OSTROGOTH is an old school heavy metal band, based in Ghent, Belgium. The band writes, records and plays their own music since the early ‘80s. Influenced by classic bands such as Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, MSG and Scorpions, Ostrogoth strives to write high quality and harmonic melodies, combined with pounding drums and groovy bass-lines.
1980-1982 – THE EARLY BEGINNING
The roots of the band can be traced back to as early as 1976, when drummer Mario ‘Grizzly’ Pauwels and bass player Marnix ‘Bronco’ Van De Kauter started jamming together in a band called Stonehenge. In October 1980 the very first Ostrogoth line-up was formed when Grizzly and Bronco teamed up with guitarist Jean-Pierre De Keghel and singer Luc Minne. But already in April 1981 Jean-Pierre was replaced by Hans ’Sphinx’ Vandekerckhove. Later that year, on July 26th, 1981, Ostrogoth performed their first ever live concert, at the ‘Gentse Feesten’ in Belgium. One year later, in 1982, Rudy ‘WhiteShark’ Vercruysse joined as second guitarist, as the band wanted to write more harmonic pieces. That same year White Temple singer Marc ‘Red Star’ De Brauwer replaced Luc Minne and the line-up of the legendary ‘Full Moon’s Eyes’ EP was a fact.
1983 – FULL MOON’S EYES
Early 1983 Ostrogoth recorded their first EP, ‘Full Moon’s Eyes’ at Kritz Studios in Kuurne, Belgium. As soon as the first tracks were mastered, the band was invited by the ‘Domino’ radio show. Two songs from the FME sessions were broadcasted and the very next day Mausoleum Records offered the band their first recording contract. In May 1983, ‘Full Moon’s Eyes’ was released and Ostrogoth kicked off the first edition of the legendary Heavy Sound Festival.
1984 – ECSTASY AND DANGER
Early 1984 an alternative version of the title track from ‘Ecstasy And Danger’ was released on the compilation EP ‘If It’s Loud, We’re Proud’, which also featured two other Belgian bands, Killer and Crossfire. Ostrogoth once again chose Kritz Studios to record their first full-length effort. It became a completely different album, with lots of experimenting, twin guitar melodies, rhythmical breaks and singer Red Star at his best.
23 Years later, in 2007, WhiteShark’s signature song ‘Queen of Desire’ was picked for the soundtrack of the PS3 game ‘Brutal Legend’, among bands like Black Sabbath, Motörhead, Kiss, Judas Priest, Ozzy Osbourne and Slayer.
1985 – TOO HOT
For the follow-up to ‘Ecstasy And Danger’ Mausoleum Records urged the band to record in Brussels, at Shiva Studios. Producer Alex Gietz was hired and the band spent almost two months recording. Backing vocals were provided by Peter De Wint, who would become Ostrogoth’s singer two years later. Once again, the outcome was a completely different album.
Also in 1985 Ostrogoth kicked off the very first edition of the annual music festival Pukkelpop.
In the meantime, ‘Sphinx’ was traveling the world for his Doctorship in Eastern Philology.
1987 – FEELINGS OF FURY
‘Sphinx’ could no longer combine the rock and roll world with his job at the University of Tubingen and decided to leave the band. Shortly before ‘Bronco’ had quit as well, for personal reasons. A long search for new band members was on. Auditions attracted musicians from all over the country. Junao Martins, a Brazilian guitarist and Pierre Villafranca, a bass player with Spanish roots joined Ostrogoth. The new line-up also featured Chris Taerwe on keyboards. That same year ‘Red Star’ left the band and was replaced by ex-Crossfire singer Peter De Wint.
Original members Grizzly and WhiteShark, joined by the four ‘new guys’, recorded ‘Feelings Of Fury’ at Rainbow Studios, with producer Ward Cuzsinsky, who had previously worked with Bad Lizard. The production quality on FOF is disappointing but the songs are strong as a brick wall. Shortly after recording the album, Pierre Villafranca left the band and Sylvain Cherotti took his place for the live shows of the ‘Feelings of Fury’ campaign. Disputes and musical differences cropped up and the band decided to split up in the summer of 1988.
2002 – Mausoleum Records 20th Anniversary Reunion
In 2002 founder Alfie Falckenbach wanted to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Mausoleum Records with a concert with old Mausoleum recording artists. All original Ostrogoth members joined in (except for ‘Sphinx’ who died in 1989 from heart failure). The reunion show took place on May 10th, 2002, at the famous Biebob club, with Grizzly, Bronco, WhiteShark and Red Star from the early days, joined by Junao Martins and Peter De Wint from the 1987 line-up. The concert was recorded and six songs were released on the Live compilation CD ‘Mausoleum 20th Anniversary Concert’, with Red Star and Peter De Wint each taking credit for three songs. Later that summer Ostrogoth played some more Belgian shows and visited Greece for the first time, but late 2002 the story came to an end once again.
