8 FOOT SATIVA
Thrash Metal / Death Metal • New Zealand

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Early Days (1998-2002)

8 Foot Sativa started when Brent Fox and Gary Smith meet at Massey High School in Auckland, New Zealand. They both enjoyed metal music and started jamming together. Peter 'Speed' Young from Kelston Boys' High School joined the band as the drummer. 'Fat' Dave was on the bass guitar. In this lineup they were a cover band who would play covers by Pantera, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Sepultura, Metallica and Slayer. 'Fat' Dave would often not turn up to practices, so Brent Fox moved from guitar to bass guitar. The band would meet their next vocalist Ari, at a music school they taught at where he was doing drums. Ari was the first vocalist to do original songs. He wrote the lyrics to the songs 'Fuel Set' , 'Kick it all Away' and 'Engine' . All of which would later end up on the Hate Made Me
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Season for AssaultSeason for Assault
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Black Mark Germany 2004
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Season for Assault by 8 FOOT SATIVA (2004-09-20)Season for Assault by 8 FOOT SATIVA (2004-09-20)
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Breed the Pain by 8 Foot Sativa (2008-12-22)Breed the Pain by 8 Foot Sativa (2008-12-22)
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8 FOOT SATIVA Discography

8 FOOT SATIVA albums / top albums

.. Album Cover 4.33 | 3 ratings
Hate Made Me
Thrash Metal 2002
.. Album Cover 5.00 | 1 ratings
Season for Assault
Thrash Metal 2003
.. Album Cover 4.50 | 1 ratings
Breed the Pain
Thrash Metal 2004
.. Album Cover 4.00 | 1 ratings
Poison of Ages
Thrash Metal 2007
.. Album Cover 4.75 | 2 ratings
The Shadow Masters
Thrash Metal 2013

8 FOOT SATIVA EPs & splits

8 FOOT SATIVA live albums

8 FOOT SATIVA demos, promos, fans club and other releases (no bootlegs)

8 FOOT SATIVA re-issues & compilations

.. Album Cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
10 Years of Sativa
Thrash Metal 2013

8 FOOT SATIVA singles (1)

.. Album Cover
0.00 | 0 ratings
Sleepwalkers
Death Metal 2009

8 FOOT SATIVA movies (DVD, Blu-Ray or VHS)

8 FOOT SATIVA Reviews

8 FOOT SATIVA Breed the Pain

Album · 2004 · Thrash Metal
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Vim Fuego
With top ten chart success and international recognition, `Season For Assault' was always going to be a tough album for 8 Foot Sativa to follow up.

Conventional thinking would indicate the way to emulate that success would be to adhere to the current American trend for metalcore, the accelerated form of nu-metal desperately trying to pass itself off at the real thing, or to follow the Scandinavian passion for melody. In the past, 8 Foot Sativa had skirted the edges of metalcore, particularly in their vocals. The band also travelled to Sweden to record `Breed The Pain'.

So which path to further commercial success did Sativa follow? Neither.

Instead, 8 Foot Sativa did what any good heavy metal band would do- they recorded a heavy metal album, with no concession to commercialism whatsoever. In its first few weeks on sale, the album hit number two on New Zealand's independent sales charts.

Instead of moving toward the mainstream, 8 Foot Sativa has challenged the mainstream to enter their world. The overall sound is not too far removed from modern Scandinavian thrash like The Haunted or Darkane, but still retains plenty of traditional metal elements.

For example, title track "Breed The Pain" kicks in with an introduction which would not have sounded out of place on Kreator's `Coma Of Souls'. Once the main body of the song hits, the distinctive Sativa gallop is still there, but the sometimes patchy vocals have gone.

Matt Sheppard's vocals are a little deeper in the mix than what predecessor Justin Niessen's were, but are infinitely more suited to 8 Foot Sativa's overall sound. Sheppard's style is metal through and through, and he doesn't bother with the hardcore style screams Niessen was fond of. While Niessen attracted a lot of teenage girls to the band because of his looks, Sheppard will draw in metal fans because of his strong voice.

Guitar meister Gary Smith is as prolific as ever in the riff department. Every song features outstanding guitar hooks and fills. The songs are so dense with detail that even after several listens, new passages seem to pop up unexpectedly.

"I Live My Death" has an excellent cascading bass intro, before bursting into a crushing old school thrash style song. While Smith still does a majority of the song writing, this song is bassist Brent Fox's first contribution to the band as a songwriter, and with the addition of Matt Sheppard's song writing skills, the future looks uncompromisingly heavy for 8 Foot Sativa.

`Breed The Pain' is distinctly 21st century metal, but includes enough references to thrash's golden age to satisfy traditional metal fans.

