‘Insurrection’…the bands first full length album - This record was born out of a lot of rehearsing at Station Studios in New Southgate, North London and a lot of lucky coincidences. The band at the time was no more than a weekend rehearsal band really. I’d moved to London with the ‘Spitting Venom’ EP as my calling card and put a line up together, self released the EP with a distribution deal, done some shows and got some press. After the initial 12 - 18 months, progress had been super slow, but we’d eventually settled on a line up of myself, Sy Taplin on guitar, Sasha Krohn on bass and Ernesto Nogara on drums. We were a pretty tight friendship group (at one point all living together in a ‘Band House’ in Manor House), and our weekends were spent hanging out in Camden or at the Intrepid Fox in London getting drunk and looking to establish ourselves in the metal scene.

At some point we managed to get enough material together for a record, but we had no record deal and not really much of a plan. In those days Myspace was EVERYTHING and so I took a gamble and reached out to the producer Chris Tsangarides, the man who had produced ‘Painkiller’ for Judas Priest amongst many other seminal records. To my surprise he replied, and he liked the band and offered to produce an album for us. We still had no record deal, but at least we had 9 songs and a producer. So off we went to Deal on the South Coast to Chris’ Ecology Room Studios (The Studios you’ve probably seen in Anvil: The Movie, and yes we had to stay in the scout hut too…). We had virtually no money, so we bought loads of dreadful but insanely cheap frozen food from Iceland, that whole album was fuelled by frozen pizza, frozen french fries, an array of frozen meat and my personal favourite the frozen toffee cheesecakes. Given that times were lean, we only had enough money to record half of the album, so the deal we made with Chris is that we’d pay half the money he wanted for a full album and record half an album, then we’d shop the 5 songs to labels, (hopefully) get a deal and then finish the album.

However, as luck would have it, Sasha had sent the Spitting Venom EP to Candlelight Records, just as we were about to hit the studio and told them we were making a record with Chris Tsangarides. Somewhat amazingly, before we’d even finished recording the first 5 songs, a Deal Memo came through and we had a record deal on the table. Of course we had less than zero clue about the music industry, and we made the assumption that ANY deal was better than NO deal…so we jumped at it and sure enough that freed up the funds to record the whole record, which is exactly what we did.

Recording with Chris felt like a really good experience, he lavished the band with encouragement and Rock N Roll stories; it felt like access to a world that we’d previously only imagined, after all he had the Gold and Platinum discs on the wall, he had the CV, the big house and a great big white American Thunderbird that he’d arrive at the studio in every day. However, once the mixes came through, we were disappointed with the finished result. We decided the only way to salvage the record was to have someone re-mix the album with a more modern approach. Candlelight agreed to give us some extra money and we approached Scott Atkins. I’d thought about Scott because I’d heard the EP he’d made with the band Mutant; and figured that was the sound we were looking for. I also knew that he’d done Sylosis who were starting to build momentum and so I reached out to him.

Scott, being a MASSIVE Priest fan, jumped at the opportunity to remix an album recorded by Chris Tsangarides and so we arranged for the songs to be transferred and Scott got to work.

About a week later, I got a phone call from Scott who was in total dismay. It was made very clear to me that the recordings were a long way from anything that he considered mixable and the only way he would consider carrying on was if I was prepared to go to Suffolk and re-record all of the guitars. I wasn’t exactly thrilled with this idea, but I knew deep down that he was probably right and so I agreed and a little while later I found myself alone, in a caravan with a single can of Fosters and a copy of the “Book of Heavy Metal” (an actual book, not the Dream Evil album) staring at the ceiling on a caravan park in the middle of nowhere in Suffolk (a remarkably lonely experience).

I think it’s fair to credit Scott with being one of the (if not the single) most important people in the development of the band, imparting upon on us brutally honest but fair critique and he really helped to open my eyes to the size of the task ahead and shape my outlook. He had played in the band Stampin’ Ground who had success in the 90’s and early 2000’s before eventually succumbing to the challenges of the music industry. The first thing he’d noticed was that we were lacking a little bit in the drumming department, and he made no bones about telling me. Naturally I stuck up for the drummer “yeah, but he’s OUR drummer” - to which Scott replied “Ok, but you have to compare yourself to the bands at the level you want to be at, look at Daniel the drummer in Arch Enemy, he’s KILLER” - That conversation is when the bubble burst for me…my eyes opened and suddenly everything made sense. I went from being ‘unconsciously incompetent’ to being ‘consciously incompetent’ in the blink of an eye…That was bad news I guess for the drummer, but that’s just how it is, it’s an insanely competitive business, and you have to be able to step up. I’ve always thought that the best way of understanding what it’s like is to compare it to Football; we were the equivalent of a conference side who’d suddenly been promoted to the football league. Now the players we had did a great job of getting us out of the conference, but once we were in the next division, we were playing against bigger, stronger, faster teams, and just like in football, some players make the jump, and some don’t. We tried to give the drummer the chance and the time to improve, but it just wasn’t happening, the final straw was when we opened for Sylosis, which was the first time the label saw the band perform live. I knew the show hadn’t been perfect, but I feared the worst when the label representative left immediately after our set without even coming to say hello. He called me the next day and his first words were “you need a new drummer, mate.” - and that was that.

Anyways, we finished the album with Scott and when the mixes came through we were delighted. The album came out and we got great press, Bruce Dickinson played us on his Friday Night Rock Show - I remember freaking out when he said the band name whilst introducing the track…it was like, woah! the voice that recorded “Hallowed be thy name” just acknowledged our existence, Way. To. Go!!. We did well on the live front too, we got invited to open for Sylosis in London at a Sold Out Garage, we played with Death Angel, we played some of our own shows, and then out of nowhere we landed an extensive European tour opening for Overkill.

That was our first proper tour, going away in the big nightliner, playing in Europe - it really felt like we were making leaps and bounds, however looking back we weren’t ready for it and we didn’t deliver at the level that we needed to, but we had a great time and gained a lot of valuable experience.

After the tour ended things ground to a halt and before we knew it we were reevaluating our future…we felt that Candlelight were not going to take the band to the next level and so we started to put out feelers to see if we had any other opportunities and sure enough Dan at Earache had heard ‘Insurrection’ and liked it…we were told ‘get free of Candlelight, and we’ll sign you’… we rolled the dice and took a chance.

-DS 2019