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Speed/trash metal band from Newry founded in 2002

About Gama Bomb


Gama Bomb are a thrash metal band based in Northern Ireland. Their 2009 album Tales from the Grave in Space was one of the first albums ever released as a completely free download while signed to a record label.


Beginnings: 2002–2005[edit]

School friends Joe McGuigan (bass guitar) and Philly Byrne (vocals) formed Gama Bomb with the guitarist Luke Graham in Newry in 2002 and soon built up a small but loyal following which they consolidated with a rigorous touring schedule and frequent forays into self-released recording. The band first gained attention with their demo "The Survival Option" in the same year. In 2003, they toured and released "The Fatal Mission" single. During this period Byrne often appeared on stage in fancy dress as a chef, priest, pirate or scientist in an increasingly colourful stage show which frequently included a thrash metal version of the theme tune from the 1980s TV show Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Gama Bomb's first tour dates outside Ireland were in 2004, supporting the punk band The Dangerfields on a tour of Scotland.

Survival of the Fastest: 2005–2007[edit]

Gama Bomb released their full-length album, Survival of the Fastest, through the European music label Witches Brew in early 2006. The album, which had originally been independently released in a limited edition format in late 2005, included many of the bands then live staples of which many, aside from those present on previous EP releases, had never been commercially available. At this point, the band's line-up changed with the original guitarist Kevy Canavan leaving and the addition of drummer Paul Caffrey. In late 2005, Domo Dixon filled the vacant guitar spot. The 2006 version of the album features the bonus tracks "M.A.D." and "The Survival Option" from their 2004 "Fatal Mission" single. In April 2006, as the album was released, Gama Bomb embarked on their first UK tour. The "Insane Quest for Flesh" tour had support from Mutant and Deceptor and is seen as a landmark event[citation needed] in the rise of the resurgent UK thrash scene.

Zombi Brew split 7" EP[edit]

After live dates in summer 200[clarification needed], as well as coverage in music magazines like the NME and Terrorizer, Gama Bomb self-recorded a demo of their new album Citizen Brain to show to interested labels. Seeking a larger label to help them tour Europe, the demo did the rounds with most of the major metal labels. Around this point Earache Records began to take a serious interest in the band. In May 2007, Gama Bomb joined the Hungarian thrash band Black Sister on a split 7" EP released by Problem? Records. The Gama Bomb side had new tracks "Zombi Brew" (from the Citizen Brain demo) and "Frightmare On Hell St.", together with a cover of the punk band The Dangerfields' song, "Maniac". The EP was released exclusively on 7" vinyl and limited to 200 copies.

Earache and Citizen Brain: 2008–2009[edit]

In September 2007, Gama Bomb announced that they had signed a recording contract with Earache Records. The band contributes the song "Zombi Brew" to the Thrashing Like A Maniac compilation released by Earache Records, alongside other new thrash artists such as Evile, Municipal Waste, Mutant (London), Short Sharp Shock and Send More Paramedics.

In April 2008, Earache confirmed the release for early June of Gama Bomb's first album for the label, Citizen Brain.[1] The album was released in July 2008 to overwhelmingly positive reviews.[citation needed] The band toured Europe extensively to support the album.

Since the release of Citizen Brain, the band has been vocal in its support of music downloading, and led a campaign to 'Stamp Out Inferior Metal' on their 2008 Thrashing Like A Maniac Tour, asking fans to bring along CDs they regret buying and to destroy them at shows.

In summer 2009, the band played mainstage bookings at the European metal festivals Hellfest in France and Tuska Open Air in Finland alongside Mötley Crüe, WASP, Anthrax and Suicidal Tendencies.[citation needed]

In January 2009, they were voted best newcomer in a Terrorizer magazine readers' poll, and toured Europe with Exodus and Overkill in early 2009 as part of the Killfest tour.[citation needed]

Tales from the Grave in Space and departure from Earache : 2009–2011[edit]

Gama Bomb announced via their MySpace blog in August 2009 that they were returning to the studio to record their third album Tales from the Grave in Space for a November 2009 release.[2] The album was produced by Scott Atkins, who had produced the band's Citizen Brain album.