8 FOOT SATIVA Season for Assault

Album · 2003 · Thrash Metal
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Vim Fuego
In 2002, 8 Foot Sativa produced New Zealand’s metal album of the year in ‘Hate Made Me’. It was heavy and brutal, and achieved a level of success never seen before in the New Zealand metal scene. How does a band follow up such an album?

These guys decided the best way to follow it up was by making the metal album of the year for 2003 as well. ‘Season For Assault’ is heavier, more brutal, and more successful than its predecessor, and it achieved this in less than a month after release.

Forget the drug inspired name, because there is nothing laid back or relaxed here, whatsoever. 8 Foot Sativa deal in musical pain and aggression of a sort not often seen in this day and age. Where ‘Hate Made Me’ occasionally delved into hardcore and even nu-metal, ‘Season For Assault’ skirts the fine line between thrash and death metal, something akin to a heavier version of The Haunted or Strapping Young Lad.

Drummer Sam Sheppard is a revelation, hitting harder, faster and more complex than his predecessor. The double kicks are smooth, and the tempo no longer suffers during complicated passages. Gary Smith’s guitar crunches and churns like many an axe wielder can only dream. Brent Fox’s bass rumbles in the background, showing the odd well-placed flourish.

The big improver however, was vocalist Justin Niessen. Vocally, ‘Hate Made Me’ was effective but lacked depth. Niessen created a cleaner voice to run counter to his screech/shout. Seen by some as the weak link in this powerhouse outfit, Niessen strengthened and developed his voice, creating a distinct and versatile sound immediately recognisable as his own.

It is hard to pick a standout track on the album, such is the overall quality and focus of the songs on offer. There are no “Cocktease”-style fillers this time round. Opener “What’s Lost Is Tomorrow” hints at Napalm Death’s “Breed To Breathe”, particularly in the slower passages. Closer “Gutless”, is an out and out, neck snapping headbanger, bristling anger and violence. Far from being over-enthusiastic hyperbole, there just aren’t any crap tracks on offer. To truly demonstrate how far the band has progressed, check the unlisted re-recording of “Hate Made Me”. The original sounds primitive by comparison.

If you cut your metal teeth on the likes of pretenders like Slipknot, Disturbed and Staind, you have wasted a lot of time and money when you could have been listening to something as good as this instead. If you have any albums by those bands, sell them immediately, if you can find anyone who wants them, get this, and hear what you’ve been missing.

8 FOOT SATIVA Hate Made Me

Album · 2002 · Thrash Metal
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Vim Fuego
From a distance, West Auckland's 8 Foot Sativa originally looked like just another two chord, downtuned clown-trousered nu-metal band. Ho hum, the great nu hope for Kiwi metal.

But if you get past any pre-conceptions and actually listen to the noisy buggers, you're in for a skull-crushing treat. Instead of the nu-metal stodge expected when you slip this disc into your player, you get a sonic boom of Judas Priest meets Dismember on steroids heavy metal! It's brutal. It's got riffs. It's got double kickdrums. It's got death/hardcore style vocals. It's just what New Zealand’s metal scene had needed for years.

There are just so many facets to this band, and they're all metal. The band is obviously influenced by many different shades of metal. One moment, they're old school metal. Witness some of the catchiest guitar noodling heard this side of Iron Maiden on "Fuel Set". The next, its nu-metal (of the early Machine Head variety) and funk on "Cocktease". Then it's off to Entombed's death ‘n’ roll theme park with "Believer". The opening riff of "Kick It All Away" brings to mind the long lost sound of Ripping Corpse. Then there's the hardcore/thrash stylings of single "8 Foot Sativa". Then to finish it all off, there's a quick pirouette through a JS Bach composition. Yep, there isn't much this band can't do.

Much of the lyrical content deals with the lifestyle of those who partake in the odd puff of electric stickyweed. The music doesn't ever get an attack of the munchies and end up light-headed in a hazy cloud, pointlessly searching for a non-existent Mars bar between the sofa cushions, as many THC fuelled bands have a tendency to do.

This is the album Pantera should have recorded instead of breaking up, Entombed could have recorded, and Slipknot was incapable of recording. 8 Foot Sativa became a leading light of the New Zealand metal scene, and deservedly so.

