PRAISE THE LORD!
Nightlord might not be a household name to the global Metal community (yet) but
way back in the late 1980s the band was already working England’s crowds into a
frenzy. Eventually the band became casualty of a declining scene and called it a
day around 1993.
years later the thrashers played a 1-off reunion gig with some old friends and
the reaction to that gig spurred them to embark on a fully-fledged comeback.
Fast forward to the present….and the band seems as relentless as never before. I
sent a few questions to lead vocalist / bass player Jamie Thorne asking him to
tell me what’s been going on.
Straight away, I’d like to clear
some waters. My understanding was that you were originally slated to support
Onslaught and Artillery throughout the UK tour that should kick off in a few
days’ time. Now it seems Nightlord will only be doing the London show with these
2 bands. Can you clarify this issue?
To clarify, Nightlord were only ever billed to be playing the Bristol Show on
the 19th July and the London Show on the 20th July,
incidentally those are the shows that Onslaught have chosen to record a live DVD
so we’re really going to make sure that the crowd is warmed up and ready for
action. In terms of the wider tour, those were the only dates we could make due
to the dreaded ‘scheduling conflicts’ and then there was some drama about
Hatriot dropping out due to Steve Souza re-joining Exodus… but with the addition
of Steve Smyth’s One Machine in London and India’s Demonic Resurrection on the
rest of the UK, the Thrash Invasion Tour is really going to deliver.
Now onto the band’s music.....Nightlord
concurrently released “Approaching Thunder” and “Cult Of The Moon” through Copro
Records. These are basically a collection of rare or
unreleased material. Could you give some insight
on their contents?
Sure, the first album, Approaching Thunder was an expansion of our original
4-song tape demo of the same name to a full album and is all the first songs we
wrote. Cult of the Moon as you suggest is a little more eclectic, one song,
Practice Makes Perfect was part of a rare 4-band compilation record called The
Unspeakable Oath, an additional 4 songs, which we had been playing during our
early 90’s gigs and had become real favourites of ours and then finished off
with a live set from Walthamstow Royal Standard in about ’92, I think. Although
there is a little of G’n’R’s Chinese Democracy about it – when we kicked off as
a band again in 2010 we had never had recorded the vocals, bass or solos! Some
re-writing and recording later we were able to finally put them to bed… 17 years
is a looooong time between studio sessions but pleased we persevered!
The live recording I love, it was a tricky gig – James’ (Lead Guitar) amp had
packed in and he had to borrow one, we were running late because of that … What
made it worse but a hero of ours, Pete Franklin of Chariot - who we were big
fans of - was in the audience, which added to the nerves. The recording, despite
its occasional technical fluffs is so full of anger, threat and energy it is a
real moment in time…and a great one at that.
Although generally considered to
be Thrash Metal, Nightlord’s music is actually tricky to categorise. In my book
that’s already a good thing but do you think this factor sometimes hinders the
band’s eagerness to be more widely recognised?
I love you for this question…generally Thrash but tricky to categorise – that’s
actually what we’re aiming for, I’m going to steal that quote from you next time
someone asks what we sound like! I think it’s a good thing too, we do
consciously write to ensure that whilst our songs all have the ‘Nightlord sound
and feel’ that there is a variance and style that is different across all our
songs. Whilst other bands which I like have a similar construct or structure to
their songs and stick to their specific genre that’s not for us. As four
musicians we all have very different musical tastes and that comes through in
what we do… But Metal it most definitely is!
your second point I’d have to answer that our style hinders us less so as time
has passed. In the late 80’s and into the 90’s fans were ‘very’ locked into the
genre they had chosen be it Death, Grind, Thrash, Rock, Doom or whatever and it
was decidedly uncool to acknowledge that you liked anything outside of your
chosen strata… so along we come and play songs which cross-over and incorporate
diverse elements and they were a little confused about if they should show that
they liked it or not. I remember one bill we were on with some quite extreme
Death Metal bands and we could see the audience tapping a toe or nodding a head
slightly but peer pressure held them back from getting involved! Nowadays, and
especially in Europe at the major festivals this has all gone away – you’ll see
the same people in the tent for Nile and Doro as in the field for Sabaton and
Hatebreed. I like that and I guess people have finally caught up with us!
I believe you are working on a
new album – how are things going with that regards? Is there a release date in
We are indeed and it will be out in the autumn – it’s called Reborn in Darkness.
We’re just finishing off the recording at the moment before it is mixed and
mastered and we’re looking forward to getting out on the road at the end of the
year. 9 new songs written, argued about, re-written, fallen-out over,
re-written, discussed, compromised but finally excited about to play live – I’m
not pretending that creating is easy… We’ve got 4 musicians with great ideas and
big personalities in Nightlord and it’s an invigorating process.
For those too far away to attend
Nightlord’s gigs, the newest songs are not so ‘new’. Have you written any songs
after the reunion and if ‘yes’ what do they sound like?
