Metal Bulletin Zine (est. 2006) is a metal music zine (Seattle region), online and on paper. 160 issues so far.
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Monday, December 7, 2015
NWOBHM (New Wave Of British Heavy Metal) band MYTHRA was formed in South Shields, North-East England in 1978. The band came together from other various local acts playing in the town at that particular time. Aged 16 to 18, one thing they had in common was their love of '70s Heavy Rock and in their early days the band's live set included covers of songs by, amongst others: Black Sabbath, UFO, Judas Priest and Scorpions. Other influences were present within the band too however, most notably that of Punk Rock and in particular bands such as The Clash. This combination of music genres is arguably what inspired the band's own songwriting and direction whereby the unquestionable musical ability of the aforementioned heavy bands was fused with the raw energy, attitude and social conscience of their punk counterparts.
By 1979 MYTHRA were writing their own songs and gradually introduced them into their live shows. Having built up a reputation on the regional music scene the band were playing up to three live gigs each week and often had to play two sets per night, each lasting 45 minutes. As the new compositions emerged they were tested on audiences and two songs in particular caught the attention of rock fans at gigs i.e. "Death And Destiny" and "Killer".
Taking a leaf out of the punk approach the band decided to self-finance their first recording session and in December of 1979, they entered the studio for the first time, with the intention of committing these two songs to vinyl as a single release, to send to record companies and the music press, selling the remainder locally at gigs.
Such was their progress and enthusiasm in that 12 hour session however that they ended up laying down four tracks, adding "U.F.O." and "Overlord" to the eventual EP. The original pressing of 200 was snapped up in no time and picked up by, amongst others, music journalist Geoff Barton at Sounds magazine. Def Barton as he became affectionately known called it "This year's "Getcha Rocks Off" in reference to the Def Leppard release that inspired him to use the term "New Wave Of British Heavy Metal" for the first time.
News of MYTHRA's EP spread through national press coverage and radio airplay on various rock shows, so the recording was hastily reissued to meet demand. It ended up spending a total of 12 weeks on the Independent Music Charts in the UK between May and July 1980, peaking at #2. Various tracks from the EP also featured in Heavy Metal Charts compiled by Rock DJs from across the UK and published in Sounds. MYTHRA signed to the ITB Agency in London, and began gigging outside of their local region for the first time. Most notable was their appearance at Motorhead's Heavy Metal Barn Dance at Stafford Bingley Hall, where they played alongside the headline act and Saxon, Girlschool, Angel Witch, Vardis and White Spirit. The band were also scheduled to support American guitar hero Ted Nugent on his UK Tour that August, but mysteriously lost out at the last minute to the recently formed Wild Horses that featured ex-members of Thin Lizzy and Rainbow respectively.
MYTHRA continued to gig across the UK throughout the rest of 1980 and into 1981, whilst writing and recording new songs, undergoing two changes in personnel during that time. Having been locked in dispute with their record company who refused to put out new releases, the opportunities for high profile gigs sadly began to fade. The line-up of: Vince High (vocals), Maurice Bates (guitar), Peter Melsom (bass) and Barry Hopper (drums) remained constant throughout that time, but MYTHRA were now onto their third lead guitarist in Alex Perry having lost the services of former band mates John Roach and, latterly, Mick Rundle. Sporadic live work continued as the band struggled to gig alongside meeting the requirements of their various day jobs. Consequently MYTHRA played their final gig of that era, headlining at Newcastle Mayfair in their native North-East before calling it a day.
Fast forward to 1998 and the CD release "The Death And Destiny LP" compiled without the band's knowledge. Of particular frustration to the band is the fact that the label in question incorrectly named some of the 13 tracks included on the album. Within the liner notes accompanying this release, reference was made that MYTHRA refused to give permissions for Lars Ulrich of Metallica to include the track "Death And Destiny" on the compilation album "NWOBHM 1979 Revisited" which he had put together citing his early musical influences. Fact is however that none of the band were ever contacted, because if asked, they have said they would certainly have agreed to Lars' request. Seems like someone purporting to be the band's representative said no but it wasn't MYTHRA themselves. There was also a limited edition vinyl release of the 13 track LP released in 2012.
Throughout all of this time there has been a continual and significant level of interest in the band. In 2013 the celebrated music journalist Martin Popoff placed the album at #60 in his "Top 100 Heavy Metal Albums of the 70s" and, in the same year, MYTHRA were approached by promoter Stuart Bartlett to play the Classic Rock and Metal Festival Brofest UK. Work commitments made it impossible on that particular occasion but, having being asked again the following year the band agreed to reunite to play Brofest #3, and did so on February 28th 2015. They met up with fans from across Europe, the USA and Latin America and went down a storm. Their performance led to the invitation to play at the legendary Keep It True Festival in Germany, after promoter Oliver Weinsheimer contacted the band directly the following morning.
MYTHRA have also signed with SKOL RECORDS who are to release the compilation album "Warriors Of Time: The Anthology" which includes all 13 tracks from "The Death And Destiny LP" plus new songs written and recorded by the band in 2015. The complete package has been remastered by Bart Gabriel who, as well as being SKOL MD, is also a producer, music journalist and massive Metal fan in his own right (factors important to the band given their previous experience). MYTHRA is a band that loves to connect with its fans and to this end they have also signed to GABRIEL MANAGEMENT, a big player on the European Rock and Metal circuit.
The MYTHRA journey has been long and challenging but throughout that time, as the new recordings show, they have remained true to their NWOBHM roots and the spirit of 1979 when they emerged as one of the founders of what eventually became known as Speed Metal. Band members: Vince High, Alex Perry, John Roach, Maurice Bates and Phil Davies see the latest release as being an opportunity to say thank you to all their fans worldwide for their love and unceasing loyalty. [from http://www.mythra.co.uk]
Influenced by many of the first generation 'heavy rock' groups, at the tail end of the 1970's Mythra were swimming against the Punk Rock tide to satisfy the legions of rock fans in the North East of England who didn't subscribe to the claim that Heavy Metal was dead.
When other bands called it a day, Mythra, with their youthfull arrogance, decided to take a leaf out of the 'New Wave' book and release their own record.
Geoff Barton, of the influencial British Music weekly 'Sounds', was quick to spot the Mythra potential and his recommendation started the demand that kept Death and Destiny in the Alternative Chart for 12 weeks. Following in their wake, it wasn't long before a tide of new 'Heavy Metal' releases issued from the two North East studios of the time, the 'brand new' Gaurdian and the established Impulse Studios - this prompted the 'Sounds' tag NWOBHMNED or New Wave of British Heavy Metal - North East Division. There have been many claims to the title first or best - all we say is check the dates, listen to the tracks and decide for yourself....
In 2015 most of the original Mythra lineup reunited to perform at Brofest #3. The reaction to their appearance was phenominal, the band were blown away by the response.[from http://www.mythra.co.uk]
[MYTHRA "At Least I Tried" - taken from the "Warriors Of Time: The Anthology". Limited edition CD album out on November 30, 2015, on Skol Records. Limited edition vinyl LP out on April 29, 2016, on High Roller Records. (p) & (c) Skol Records 2015.