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One of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal's most convoluted family trees belongs to the band known predominantly as Satan. Besides regularly undergoing name changes (Blind Fury and Pariah were only two of the aliases employed each time the group decided their original name was compromising their chances of success), the band's history regularly intersected that of any number of competing groups out of the Northeast, most notably Blitzkrieg and Skyclad.
The seeds of the band that would become Satan were planted in Newcastle, England, toward the end of 1980, when a semi-firm lineup consisting of vocalist Trevor Robinson, guitarists Steve Ramsey and Russ Tippins, bassist Graeme English, and drummer Andy Reed finally coalesced. The band's first single, the imminently collectable "Kiss of Death," was released by independent label Guardian Records in the first months of 1982, and after welcoming new drummer Sean Taylor and replacing singer Robinson, first with one Ian Swift, then with the more experienced Brian Ross (ex-Blitzkrieg), sessions began for a full-length album. The very heavy, almost thrash-like Court in the Act opus finally emerged in January 1984 through Neat Records (who else?) and was given mostly enthusiastic reviews. An equally successful bout of touring across the Channel in Europe followed, but the group was handed a major setback when the ever restless Ross decided to quit shortly after their return in order to resurrect Blitzkrieg.
Lou Taylor, former frontman with Kevin Heybourne's post-Angel Witch project, Blind Fury, was soon tapped as Ross' replacement, but his domineering ways soon led to the questionable adoption of the Blind Fury handle, causing no small amount of confusion among the fans and effectively disassociating what used to be Satan with any benefits arising from their recently released album -- smart one boys! Taylor also convinced the band that they would be better served by toning down their intensity somewhat for 1985's more hard rock-oriented Out of Reach, which was released by the fledgling Roadrunner label. Not surprisingly, the album's poor performance in the marketplace inevitably raised serious doubts about all of these stylistic changes and name-swapping shenanigans, resulting in the abrupt and convenient dismissal of both Taylor and Out of Reach as one and the same big mistake, followed by yet another about-face to resurrect the Satan name.
Enlisting with German record company Steamhammer, Satan hired new singer Michael Jackson (not "Jacko," of course) and saw a return to heavier fare, first on 1986's Into the Future EP, then with 1987's semi-return to form, Suspended Sentence. Oddly enough, both of these releases fared far better in continental Europe (where they toured with Running Wild later that year) than back home in the U.K., revealing a territorial shift in heavy metal appreciation that also affected the careers of English contemporaries like Savage and Jaguar. Still, it was by now clear that Satan's window of opportunity was most definitely closing, and as if to prove themselves further unworthy of true stardom, the band once again decided to drop their moniker in exchange for the purportedly less confining Pariah. Pariah would go on to record a trio of albums before certain members departed to join the ranks of avant-folk-thrashers Skyclad. Satan returned to public life in 2004 with a one-off performance at Germany's Wacken Open Air festival, but it would be nearly a decade before the band would head back into the studio. Life Sentence, the group's third official studio album, dropped in 2013 via Listenable Records, and was followed by a North and South American tour. Satan spent the next year holed up in the studio laying down tracks for what would be their fourth long-player. The resulting Atom by Atom was released in the fall of 2015. ~ Eduardo Rivadavia
- Newcastle, England
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