Monday, May 24, 2010


One of many of the early logo ideas used, the original by John right here! Scanned from John's personal scrapbook.

VODDA VODKA BLOODY DOSS - nightmare of the local police - genUine hometown boyz Lethal Aggression. Classic era line up 1985-1988. Photo - courtesy John Saltz.

Who can remember so far back, when 'the scene' was for fun? Our interest in this sort of music was because we believed in it. Sure, there were factions from varying standpoints of politics, which spread into differening musical styles many times tailored by what countries the bands and fans came from. Ultimately though, it was the music itself which was the attractant, with which was injected any particular political thought or other subject matter the band in question chose to administer, depending on agenda or lack thereof. Vast social circles were sprouting up across the world mainly cemeted together by hand writing letters and trading TDK D-90 audio cassettes.

Mixing it with the locals on tour in Europe 1989. Photo - courtesy John Saltz.

Promises of 'making it' or some other type of commercial success never entered into anybody's heads, quite simply because the media justifiably ignored extreme music, or if some somewhat extreme band was picked up they soon watered down to a mere fraction of what they once were. Back then the media didn't know how to market this music, we soldiered on anyway, to where today we are but a step away from 'mosh pits' at Snoop Diddly 'concerts' or satanic bloodletting frenzies by 'gothicemo' preteen gangdeathbangers, grooving to the unholy rapture of Miley Cyrus' or Taylor Swift's consumerpop juggernaught.

"Back in the 70's when I was a young lad with no hair on his balls, I found myself disatisfied with the life my dad had planned for me. It was one of baseball, football, boy scouts etc etc. What I did notice and what did fascinate me were these long haired guys and girls with the Alice Cooper and Kiss shirts who my dad said were nothin' but freaks. Around 11 years old I had a paper route and it would make me about 10 bucks a week and that money went to start an ever expanding record collection. At first it was Ted Nugent, Kiss, Aerosmith, UFO, then Scorpions, Sabbath, AC/DC, Cooper. Once the Sex Pistols hit Creem magazine then it was The Ramones and Devo mixed in with all that classic rock. What I'm getting at is from early on I found myself more and more attracted to the less conforming more intimidating types of music. When I eventually found Venom I knew I hit my pay dirt. A few years later the first Agnostic Front lp 'Victim In Pain' and Black Flag 'Damaged' had a similar effect on me. 'Welcome to Hell' scared me. I came from Catholic school and upbringing so all this blatant heresy was speaking volumes to me. Agnostic Front was similar. The reality of that scene as well as the strong, defiant, tough attitude changed me. I speak of real change like a moment of clarity. Obviously there are dozens of bands I'm not mentioning throughout this transition but Venom and A.F. make simple metal and hardcore vantage points.

My first concert was in 81. Def Leppard opening for Ozzy on the blizzard of oz tour. 1 hit of mescaline and a couple of valium, added to the intensity of the show, made me realize I finally found where I was comfortable and free. All I wanted to do from then on was see shows and listen to music.

Thanks to Rock n Roll Heaven and the Old Bridge Militia I was able to see Slayer play Metal Joe's basement to about 15 of us. Meet and drink with Cliff Burton, party with people I thought were impossible to ever meet, go grocery shopping with Kerry King, stay with Cronos in Newcastle, roadie for Overkill, Nuclear Assault, Slayer when they hit the East, so much cool shit. Basically I wanted to be a part of the scene and I found a way to really enjoy it to the fullest. I am sure someday in the retirement home I will have much fodder to fill the ears of any old geezers who will listen ha ha.

I mention this bit of background just because I saw early on what I liked and wouldn't settle to just not let it be a part of my life. By the time I started Lethal I knew it was what I wanted and was happy to put my twist on add what I felt I wanted to start hearing. Instead of waiting I wanted to make something exciting, something that might affect others the way other bands affected me. I needed a new fix and joining a band seemed the next thing to do.

