19 Sep 2009


Bolt Thrower are easily my favourite band right now. A midland band formed in the 80s, they're basically death metal but the vocals are arguably grind and they see themselves as a simply a (very) heavy metal band. They have an approach which is not super-technical but incredibly fussy with song structures and riff development. The fact their first (classic) album 'Realm of Chaos' was endorsed by Warhammer (and released on Earache) adds even more to their appeal. John Peel liked them a lot and they were instantly big in the UK but never crossed over like some of their contemporaries (Carcass, Deicide, Morbid Angel) in the early 90s. They had problems with the production on some records (which actually gave them more longevity as they aren't over-produced) and a few singer issues. But the original line-up is together now working on a new album and playing live sporadically.

They have kept going with a rare authenticity and have not put out a bad album. They're massive in Europe and in the last few years you can tell that their respect level is growing in the UK. This is because they're incredibly listenable and have some of the best riffs and heavy songs ever written. I loved Cenotaph (below) when I saw it on Headbangers Ball back in the day and I can't get enough of their entire back catalogue right now... if you like riffs you need this band in your life ASAP. They are without doubt one of best heavy metal bands to come from the UK.

Alone you stand - The final parody
Destined to silence - A memorial to mortality

Carved in stone - A tribute to the dead
For nameless victims - Whose litany is unread


18 Sep 2009


I can't believe I have contemporary true grind legends Insect Warfare playing Skill Wizard on 1st October. Three other cool bands as well. It actually will be fucking insane. The venue is way too small....

19 Aug 2009


White Wizzard are exactly what I'm into right now. Dio meets Priest but with some heavy Rush riffing, holy shit! I spoke to their bassist and main man Jon Leon for Issue 20 of Sup Magazine...

There is a classic connection between heavy metal and fantasy right?

Yeah, there is definitely a sense of escapism or other-worldliness that heavy metal has. That’s definitely always been there. And I love dragons. I have two dragon sleeve tattoos. I’ve always loved The Lord of the Rings. And when I was young kid I was obviously into Dungeons and Dragons.There’s definitely an energy that we tap into: dragons, wizards and those old movies like Conan and Dragonslayer. Fantasy seems to have a bit of a symbiotic relationship, especially with power metal. The artwork and imagery evokes a certain kind of energy for sure.


20 Jul 2009


Rush kill me. They're amazing on so many levels: Neil Peart's drumming and liberal sci-fi lyrics; Geddy Lee's voice and look and the guitar's not bad either! I grew up with this track coming through the walls of my older brothers room. It's great that they've sold 30 million records or whatever. Above is one of the strongest rock looks ever - them in the '2112' era. And below is Anthem from 'Fly By Night' a few years prior...

17 Jul 2009


I spoke to Olly, singer of the massively heavy and quality doom band Moss. He was at home in Southampton very hear where I grew up. (Photo by Sanna Charles)

Although it’s not that obvious, your sound and general vibe is quite ’70s inspired, isn’t it?

Yeah, ’70s horror and ’70s production techniques. Recently we brought an organ into the band. It’s a big old vintage ’70s organ with old amplifiers. It’s like something from Deep Purple. It’s great. And yeah, I pay more attention to ’70s stuff than pretty much anything else.

I love that decade, too. Why was the ’70s so cool do you think?

It’s weird. The occult was really big back then. And everything just sounded purer. When the ’80s came ‘round all the prog bands became shit. Production went crap. Everyone suddenly got a tinny sound and all these horrible digital synths came in. It just all went to shit really. The ’60s and ’70s are just really pure decades with innovation and new sounds. And they didn’t lose track. I can’t think of anything today that recreates that properly. It’s just a really big influence on us.



I chatted to Scott Batiste from Oakland's Saviours before they came to ATP to hang out and watch Sleep's mind-blowing reformation gigs. Scott's a cool dude and the band really fucking shred now...

