(Click below to see an evolution of the Militia logo)
Militia was formed in early 1984 by Robert Willingham (Bass) and Phil Achee (Drums). They rounded out this original lineup with Tony Smith and Jesse Villegas for a dual guitar attack. A fruitless search for a singer began with at least 5 vocalists cycling through the lineup. At this stage, Mike Solis was playing drums for various garage level Metal bands. One of these bands was Fallen Angel which not only had Mike on drums but WatchTower's own Jason McMaster on bass and vocals. Desperate for a frontman, the band convinced Mike to give singing a try. This lineup clicked and the process of writing material began. Some of the earliest songs from this period would end up on their first demo tape which was titled 'Regiments Of Death'. This demo included the classic songs 'Regiments of Death', 'Metal Axe' and 'Search for Steel'. Other songs from this period included the fan favorite 'Thrash To Destroy' (which sadly never saw official release) and 'Salem's Square'. With a solid catalog of songs, Militia began playing gigs with the best bands on the scene. They teamed up with WatchTower on numerous occasions and opened for such touring bands as Exciter, Megadeth, Metal Church, and Slayer. On one infamous night at the Cameo Theater in San Antonio, Militia opened a show featuring S. A. Slayer and L. A. Slayer playing on the same bill. It was the one and only time these two bands would share the same stage. Visit our galleries for a look at the flyers from some of these gigs. Shortly thereafter, Militia was streamlined to a four piece with Jesse Villegas exiting and Tony Smith taking up all guitar duties. Smith's guitar style included a lot of hammer-ons and tremolo work that gave Militia's early material a very distinctive feel and sound. (Not to mention he had one of the coolest guitars on the scene: a white Dean Flying V with a Kahler floating tremolo.)
In 1985, Militia entered Cedar Creek Studios in South Austin with engineer Fred Remmert to record 'The Sybling' EP. This would be the first and only appearance of Militia on vinyl. this recording is a quality effort in both musicianship and production. Side one contains the tracks 'Objective Termination' which describes the horrors of the WWII Holocaust and 'Salem's Square' which details the injustice of the Salem Witch Trials of 1692. Both songs are a step above typical Metal in both lyrical content and songwriting. Side two contains an epic 6 minute long instrumental titled 'The Sybling'. This EP was pressed and distributed by the band themselves on their own 'Scythe Records' label in 12" - 33 RPM format. This EP has become a virtual 'Holy-Grail' in the collecting community as only 100 copies were originally pressed. Particularly sought after in Europe, 'The Sybling' has been known to fetch upwards of $1000. A bootleg 7" version of this EP was pressed in the late 90's and shows up on Ebay from time to time. Click below for scans of this bootleg rarity.
Shortly before the release of 'The Sybling', Tony Smith took permanent leave from the band. This led to a search for a new guitarist that would last for weeks. Several local musicians were tried out including one simply named 'Meat'. Eventually Phillip Patterson, a blazing guitarist and founding member of Austin's own Matrix, was persuaded to join the Militia fold. This new, even more powerful lineup continued the steady gigging schedule that had been previously established. The writing of new material proceeded at a steady pace as well. The Militia sound up to this point had been a relatively straightforward power metal style. with the introduction of Patterson's guitar playing, a slightly more progressive style was starting to emerge. In 1986 Militia once again entered Cedar Creek Studios with Fred Remmert manning the boards. This three hour session yielded the second Militia demo - 'No Submission'. The fact that such an impressive sounding demo was recorded in a mere three hours is a testament to the talent and professionalism of this band. The two tracks on this tape are titled 'No Submission' and 'Talking To the stone'. The track 'No Submission' is a powerful indictment of peer pressure and drug abuse, while 'Talking To The Stone' is a brilliant farewell note to a friend who has passed on. This demo carried on the Militia tradition of releasing material of a high quality in both music and packaging. A mini poster was also produced at this time that saw very limited distribution. Shortly after the release of the 'No Submission' demo Mike Solis was approached to add his vocal talents to a new Austin Metal supergroup that had recently formed called Assalant. Jason Mcmaster of WatchTower had been tapped to write and record vocals for a demo the band was putting together. What the band needed to be complete was a powerful yet melodic screamer and Mike fit the bill perfectly. It was a short time later that Mike was to leave Militia and join up with Assalant. While Assalant would take off rapidly and gain a strong following, the remaining members of Militia decided to fold their tents and call it a day. By 1987 Militia was no more. The Texas Metal Underground had lost a mighty band in Militia's demise, but it had gained a new contender in Assalant.
Check out our 'Profile In Metal' of Assalant here.
Visit the audio section to download an exclusive MP3 of some of the legendary screams of Mike Soliz.