As Xentrix are added to the bill of Bloodstock, the memories come flooding back
Bloodstock have posted their latest update, adding another six bands to an already loaded lineup but one of those names caught my eye – Xentrix. Bursting simultaneously into laughter and a cheer, I couldn’t have been happier to see the British thrash band being on the bill of a large metal festival. You may be a bit confused at this point, so gather round children and let me take you back to a mystical time called the early 1990’s.
I got into heavy music at a very young age, I bought my first Iron Maiden album (Number of the Beast) in 1987 when I was eleven years old, which lead on that path that it naturally does where you eventually start listening to Slayer then seeking out bands even heavier as you adjust your taste. In 1989, an issue of Metal Hammer magazine came with a 7″ single that introduced me to Xentrix via the song No Compromise.
With a sound that was a cross between old school Metallica (or simply Metallica as they were known then) and Anthrax, Xentrix immediately won me over. While my taste was, and still is varied, I knew by looking at them that Vain were not going to be a band for me and was pretty doubtful about Little Angels too.
The Almighty were the closest to my taste out of the others, but a pre-beard Ricky Warwick singing about being “A Full Force Loving Machine” was a little cringe-worthy. Blackie Lawless, he wasn’t.
In 1990, Xentrix managed to scoop themselves some publicity thanks to their cover of the song Ghostbusters from the 1984 smash hit movie. Then they got even more publicity when they got hit with a cease and desist over the single’s cover as someone in Hollywood didn’t appreciate the trademark infringement, especially as it took something aimed at kids and made it a lot more adult. Remember, this is the early ’90’s, a time when 18 rated movies were shown on British TV usually around midnight and they’d still have all the bad language and violence cut out of them. Therefore a cute ghost giving the middle finger was reasonably offensive.
The single was reissued with a new cover – a drawing of a guy in a leather jacket, jeans with long hair wielding a proton wand/flamethrower type thing which avoided copyright and all was right with the world.
Then in 1991, something happened that blew my 14 year old mind – Xentrix were not only doing a headline tour of the UK, but they were coming to the city near me with support from Skyclad. No bands ever came to Swansea, let alone one that had supported Testament, Sabbat, Death and Annihilator. If that wasn’t enough, they were also doing a signing event at Musiquarium (the coolest record shop for about 50 miles) the same day!
On the 15th of July 1991, I went into Musiquarium to buy my ticket and was slightly confused that there was no sign of Xentrix or Skyclad. Considering you could extend your arms and almost touch both walls of the tiny shop, it shouldn’t have been a surprise that the signing was in the loading bay at the back of the shop. Clutching my newly bought Dilute To Taste EP, I waited nervously in line to meet the most famous people I’d ever been anywhere near. Up to that point my celebrity encounters had been Paul Thorburn (Welsh rugby player) who I’d never heard of at the time and Olympic swimmer Duncan Goodhew, who was cool but he wasn’t in a band. At least, not that I knew of.
As the line crept slowly forward I grew increasingly nervous at the prospect of meeting Xentrix. What would I say? What would they say? “Be cool, Morgan” I told myself, “you can do this.” I finally reached the front of the queue, stuck my EP out and nervously asked if the band could sign it. The long haired man in front of me very nicely explained that they were Skyclad; the other queue was for Xentrix. I made a quick escape with my face glowing a brighter red than the red circle on the Ghostbusters cover and joined the end of the second queue.
Bands interacting with fans is such a huge experience which can make or break a fan’s love of a band. 28 years later I still remember how nice Xentrix were to a little boy with his mullet hair cut and denim jacket covered in WASP and Megadeth patches. With my newly signed EP guarded with my life, I hoped that enough time had passed for me to re-approach Skyclad to get my ticket signed. I half expected to get a thorough piss taking from them, but hoped that maybe they had forgotten me…because the only 14 year old at the signing wouldn’t be memorable at all would he? Again, displaying a ton of politeness, Skyclad all signed my ticket without any mention of the previous incident.
The gig that night was my third ever and it was definitely just as good as Iron Maiden and WASP. Ending the night in a chorus line performing high kicks with a bunch of drunk metallers all older than me to Xentrix’s final song and taking home the sleeve of a red leather jacket I found, it was a wilder affair than the previous gigs. Even getting locked in the grounds of the Patti Pavillion afterwards and having to climb over a seven foot fence to get out made the whole day more magical. Somehow.
Following that gig Xentrix went on to open for Sepultura and then Slayer at Wembley Stadium. I went on to get a BC Rich Warlock and fail a bunch of GCSEs.
Xentrix currently is made up of two of the four members I saw back in 1991 but I still would love everyone who reads this to check them out at Bloodstock. They are still fun live and a damn good band who never quite reached the peak they should have considering how talented they are. If you’re not going to Bloodstock then give some of their music a listen, especially those earlier albums which capture 80’s thrash so beautifully, you won’t regret it. 14 year old me had amazing taste in music, so take his word for it.
You can buy tickets for Bloodstock at https://www.bloodstock.uk.com/
Go give Xentrix a follow on Facebook.
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Metal Report Editor.
Ex guitarist in Zenopede, ex vocals for a goth covers band that was hailed as the future of Welsh music, former DJ, promoter and nightclub director. Writer for Gear4Geeks’ Blog4Geeks and owner of Gear4Geeks ltd. First published music critique was Kerrang letter of the Week.
Definitely has never been the future, present or past of Welsh music.