I guess linked to what I’ve talked about already - we have a chunk of new songs
to play live, and in fact we have been already at some of our more recent gigs…
if you go into the Setlist.fm wiki you’ll find a list there. What do they sound
like, well as my now stolen ‘Generally Thrash but difficult to categorise’
tagline says… There’s some solid, heads down 4-minute belters, a couple of
intricate multi-tempo widdlers, some real neck-snapper chug riffs, one in drop
D, something punky, a slab of doom, one to shout along to and a complex
instrumental about our Sun going supernova! Does that about cover it?
The biography on Nightlord’s
website is quite interesting and
amusing. Is this fantasy world something you tap into with the band’s lyrics?
I glad you like it, do you know there’s truth hidden in there if you can
decipher the clues… There’s nothing in there that specifically links to any
lyrics but all that pervasive English/Britishness and not in that Nationalistic,
chest beating way I hate, Middle-Ages Myths with a hint of Victorian
Eccentricity feels very Nightlord … Foggy London Streets, Secret Cults and
Hidden Monsters, that’s very much the Nightlord vibe that runs through all of
our lyrics – clearly we predate it by a few years but I could recommend Alan
Moore’s, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen books - but NOT the film, it’s
shit - and more recently Penny Dreadful.
Could you give some insight on the themes that inspire
Whoa, this is a big question, so brace yourself... History, is I think the best
starting point and the desire to tell a genuine story with music. I’m a
voracious reader so the majority of themes come from what I’ve read or topics
that I want to cover - I keep a notepad of possible song themes handy - and look
up or research information when it turns into a song. More specifically faith
and religion - although I’m not religious myself - I find fascinating as to its
effect on people so with a new song like Sin-Eater – an actual practice which
used to take place where a volunteer would symbolically eat and drink over the
body of a deceased who hadn’t received final absolution, effectively taking on
their sins so the other could enter heaven… but you think then about that Eater
as he performs that function for more people, taking on more sins, more crimes,
what would that burden become for them? How would they be absolved? At the end
of the song it says, ‘Who will step forth and eat for me?’ War crops up, not
from the, ‘Isn’t fighting great?’ point of view but the effect on the
you may tell, we don’t take ourselves too seriously so there’s an occasional
slice of satire, Vote for Me about what corrupt politicians really want and
there’s also the desire to tell an old-fashioned horror story, Dark Night Dance
is about cannibalism, from the cannibals’ perspective and I’d even like to think
there is even a little pathos in some of our songs: Ghosts from the Machines,
another new song is about seeing long friends and family that have passed-away
on video - that seeing and hearing them again is so hard compared to a flat
After the split, the band remained inactive for around 17 years.
What had changed
that made the band want to give it another go?
Whilst we actually all remained friends, albeit geographically dispersed, it was
a feeling that there was some collective unfinished business that grew in all of
us… We’d see each other at gigs, weddings, whatever and we’d chat, ‘Wouldn’t it
be good if, what if we, d’you know we should…’ and it just reached a critical
mass where we said, ‘Let’s do it’ and now we have…and d’you know it’s much
better the second time around – we’re older, wiser, more articulate in what we
want to do and dare I say more mature, although we still torment and play all
our pranks on Ferenc (Collins - rhythm guitar)! But then, all that could be
challenged if you actually point out that we stand in front of people playing
really loud and bellowing about Cthulhu…but you get my point.
In the early 1990s Nightlord
performed with numerous Metal bands, such as Toranaga, Holy Moses, Skyclad. What
are your personal memories of those gigs?
Sadly very patchy, Toranaga I recall playing at a packed Cardiff Bogeyz club and
them being really nice chaps – I’d seen them play with Manowar just previously
and them telling me about the Kings of Metal’s pre-show, we are Manowar, we are
the greatest ritual round a candle that I still laugh at now. Skyclad was
amazing, I was a huge, and I mean huge fan so I just spent the entire
time having a bit of a fan boy freak-out – I even took my CD’s with me for them
to sign, which they did, which was great. The gig with Artillery and Holy Moses
was actually cancelled – they couldn’t get into the country, but other bands
that spring to mind are Paradise Lost, who were very, very grumpy with us for
some reason - we were opening the show, so I’m not surprised - and Decimator who
were a cracking laugh – especially as they had a confetti bazooka prop!
I’ve only seen a couple of brief snippets of the film-documentary
“A History Of A Time To Come”, which analyses the UK Thrash scene. In one, the
factors that contributed to the scene’s demise are postulated.
I’d like to ask for your own views on this, drawing from your own
Sadly I’ve not seen it either, like you, only a few snippets that suggest that
whilst the bands were there the scene wasn’t and it all dissipated pretty
quickly it felt… I’d probably suggest it was also a time when smaller venues
were closing down which were the real breeding ground for bands to hone their
skills and play to a venue where with only a 100 or so people in would feel like
a stadium atmosphere … The Clarendon in Hammersmith, Brentford Red Lion,
Woolwich Tramshed, Chelmsford Y Club and the Walthamstow Royal Standard… all
gone. Coupled with that polarisation of the metal tribes it meant that there was
no sizable core audience so it all just fell apart and grunge then nu-metal took
over as the popular genres. But of course now, thrash is making not so much a
comeback as a popular realisation of how great it was and still is and how it
fits and fills in a gap in the metal landscape. Happy ending!
