Skip to content

WEHRMACHT- Thrash Metal Tape (SM Tapes, Switzerland, 1986)

Prior to the «Beermacht» demo, Portland’s WEHRMACHT released this cassette through the swiss SM-cassette label of Röbi Zollinger (founder of the legendary «Speed Airplay» radio show). To my knowledge, this was the first ever official WEHRMACHT release. Quite funny actually, when you look back, how dedicated the handful of swiss scene activists were in pushing international bands in that time. Not only because there wasn’t too much good music being made in Switzerland, but also because to us (no, this is not the royal “we”) it seemed only self-evident that we wouldn’t be limited by national borders.

The german Wehrmacht and sharks, horror movie soundtracks and Thrash Metal mixed together – only in America! This tape blew everybody out of their shoes and I can still understand why. The power is overwhelming and (especially on the a-side) comes from the incredible drumming skills of Brian Lehfeldt and Tito Matos’ voice. And: Because a part of the audience was obviously not amused by the “Heavy Metal” band at all. But the band didn’t take the shit coming from the Punk crowd and just fired back (Wehrmacht opened up for POISON IDEA that night).
Typical for a soundboard recording, the guitars are low in the mix and the singing is very dominant, but not for a second I find that a bad thing. You still can hear the riffing (did you notice the main riff in “B.O.S.” is pretty much the same Napalm Death had on the a-side of “Scum” used more than once?), but really, the vocals (think of a lightning fast Paul Baloff!) and the drumming are sensational.
GENOCIDE (pre-REPULSION) recorded their WFBE-demo just a couple days (Jan 26 1986) before the WEHRMACHT live show here was taped. Both bands played at about the same speed at that time (before REPULSION accelerated for good), but Brian  Lehfeldt is more of a solid metal drummer and technically on a very different level. Again, we’re on the verge of what would become “Grindcore”, but without the Death Metal background and that’s what makes WEHRMACHT pretty much unique (CRYPTIC SLAUGHTER could be lumped together with them; maybe that’s why the two bands remained close friends up to this day). I also find the band’s Hardcore influences really strong, yet it’s a Thrash Metal band. That’s the interesting effect of these influential “hinge-bands”: They’re on a crossing point.
The b-side with the two rehearsal sessions is very good too. A bit slower still, it’s like you can hear how they sucked up the speed and thrash input that came from especially S.O.D. (and I think that the “Death Metal side” of Death, Genocide or Slaughter increased speed after D.R.I.”s “Dealin’ with it”, SIEGE & “Speak english or die” too).

SM-tapes had at least one other release I can think of right now and that was the live tape of the east german band L’ATTENTAT. The story of the howabouts that tape got smuggled through the iron curtain into the west and released and how it later turned out that one of the band members was actually a snitch has to be told at some other point.

I decided not to fiddle around and left the one channel as it is on the a-side. I could have amplified it to better balance the entire sound, but as you know, I normally try not to change a thing, not cut off a second off the recordings or edit it in any way, so I just left it the way it is.
Download the tape in never heard before quality (ripped from the mastertape):
A-side (Live at Pine Street Theatre, Portland Oregon, Jan. 31 1986) (.zip folder)
B-side (Rehearsals from Sept. 5 1985 & October 19 1985) (.zip folder)

PS: WEHRMACHT will tour Europe in November 2010 with the original lineup.

PS II: I added a band bio I got from Dave / Rocket Science. Thanks much for this, mate!