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Classic Thrash Metal: Forbidden

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I've been an obsessed hard rock/heavy metal fan and collector since the early 1980s. If it's got a good guitar riff and attitude, I'm in.

"Forbidden Evil" (1988)

"Forbidden Evil" (1988)

Rediscovering a Classic Thrash Metal Band

"Forbidden Evil" - Combat Records, 1988 / 8 tracks, 42:43

"Twisted Into Form" - Combat Records, 1990 / 9 tracks, 41:09

Forbidden was one of many bands that I heard and read much about during the late '80s thrash metal explosion, but I never actually heard much of their material. There were so many mosh-worthy bands popping up around the globe at that time that it was impossible to keep up with all of them. (I also may have confused them with Faith or Fear, who happened to be signed to the same record label at the time, and whose name also started with "F.")

I've been re-discovering a lot of classic thrash metal over the past few years, but Forbidden came back onto my radar in a particularly roundabout way. Several years ago I got into a thrash band from Bulgaria (!) called The Outer Limits. Just about every review I read of their music mentioned that they sounded very similar to classic Forbidden, so therefore I decided that I should probably re-investigate them, too.

After giving Forbidden's first two albums, Forbidden Evil (1988) and Twisted Into Form (1990) numerous listens via YouTube, I liked what I heard enough to add both CDs to my collection (yes, I'm one of those weirdos who still buys actual CDs), and they've been dominating my play lists ever since. Better late than never, eh?

"Forbidden Evil" (1988)

A Brief History of Forbidden

Initially known as Forbidden Evil, the band arose from the same Bay Area thrash metal scene that birthed such heavy hitters as Exodus, Testament, and Death Angel. Robb Flynn, later of Vio-Lence and Machine Head, was a founding member, but he had already moved on by the time Forbidden dropped the "Evil" from their name and inked a deal with the then-hot metal indie label, Combat Records.

The 1988 debut album, Forbidden Evil, was an immediate underground success, garnering rave reviews from metal magazines and earning them a slot at 1989's Ultimate Revenge 2, a thrash fest held at Philadelphia's Trocadero which saw Forbidden supporting the cream of Combat Records' stable (Death, Raven, and Dark Angel). Ultimate Revenge 2 was released on home video and set the stage for their second album, Twisted Into Form (1990), which is widely regarded as their best work.

"Twisted Into Form" (1990)

"Twisted Into Form" (1990)

The Albums...

Forbidden's classy, melodic brand of thrash may not as frenzied as their buddies in Exodus or as pummeling as their neighbors in Testament, but fall somewhere in between the two. Vocalist Russ Anderson was a rare find - a thrash vocalist who could actually sing, rather than simply shout or screech. His Rob Halford inspired, piercing wails are a highlight of Forbidden's Judas Priest-on-speed sound. Forbidden were known to perform a thrashed out version of Priest's "Victim of Changes" live, so I'd say it's safe to assume that the JP were a major influence on them. The guitar team of Glen Alvelais and Craig Lociciero clearly learned their lessons from metal's classic tag teams of yore like Tipton/Downing, Murray/Smith and Shermann/Denner.

Choosing a favorite album between Forbidden Evil and Twisted Into Form is a tough task. Forbidden Evil's opening triad of "Chalice of Blood," "Off the Edge," and "Through Eyes of Glass" is tough to beat, full of shredding guitar work and soaring vocals by Anderson, but Twisted Into Form is no slouch either. The year spent on the road between Evil and Twisted obviously helped transform Forbidden into an even heavier, more mature band. Twisted's first track, "Parting of the Ways," is a tasteful acoustic guitar intro that makes the blasting "Infinite" hit even harder. On Twisted Into Form, Forbidden found their groove, so to speak. Check out the breakneck "Out of Body (Out of Mind)" or the seven and a half minute epic "R.I.P." for further proof. The album's closer "One Foot in Hell" suffers slightly due to its goofy, sing-songy chorus, but that's a minor complaint.

In a nutshell, you can't go wrong with either of Forbidden's first two releases. Now I'm off to track down the remainder of their catalog!

"Twisted Into Form" (1990)

The Legacy

As the '90s wore on and thrash metal fell out of popular favor, drummer Paul Bostaph split to join Slayer, but Forbidden soldiered on, producing two more studio albums, Distortion (1994) and Green (1997) before calling it quits.

A reunion gig in 2001 led to more live appearances over the next few years and resulted in a final studio album, Omega Wave, released in 2010. Several members of the band now say that they are officially "retired" from the music business.

Forbidden's classic initial pair of albums have been reissued several times by Century Media Records over the years, first in 1999 and then again in 2008. The CDs I own are clones of the Century Media versions, released in 2011 on Argentina's Del Imaginario DIscos label, each with four live bonus tracks. Their Ultimate Revenge 2 set is included on Forbidden Evil and 1989's Raw Evil: Live at the Dynamo EP is tacked onto Twisted Into Form.

Forbidden may be finished, but at least we have a solid catalog of metal to remember them by!

Forbidden LIVE in Philly, 1989

© 2021 Keith Abt

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