About 1982 music was changing drastically. A diet of N.W.O.B.H.M. mixed with the early Metal Massacre lp's made me and my friends realize our generation was kickin' balls out of the last. Specifically in the ability to shred. Faster and faster music was what got us off! It seemed like there was a contest to be the fastest band at one point (anyone remember Hawaii,lol). Thrash was becoming a exciting undercurrent in the scene and there were so many good bands to see and meet that every week was a new adventure. There was such a sense of unity (if you were into thrash then hey brother lets party) that for once I felt like I wasn't alone. I know that sounds gay, but it really felt like a family for a while. Doin' little D.I.Y. shows, tradin' tapes, traveling across states to see bands, it just all felt like a mission to accomplish. We went to every show and stayed to the end. We started to really despise the trendy fucks latching on to the scene and that's when it started to change a bit. That's when hardcore played a bigger and bigger role. The mixture of unflinching personal lyrics and simple brutal beats made sense. I started to push away from the mainstream thrash and listening to more and more hardcore. I started to see the shallowness in the scene I once adored. It was no longer the thrashers against the hair bands, we had a new enemy, posers incorporating the thrash scene into their pose. Thrash got big and the posers were infiltrating....the birth of the spooge!

There were a bunch of us that felt this way and a small movement was brewing. What would later become crossover started as a low-fi alternative to the big thrash shows and a new refreshing face to the local hardcore shows. When AF went crossover and SOD overexposed the sound it killed the movement even before it really started. At least for me. We weren't trying to make ourselves famous, we just wanted to make our own scene. That scene just happened to catch on enough that certain bands allowed it to change who they were for the worse. It was still a ton of fun and a lot of great bands came out of it, it just never got to make a slow build and people just jumped on the bandwagon and killed it. That's where the seeds of Death Metal seemed to start. Thrash became stale, crossover became silly, something new needed to happen. Grind and Death made sense!

The point where I realized the hypocrisy of what was once a great scene was when the money started to get thrown around. I mean every metalhead was always playin' air guitar in the mirror dreamin' of bein' a rock star so I always expected that shit. The hardcore bands fucked me up. I mean Warzone, a band thats motto was "hawdcore shood stay outta big bisiness" signed to Combat and had a shiny metal industrial steel WARZONE logo on their lp cover, and ads in metal mags - then I realized everyone was basically full of shit. The Cro-Mags had a real video for 'we gotta know' complete with limo's and all that shit...fuck man, why??

The English bands always seemed to keep it a little more real but still, what was once a good scene digressed into complacency and conformity...soooooooooooooo, I think all of that after a strong scene for close to 5 years led the new bands to feel similar to the way I did in '84. Let's fucking change this bullshit!! I think out of the ashes of crossover and the sameness of thrash, Grind and Death became a logical transition. I couldn't change Lethal, it wouldn't have felt right. By '91 the consequences of a lifestyle and the lack of interest in crossover pushed us to a point where it didn't make sense any more. It was nice to see bands keep moving in extreme directions but the fact that it is so mainstream today, that Relapse is a featured label in Hot Topic, is beyond wierd. I admire the bands that set out to get big and destroy the system, I hate the bands that conformed to do so! Not like any of my observations matter I've always been a bit of an asshole anyway,lol!"
-John Saltz

1986 saw DRI bring Lethal Aggression on their self-dubbed 'Argument Then Tour' tour. This shot is from Dallas TX.  Photo - courtesy John Saltz.
Cradle Of Filth soundbytes accompanying TV commercials for new model diesel king cab pick up trucks from our friends Great Wall Motors, were something we never expected to see - let alone Burzum or Minor Threat t-shirts on old ladies at your local grocery store (or on actresses from New Goon) or seeing legions of consumers line up for a Big Mac dressed like Pin Head or New Goon Emo Vampires, all the while moaning about how 'depressed' they are - yet lacking the conviction to just 'man up' and place a shotgun into their mouths.

Classic line up, venue and era! 1986 'Argument Then  Tour' flyer from John's personal scrapbook O' memories.

In most cases extreme music fans and musicians were the outcasts of all of the other genres of music - we were the outcasts of their heavy metal or punk scenes simply because we were into more violent and aggressive sounds (which were alien to and a world apart from their safe and happy, warm and fuzzy comfort zones.).

The picture above has a very interesting story. The players: skinhead=Mark Dagger, 4-eyed perm guy=Marty Microwave, wet longhair=George Yeck (bass player in lethal).

