For a brief span in the early 1990s, Milan's Extrema were the biggest heavy metal band in all of Italy -- but their flirtation with success sadly proved all too brief. Formed in 1986 by guitarist Tommy Massara, with vocalist/guitarist Andrea Boria, bassist Luca Varisco, and drummer Stefano Bullegas, Extrema were one of Italy's first thrash metal bands, and they wasted little time recording 1987's the We F**kin' Care EP, which sold an impressive 3,000 copies by word of mouth alone. Italian heavy metal fans didn't yet seem prepared to embrace local talent, however, and the next four years saw Extrema (by then entirely re-vamped with Massara signing on new members in vocalist Gianluca Perotti, bassist Mattia Bigi, and drummer Chris Dalla Pellegrina) relegated to opening-act-of-choice for visiting groups like Slayer, D.R.I., and Corrosion of Conformity. Finally realizing that their only hope of impressing local talent scouts lay in conquering from the outside-in, Extrema started aggressively shopping their demos to foreign heavy metal critics, and even financed a trip to New York City for a one-off gig. Incredibly, the strategy worked, and their four-track demo from 1991 was soon making waves with some major international publications, eventually leading to a record deal with Italy's Contempo Records. The result was 1993's Tension at the Seams album, which led to stadium support slots with Italian rock star Vasco Rossi, and a profile-raising metal festival appearance in nearby Torino alongside Megadeth, the Cult, Suicidal Tendencies, and headliners Metallica. The album also featured an unconventional (but successful) cover of the Police's "Truth Hits Everybody," and even spawned a video clip for the track "Child O' Boogaow," which was given maximum rotation on Italy's MTV affiliate, Video Music. Capping off their most successful year, Extrema issued a six-track live EP entitled Proud, Powerful 'n' Alive, and then got right back on the road, playing upwards of 50 shows across Italy before signing with new label Flying Records and getting to work on their next album. Arriving in 1995, said sophomore LP was named The Positive Pressure (Of Injustice) and boasted improved production while updating their thrash metal style to keep pace with the era's only successful acts, Pantera and Machine Head. But interest in Extrema and heavy metal in general were waning quickly; the album's sales were very disappointing and the band was dropped shortly thereafter.
Massara kept the band going, however, releasing a string of albums in the years that followed, starting five years later with 2001's Better Mad Than Dead. Extrema eventually hooked back up with major label, with V2 releasing Set the World on Fire in 2005. Another album, Pound for Pound, arrived in 2009 on Scarlet Records, before the metal outfit returned again in 2013 with The Seed of Foolishness. ~ Eduardo Rivadavia
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