Sabbat (English band)

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For the Japanese band, see Sabbat (Japanese band).
Sabbat
Scala 2008.jpg
Sabbat in London Scala, 2008
(From L to R: Andy Sneap, Simon "Jack Hammer" Jones & Simon Negus)
Background information
Origin Nottingham, England
Genres Thrash metal
Years active 1985–1991, 2006–Present
Labels Noise
Associated acts Skyclad, The Clan Destined
Members Andy Sneap
Simon Negus
Martin Walkyier
Simon Jones
Gizz Butt
Past members Neil Watson
Wayne Banks
Richie Desmond
Richard Scott
Frazer Craske

Sabbat are a thrash metal band from Nottingham, England, currently consisting of Martin Walkyier (vocals), Andy Sneap (guitars), Simon Jones (guitars), Gizz Butt (bass) and Simon Negus (drums). Over the years Sabbat have released three studio albums, four demos, two split singles/compilation albums, two singles and a live VHS. In 1988, the band released their debut album History of a Time to Come, which earned them further recognition. Their next album, Dreamweaver (Reflections of Our Yesterdays) (1989) was also critically acclaimed. Shortly after the release of Mourning Has Broken, tensions with the band began to surface, most of them revolved around money. This resulted in Sabbat breaking up. After an attempted reunion in 2001, which was blocked by Sneap, the original Sabbat lineup reunited in 2006, and in December of that year, performed together for the first time in sixteen years at four different venues in England. The band have continued to perform at many live venues and festivals around the world since then, but have not released any new material.

History[edit]

Early history (1985–1986)[edit]

The origins of the band started in June 1985, with vocalist Martin Walkyier and bassist Frazer Craske, who were members of a band called Hydra. Andy Sneap joined Hydra as second guitarist, but the remaining guitarist left 2 weeks later. The arrival of former Striptease and Fallen Angel[1] drummer, Simon Negus (replacing Mark Daley, who left at the same time as second guitarist Adam Ferman) coincided with a name change to Sabbat.[2]

Andy Sneap:-

"Let me shed a bit of light on things here. Martin and Frazer had this band called Hydra back in 84/85. The most impressive thing about the band was the fact that Frazer had already printed some 2 colour t shirts and he had a car! I met Frazer at a local Hell gig in Long Eaton and it turned out they were thinking of getting a second guitarist. I heard a tape (which I still have, it's priceless) of a show they did in a pub in Nottingham and decided to have a jam as I was wanting to get some experience playing, after all I was the ripe old age of 15. Hell, two weeks after I joined, the original guitarist quit (i think this was on the cards) and the drummer left (thankfully) after we did our first demo a couple of months later, I think due to me having a go about his girlfriend being in the studio (you see, good work ethic back then!). It was Tim Bowler (the drummer from Hell) who introduced us to Simon Negus. The name Sabbat came from a book on witchcraft, but I actually found some old school books of mine with ideas doodled on them so I'm sure I had some doing in suggesting it, but I do remember we liked the way the word looked in the scrawly type of writing so we went with it. Yeah the flexi disc for white dwarf was an odd one, John Blanche, the art editor painted our first cover so it all came about quite easy, it does sound shockingly bad though."[3]

After rehearsing for nearly a year they released the Fragments of a Faith Forgotten demo, which was very well received, with immediate interest from several record companies and a two-page spread in Kerrang! magazine.

Andy Sneap:

"Martin and Frazer were really into Venom, I was really into Mercyful Fate and Slayer. I remember the day we recorded 'Fragments...', Frazer had that Venom, Exodus and Slayer video from New York and we decided that's totally what we wanted to be doing."[3]

"we did 'Fragments of a Faith Forgotten' on a little four track, we did it in two afternoons just threw it down. We didn't think much about it but off that we got a deal with Noise, two pages in Kerrang! and a Radio One session. It just snowballed. After the session the label were even more interested and then we got the Kerrang! cover after that."[4]

After releasing a Warhammer-inspired Flexi-disc on the front cover of White Dwarf magazine, the band penned a deal with German Noise Records in mid-1987 (signing had previously been delayed because Andy Sneap was under 18 years of age and not legally an adult).

