 2011 Virus parted company with Matt Cooper,Dave Sherwood & Max Edwards...to make way for an exciting & revived Virus in the shape of the old pretender, Coke Finlay, Darren "Rusty" Rust Paul James & finally completing the quartet was Scott Lauzon..a very strong line-up that has done several headline gigs in 2011 & already played with Lawnmower Deth & D.R.I...Finishing the year of headlining in Malaga (Spain) at the Southbangers fest
2012 saw Virus play the very well respected U.K Hammerfest festival & a host of headline shows all over the north & south of England, headling in Norway with Black Majic & Blood Tsunami & headling in Bulgaria with new Disease (Bulgaria)
In 2013 Virus had to say goodbye to Scott Lauzon but his shoes have been filled by the very capable Stu Layne of Muted..They supported Suicidal Tendencies for a 3rd time in 26 years & were main Support to Evile at Scotlands main metal festival "Lesfest 2013" Virus will be releasing their first e.p. since 2009 entitled "A New Strain of an Old Disease" & will be doing 4 festivals this year & will keep the Virus train rolling along contaminating your ears with Thermo-Nuclear-Thrash..the Virus is again spreading into Europe in 2013 with 4 dates schedulled in Germany for October & again late October in Belgium & France.
- Pray for War (1987)
- Force Recon (1988)
- Lunacy (1989)
- Raped by Mutants (2009)
- A New strain of an old disease (2013) 'not yet released'
- Warmonger (1993)
- Virus (2008)
- Metalworks (records) Fastforward to Hell (1988)