Label: Lost Realm Records/Roadrunner Records
Westafalen (that as a moniker is a rather strange choice even for the 70’s-80’s as Westafalen is actually Westaphalia in German, which is a region of northwestern Germany, so I can’t find a reason why should name your band like this…especially when you are hailing from Genk, Belgium…) story began in early 1975. The brothers Julien and Leon Klawitter founded a blues & hard rock group when they were young. After two barren years they decide to free Julien from the singer’s role and hire a (better) singer whom they find in George Pannemans’ face. Many line-up changes and musicians came and left during a long period until in 1983 they managed to make a steady one: George Pannemans (vocals), Roger Grossard (bass), Otto Marsili (guitar), Jack Parmens (guitar) and Chris Willems (drums). They recorded a demo in the same year that featured 4 songs: “Vampire”, “Midnight Flight”, “Regal Killers” and “Bad Habits”. Also in 1983 Lions Pride a Heavy Metal band were established by members of Westfalen and their debut “Breaking Out” is definitely worth exploring and see here why.
Their singer George Pannemans was important to Westfalen’s career not only for his incredible vocal skills but also for his lobbying ability as he was the main reason to sign a deal with Antler Records through his acquaintances. Westfalen recorded a mini-album released in 1985 in the Ace Studios of Aartselaar-Antwerp.
The 5 song EP features “Devil’s Race” and “Starfucker” in it’s a’ Side and in Side B’ ”Eagles Kingdom”, “(I Am a) Maniac” and “My Woman”. To be honest I knew the EP as “Devil’s Race EP” and only last year I realized I was wrong… Any way you can guess the influences that the Belgians have from the artwork cover of the EP. The phoenix rising through the two crossed flying V’s in the veins of Accept give a damn good idea of what to expect from Westafalen. The blistering speed is the key factor of the release (except ‘My Woman’ that is a bluesy power ballad), but not the only one. Great riffs, excellent vocal lines like there’s no tomorrow by a Pannemans in his moment of glory and a full throttle attack in a Heavy Metal crescendo of a hybrid of Iron Maiden’s early works and early 80’s Accept on 45rpm. This EP(that was originally cut by Roadrunner Records) is definitely underrated! Hymns like “Devil’s Race” and “(I Am a) Maniac” are not written in every day basis. All odds seemed to be on their side but unfortunately Westfalen split-up so easily after a great tour in Belgium and Germany. The band’s future musical direction was the reason these guys separated.
After the separation in 1986 only George Pannemans tries, more or less unsuccessfully, to keep the name of Westfalen alive. Roger Grossard, Otto Marsili and Chris Willems, founded Shoan (that last only 3 years 1986 to 1989 recording only two demos, 1986’s “Demo” and 1989’s “Escape…”) and Jack Parmens in the very same year with ex-Westfalen drummer Roberto Rossi, created Advance that recorded only a demo in 1988. The guitarists Benito Boccasile and Clarence Akkermans, as well as bassist Johan Westhoven, who were briefly part of the line-up as a side note in the band history of Westafalen as we mentioned before had launched Lions Pride.
With the surprising death of George Pannemans on May 29, 2015, Westaflen’s last chapter was finally closed…
The self-titled mini-album is available on CD, which includes the original artwork, as well as live bonus tracks from the 2012 reunion concert at the Metal Legacy Festival in Genk, Belgium. In addition to this CD edition, there’s also a deluxe LP version available, with all the quality extras the label’s followers have been accustomed to Lost Realm Records.