"Ok there's a good story tied to this pic of the big skinhead, the freak with the perm and George the bass player for Lethal. In 1986 Lethal was invited to play a string of shows through Texas and Louisianna. Mike Bevil, who had the fanzine 'Death & Destruction' was the one who set the dates up, and being a fan of our 'From The Cunt Of The Fucking Whore' demo, asked if we would like to open up for DRI. We were fucking huge fans of DRI and were blown away to be asked! This was on there "argument then tour " leg of the Dealing With It tour and we were stoked as fuck!! We packed our shit into Kenny's mother's station wagon, rented a U-Haul trailer and headed out. Meeting DRI, gettin' wasted with them and sharing the stage for that mini-tour was amazing. 2 years earlier they blow me away on vinyl and change the way I hear music and one quick demo later and were tearin' through Texas with them."
-John Saltz


Total gravitron doss - airborne sicko about to fling himself off the balcony to the tunes of Lethal's assault in Louisianna 1986. Photo - courtesy John Saltz.

"After a looong day of drinkin on Bourbon Street with the whole DRI and Lethal crew plus about a dozen other people we played a show in a old church. The show was a blast! Kids divin' of the second story balcony into the pit, us doing our best to play faster than DRI (and doing quite well as I remember,lol), a constant circle pit as well as raging slammers and stage divers, and of course a raging set by DRI which we could enjoy once again. It was at this gig that we met that big skin Mark. He was friends with the DRI crew and quite an intimidating mother fucker (turns out he was quite well known around those parts as a deadly bruiser) to say the least. We all headed back the hotel after the gig and just got down to some serious partying. Kurt didnt hang much but Felix and Josh were up for the shenanigans and Spike was slammin' the brews back and enjoying the stupidity that us idiots in Lethal were about to get into.

We drank by the pool and were all swimming in our clothes and being ourselves when some big girl who was at the show pops up at the pool (you have pics of her in the scans Alan, feel free to put one up to go along)."

(GT - well OK John, thanks - here's the evidence for all the fans to see!)

George's first 'portfolio'. George could have been a roving 'ace' reporter for Buttface zine if he wanted, seeing such tasteful stuff as this! Courtesy John Saltz.

"Well this chick is drunk and, let's just say lacking in the common sense department. She was hitting on George, as well as the big dude, and come to think of it anybody in her sight range. Mark starts telling her to take her fucking clothes off and basically talking to her like she is the piece of paper  THE MENTORS would write their lyrics on, lol! She is playing coy but its turnin' her on and it was really kinda gross but me and the rest of the crew were just watching George and Mark have fun with this chick.

The guy with the perm was a friend of George's and he flew down to Texas to be our driver. He was one of those friends every band has, that wants to be involved, but you cant find nothing for him to do so they just wind up hanging around and when your're not there they tell people they manage the band, ha ha!

Microwave driving the van as a dedicated friend would! Courtesy John Saltz.

Well Microwave see's a possibility to get some road ass so he cuts in and tells this girl how he is the band manager and tries to get her to take some clothes off. He cant get anywhere with her but he does start to irritate Mark. George decides to tell the girl he is also a photographer so with a little prodding he gets her to go into a room and take some nasty pics. Well, while she's gone the big guy Mark starts telling Microwave how he is fucking this girl and if he dont back off he's gonna knock him out.

The whole time this shit is goin down the rest of us are crackin up and drinkin' and swimmin'. Eventually George comes runnin' out to the pool screaming he is the worlds greatest animal photographer and he just photographed the cuntry pig!! Now she is walkin' up, still putting her bra and shirt on,  and she's yelling at George that she wants the film or some shit. Well at some point that Microwave guy must have wrote a letter that said he retains all copies of the pictures George is shooting and got her to sign it. It was like 3 lines on a sheet of paper. She rips that thing out of his hands and tries to run away all drunk and half dressed. George sneaks up and rips it out of her hand then jumps in the pool! Well she decides to jump in after him and that becomes our entertainment for about 15 minutes. Mark makes his move and helps her out of the pool and starts acting like he is mad at everyone. He acts like he is going to fucking kill Microwave and beat everyone up for taking advantage of this nice girl. She takes the bait and he runs off to his room and does whatever a huge monstrous skinhead does to a drunk cuntry pig!!

