Grimy and oppressive, as described by All Music Guide, Head Of David were a great reflection of time/period that they came out of. The band was formed in Dudley, English town that was located few miles outside of Birmingham and they were heavily influenced by the fact that town was a center of iron and coal industry.
Initial line-up included vocalist Stephen R. Burroughs, guitarist Eric Jurenovski, bassist Dave Cochrane and drummer Paul Sharp. Band’s first records appeared in 1986 – “Dogbreath” EP, which was followed by an an full-length entitled simply…”LP” (and it changed it name to “CD” when the record was reissued in digital form with 4 additional tracks).
Trouser Press commented that “The virulent sterility of Dogbreath suggests what Big Black might have sounded like had Steve Albini been obsessed by Black Sabbath’s Paranoid: an overwrought guitar barrage and sinister, neanderthal machine rhythms (best put to use on a faithfully compulsive cover of Suicide’s “Rocket USA”).”
TP also pointed out that “LP” (digital copies, which include Dogbreath’s four tracks, are appropriately dubbed CD) is at once more minimalist and more self consciously anti-emotional. It’s blessedly easy, though, to ignore such stunted, sub-Sonic Youth lyrical fixations as “Joyride Burning X” and “Snuff Rider MC” since the dense, omnivorous metal slide sweeps up the lot with fascinating, twisted grace.”
1987 saw the release of live album ” Shit Hit The Fan” and the band was also joined by then-Napalm Death member Justin Broadrick, who recorded “Saveana Mixes” EP and Steve Albini produced “Dustbowl” full-length. Eventually, however he left the band in order to form Godflesh and accused other members of unhealthy obsession with pop-metal acts like Whitesnake and Bon Jovi.
Trouser Press pointed out that “By Dustbowl, Head of David had removed most of the electro-shock trappings (except for the devastatingly powerful rhythm machine) in order to be cast as tequila-swiggin’, Harley-ridin’ zombies from the Planet Hopper…Dennis, that is. While the psychotic Americana overkill quickly surpasses mere laughability on its way up the scale from Police Academy to (Monty Python’s) Killing Joke, Head of David pull off the stiff-limbed metal swagger with all the necessary thuggishness. Once again, production (this time by Albini in the wiry flesh) saves the day by submerging most of the verbiage.”
By the late 80s, Dave Cochrane also departed (in order to form God), but the band soldiered on and added new member – bassist Bipin Kumar for 1991 “Seed State”, which became their final release. In the late 80s, Head Of David also released “White Elephant”, a collection of eight tracks from 1986/1987 John Peel radio sessions.
All Music Guide commented that “Although (Seed State) has a richer, denser feel than some of the band’s previous work, it lacks the rougher, more confrontational edge of earlier Head of David records like Dustbowl and LP. From track to track, the band rarely strays from the same path, laying down rigid, thumping drum programs and heavy, propulsive basslines as a foundation for abrasive guitars and harsh vocals.”
Further on, AMG pointed out that “While it wouldn’t be entirely fair to invoke Bon Jovi, the ballad “Kingdom Crawl” nevertheless shows that the band had softened considerably. More perplexing, however, is the delicate cover of Joe Walsh’s “Wolf” that closes the album. Just as it ends on a weak note, Seed State — which appears to have been Head of David’s swan song — sees the group going out with more of a whimper than a bang.”
Although Head Of David’s career was relatively short, their hybrid of noise/industrial/experimental music and metal influenced countless bands, including Fear Factory, who covered “Dog Day Sunrise” on their 1995 album “Demanufacture”. In 2009, Head Of David played their first show together in 23 years at the Supersonic Festival, which took place in Birmingham.
Stephen R. Burroughs
Justin K. Broadrick (Council Estate Electronics, Curse Of The Golden Vampire, Cylon, Eraser, Fall Of Because, Final, God, Greymachine, Ice, Jesu, Krackhead, Napalm Death, Saskwatch, Sidewinder, Solaris, Sub Species, Sweet Tooth, Tech Level 2, Techno Animal, White Viper, Youpho, Zonal)
Dogbreath 12″ (Blast First, 1986)
LP LP (Blast First, 1986)
Dustbowl CD / LP (Blast First,1988 / Torso, 1988)
CD (“LP” album + 4 Additional Tracks) CD (Blast First, 1990)
The Saveana Mixes 12″ (Blast First, 1989 / Torso, 1989)
White Elephant LP (Blast First, 1989)
The Shit Hits The Fans 12″ (Blast First, 1989)
Seed State CD (Blast First, 1991 / Elektra, 1991)
Soul Spark 10″ (Blast First, 1991)
“Jack Nicholson (Live)” on Fatal: The Grim Follow-Up (A Copulation Tape) (Fourth Dimension, 1986)
“Roadkill” on Chemical Imbalance #6 (Chemical Imbalance Magazine, 1987)
“Area Brothers” on On The Dotted Line…(There) (EMI, 1987)
“I Am Roadkill (Rockatansky V. Schwarzenegger) (Live)” on Sounds – Waves 2 (Sounds Magazine, 1988)
“Bugged” + “Snake Domain” on Devil’s Jukebox (Blast First, 1989)
“Bugged” + “Snake Domain” on Nothing Short Of Total War (Part One) (Blast First, 1989 / Torso, 1989)
“Primitive” on Tonal Evidence 4 (Mute, 1991)