Sunday Old School: British Mythological Thrashers Sabbat
As has been discussed before, while thrash metal was influenced by the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal, thrash metal bands in the United Kingdom found little success. Out of the several British thrash bands worth mentioning, arguably only two really stand out. We’ve already taken a look at one of them, Bristol’s, Onslaught, so this week, we’ll be examining the history of Nottingham’s Pagan thrashers, Sabbat. The band was originally formed under the moniker, Hydra in 1985 by vocalist Martin Walkyier and bass player Frazer Clarke, along with guitarist Adam Ferman. A second guitarist was recruited soon afterwards in the form of fifteen year old Andy Sneap, though two weeks later he became the band’s sole guitarist when Ferman quit, taking drummer Mark Daley with him, leaving the drum stool open for Simon Negus. With the new members on board, the group decided that a change in name was appropriate and settled on Sabbat, after finding it in a book on witchcraft. Once Sabbat released a demo entitled, "Fragments Of A Faith Forgotten," they saw their popularity soar, receiving a two page spread in Kerrang magazine, a BBC Radio One session, a flexi disc release for Warhammer’s White Dwarf magazine and eventually a record deal with Germany’s, Noise Records (the label had previously shown interest in the band, but were unable to sign them because Andy Sneap was not yet eighteen.)
In May 1988, the band released their debut full length album, "History Of A Time To Come," which garnered rave reviews from critics and was very popular amongst thrash fans for it’s different approach to thrash metal. The album also received a lot of interest as a result of it’s lyrical themes which contained well researched insights into the occult and religion. They followed this record with their sophomore release, "Dreamweaver," a concept album based on the book The Way of The Wyrd by Brian Bates. On this record, the songs were noticeably longer and featured a new member in second guitarist Simon Jones. Although the album was hailed as a classic, it helped to fuel the tensions within the band, as some of the members expressed concern regarding the growing length of the songs. These feelings, combined with poor management and the lack of interest from Noise, caused an internal meltdown. Guitarist Simon Jones quit the band during a U.K. tour and was replaced by Neil Watson, who appears on the live video, "The End Of The Beginning." Bassist Frazer Clarke decided to quit the music industry entirely not long afterwards and Sneap and Negus took over the band, outing Walkyier and bringing in new vocalist Richie Desmond, along with bass player Wayne Banks. For many fans, “Dreamweaver” marks the last Sabbat album but this lineup recorded a third record studio album entitled, “Mourning Has Broken,” which was released in 1991.While not without it’s praise, the album was considered nowhere near the level of quality that the first two records had set, and so the band decided to call it a day soon after.
A reunion was scheduled to take place in 2001 by Martin Walkyier, who brought with him Clarke and Simon Jones, but this was blocked by Sneap, who felt that since the other members had quit, leaving him and Negus to take care of the bad financial situation the group was in, amongst other problems, they had no right to the Sabbat name. Instead this lineup toured under the moniker, Return To Sabbat but folded in 2003. However, fans were delighted to hear that in 2006, Sabbat would return to the stage, this time utilising the "Dreamweaver" lineup. The shows were a result of Cradle Of Filth frontman Dani Filth’s longtime appreciation of the band, and it was he who convinced Andy Sneap to reunite the band, in return for a special guest slot on Cradle Of Filth’s short tour of the United Kingdom that year. The reunited performances were a hit and to celebrate, Sabbat re-released "History Of A Time To Come" and "Dreamweaver" with bonus tracks the next year. Since then, the band has continued to perform sporadically across Europe and have stated that, while they have found the shows to be a lot of fun, there are no plans to record a new studio album.
Sabbat - "I For An Eye"
Sabbat - "Behind The Crooked Cross"
Sabbat - "Do Dark Horses Dream Of Nightmares?"
Sabbat - "Hosanna In Excelsis"
Ollie Hynes has been a writer for Metal Underground.com for four years and has been a metal fan for ten years, going so far as to travel abroad for metal shows.
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