R.I.P. George Yeck, seen here trying to escape his contractual obligations. Courtesy John Saltz.

When we all get up the next afternoon DRI, us and about 10 more people decide to take a paddle boat ride up the river. Sounds like somethin'  to do so we start drinkin'  and head out. While we are waiting in line for the boat we find out that the big guy's old lady was in the hospital having his baby,  while all that shit was goin down the night before! He just nonchalantly brings it up and then tells us in graphic detail what he did last night. He was alot of fun to hang out with and I'm not one to judge how a fucker lives, plus for all I know he was pullin' our legs about the baby thing....whatever,lol!

It was the last action of his that left the biggest memory on my mind. While we were in line for the ferry one of the girls we were with was smoking. Some normal dude in his 30's or 40's comes and asks the girl for a cigarette. Well Mark just rolls off like a fast tank and gives this fucking guy a straight arm right to the bridge of his nose and it just bursts with blood. I looked at Felix and was like "thank god this mother fucker is your friend man."  Mark didnt say anything, just punched the guy, looked at him, smiled when his nose blew up and walked on the boat. We followed him and it was wierd, they guy just layed on the ground and didn't  even make a sound. I thought us and DRI were gonna be arrested when the boat came back but it was all good.

We hit Bourbon Street, got some Hurricanes, then went back to the hotel to await our next adventure."

One of the best DRI live shots from their adventure together in '86. Courtesy John Saltz.

We championed the bands at personal expense with no thought at all to thanks or recognition or status. This philosophy would leak into the scene more vividly at the end of the 80's and made itself concretely clear by 1991, as the first visual signs of implosion were easily seen.

Lethal Aggression personifies the ethic of the old days. The honourable and in many cases, the ugly, is mirrored by Lethal Aggression's on AND off record attitude. Original front man John Saltz had "been there and done that" while most people were still listening to Iron Maiden. John is simply one of the first visionaries that began to chart untested waters, and with this journey painted a unique picture of his sights and experiences from his and his band mates' unique New Jersey perspective. They crept into every big trader's list and were firmly footed once the great merging had taken place, absolutley anything went and usually did! And with him he took his band mates - who all were both witnesses to, and creators of, a new chapter...

Above and Below: The original debut vinyl. Photos - Alan Moses

If the original debut 'Life Is Hard....' didn't kick your ass when it was released in 1989 then the gods smiled because in 2007 it was reissued by Xtreem Music, giving literally another generation a chance to see and hear things as they were.

A small sample of the KILLER goodies in the reissue layout of 'Life Is Hard...', this is from page 9!! GET THIS BAD BOY RIGHT HERE: XTREEM MUSIC

XTREEM MUSIC has outdone themselves with this reissue. Regards to XTREEM MUSIC.
Full of insanely historic extra material, even if you have everything already from the old trading days - the booklet alone is worth every penny. Copious notes by John thread themselves through miles of cool photos and artefacts right from his scrapbook of life, all wrapped up in one wicked presentation that's one of the best presented TRUE reissues we've seen in years. The work of an obvious hardcore Lethal fan - we can't recommend this release more highly.

Tray insert scan of the 'Life Is Hard...' Reissue. With regards to XTREEM MUSIC

You'd think these boys had died and gone to heaven, or they drank all the kegs and are the only ones still standing. Photo - courtesy John Saltz

Bricks in the New Jersey scene, any tape trader knew just what the hell Lethal stood for: FUN, first and foremost. Not a 'funcore' band - and yes that term did exist back in yesteryear, but a metal edged hardcore band outside of the stereotyped sounds of SxEx or NYHC or UKHC or skatecore or any of the others that were setting standards in their own rights back then aswell.
Collage of pics and newspaper clip from The Dallas Observer May 22 1986 (courtesy John Saltz)

When offered the opportunity to take part in Glorious Times, John got right on board and soon became one of the biggest contributors to the project, going so far as to MAIL his personal scrapbook of memories, spanning years and years of history and memory. Imagine if it had been stolen, lost or tore up by the mail services? Not even insurance could repay the loss.


