History & BiographyThe quintessential heavy metal band Killer was formed by Paul Shorty Van Camp and Fat Leo in Belgium in 1980 following the break-up of their band Mothers Of Track. Spooky of the band Trash, which had opened for Mothers Of Track, was drafted. The band worked with the founders of Mausoleum Records of which Fat Leo was one, Managers Alfie Falkenbach and Stonne Holmgren soon signed the band to Warner Belgium. Killer had a biker image, played biker clubs and often sang to the detriment of authority and the police. The band was quickly compared to Motörhead, albeit with that particular Teutonic vocals and accent also associated with the likes of Crossfire, Grave Digger, Ostrogoth or even Udo.
Shock Waves - sporting a new logo - was issued through Mausoleum in 1984. Fat Leo was gone, a departure attributed to the band's sound becoming heavier. Double Bear was in after again being nabbed from an opener act of Killer's, namely White Heat. Fat Leo became fat roadie. Earlier the band had appeared on a split EP with Ostrogoth and Crossfire. It was recorded by Jos Kloek and became a commercial success. The album outsold both of the band’s previous album and received several good reviews notably in Metal Hammer.
In that year 1985 Killer also taped an Antwerp show for a double live album called Still Alive In Eighty-Five with Dieter Dierks; however, Mausoleum/Eldorado Entertainment could not cough up enough money to see the half-mixed album to fruition. An appearance at the second Shockwave festival could not rescue the label even if the band remembers playing behind the iron curtain in Poland to thousands of people in 1986. The band did tour through 1987, but with no label in sight threw in the towel.
Shorty released a solo album called Too Wild To Tame in 1987 through CNR Records. Two years later Spooky and Shorty decided to reform Killer with a new line-up. A fourth record was recorded and released by a reanimated Mausoleum. Fatal Attraction was the first album of the new Mausoleum. A tour of Europe followed.
Shorty and Spooky spent time in Blues-Express for the next several years, but success was not in sight. Due to popular demand, Killer did three reunion shows with drummer Vanne of Between Worlds and formerly of the band Detroit. Shorty and the other newer members also maintain a rock cover band called Blackjack, while Shorty also does a Jimi Hendrix tribute band called Gypsy.
The band reformed in 2003 with only Shorty remaining from the original line-up. Albums and shows followed, albeit with a keyboardist called Dave in tow! Killer recruited a new bassist, Ken Van Steenbergen, who joined in early 2006. Fat Leo died of lung cancer in 2012.
Belgian heavy metal Killer would release a 2015 album, called Monsters Of Rock, on May 21st through Mausoleum Records. The band had self-produced the record. Several box sets followed. A new album emerged at the beginning of 2023, which tagged a 'best of' CD, with several re-recorded self-cover versions, as a bonus. Jan Anthonis was on bass. Ivan "Vanne" Opdebeeck was on drums. A club tour followed. The act also played at Rock Monsieur 2023.
KILLER - HELLFIRE - HEAR NO EVIL
Killer has been around with its rough and tumble bash metal for over forty years. There is a little more melody, especially in the vocals nowadays but the Belgians remain the same. That is a very good thing and a tribute to the steadfastness of main man Shorty who resurrected the group twenty years ago. Compared to the original incarnation and the dual vocal system between the rougher Spooky and Shorty there is a little change audible, but fact is that Killer still got it.
The group was always about gargantuan metal riffs and that has not changed here. This is even more impressive given how Hellfire’s predecessor Monsters Of Rock came in 2015 leaving a gap of many years.
The band goes about its business like it's 1985 and that is a very good thing. Who needs another wimpy modern band from Finland twerking on keyboards, a Finnish collection of wusses playing disco cover versions, a band with an opera singer calling itself metal and being interviewed by Metal Hammer or a group pretending its is contemporary metal because it cannot, er, it does not play lead guitar? Speaking of which, the soloing on Hellfire is extra special, not because modern bands cannot cut it, but because the screechy solos that sit atop of a solid metallic rhythm are almost trademarked from 1984. Having established that Killer is not a turncoat, how are the songs?
Argus Eyes opens the album and is almost commercial without being weak or a sell-out. It is hardly the album’s best offering however. From there the album becomes better. Money, which is not a cover version, has some mad riffing and is vicious. There is a good touch of Motorhead, but the playing (and listening) joy is all Killer. It is reassuring to hear something so hard, heavy and true in 2023. Killer must be selling zero copies of this in such places like Finland, Ibiza, Bangkok or wherever pop, disco and wimps reign supreme. The band does not care, "it's only money.. only money" it sings as Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley poop their pants in shock. The right hand is constantly moving. Cuts Me Like A Knife raises hell, yet is slower and pounding. it is like blues has gone infernal. It is a love song. Then there is a track called Rat Race, which might be related to the above-mentioned Money. Different Worlds is a power ballad. It is neither strong nor bad. In a Dream Within a Dream is also a power ballad later on Hellfire. The force is restored on the title track with its galloping riffs, growling chants, speed galore… no mercy on this one. Incidentally, that noisy solo is straight out of the 1984 album Shock Waves, which is one of the best albums ever released. Nightmare is a filler. Why include it when the album is over an hour long? War At Home goes Motorhead and that's one loud crackling bass. One swears Paul had hidden the song in his back pocket since 1985. Paul can still wail and age has done nothing to his voice, in fact, aside from the present authenticity and playing joy, that may be the record's theme, a man whose ability has not diminished in 40 years. War At Home has some rapid-fire music.
A good album from a good band that does not care an iota either way and if any overarching criticism is warranted it would be the drum sound that is buried and has no oomph to it. The drumming does not try anything inventive or creative, but if it had it would not be particularly audible. There is a bonus CD with old songs, a sort of ‘best of’ and self-cover versions, but the star here is obviously that the plays to Richter scale 12. - Ali “The Metallian”