(By Pat ‘Riot’ Whitaker, Senior Writer/Journalist, RiffRelevant.com)
The origin story of New Jersey’s thrashing ATTACKER begins in 1983 under the band’s original moniker, Warloc.
At that time, founding members Mike Sabatini (drums), Pat Marnelli (guitar) and Dominic Spina (guitar), were seeking a singer. They would eventually recruit Brian Bob Mitchell, with whom they’d play mostly cover song sets around the N.J. club circuit. Spina would exit the band, being replaced in 1984 by Jim Mooney which resulted in that year’s name change to ATTACKER and a Demo released.
Metal Blade Records would soon get wind of the band, releasing their song “(Call On) The Attacker” on the fifth installment of their compilation series, Metal Massacre. The label soon offered ATTACKER a record deal but there would be some issues already begin to arise at this point, ones that led to bassist Jimmy Schulman joining the band.
It was to be short-lived as ATTACKER would soon dismiss Schulman, dissatisfied with his performance while recording their debut and Hades’ Lou Ciarlo was brought in to re-record the bass sections. What resulted was the initial, milestone album from ATTACKER, “Battle At Helm’s Deep“, being released in 1985.
The record was an impressive record of traditional heavy metal with a progressive edge to it, along with a lot of J.R.R. Tolkien-inspired lyrics. They were delivered with a competent, wide-range vocal style and over the years, Battle At Helm’s Deep has achieved a cult status among essential debuts. At that time, it received a fantastic reception and was quite critically-accepted yet despite that, ATTACKER became disappointed by what they saw as lackluster support from Metal Blade. They soon dissolved their contract but not before their song “Disciple” appeared on another compilation, The Best Of Metal Blade Volume 1.
ATTACKER would record/issue another Demo in 1986, one featuring a new vocalist, John Leone (R.I.P.). Once again, a songs of theirs was included on another label-based sampler compilation, L’Amour Rocks by Mercenary Records. They signed with the label and underwent a change in their guitarist department as Tom D’Amico (R.I.P.) soon came aboard.
Releasing the sophomore album The Second Coming for the label in 1988, many longtime ATTACKER fanatics claim it is the band’s best work. ATTACKER was becoming quite established at this point, also recognized for their incredible live shows but they were to soon be victims of fate. Never quite rising to a higher status echelon, ATTACKER would disband in 1989. Both of these initial releases would be re-released by Sentinel Steel Records in 1999.
During their disbanded period, ATTACKER would lose family members as John Leone passed away in 1999, Jim Mooney following him in 2000. These losses would later inspire members Pat Marinelli and Mike Sabatini to seek reforming ATTACKER and recording a third album. But first, there would have to be a band to do that so enter guitarist Mike Benetatos and bassist Felix Torres, still, ATTACKER was sans vocalist. Although there had been much public fighting with the band’s former frontman Brian Bob Mitchell over the years, he rejoined in 2003.
2004 saw the manifestation of the ATTACKER comeback, their third album, Soul Taker, through Iron Glory Records. The record was nicely embraced by fans, ones that wanted to see the returned ATTACKER, thus the band began playing many prestigious festivals around the world and toured Europe.
A 2005 Demo helped ATTACKER secure a new label home, Sentinel Steel Records, for whom they issued “The Unknown” (streaming) – with new bassist Lou Ciarlo (Hades) – in 2006. In the years since that time, ATTACKER would be subjects of a 2007 compilation of their works from Chavis Records titled “Standing The Test Of Time” and a 2008 single, “Condemned“.
A few years would pass before ATTACKER grabbed the spotlight again but when they blazed back with 2013’s “Giants Of Canaan” (streaming) for Metal On Metal Records, there was new blood pumping through the band once again. Their recording line up consisted of Bobby “Leather Lungs“ Lucas (vocals), Mike Benetatos (guitar), Jon Hasselbrink (guitar), Mike Sabatini (drums) and Brian Smith (bass).
The same line up returned for 2016’s follow-up for Metal On Metal, “Sins Of The World“, and both records re-established a new era for these Garden State thrashers. The ATTACKER music of the modern age is as incendiary and powerful as ever – check out the “World Destroyer” single from this ’16 release – and there’s some interesting new developments in the band’s saga [see below]
It was just recently announced that ATTACKER will soon return to Pyramid Sound in Ithaca, NY to record 4 new songs for an upcoming EP release entitled Armor Of The Gods. What’s of special interest is the fact that 2018 is the 30th anniversary of The Second Coming release from ATTACKER and that the man behind it’s production, the famed Alex Perialis, will return to produce the upcoming EP.
In the three decades between these two recordings, Perialis has amassed an impressive resume that includes work with Overkill, S.O.D, Anthrax, Nuclear Assault, Bad Religion, Pro-Pain, Testament and many more. The Armor Of The Gods EP will contain those 4 new songs and feature 2 live tracks recorded at the Up The Hammers Festival in May of 2017.
2018 marks the 35th anniversary since ATTACKER first surfaced as Warloc and in that time, they have maintained their metal spirit with pride. That pride and their ass-kicking metal assault is the stuff of legends in the heavy metal underground. It is cool to see them back and building on the legacy they launched those many years ago.
ATTACKER have some live assaults scheduled in June, including these two shows: