When influential Bay Area thrash band Vio-lence collapsed in 1993, co-founder Phil Demmel carried on for a few years with the ill-fated Torque.
Then, in 2003, he joined ex-violence guitarist Robb Flynn in Machine Head. In January 2018, towards the end of his tenure with Machine Head, Demmel appeared on an all-star benefit show for Vio-lence singer Sean Killian, who suffered from stage four cirrhosis of the liver and needed help. ‘transplant.
“He looked sickly, man,” Demmel says, recalling the day he saw Killian at his worst. “I didn’t know if I would ever see him again.”
That’s why Demmel was so surprised when Killian called him in early 2019 to play a Vio-lence reunion show in Oakland.
“I thought, ‘There’s no way you’re talking about getting back on stage with the band. You’re way too sick,’ Demmel says. “But of course that’s what he meant. Turns out he had a liver transplant and was doing great.
The resurrection concert went so well that Vio-lence scheduled more dates and planned to work on a new version. At first, Demmel tried to rework songs he wrote for the band in 2001 that were never released. But that was not the case.
“They sounded like 2001 Vio-lence,” he says. “At the time, everyone was listening and getting carried away by this groove-metal stuff. So I started over. I wanted to capture the aggressive sound of Vio-lence’s debut album, which I wrote when I was in high school.
The resulting five-song EP, let the world burn, is a fiery amalgamation of violent old-school thrash with more mature and coherent arrangements. To cement the lineup, Vio-lence recruited former Fear Factory bassist Christian Olde Wolbers and guitarist Bobby Gustafson, who played with Overkill from 1982 to 1990, and whose tight, fast downpicking and legato leads complete the runs. Demmel rapids.
“Violence opened for Overkill in 1989 and [our drummer] Pear [Strickland] stayed in touch with Bobby. So when we needed a guitarist he recommended Bobby, who is a monster player with awesome hands.
Even though let the world burn only 25 minutes long, it was created with as much determination and hostility as Vio-lence injected into their first two full-length albums. Although he had plenty of time to work during the coronavirus lockdown, Demmel only worked on the five songs on the EP.
“So many bands are making these 70-minute records that it’s almost impossible to watch,” he says. “I wanted to do five really good songs that felt like quick punches in the face and then go out and leave listeners wanting more.”