And after Roadburn you're popping to All Tomorrow’s Party’s in Minehead just to see Sleep’s reformation gigs right?

Basically, the Roadburn people were trying to get us a whole tour. They wanted to fly us out but they couldn’t afford to do it just for the one show. So I talk to all these people, but I don’t know, it’s hard to get people to correspond with me. So I was like ‘Fuck it. I’m just going to do this myself.’ So I booked the whole tour. And I saw Matt Pike one day at a practice and he was like ‘Dude, Sleep’s playing!’ and I said ‘Yeah, I know, it’s all over the Internet. People are talking about it.’ And so I booked the tour so it ends in London the day before. Matt was like ‘You’ve got be there so we can get blasted and shit.’ So we’re going to go to it and barge that shit, wreak havoc. Sleep seem really cool and excited.


I also spoke to Scott in early 2008 for a doom website...


28 Jun 2009


Download was great as always. I spent all of Saturday day grabbing kids for interviews, running around with a camera at 2am and generally having a laugh with Bob from Platform. And he made this piece from what we got... metallers are the best people.


19 Apr 2009


Super cool Camberwell grad and occult metaller Hans Lo got in touch offering a video. After seeing his work I bit his hand off to make the video for my bands first single from our album. He spent months filming VHS movies and created this fantastic montage of dark mysticism. I introduced him to the mighty Ramesses (who I did a promo for in 2004) at a Skill Wizard gig and suggested they hook up. He's working on an epic new piece for a track from their new album

INVASION - Follow the Smoke / Conjure War from Marek Steven on Vimeo.

20 Mar 2009


I used to love Trouble (the band not the noun) in the 90s but stupidly always put off delving properly into the first album for some reason - I just had one track. Total idiot. Their debut album 'Psalm 9' (originally self titled) is simply mind-blowing and is exactly what I always wanted to be playing and listening to. It's pretty much the perfect combination of heavy metal (proto thrash) and doom with a tasty raw production and energy. Like Saint Vitus, Candlemass and Pentagram they were massively under-appreciated and arguably 20 odd years ahead of their time. The song structures, sound and playing on this album are as heavy as metal gets.

Check out Eric Wagners face when he says "Stupid man of hate!" at the end, incredible.

18 Aug 2008


Titan are an amazing heavy prog band from NYC. Have a listen to the track Annals of the Former World on their MySpace, it's incredible. They are label mates with Witch but they need a European deal. I've been asking them to come over to UK play Skill Wizard for about two years. I did an email interview with them a while back... I always seem to get one question in about Sleep.

I noticed some Sleep references with Titan. Can you talk a little about Sleep and how their influence is felt in Titan, if at all?

"Sleep is a very important band to some of us. However I'm not entirely sure the influence is very drastic or direct. If anything we are just as influenced by who Sleep was influenced by. There could be some little things like our website address (www.titanaut.com). Some think our name came from 'Sonic Titan' but it was actually my buddy Ryan out in CA who suggested it. But we all love Sleep and 'Jerusalem' / 'Dopesmoker' is some of the most next level shit you'll ever hear. That record is still making serious fucking waves in the heads of heavy music lovers.


18 May 2008


Danava are a frankly incredible prog/space/insane band. I was fully obsessed with their debut EP and album and they utterly blew my mind playing to 30 people at The Underworld at 7.20pm last year (retarded organisation!) I had a brief email interview chat with their visionary lead dude Dusty Sprinkles. Don't miss them if the play again.

Phil Anselmo recently played guitar on stage with them. I guess he still has it.

Pronounced "don-uh-vuh" right? Where does the name come from?

Yes... we were named by our beloved former synth player Rosy Cross, the master of band names. Danava, in one word, is a demon. It's all too much to explain exactly who and what Danavas were, but for me it simply refers to the lower levels of humanity or the dark side of us all. Using the name, for me, is a personal challenge. We're not trying to be "evil" by using the name.