The amount of faith in our book project that act took - well it should be evident to you all now. John possesses great story telling ability and has the wealth of travel, experiences and 'time served' (hehe) under his belt which made choosing stores from his reflections for our book extremely difficult. Consistently however, the Lethal Aggression section of GT has gained alot of feedback from fans of the band and even folks who really weren't fans or weren't aware of the band due to their age. Single-handedly, the LA photo featured on GT's cover is perhaps the most talked about image of the entire book.

Some artwork using materials courtesy of John for Lockjaw blog (that would be Yappyrriffic!). Image - Alan Moses

The band was touring Europe before most extreme bands had albums out, although mismatched by everything other than aggressive music, touring with NY legends Youth Of Today in 1989. That concept alone shows how bands were often of majorly different approach but you could still fill a venue with enough fans of both. A farcry from today indeed .

A REBEL &  A CAUSE . Ray Cappo gets dirty with Hutch Lethal.

 "The guy in the pic who isn't Cappo was one of Lethal's closest friends. We called him Hutch. He was our drug mate, driver, roadie, friend, drinkin' partner, comic relief, and occasional assistance when the fists would start to fly. When we were kids and desperate to get some pills we would hit him on the head with blunt objects and send him to the hospital in the hopes of securing a script for pain meds (true story). Hutch help me beat up a couple of cops once and the poor bastard didn't get away. He took the heat and never mentioned my name. He was pretty much there for the whole Lethal thing from beginning to our disbandment in 91. For all the reasons above, as well as the fact that he was pretty much our mascot, we felt he needed to come to Europe when finally got to go there. The night of that picture was particularly funny and when I'm done tellin' you why, you will understand why I am pissed I dont have the rest of the pictures.

Some nights on the tour with Y.O.T. were more fun than others and we never missed a chance to fuck with them dudes. There were shows where they thought they could win over our crowd by playin' covers and more than a few times they busted into 'Louie Louie'. They did it one night in Germany and there were a bunch of American G.I's in the crowd who were drunk as fuck! They wanted no part of the straight edge shtick and they were sprayin' beer at the stage the whole show. Well they go into 'Louie Louie' and the G.I.'s went nuts! Me and our guitar player Dave jumped on stage and put Cappo in between us and we started doin' the 'can can' dance with him wedged between us. We were pourin' beer on our own heads and the crowd started comin' on stage, throwin' and sprayin' beer all over the fucking place, ha ha! The look of WTF on Y.O.T's faces was pricless ha ha ha! Sorry, I am digressing from the pic but I figured I'd give you a feel for what they had to put up with once in a while. The night that pic was taken me and Hutch were up to no good and wanted to set Porcell (Y.O.T's guitar player) up for some shenanigans. Hutch broke his leg on that tour, and so had Porcell, so we used that as a way to trick Porcell into a picture that would compromise his straight edge image. I had a huge bottle of Vodka I was drinking and me and Hutch were by Porcell, so the set up was like this:

Hutch ready to spring into action from back of the stage 1989 (Photo courtesy John Saltz)
I had my shoes untied so I would hand the bottle to Hutch. Hutch was on crutches and had his hands full so I asked Porcell to hold the bottle while I tied my shoes. Well,  it so happened that Hutch's hands were full....with a camera! I also should mention we tipped a couple of other people off to the fact that if they had their cameras ready there was about to be a Kodak moment if they stuck by us. Well, the moment I handed the bottle to Porcell I tied my shoes and WALKED AWAY! Hutch snapped a pic and Porcell bugged out. Now you have to picture this to fully enjoy it, Porcell is on crutches holding a bottle of Vodka with his hands raised and yellin' for us to take the Vodka back. All these kids start taking pictures and he is getting more intolerant and loud. His face turns bright red with anger and embarrasment and he looks like a tipsy drunk using his crutches to hold himself up. He's got this big bottle of Vodka in one hand and the other holding himself up on the crutches, he's getting louder and louder attracting more was priceless!! This asshole named Doug that YOT brought on tour with them starts this big scene. He's like their tour manager and bedmate and he's threatening to sue us if we dont give up the film or if we ever use it anywhere. He's saying its 'defamation of character' and it's not funny what we're doing. I swear on the devil himself I almost shit in my pants I was laughing so hard. I know at least 10 other people got pics of the whole thing and it was really more for the goof than to ever use the pic to make him look like a fool. That pic was floatin around between different bandmates for years, I have no idea who has it now but I wish I had it to give to you guys!!

