By JEREMY SHEAFFE and SERENE CONNEELY
TWO YEARS ago an album jumped out of the huge pile I was reviewing and stunned me with its sheer brilliance. The band was The Almighty and the album was Sex, Fire & Love, a full-on, bludgeoning rock’n’roll record bristling with passion and anger that refused to be ignored.
The beauty of the release was not only in the songs but in the individual talent of each band member. Ricky Warwick is possessed of a thunderous bleeding growl while the band’s guitarist Tantrum, bassist Floyd London and drummer Stumpy Monroe played with an rare intensity and aggression – a murderous combination if ever there was one.
Now they’ve got a new guitarist, former Alice Cooper axe weilder Pete Freezin’, and according to Ricky the explosive chemistry is still intact and the band is firing bigger and better than ever. “We did a tour with Alice Cooper at the end of last year and met Pete,” he says. “We were having problems with Tantrum and when we sacked Pete was everyone’s first choice as replacement. We asked him to come over and play and he more or less joined the band there and,then.”
A recent English review couldn’t find words to describe how well Pete fitted in. “It’s just so much better than before,” Ricky agrees. “Tantrum was very reserved. He’s a, really good guitar player but on stage there wasn’t the same attitude, Pete is pretty full on, and the band is really fired up now.”
The Alice Cooper/Almighty tour exposed the band to a huge new audience in Europe and their two months of live dates with the Screaming Jets should do the same in this country. It’s an interesting combination, with the career paths and reactions to the two young bands having many parallels.
English critics have said,”‘The Almighty are the first British metal band worth talking about since we started importing our rock gods from America”, and certainly the Jets have made people in Australia stand up and take notice of the band. I’ve constantly reiterated that nobody can play after the Jets without looking totally lame and washed
up (Hunters & Collectors and The Divinyls both proved this).
Likewise an old review of the Almighty stated: “There is no other rock band in this country who could possibly follow the Almighty onto a stage with any dignity.” So the tour should be an explosive meeting!
“There’s certainly an attitude that we have in common,” Ricky agrees with a wicked grin.
After headlining 3000-seat venues in the UK, the the Australian tour will be a bit different, with the Jets closing the shows and the venues mostly smaller. Yet, none of this phases Ricky.
“No way!” he exclaims. “The Screaming Jets are Australian, obviously, and they do pretty good in Australia, Whereas we
don’t – yet… I think if it was the other way round in England, the Screaming Jets wouldn’t come over and expect to go above us either. It’s just getting things in perspective, you know.”
After the first initial flush of fame it didn’t take The Almighty long to get back down to it and release their second album. As we’ve already said, Soul Destruction is as mind-blowing better. There are references to
religion in some of the songs, a topic that frustrates the Irish-born Ricky, and references to how people are taken in and the way they twist religion to suit themselves. Discussions about the battles are fought in the name of God bring a murmur of agreement from him, but he is fatalistic about the alternatives.
“If there wasn’t religion people would still fight, because human beings are an aggressive race of people,” says Ricky. “We’d just find something else to fight about if it wasn’t religion.” Does he think that kids brought up ina religious background will rebel against it later?
“Some people do and some don’t,” he sighs. “Some kids just get straight back into it and stay religious their whole lives and become very narrow-minded and miss out on a lot as far as l’m concerned. But I think, yeah, when you’re old enough to start questioning things and you don’t find the answers you’re looking for, that’s when you start. So many people are dying…”
He speaks scornfully of a priest who had a 15-year-old son hidden away and whose mother has been paid to keep quiet by the Catholic Church – things that according to Ricky, make a mockery of the whole concept of organised religion.
“But yeah, I think religion has a place in music, because it’s real,” he adds, changing the thrust of the conversation
slightly. “I like to write songs about things that affect me personally and affect my friends.”
But has religion got a place in society? Maybe people should believe in everything. I’m not an atheist and I’m not a communist, I think that people have got to believe in something, like I believe in something, but it should be personal. It doesn’t have to be with the Church, it should be a personal belief.”
The Almighty’s Australian shows will feature the best of the Soul Destruction set with some new songs thrown in, to test the waters so to speak, before the band opens at Donington – an event they are understandably excited about. “It’s brilliant. You play in front of 76,000 people and there’s never and trouble, people just go to have good time.
“The only time there was a problem was when Guns N’Roses played and two kids got crushed to death…”
For The Almighty it has only taken three short years to find their place on the bill of the world’s most important
metal festival. The way things are happening now it would not be a surprise to see the band headline in another three years.
“That’d be nice,” Ricky laughs. “But yeah, it’s been a very good three years. The only down side was the hassle we had with Tantrum leaving the band, but those things happen.”
There have obviously been many highlights over the last three years, but what has been the best aspect of being in the Almighty?
“Ju§t doing all those things you wanted to do as a kid; getting to make records, getting to come to Australia, getting to go to Japan, getting to play Donington…
“Everything is just unbelievably good,” says Ricky enthusiastically. “Basically there was no one else in the UK doing
what we were doing.”