Further recognition (1987–1990)[edit]

In September 1987, the band travelled to Hanover, Germany to record their debut album, History of a Time to Come. This generated lots of media attention amongst journalists and fans alike for its unique lyrical approach and its difference to the "Big 4" approach at the time during the 1980s metal scene.

The second album Dreamweaver (Reflections of Our Yesterdays), was a conceptual album, based on the book The Way of Wyrd, by Brian Bates.[5] The album demonstrated Walkyier's deep-held beliefs in Wyrdism, Anglo-Saxon spirituality, Celtic mysticism and paganism.

Fraser Craske:

"Well, we made the decision after our European tour [to add a second guitarist]. We had taken Richard Scott with us on tour for the extra sound and it had really worked out great. But Richard said he wouldn't join us full time because he wanted to continue with his other band, but we had to get another guitarist because of the improvement in the sound."[6]

The introduction of new guitarist "Jack Hammer" – Simon Jones – made a vast improvement on the guitar attack, as acknowledged by Andy Sneap, in his interview with Renee Ackerman of Rockworldtv at his back stage studios in 2007.[7]

Jack, as he was known professionally prior to joining Sabbat, and indeed is still referred to as in the band, previously played in Holosade, and was brought in mid way through the recording of Dreamweaver as a rhythm and lead guitarist to complement Sneap's contribution.

Break up (1991–2000)[edit]

Tensions within the band began to mount, most of them revolved around money. The band were developing a very good following and selling a lot of merchandise, however they were victims of poor management and with a label (Noise) that did not seem to care what the band did. Martin Walkyier:

"With the Noise contract, people were telling us 'Don't sign it,' but we did. Bands who were doing well at the time - Celtic Frost, Helloween, Kreator - were all on Noise. We had complete artistic freedom, but not for the right reasons. It was because they didn't give a flying fuck."[8]

The band almost split up during the Dreamweaver sessions, but re-grouped to finalise the recording and move on and accept their differences. Andy Sneap observes with hindsight in recent interviews that it is great that he and Martin Walkyier are able to function within Sabbat again without the arguing about money, musical direction and clash of personalities he and Martin experienced.

Martin Walkyier:

"There are stories that I quit Sabbat because the rest of the band didn't like my pagan lyrics. That's not true. All of us shared an interest in paganism. The paganism was never a problem; I was always left to get on with the lyrics the best way I saw fit. No, the truth was that I could see that the music was going to get even more complex. Andy was writing 11 minute musical epics and I couldn't even begin to see how I'd write lyrics for something like that. I wanted to bring in other musical styles, to bring in violins for instance. That would never have worked with Sabbat."[9]

Martin Walkyier commented in late 2006 that Sabbat were in severe financial distress in 1989 and that he was living on government state benefits, such was the stark financial situation the band faced. Walkyier commented that he felt that they were becoming "like Rush" due to the overtly technical nature and length of their songs – combined, these issues forced tensions within the band.[10]

Martin Walkyier:

"All the things that went wrong with Sabbat in the old days were really nothing to do with me and Andy Sneap, even though we had our disagreements in the days when we were young. That was largely to do with record labels and management and things that were happening around us – the fact that we were selling hod-loads of records and not actually seeing any money at all and having to live on benefits at the time.

First to jump ship was guitarist Simon Jones during their 1989 UK Dreamweaver tour with British thrashers Xentrix supporting. He left the band only moments before the gig at Sheffield University refectory on November 15, 1989, Sabbat did finish the gig though with just Andy Sneap on guitar. Andy Sneap has stated that this was a drink related departure and Jones himself has said he regrets his departure in a recent video on Andy Sneap's MySpace.

Guitarist Neil Watson was brought in for guitar duties, and with only 2 weeks to learn all of the tracks, appears on the live video The End of the Beginning. Walkyier left in 1990 along with Craske, with Walkyier going off to form Skyclad. Fraser Craske left the music industry completely at this time. Andy Sneap and Simon Negus overhauled the band and brought in vocalist Richie Desmond and bassist Wayne Banks. In 1991 they released Mourning Has Broken - but it did not go down well with fans or critics and the band performed a final show in Derby soon after then split up.