2010 – Second Reunion
The blood flows as long as one lives. So eight years later, Grizzly, Bronco, WhiteShark and Red Star revived Ostrogoth again, after an offer to headline the Ages Of Metal festival, in October 2010.
With new guitarist Dario Frodo on board, Ostrogoth headlined the Up The Hammers festival in Athens, Greece, in March 2011. Further plans for 2011 had to be put on hold as WhiteShark suffered a terrible table saw accident in which he almost lost his left arm.
2012-2014 – KIT and beyond
Early 2012 the band was operational again and started rehearsals for their postponed gig at Germany’s Keep It True festival. But a mere two months before KIT, Red Star decided to leave the band and new singer Josey Hindrix joined Ostrogoth. When Ostrogoth was asked to play the Keep It True Festival in Germany, the band said in advance that it was either gonna be a one-off performance, or it would turn into a new chapter, depending on the crowd reaction to the show. The crowd was awesome, welcomed the new Ostrogoth incarnation with open arms and sang along to every single one of the classic tunes. KIT was new singer Josey Hindrix’ very first performance, after only four rehearsals. Once more Ostrogoth survived a stressful period with yet a new member.
Also since 2012 the band got some really good PR from a fan of the early days of the band. Metallica frontman James Hetfield performed live with a denim jacket that featured a patch with the Ostrogoth logo. Hetfield remembered the band from the early touring days of Metallica, when the ‘Full Moon’s Eyes’ EP was often played in their tourbus. Up until today pictures of James with an Ostrogoth t-shirt keep popping up everywhere, in magazines, in calendars, on websites and on posters in Vans stores all over the world. A big honor for Ostrogoth.
In 2013 Ostrogoth celebrated the 30th Anniversary of the ‘Full Moon’s Eyes’ EP with a Belgian clubtour and took upcoming talent Evil Invaders in tow.
As the year was coming to an end, bass player Marnix ‘Bronco’ Van de Kauter decided to leave the band. The heavy touring schedule for 2014/2015 was causing a conflict with Bronco’s personal life. Bronco said in a personal statement: “The growing interest Ostrogoth has generated over the last few years has been very rewarding, but has also put a strain on my personal life. The time and effort that needs to be put into playing and writing in a band is more than I can deliver, at this moment in my life. Therefore I have decided to step aside and let the band – which I helped found and have always and will always support – grow further.” New bass player Stripe made his debut in April 2014
What seemed impossible for many fans, started to get real in the spring of 2014. The band was writing new songs and started talking to different labels about releasing some new material. Some of the new songs were tested out on the various live shows the band played in the course of 2014, mainly festivals shows like Graspop, Puntpop and Zandrock in Belgium and Swordbrothers in Germany. The band also performed for the first time in Austria and Italy and returned to Greece for the third time.
But next to the enthusiasm about the new songs and the many live shows, 2014 brought also devastating news. In the summer, guitarist Rudy ‘WhiteShark’ Vercruysse was diagnosed with colon and liver cancer. Although the situation was very serious, there was initially an estimated life expectancy of two years. WhiteShark started chemotherapy and was able to play the summer festival shows. He was also present for the recordings of ‘Last Tribe Standing’, in September 2014. But with the chemotherapy not giving the expected result, the situation escalated fast, and the cancer was getting more grip on WhiteShark’s body. Early December 2014, the doctors had to bring down drastically the earlier life expectancy of two years to “a few weeks”.
On December 6th 2014, Sharky gave everything he had to put on a great show, when Ostrogoth played a sold out Belgian headline club show, in front of 600 fans, in Wippelgem, but it would be his last ever live show. WhiteShark died less than a month later, on January 3rd 2015, at age 59.
2015-2016 – LAST TRIBE STANDING
January 23rd, 2015 saw the release of ‘Last Tribe Standing’, both on CD and vinyl, through Belgian cult label Empire Records. ‘Last Tribe Standing’ was the first official Ostrogoth release since 1987 and featured four new studio recordings and four live songs, recorded in the summer of 2014.
Both 2015-2016 saw the band touring with their ‘Last Tribe Touring’ campaign. In 2017 the band played some special shows where they performed both ’Full Moon’s Eyes’ and ‘Ecstasy And Danger’ in it’s entirety. Some of these songs hadn’t been played live since 1984.
In the past three years Ostrogoth has played fifty+ live concerts, in Belgium, Germany, The Netherlands, Greece and Spain and performed for the first time in France, Italy, Austria and the USA. The positive reactions from both fans and press to these recent live shows confirm that Ostrogoth is delivering the goods as never before.