By Emanuele Biani
EXTREMA’s original line-up was established between 1985 and 1986 in Milan, Italy, where the band recorded the first EP “We Fucking Care” and, within a single year, opened for Slayer on the Italian leg of the Reign In Blood tour. The huge success achieved by the performance led Tommy Massara’s band to play all over Italy and to sell over 3000 copies of their debut album in a short time.
Tommy was the only remaining member of the original line-up, and over the years he also played the role of artistic and executive producer. The real leap in artistic and professional quality for EXTREMA arrived in 1988, when the line-up was completed by Gianluca Perotti (voice), Mattia Bigi (bass) and Cristiano Dalla Pellegrina (drums) and turned into an unstoppable unit thanks to an incessant live activity in Italy and abroad.
Hundreds of concerts made the band more and more close-knit and open towards a constant growth path, capable from the beginning of welcoming influences external to heavy metal, a consistent choice within an evolutionary framework which saw EXTREMA start from the rebellious attitude of Motörhead to later incorporate the style of Californian thrash metal, a scene with which the band shared the utmost care for the technical side of music and a devastating presence on stage.
The result of these efforts is the masterpiece “Tension At The Seams”(1993), still considered the best Italian heavy metal record ever. A work which clearly shows EXTREMA’s will to experience and anticipate the times while placing its foundations on a solid and aggressive style. This mental opening pushes the band to modify their own sound in the following albums, while never turning away from prestigious collaborations in the meantime.
Such is the case of “Mollami” and “Vai Bello”, songs written together with Italian rap superstars Articolo 31, which reaffirm the band’s modern attitude, free from the constraints of a mostly static and traditionalist scene. A tendency to contamination that is clearly reflected in the stark evolution of the following albums, “The Positive Pressure (Of Injustice)”of 1995 and “Better Mad Than Dead” of (2001).
The band’s reputation as musicians and performers kept growing in a perpetual live context, with extensive tours and the participation to prestigious festivals with the likes of Metallica, Slayer and Korn. The publication of the anthology “And The Best Has Yet To Come” (2003) also saw of Cristiano Dalla Pellegrina’s quit the band after fifteen years of dedication.
This perpetual evolution welcomes new drummer Paolo Crimi and V2 / Edel the label under which the album “Set The World On Fire” (2005) is published. After only two years, EXTREMA decide to move on and sign a license agreement with Scarlet Records, an Italian label specializing in heavy metal. The DVD “Murder Tunes & Broken Bones” and the CD “Raisin 'Hell With Friends”, both recorded live are soon published, a prelude to the European tour in support for Death Angel in 2008, which confirms the band at the top of the game and ready to work on a long-awaited new record.
“Pound For Pound” sees the light in May 2009 and makes it clear that EXTREMA are still a reference for European thrash metal, once again filtered by a groove always in step with the times. The album also features a few neat surprises, such as the presence of exceptional guest Page Hamilton (Helmet) and a brilliant cover of Deuce (Kiss). After having participated to many of the most important European festivals and to the Italian dates of legendary Motörhead, Mattia Bigi leaves the ranks.
Once new bassist Gabri Giovanna has been recruited, the long work on the sixth album “The Seed Of Foolishness” begins, to finally see the light in 2013. It is supported by an extensive European tour, at the end of which Paolo Crimi leave. New drummer Francesco La Rosa takes his place and, with this line-up, EXTREMA record “The Old School EP”, an exhilarating overhaul of songs dating back to 1987 and never before included in official publications.
Extraneous from the beginning to political and ideological implications of any kind, EXTREMA’s lyrics have always strived to alternate challenging and contemporary themes with lighter subjects, true to rock'n'roll form, but Gianluca Perotti -the main author of lyrics since the second album- had since grown a personal interests in conspiratorial theories. This led to neglecting the construction of melodic and effective vocal lines, sacrificed in favor of a kind of message that created an unbridgeable furrow with the public and the rest of the band.
In May 2017 the singer was let go and, at the end of long auditions of over thirty candidates, the choice of fell on Tiziano Spigno. Thanks to his entry, EXTREMA can finally release all the creativity repressed in recent years: a violent, direct and engaging approach which is -at the same time- also varied, courageous and experimental, resulting in the album “Headbanging Forever”.
A record combining innovation and tradition with the experience and passion of a band that has always set its own course in the heavy metal world. In 2019, EXTREMA’s “Headbanging Forever” does not want to be a trivial manifesto of bad intentions, but rather represents the only possible way to understand and play their amazing music.