I also think it’s indisputable that there were incredible and
underrated UK Thrash bands in the late 1980s but how you think they compared to
the German and ‘Bay Area’ Thrash epicentres?
Absolutely…Onslaught (of course!) but also Xentrix, Slammer, Lawnmower Deth,
Acid Reign, Venom and Raven as the big names but amongst the scene were hidden
gems like First Blood, Winter of Torment, and Jackal making it tick from top to
terms of a comparison it’s always difficult…musically I think they all stack up
and it only comes down to personal preference on specific songs or sounds…it’s
in the attitude and presentation that I think was the real difference. The Bay
Area, you mean Testament and Death Angel? I assume it was the presentation the
Americans bring to what they do and the confidence/arrogance that they are the
best at it, and I love them for it. For Teutonic Thrash Metal such as Kreator
and Sodom it was the attitude…this was pre-unification Germany after all…they
just dripped with attitude and anger, it unified them as a sub-genre. UK thrash
suffered a bit, we’re a geographically small country with no unifying regions to
create that movement – there was never ‘London Thrash’ or ‘Birmingham Prog’ in
the same way so it’s difficult to compare.
Seeing that Nightlord originates
from London, what do you remember of famous and now defunct London venues such
as the Astoria, the Marquee and the Ruskin Arms?
Now you’ve made me sad… I can’t say much for the Ruskin. I’m a West Londoner so
never really got over there - but the Marquee when it moved to Charing Cross
Road was an amazing venue, though some will say it was better in Wardour
Street…small, loud and utterly awesome I saw some amazing gigs there – Megadeth,
Sabbat, Dark Angel, Sepultura, Paradise Lost, Skyclad, Venom playing as the
“Sons of Satan”, even Alice Cooper - I could drone on and on! …and of course we
played there, I’ve got the grainy video footage to prove it! I’ve been in the
sorry gastro-pub that is now on the site, eating dinner where the stage used to
be and getting flashbacks like a Vietnam veteran – however my wife won’t let me
forget the Metal Church gig she went to without me and the support band had a
small Danish flag on the drum kit… It turned out to be Metallica!
The Astoria was dare I say even better, a big venue upstairs and a smaller
nightclub and venue downstairs known as Busby’s - they had a metal nightclub
there on a Sunday… I can still smell it in my dreams and whenever my feet stick
to a floor the memories come back… and the bands I saw there; Kreator on the
Extreme Aggression tour, Lamb of God on the ’Palaces one…3 nights running of
Slayer and Type O Negative on every tour they played. Awesome. Never played
there myself but would’ve loved to.
Jamie, a couple of quick
questions about you personally.....What was the first Metal event you ever
Easy one, Iron Maiden at Hammersmith Odeon on the World Slavery Tour. The
recording ended up as the fourth side of Live After Death! I was only 14, short
hair, ironically longer than my current shaved head but armed with a denim
jacket covered in patches and studs on to be proud of…which I still own. My Dad
even picked me up from the Tube on the way home as it had gone 11:30 and I still
had to get a bus to get back to my house. Sadly every gig over the next 30 years
has struggled to live up to that one.
Venom and Raven are 2 other
British Metal bands to have a singer that doubles up as a bass player. Are
Cronos and John Gallagher 2 musicians you do look up to?
John Gallagher in Raven - I was never a fan in my formative metal years… in
hindsight they’re great but I didn’t see it at the time, my loss not theirs. But
Cronos, he was the man, whilst during the early days not the best bassist or
vocalist his attitude and his frontmanship and quite frankly his will to lead
from the front was and probably still is awesome. The video of the 7th
Date of Hell tour or - as I recently rediscovered on YouTube almost 30 years
after watching it live - their slot on a Channel 4 programme called ECT is
unbelievable. Outside the UK and/or thrash I’d have to say Pete Steele of ToN,
Tom Araya (the Thrash Bassist/Vocalist’s Bassist/Vocalist of course) and Blackie
Lawless of W.A.S.P. before he bottled out and moved to guitar…
What are Nightlord’s ambitions
from this point onwards?
To carry on making music we like, for as long as we like to do it… sounds a bit
trite but I mean it. Nightlord is like a slightly dysfunctional family of 4
friends with a common musical bond. It brought us together at the beginning,
pulled us back later on and keeps us here. As I often say at the end of our
shows when we play our closing song, Holy Inquisition, I ask if there are any
heretics present and call for the righteous to show them how its done – it’s for
us all to do the ’Lord’s work together…and the ’Lord’s work is never done!