8 FOOT SATIVA Hate Made Me

Album · 2002 · Thrash Metal
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Kev Rowland
The other week I made my way to a record store in Auckland where 8 Foot Sativa were performing a few songs as a launch for their mighty comeback album ‘The Shadow Masters’. After performing some songs from the new set they closed with the mighty “8 Foot Sativa”, and even though it was somewhat strange to see them pounding this out in daylight, it again made me realise what a huge anthem this is, which then led to me thinking that maybe I really ought to buy the debut album that started it all back in 2002. Now, I have probably said this before, but the music scene here in New Zealand is small, which is due to the fact that the country itself is sparsely populated. The two main islands have a land mass a little larger than the UK, but we have a total population of just 4.5 million people (but way more sheep). Luckily these guys are from Auckland, which is the largest city in the country, but even now the current population is less than 1.5 million and it was less than that 15 years ago when they started.

There have been some wonderful kiwi outfits, but few have managed to break it big internationally, and probably Shihad is the only heavy band to really make an impression before 8FS, so when these guys hit the scene they just laid waste. ‘Hate Made Me’ was their debut album, and has now been certified platinum in NZ, while their eponymous single was top of the M2 charts for 12 weeks and stayed in the listing for more than six months. Not bad considering that this is uncompromising metal at its’ most raw.

The fact that it has stood the passage of time is quite a statement, and Jackhammer drives the band from the front with a vocal attack that is uncompromising in its’ assault as they mix hardcore with death and thrash to create something that is in your face. The production may not be all that it could be, but isn’t nearly as bad as some reviews seem to make out and it is not possible to overstate just how important this album was to the kiwi scene when it was first released. In many ways they are now more polished and even more dominant than they were when this was released, and if you are new to 8FS then I would probably point to the new album as being the first one to go. But, myself and all kiwi metalheads know that we are the lucky ones that we can go to their gigs and join in the mosh with everyone chanting “Step up, step up, step up for Sativa, step up, step up, step up for 8 Foot Sativa”. Metal doesn’t get much better than this. www.8footsativa.co.nz

8 FOOT SATIVA The Shadow Masters

Album · 2013 · Thrash Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
Kev Rowland
One of the great things about living in New Zealand is that we are at the end of the world; unfortunately that is very much a bad thing if you are a Metalhead, and especially so if you are in a band as it is almost impossible to become the next big thing on the international scene. It is only in recent years that overseas acts have even discovered that there is a thriving scene down here, and many of us were incredibly excited when it was announced last year that Fear Factory were going to play the Power Station. But, that news was then overshadowed by the discovery that a reformed 8FS were going to be the support act, with Justin 'Jackhammer' Niessen back as permanent vocalist for the first time since “Season For Assault’ in 2003. Now, there are few Kiwi bands known outside of their own country, with the most famous probably being Split Enz (or of course Crowded House who are Kiwi and not Australian, whatever you may have been told), but there has also always been a thriving music scene that has produced some great bands, and when it comes to metal 8FS are the kings. Now, I have long been a fan and advocate of Fear Factory, but that night in Auckland they were taken to the cleaners. The sheer aggression and power of 8FS at full power is an incredible sight, and the crowd responded to the band, who then in turn increased the ferocity. But, while my ears were trying to recover, the thought that kept running through my head was what would the album be like? Could they repeat this in the studio?

By the time they released their last album, ‘Poison of Ages’, in 2007 only guitarist Gary Smith was left from the original line-up. But, now in 2013 he has been rejoined by co-founder Brent Fox (bass), Jackhammer (vocals), Corey Friedlander (drums – who was in the band back in 2006 for a while) and new guitarist Nik Davies. So, in many ways this is a classic line-up, and even before putting this into the player I was impressed as the artwork is much cleaner and ‘upmarket’ than what has become before. But, it all comes down to the music so I put it in and waited to be impressed. Some 32 minutes and 10 songs later I was incredibly pleased that the only neighbours close by were the sheep in my paddock, as I had kept turning this up until it was virtually blowing the speakers.

The only word to really describe this is ‘Intense”. These guys have turned up, plugged in, and played as if their lives depended on it. But it is not all about aggression, as somehow they have managed to capture an incredible depth to the music, much more than one would normally expect. Some music comes across as fairly linear, but not this as it is a wave of sound that keeps hitting you time and again. I have to admit that the smile at hearing “West As” will be mimicked by all Aucklanders, although probably people outside of NZ may not get it (let’s just agree that Westies are a different breed to most, and leave it at that). There is a real groove and passion to the music that takes this to a level that maybe, possibly, this is going to take 8FS to a wider and much deserved international audience. I have seen a review that stated that this “will go down in New Zealand music history as one of the greatest metal albums to ever come from the land of the long white cloud.” (www.themetalreview.com) The only thing wrong with that statement, is that I have no doubt that this IS the greatest metal album ever from Aotearoa. You cannot afford to miss this brutal piece of work

8 Foot Sativa. Unless you hail from NZ you are unlikely to have ever heard of them. You owe it to your ears to correct that right now. www.8footsativa.co.nz

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