On 8 September the band announced that Tales from the Grave in Space would be released online completely free on November 5 via Rapidshare,[3] making them the first metal band to release an album for free while signed to a record label. Issue 200 of the UK version of Metal Hammer, sold in branches of Tesco, came with a copy of the CD as a free cover mount.

A physical version of the album was later released. The bass guitarist Joe McGuigan has said that despite it already being given away for free, Tales from the Grave in Space had actually outsold Citizen Brain physically.[4]

In March 2010, Gama Bomb was nominated in the Best Underground Band category of the Metal Hammer Golden Gods Awards, losing to the black metal band Immortal on the night. They supported Sepultura on their July UK tour.

The band embarked on its first US tour, in support of Overkill, Forbidden and DRI, from October to December 2010, and played a series of shows in Europe beforehand with the original lead guitarist Canavan back in the line-up, filling in for Domo Dixon.

In February 2011, Gama Bomb announced they would undertake a final UK tour to 'say goodbye' to Tales from the Grave in Space before writing a new album in the summer.[5] The band also revealed on Facebook that a possible new track would be titled "The Cannibals Are In The Streets (Therefore) All Flesh Must Be Eaten".

The band played at two shows in Mexico in May, toured the UK in support of Onslaught in September, undertook a European tour in October and played their first-ever South American shows in December, supporting Dark Funeral on a tour of Brazil.

The Terror Tapes and AFM records: 2012 – present[edit]

In March 2012, the band revealed via Facebook that vocalist Byrne had undergone surgery for vocal fold nodules, sustained over the last year's touring, and was recovering from the procedure. During this period the band played a show in Enschede, Netherlands, with McGuigan taking on vocals in Byrne's place.

On 3 April 2012 the band announced that founding member Graham was leaving after 10 years on rhythm guitar. The amicable split allowed John Roche of Slave Zero (band) to join Gama Bomb as the band's new guitarist, having toured with the band as a live musician in 2011.[6]

In July 2012, the band celebrated its tenth anniversary with two shows in Belfast and Dublin, reuniting on stage with the former guitarists Canavan and Graham for greatest hits sets.

On 28 January 2013 the band announced that its fourth album, The Terror Tapes, was to be released on AFM Records on 19 April in Europe and 22 April in the UK and Ireland, followed by a US release on 7 May.[7] The album was produced by the band's long-term producer, Scott Atkins, in Dublin and Suffolk.

The band announced the album would be preceded by a single, the band's first, called "'Terrorscope", which would be released as a free download on 26 March, followed by an exclusive 7" vinyl maxi-single.[8]

Byrne said of the single's free release: "It was really important to us to give people some music for nothing. It's how we get our music and we want people to know we're cool with them doing that, as long as they support us. Support comes from a lot of different places, not just the front pocket." The video for Terrorscope was released on 20 March.[9]

On 4 March, The Terror Tapes artwork was revealed. It was created by the veteran horror movie poster artist Graham Humphreys, whose work includes posters for A Nightmare on Elm Street and Evil Dead.[8]

The band undertook the 'Speed of Sound' European tour with Artillery and Brazilian band Torture Squad in May to support the album, before playing a series of summer festivals.[10]

Musical style and lyrical themes[edit]

Stylistically rooted in 1980s thrash metal the band has stated that its influences include acts such as Nuclear Assault, Kreator, Agent Steel, Sodom, old Slayer and early Megadeth. Allmusic labelled their music as punk metal (crossover thrash).

Gama Bomb's lyrics often refer to the horror, action and science fiction movies, cartoons and computer games of the 1980s, as well as paying tribute to many classic heavy metal themes. They also write topical songs on social issues like racism and global warming. The band is known for injecting its own sense of humour into its lyrics, with bizarre song concepts which lampoon classic thrash metal topics. Recurrent themes to be found in Gama Bomb songs are cannibalism, war, zombies, human sacrifice, ghosts and murder.

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