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Origin San Francisco Bay Area, United States
Genres Thrash metal
Years active
  • 1985–1994
  • 2001–2003
  • 2018
Associated acts
Past members Robb Flynn Phil Demmel
Jerry Birr
Eddie Billy
Ray Vegas
Mark Hernandez

Vio-lence was an American thrash metal band formed in 1985 in the San Francisco Bay Area. They released demo tapes, one EP and three studio albums between 1985 and 1993. 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 reuniting for a tour from 2001 to 2003, the members of Vio-Lence reunited in January 2018 for a benefit of Killian, who has been battling with liver cirrhosis.[1]


Initial career

Vio-lence, then-called Death Penalty, was formed in 1985 with the with the line-up of Jerry Birr (vocals), Phil Demmel (guitar), Troy Fua (guitar), Eddie Billy (bass), Perry Strickland (drums).[2] 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 Violence 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.[2][3][4]

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;[5][6] this can be attributed to the album selling over 30,000 copies.[2] 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.[2][3][4] 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.[2][3]

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.[2][3][4] 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";[2][3] 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.[4]

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 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.[2] A year later, Vio-lence released their third 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.[2]


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.[2][3][4]

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 remains active as the guitarist and singer of Machine Head. Demmel joined Machine Head in 2003, first as a session guitarist and later becoming a full-time member of the band.


Initially planning only a few shows as part of the tribute to Testament's Chuck Billy during the Thrash of the Titans benefit on 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.[1] 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.[1][7] The show concluded with a performance of "World in a World" featuring four-fifths of the Eternal Nightmare and Oppressing the Masses linueup; vocals were provided by Flynn instead of Killian, who did not perform due to his health condition.[8]


Final lineup
  • Troy Fua – guitar (1985–1987, 2001–2003)
  • Phil Demmel – guitar (1985–1994, 2001–2003)
  • Deen Dell – bass (1985–1994, 2001–2003)
  • Perry Strickland – drums (1985–1993, 2001–2003)
  • Sean Killian – vocals (1986–1994, 2001–2003)
Former members
  • Eddie Billy – bass (1985)
  • Jerry Birr – vocals (1985–1986)
  • Robb Flynn – guitar (1987–1992)
  • Ray Vegas – guitar (1991–1994, 2001)
  • Mark Hernandez – drums (1993–1994)
  • Steve Schmidt – guitar (2001)



Studio albums




  1. ^ a b c "TESTAMENT, EXODUS, DEATH ANGEL Members And Others To Perform At Benefit Concert For VIO-LENCE's SEAN KILLIAN". November 6, 2017. Retrieved November 6, 2017. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "VIO-LENCE - OFFICIAL WEBSITE". Retrieved August 9, 2018. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f "VIO-LENCE - OFFICIAL WEBSITE". Retrieved August 9, 2018. 
  4. ^ a b c d e "Vio-Lence". Retrieved August 9, 2018. 
  5. ^ Joel Whitburn, The Billboard Albums. 6th edn, p. 1105.
  6. ^ "Violence Chart History". Retrieved August 9, 2018. 
  7. ^ "Benefit Concert For VIO-LENCE's SEAN KILLIAN Moves To Larger Venue". January 9, 2018. Retrieved February 2, 2018. 
  8. ^ "Reunited VIO-LENCE Plus Members Of TESTAMENT, EXODUS, DEATH ANGEL, FORBIDDEN Perform At 'Killian On Command' Benefit Concert (Video)". January 21, 2018. Retrieved February 2, 2018. 

External links

  • Official website
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