In Terrorizer magazine [#152 - Xmas 2006] Andy Sneap has stated:

(emphatically) "I don't listen to this (Mourning Has Broken). There is some mad guitar playing on there, some of the shredding is ridiculous, but it sounds thrown together, which is why it shouldn't have had the Sabbat name on it."

Simon Negus went on to join a band called the Glory Boys. Andy Sneap and Wayne Banks went on to form the group Godsend. Andy Sneap is now best known as a successful Grammy winning producer with over 100 albums produced at his Backstage Recording studios in rural Derbyshire.

Unofficial reunion (2001–2005)[edit]

Martin Walkyier initially wanted to reform the band as Sabbat in 2001 with Fraser Craske and Simon Jones, however, this was blocked by Andy Sneap at the time.

Andy Sneap:

"The way I originally heard about (the reunion) was from one of the guys at Earache (Records), who called me up to ask me about it. I knew nothing about it so I called Martin to ask him about it. The conversation got a little heated and I explained they couldn't do it under the name SABBAT as both he and (bassist) Frazer quit, leaving me and (drummer) Simon (Negus) with a lot of debts and financial problems to clear up. This was the reason we carried on as SABBAT and did a third album. Obviously we wanted the new line up to work out but it didn't … simple as that. What it came down to though was Simon Negus and myself, in theory, own the business and name as they left. If you left your employee, you couldn't go and start that business somewhere else under the same name."[11]

Walkyier, Jones and Craske performed under the name Return to the Sabbat for 2001–2003, Skyclad drummer Jay Graham played on drums, after Simon Jones left (replaced by Andy Newby), the band continued for a while playing at Bloodstock indoor festival and a gig in Camden, London after which Return to the Sabbat disbanded.[12]

Official reunion (2006–2009)[edit]

In 2006 the band re-united with the Dreamweaver line-up to support Cradle of Filth on their UK tour in December 2006 at four different venues.

A warm up gig for this short tour was played at "The Rig" in Nottingham, England on Saturday 16 December 2006, and as such was the first time since 1989 that the Dreamweaver line up had played live together. They received much press attention and rave reviews for their support slot and confirmed that were to release their first two albums in a remastered format with additional bonus material.

They then played festival appearances at the "Keep It True Festival", Germany - April 15, 2007 and the 'Day of Darkness' festival in Co. Laois, Ireland, which took place on the July 6th and 7th 2007.

Andy Sneap and Martin Walkyier said in interviews that the reunion is "a bit of fun" and there is no long term plan.

On February 27, 2007 Sabbat re-released History of a Time to Come and Dreamweaver. The re-releases feature new packaging, bonus live tracks, and a remastered sound. Sabbat's final album, 1991's Mourning Has Broken, was not re-released.

Musical style and lyrics[edit]

Sabbat were initially labelled as "Thrash" and "satanic" in the Midlands metal scene. Fraser Craske: "We're not Satanists. It's more theatrical. We're interested in religion and philosophy and it follows that we write tracks about things like that."[13] The band’s early lyrics were “primarily Satanic or […] influenced by the Occult in some way”; in Walkyier’s interpretation, Satanism “doesn’t say ‘let’s go out and kill people’ or anything like that”, referring to The Satanic Bible which has “nothing to do with sacrifice” but with a selfish outlook. Walkyier sees Satanism as a rebellion against orthodox Christianity. As he considers Satan and the Devil to be “in a lots of ways […] a bogeyman invented by the Christians” to make people follow them, and “started to look more into the old religion of Europe […], and that’s sort of where my… my kind of personal beliefs lie really”.[5]

The late Dave G. Halliday was the singer/guitarist from the band Hell, the Derbyshire band who in the mid-1980s were a big influence upon and inspiration for Sabbat.

