Forbidden is an American thrash metal band. One of the first major thrash acts to place an emphasis on technical musicianship, Forbidden is a well-loved cult act whose influence seems to outstrip their actual mainstream popularity, and while they are currently on indefinite hiatus, fans are still holding out.
Formed as Forbidden Evil in 1985 by Russ Anderson (vocals), Craig Locicero and Robb Flynn (guitars), John Tegio (bass), and James Pittman (drums), the band released a stream of demos between 1985 and 1987, and it was in 1987 that Flynn quit to join Vio-lence, while Tegio and Pittman also departed for nothing in particular. Glen Alvelais, Matt Camacho, and Paul Bostaph all joined, forming the classic lineup, and after a brief run with this lineup under the Forbidden Evil moniker, they decided to shorten it to Forbidden (apparently because they didn't want people to think that they were a Celtic Frost or Venom clone). It was also around this time that they inked a deal with Combat Records and released Forbidden Evil, their almost-eponymous debut, in 1988 to very positive reviews. While it didn't make them massive, they certainly weren't small-time by this point; tours with various big names followed, but Glen Alvelais left the year after and was replaced by Tim Calvert.
This lineup would go on to record Twisted into Form, which was released in 1990 to rave reviews and was heralded as a modern classic. While it did result in multiple tours with big names, it wasn't quite the breakthrough album that they had envisioned it as, and after some issues with the rest of the band, Paul Bostaph left at some point between 1991 and 1992 (the actual timeframe is rather nebulous) to join Slayer and was replaced by Steve Jacobs. It was also around this time that Combat Records went belly-up and left them without a label, and given that this was at a time when thrash was dying and all the big names were either breaking up or changing their sound to hard rock or Groove Metal, new labels weren't exactly champing at the bit to sign them. Four years, various demos, and a new label later, and Distortion, their third full-length, had hit the market. It represented a change in approach to a more groove-oriented sound, but with the progressive elements still very much present and thus keeping them from being another Pantera clone. The market barely noticed that, however, and it also barely noticed 1997's Green, their fourth full-length. Adrift and without any real hope of regaining a foothold at any point within the near future, they called it a day that same year.
2001 brought something unexpected: a one-off reunion for the Thrash of the Titans benefit show for Chuck Billy, who had developed cancer. While Locicero was not able to participate due to his then-commitment to Manmade God, a rock band that he had started, he wished Billy a swift recovery. Nothing happened for a while after the reunion, however; Bostaph continued on with Slayer, Calvert left music altogether, Camacho went to law school, and Anderson pursued another small-time musical project for fun. This all changed in 2007, however, when renewed interest in thrash resulted in the band deciding to reform with most of the Forbidden Evil lineup minus Bostaph (who was in Testament at the time); in his place was the one and only Gene Hoglan. Hoglan and Alvelais lasted for two years before both quit in 2009; the former was replaced by Mark Hernandez, while the latter was replaced by Steve Smyth. They had actually entered into talks with Nuclear Blast Records as early as 2008, but it wasn't until 2010 that everything was made official and Omega Wave, their first post-reunion full-length, was released to very positive reviews. Various tours followed, including a coheadliner with Overkill, but by 2011, Hernandez was out and the band drafted Hoglan again for a few festival dates before holding online auditions. After going through all the entries, they selected Sasha Horn as their new drummer.
Unfortunately, he didn't get his chance to shine, as Camacho, Anderson, and Smyth all left in the summer of 2012. Rather than limp on, Locicero decided to call it a day once again in 2013. Locicero has said at various points over the years that the band is done and over with, and clarified in 2021 that with Russ doing vastly better but still nowhere near ready and Matt still unavailable, he has no desire to give Forbidden a third go without them.
Discography (due to a large amount of demos, splits, and V/A comps, only the major releases will be covered):
- Forbidden Evil (1988)
- Raw Evil: Live at the Dynamo (1989) (live EP)
- Twisted into Form (1990)
- Point of No Return (1992) (compilation album)
- Distortion (1994)
- Green (1997)
- Omega Wave (2010)
This band contains examples of the following tropes:
- The Alcoholic: By his own admission, Russ Anderson was an out-of-control alcoholic who implied that he was one of the main reasons why Forbidden broke up the second time, and it took Craig Locicero and Mark Hernandez staging an intervention and forcing him to go to rehab in October of 2019 to finally get him to fix his life and sober up.
- Big Fun: Russ Anderson.
- Cover Version: "21st Century Schizoid Man". They also covered "Victim of Changes" live.
- Drugs Are Bad: One of their more common lyrical themes, with "Off the Edge" and "Step by Step" being standout examples.
- Epic Rocking: "Through Eyes of Glass" (6:26), "Follow Me" (7:01), "R.I.P." (7:37), "One Foot in Hell" (6:13), "No Reason" (6:23), "Feed the Hand" (6:42), "Undertaker" (6:24), "Swine" (6:30), "Dragging My Casket" (6:44), "Inhuman Race" (6:25), and "Omega Wave" (6:00).
- Groove Metal: Changed their sound to this with Distortion but kept the prog elements, essentially turning them into Nevermore-lite.
- I Am the Band: Craig Locicero
- Insufferable Genius: Glen Alvelais, apparently. He was an extremely gifted guitarist, but he also had way too much of an ego for his own good, and an incident where he tried to sneak in a solo instrumental on Forbidden Evil without the band's knowledge or approval, coupled with his conduct on tour, was one of the big catalysts for his departure.
- Kill the Poor: "Tossed Away" is an attack on those attitudes, particularly those of people who have chosen to turn a blind eye to poverty and economic inequality.
- Metal Scream: Russ Anderson is a Type 4 but intermittently throws in a Type 1.
- Mohs Scale of Rock and Metal Hardness: Solid 8, though they veered into a hard 8 for the title track to Omega Wave.
- New Sound Album: Distortion changed their sound to a groove/prog hybrid that wasn't a million miles from Nevermore.
- Not Christian Rock: The title track to Forbidden Evil could be interpreted as Christian, but songs like "One Foot in Hell" are pretty clearly critical of organized religion. Basically, it's too ambiguous to tell.
- Progressive Metal: Moved towards this on Twisted into Form and kept it for the next two albums.
- Protest Song: Their most common lyrical theme.
- The Rival: To Vio-lence for a time. It started when the latter poached Robb Flynn from them (after originally trying to get Craig) and started to act like the new kings in town, only for Forbidden Evil to blow up way more than Eternal Nightmare did and make them look like they had egg on their faces. While both bands eventually found themselves on amicable terms again, there was a lot of scene beef going on between the two camps for a while.
- Thrash Metal: They weren't the first technical thrash act to gain recognition, but they were definitely one of the higher-profile ones.
- War Is Hell: "As Good as Dead"