John & Hutch with a hottie in the background (Photo courtesy John Saltz)

Those fuckers left us in Paris with 4 dates left on the tour....the next day was Amsterdam so I guess they all punished us for our tomfoolery ha ha! On the new album 'Ad Nauseum' I used a sound bite i found on a dvd interview as an intro to the song 'Project X'. It's Porcell moaning about these alcoholic dirtbag losers who they were on tour with in 89. Its pretty funny. When we came home from that tour we toyed with the idea of sendin' that pic of "Porcell and Vodka" to Maximum R'N'R, but we had our fun already and as much as people thought we were dirtbag drug addicts, we were'nt crybabies who needed revenge.

The scrapbook notation John entered here explains it all

When we first met YOT it was on the flight to Luxemburg. We boarded in New York, they were comin' up from Florida. Back then you could buy booze in the duty free shop and then drink it on the plane. We were already drunk and high on valium when we boarded. As me and the band started walking to our seats, Vodka and Whiskey in hand, we could see their eyes peeking over the top of their seats in wide-eyed OH FUCKNESS!!! We introduced ourselves by droppin' in their laps and giving a big ol' "Whats up, you guys must be the Youth Of Today....were Lethal Aggression...CHEERS!!!"
-John Saltarelli (Lethal Aggression)

It's with a great deal of pleasure we've seen someone who ought to have stayed dead, come back literally from being dead - to keep the attitude alive with new members - bringing a tighter, more mature, yet still petulantly aggressive Lethal Aggression alive. Anyone that's a fan and has heard the 2nd album 'Ad Nauseum' -knows exactly what we're talking about here. Most proposed 'come back' albums stink; NOT THE CASE AT ALL HERE!


It's worth the purchase of the new album if not just for the killer live gig which is added at the end of the studio outing - and then go to your tape trader collection and compare those old gigs to this new one and you can see further the evidence that the maturation process (ie AGE & EXPERIENCE) has only enhanced this band and not given any room for whimping out, not in the character of any member of this band past or present.

'Ad Nauseum' CD booklet  center pages. With regards to HORROR PAIN GORE DEATH

The faces only a mother could love...(maybe). New era Lethal courtesy John Saltz.

Classic-era Lethal. Photo - courtesy John Saltz

Thanks again to John for the incredible show of solidarity with Glorious Times, we wish you continued longevity and know you'll never go down without a fight! Our hats come off to you brother! It's not too many men who'd send an emissary all the way to Australia, cd in hand for personal delivery! They broke the mold when they made you two.

The man with a message, and the messenger: John & Nick May 2010. Photo - courtesy John Saltz

One of our favourite photos, John with his daughter. Courtesy John Saltz.



Note: all scans from John's scrapbook painstakingly preserved in hi and low resolution by Brian Pattison.


That's right - by clicking on the following links, you can indulge yourself and download a special DIY CDR package, which includes music files and printable layout items to construct your own personal live Lethal Aggression title. With authorization from  John, we've been able to rip something from our private collection from Fagersta, Sweden, February 11th 1989 - just the exact gig from which John has pulled stories to share here on this blog and in the layout of the cdr. Yet MORE unseen images from John's personal scrapbook, backed with his own tales - this live recording is a killer peek into an aggressive, fun and pioneering era, taking place with what some call possibly the biggest mismatched tour of any from those times!






"It was great reliving some of the good old times while reflecting on some stories for this blog. Some great memories of Phil and George came back as well as times when all of us were livin' this thing day to day. I haven't seen Hutch in over 10 years and have often wondered what had happened to him. I thought the worst but always held hope we would bump into each other in some random place when I least expected it. Sadly, I was contacted out of the blue just 2 days after I wrote the story about me, Hutch and Porcell. It appears Hutch died of lung cancer, and as wierd as this sounds, on the same day I was writing the story. I shared a lot of my early days with that fucker! We worked together, got high together, shared apartments, friends...fuck man we really were a crew for alot of years! 'Im sure that the timing of his death is here to let me learn something and in time I will see it for what it is....until then I have all my memories....of Hutch, as well as George and Phil! To my fallen brothers I toast a swig of Vodda Vodka and a stick of ill"