Hailing from Menen, West Flanders, Belgium’s BUZZARD initially began as early as 1979 when vocalist Hans Berten (Hanzie) and drummer Dirk Vanhee decided to start a band together. A search for a guitarist and bassist began in earnest, with guitarist Steve Deceuninck and Nick Debeuf (Riff) both joining midway through 1980. Since a bassist was not immediately found, Hans decided to take on bass guitar as well as vocals. The moniker BUZZARD was then chosen, as inspiration was drawn from the band Armageddon, whose 1975 album of the same name featured the song “Buzzard,” which Steve had learned to play on guitar. The band’s first gig took place in February 1981.
Lineup shuffles ensued, but BUZZARD eventually recorded the demo A Strange Gang in 1983, the only official demo they’d record. Their live reputation grew in kind, and the band came to the attention of Antler Records, who signed BUZZARD for a two-album deal. Perhaps not surprisingly, more lineup shuffles ensued two months before recording their debut album and even continued during its recording, but what a record they delivered.
Titled Gambler, BUZZARD’s first – and sadly, only – album is a poignant snapshot of heavy metal in 1984. Reprising three re-recorded songs from the preceding demo, Gambler bursts and bristles with a youthful energy that’s almost naïve, but endearingly and charmingly so. For BUZZARD were simply a HEAVY METAL band – not strictly speed metal, although they had their share of juiced-up rockers, nor did they have the pout & strut of so much hard rock-leaning metal of the time, and they definitely weren’t thrash, still very much in its nascent days – and one that nodded to both England and Germany, but never too often nor for too long. The album’s first two tracks perhaps spell it out best: “Stone-Hard and Loud” and “We Are Heavy Rockers,” as perfect of an opening combo as there is for the time. And the rest of the record is absolutely spellbinding in its verve and vivacity, with the recording just on the right side of rough.
Gambler was released at the end of October 1984, and the following week, disaster struck again: Steve was involved in a motorcycle accident and was in a coma for a week and a half, requiring three months of rehabilitation. When Steve was fit again, many gigs followed, including some concerts in France and in the Netherlands. Work then began on the second BUZZARD album, and although the writing process was progressing well and the record was already written, the band found that the fire was actually quietly dying out because of other interests, relationships etc. Thus, in February 1986, the band decided to pull the plug on BUZZARD.
Now, 38 years later, Gambler will see a well-deserved reissue – and, for the first time ever, on CD as well as vinyl. A BUZZARD reunion is out of the question because Steve has traded in his guitar for a drum kit over the years and also out of respect for Stephan Logie (Elly), who sadly left us in 2018. The former members still see each other regularly at local parties where old memories are made between pot and pint. BUZZARD created a band for life!