The date was November 30,1985 when perhaps the largest Heavy Metal and most important Thrash Metal concert of the 1980’s took place in Montreal, Canada. It was the World War Three Festival backed by the original Banzai Records record label artists.
(Editors note: Due to misinformation not all facts may be present.)
World War Three Festival was actually the second show in the major launch of Thrash Metal in the 1980’s the first being the Banzai Records Festival put on directly by Banzai Records and Polygram on August 17, 1985 Featuring Slayer, Megadeth, Exciter, Metal Church and Exodus. *there is some confusion about the actual appearing lineup at the show.
The next major festival put on in Thrash Metal that was backed Polygram and Banzai Records was The World War Three Festival, both shows took place at the Palladium in Montreal, Quebec.
Of course many people may say they were actually there at the World War Three Festival in 1985 but were they really?
The concert featured Destruction, Celtic Frost, Possessed, Voivod and Nasty Savage supporting their early albums. This festival was a crucial point in launching Thrash Metal into the larger market and was Celtic Frost’s first North American Appearance and the first concert of Possessed outside of California making it one of the most important concerts in the early days of Thrash Metal.
Banzai Records closed shortly after the World War Three Festival and their name was bought by Jason MacKenzie from Forward Regression Records.
“We bought the name Banzai Records as a promotion for Forward Regression Records because of it’s importance in the history of launch of Thrash Metal. The original Banzai Records was only around for several years and closed in about 1989. Banzai was backed by Polygram and I remember working in the music industry several years after that in the later 1990’s when Polygram closed.
Banzai Records was dropped probably because of the small market for Polygram, which itself closed several years later.”
We asked Jason MacKenzie about the importance of the World War Three Festival in 1985:
“The World War Three Festival in 1985 is probably one of the most important dates in Thrash Metal in North America. The Thrash Metal scene was primarily German based and Destruction had just released their first record “Sentence Of Death” a year earlier in 1984 and the World War Three Festival was to support their second record “Infernal Overkill” released in 1985.
This festival backed by Polygram supported artists at Banzai Records featured the first North American date of legendary band Celtic Frost supporting their albums “Morbid Tales” and “To Mega Therion” and the first concert for the band Possessed outside of California supporting their album “Seven Churches” and featured the widely discussed track “Death Metal” which is what the Death Metal category in music is named after.
Although Banzai Records closed only a few short years after the festival and Polygram, this concert helped to launch Thrash Metal into the mainstream labels at Sony for a short time giving mainstream birth to the Thrash Metal genre by the early 1990’s”.
Asked about the future of the World War Three Festival Jason MacKenzie had this to say:
“It would be nice if someone took it upon themselves to relaunch the World War Three Festival on their own and run it like an outdoor European Metal Festival in Montreal. Maybe a label with more direct access to bands that appeared at the original World War Three Festival like Nuclear Blast Records who have just released a best selling new Destruction album “Born To Perish” that just hit the music charts would have interest in picking up or backing the festival.
The new incarnation of Banzai Records on Forward Regression would definitely take part in supporting a new World War Three Festival in Montreal.”
Jason MacKenzie had this to say about the audio recordings of the original War War Three Festival:
“There are several bootlegs floating around of the performances at the concert including Celtic Frost, Voivod, Destruction, Possessed and Nasty Savage that I have heard, some available on YouTube. It would be nice if someone had some original soundboard records and filmed videos of the festival that could be pressed or released as a mainstream album.
I think a label like Nuclear Blast under Sony Music should take up a project like this to help preserve this concert as one of the historical starting points of Thrash Metal and do it justice with some kind of proper album or video release.”
You can check out some audio recordings of the show on this page that are posted on YouTube but there are no signs of an official issue of the World War Three Concert on Compact Disc or a relaunching of the festival in Montreal.