It is no secret that over the years, thrash metal has and always will be considered as a top tier genre within the community, due to its longevity and embellished history. Sometime and somewhere, every teenage metalhead consumed with rage, grievance and insurgency has picked up at least one thrash metal album and succumbed to its fast, take no names and kick ass complexion. Whether from the Bay Area or Saxon, the metal scene witnessed its fair share of thrash metal bands, and the Maltese one is no less considering how bands such as Metallica; Megadeth, Slayer, Exodus, Sepultura, Celtic Frost et al have encapsulated the minds of aspiring musicians to pick up their instrument and start shredding or blasting the living Mother Earth out of it.

Although stagnant at times, the endurance of this genre is quite notable, and surely the millions of fans around the world give credit to such bands for giving them a sense of belonging during harsh times. X-Vandals is the perfect example of an old warhorse whose despite the many bruises and flogging that suffered along with its ride, it never backed down and gave the ultimate lesson to both old and current metal head generations when it comes to durability and eagerness. Their tale goes all the way back to circa 1983 under the moniker ‘’Vandals’’.

The band was formed by drummer Ray (Hamiemu) Micallef. Pretty much like most bands, it endured a series of unstable line ups, ‘’until the Trio – Ray (Hamiemu), Ray (Bahri) and Mark Spiteri (Lord Adder) found their chemistry and lasted till 1989. Their modus operandi included more or less a blend of Heavy/Speed metal with Thrash influences, pretty much like the bands mentioned earlier on. Gigs and local festivals kept increasing their goodwill and notoriety, eventually leading to a cult following among fans. Unfortunately, internal struggles cut their momentum short and the band called it quits around 1994 and remained dormant for the better part of 10 years.

‘’After a silence of 10 years, Vandals was born again, with Hamiemu on Drums, Bahri on Guitars, Rusty on Vocals and Nemlu on Bass, and returned to the scene under the name of X-VANDALS,
issuing their debut album – “Erosion of our Liberty” in 2006 which consisted of new material as well as some old tracks. In 2008 the band released yet another CD – “Breach the Silence”.
The material really went down well with the local metal heads, as it saw the band embarking into their old roots, bringing back nostalgia and infamy within that teenage metal head that was
enamoured with the thrash/speed metal reality.

After years laying low and working under no pretension or over exaggerated hype, 2017 saw the release of their 3rd full-length album ‘’Exhume The Truth’’. Pretty much like their previous releases, the band’s rule of thumb is ‘’keep it old school and boisterous’’. As I went through the entire record, it brought strong reminiscence of Sepultura’s early days, as the album has some shades of the 1989 release ‘’Beneath The Remains’’, whereas a blend of relentless, fast triggered riffs and melodic overturns make ‘’Exhume The Truth’’ an accomplished dive into the old days or as the veterans would suggest ‘’when music was great’.

X Vandals will be launching their latest album Exhume the Truth on the 24th of November at The Garage alongside Pyramid Suns and Abstrass.

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Author: Alan Formosa

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