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Post by El Decapo on Sun Jul 12, 2009 5:12 am
A medieval history lesson…something that hasn’t been taught in schools…

History has a way of repeating itself; but usually with more intensity than its first go around. Music is no exception, with waves of popular music constantly pushing the current envelope, discovering new plateaus that are then exceeded at an alarming rate. One such band that exemplifies this marching past the status quo is medieval.

In the early 80’s, metal began its segregation into many different genre’s, from heavy metal to thrash metal, to death metal, to black metal. The list of different “classes” of heavy metal grew to include descriptions of almost every song written during the time period. Included with these “styles” of music came the increasingly popular need to support the music with an image portraying the substance of the artist or the music. This seemed to stem from earlier artists such as Kiss and Alice Cooper, where theatrics and showmanship helped define the bands as something unique and as a complete entertainment “package” including both sight and sound. Unfortunately, many of the 80’s metal bands were unable to regain their focus on music, with so much attention spent on their newly invented image.

One of the few bands to take their image to a completely different level was the band medieval. Setting all pretensions aside regarding the image portrayed outside the writing of their music, medieval was dubbed the “imageless” band (in effect an image of its own!). With no need to worry about stage props, make-up, or being seen at the next “unholy rollers” banquet, medieval were able to focus on a diverse catalog of interesting lyrical topics, as well as experiment with many different types of musical influences; helping give medieval a sound unlike any other metal band of the time.

The concept for the band medieval was born in the late 70’s when two long time friends came together to satisfy their need for heavy, pounding, music. Although the name of the band at the time was Omnibus, the ground work was being built to form a band that was going to be unique to the metal scene. The two friends had become almost family, something akin to the bond of blood brothers; the bond of music lead Timmy and Willjious to combine their names (to Amsbuist) and combine their musical attitudes, forming the new “family” of medieval.

A bass player named Magloo was soon added, and the 3 piece began to perform throughout the west Michigan area. The bands first concert with major exposure, the Athens Music Festival, saw the trio opening for the recording artist Theater. Due to the large number of people and the exposure gained from this show, it became obvious that changes were needed to be made if the band wanted to continue to gain momentum and reach more people. This led to the parting of ways with Magloo, and the beginning of the search for someone with the same attitude and love for heavy music. Elwood Chew auditioned and immediately was recognized as the missing link to complete the bands line-up. With his thunderous bass playing and “bang or die” attitude meshing completely with Timmy and Willjious, it was clear the band was poised for great things.

medieval at this point was managed by Bobby K., who had aspirations that the band could be a more commercial act; so medieval was taken into the studio to cut what was to be a preliminary top-40 demo tape to gain access into the club circuit. What came out of the studio was medieval’s first demo of original compositions, that took the underground metal scene by storm. Seeing any future as a top-40 cover band evaporate, medieval soon found themselves without management. Enter Lord Byron, family friend, and “schoolmaster” to all those in the band regarding heavy metal music. Lord Byron was responsible for introducing the members of medieval to the music of the heaviest bands of the time: Motorhead, Holocaust, and Blitzkrieg among others. Armed with this new arsenal of metal upbringing, medieval began to gain focus into the style of music which was to be their forte’, a style of metal dubbed “sludge metal.”

Lord Byron took the band back in the studio to record the next demo, the All Knobs To The Right demo. With release of the tape, medieval was hailed by Bob Muldowney from Kick*Ass Monthly as “the best metal outfit without a label.” medieval was selling tapes and gaining recognition throughout the metal underground in magazines like Kick*Ass Monthly, Sledgehammer Press and Guillotine, as well as causing somewhat of a controversy with their live appearances.

medieval had a difficult time with those in the music business where the bands image was concerned. Never one to jump on the bandwagon, medieval refused to follow the same fads and extremes that were becoming popular in metal at the time. With their shorter hair, lack of make-up, and diverse lyrical subject matter, the band found themselves in drastic contrast to the thrashing death metal bands that were coming out one after another. Refusing to succumb to the pressure of conformity, medieval continued to search for a recording deal where the record company would be willing to take a chance on selling and promoting the band based on their music alone, without the pretensions of selling another “cookie cutter” band that had followed the path of other bands that had sold well before.

New Renaissance Records offered the deal the band was looking for: complete control of the product, the willingness to let the music do the talking, and not requesting changes in attitude or wardrobe!

The medieval EP, entitled Reign Of Terror, was released in 1986. It contained 5 songs, and was received by the critics and the public as an outstanding first release. It was available in a collectable clear vinyl pressing, and contained 3 previously unreleased songs by the band: “Death Is Beauty,” “Face Of Death,” and “Reign Of Terror.” The disc also contained “Lords Of Darkness,” a song on the original demo tape the medieval Cassette Album from 1983, as well as a newly arranged version of the song “Hell Is Full” from the 1984 All Knobs To The Right demo tape appropriately entitled “Hell Is Full (Cruncher),” due to taking a speed metal classic from the band and slowing the tempo of the song down to make it a pounding crusher!

The remainder of 1986 and early 1987 found the band recording the follow-up full length album for New Renaissance Records, entitled medieval-Kills! The album version contained 13 songs running the gamut of the bands career, while the cassette version contained a bonus track of the classic, “Plague,” from the 1983 medieval Cassette Album demo tape. The album was one of the most anticipated releases of the time, with advance orders breaking all the records for a New Renaissance Records artist. medieval was poised to do great things.

Then disaster struck. New Renaissance Records were distributed by Important Records at the time, and Important Records went out of business. Legal battles between New Renaissance Records and Important Records ensued; leaving some of the best bands of the time inadvertently derailed from their quest to make it big. The albums from these bands were locked up in a distribution warehouse and unable to be sold or promoted…and one such casualty of these events was medieval.

A lot can happen in 15 years. Friends come and go, new careers begin to prosper, and the world continues to move forward. One of life’s constants is that family is always with you, even if you part ways for a while. medieval was much like a family – and the members have drifted back together for another chapter of history. History does have a way of repeating itself, which means that some great new music is on its way from medieval!

Bio Taken From:
El Decapo
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Unhindered By Talent

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