Andy Sneap:

"We are heavily influenced by Hell and don't mind admitting it" Andy says with obvious admiration. "The singer even taught me how to play guitar! We're not a deliberate copycat of Hell in any way though. They were a great band and it's a mystery to me why they never got anywhere. To be compared to them we don't mind in the least, we would take it more as an honour than anything. We've just done a charity show at Trent Poly dedicated to Hell's guitarist Dave Halliday who committed suicide in January. All the money went to his favourite charity, Cancer Research."[14]

Martin Walkyier has left a fitting tribute to Dave G. Halliday within the sleeve notes of 2006 The Clan Destined release, In the Big Ending, which reads:-

"These recordings are dedicated to the memory of Dave G Halliday. A man who was literally decades ahead of his time, but who tragically never had the chance to witness the enormous & positive influence he had upon the worldwide Metal scene. Whilst i still have breath in my body, you will never be forgotten."

Line-up[edit]

Sabbat had some personnel changes during their active period from 1985 to 1991, with guitarist Andy Sneap and drummer Simon Negus being the only founding members to appear on the ill-fated Mourning Has Broken release, after the departure of Walkyier, Craske and [Simon] Jones.

Frazer Craske has recently left Sabbat once again, for personal and work related reasons. He was replaced at the D.O.D. festival by Gizz Butt who is playing full-time in the band.

Simon Jones from official Sabbat website, January 2008:-

"First up was the Keep It True Fest', southern Germany April 14th. If anyone can recall, spring 2007 was particularly warm and boy we sweated a few pounds off thrashing to a sold out venue. It was great to share the bill with Laaz Rocket and Diamond Head too. After this gig Frazer broke the news that he wouldn't be doing any more gigs. Gizz Butt would take his place from now on. There was no pressure laid on Frazer; it was his decision and the rest of us respected it, after all we had got back together to play metal and enjoy it. If it wasn't working for him then so be it. Miraculously Gizz breathed new life into Sabbat as a band and brought a new perspective to the songs."

Current members[edit]

Former members[edit]

  • Fraser Craske - Bass (1985–1990, 2006–2007) (now in Ravens Creed)
  • Neil Watson - Rhythm Guitar (1990–1991)
  • Wayne Banks - Bass (1990–1991) (Blaze, Messiah's Kiss, Godsend)
  • Richie Desmond - Vocals (1990–1991)
  • Richard Scott - Rhythm Guitar (1988, live only) (No Excuses)

Discography[edit]

Albums[edit]

Singles[edit]

  • Blood for the Blood God (1987)
  • Wildfire/The Best of Enemies (1989)

Split singles and compilation albums[edit]

  • A Cautionary Tale/And the Brave Man Fails (1988)
  • Doomsday News III - Thrashing East Live (Live) (1990)

Demos[edit]

  • Magic in Practice and Theory (1985)
  • BBC Sessions (1986)
  • Fragments of a Faith Forgotten (1987)
  • Stranger Than Fiction (1987)

Video[edit]

  • The End of the Beginning (1990)

References[edit]

  1. ^ History of a time to come,re-release sleeve notes
  2. ^ Metal Hammer magazine January 2007 - page 89
  3. ^ a b M!ck (1982-05-10). "Andy Sneap". Earache.com. Retrieved 2014-07-29. 
  4. ^ Terrorizer Magazine Xmas 2006
  5. ^ a b Michael Dome: Murder Music: Black Metal. Rockworld TV 2007.
  6. ^ METAL FORCES No 31, September 1988
  7. ^ "Andy Sneap Talks About Sabbat!". YouTube. 2007-11-25. Retrieved 2014-07-29. 
  8. ^ Terrorizer article No. 152 - Xmas 2006
  9. ^ Metal Hammer magazine January 2007
  10. ^ "Featured Content on Myspace". Profile.myspace.com. Retrieved 2014-07-29. 
  11. ^ "Former Sabbat Guitarist Speaks Out On Revamped Group - Blabbermouth.net". Roadrunnerrecords.com. 2002-04-18. Retrieved 2014-07-29. 
  12. ^ Metal hammer January 2007
  13. ^ KERRANG! No 140, March 4, 1987.
  14. ^ METAL FORCES No 25, August 15, 1987

External links[edit]