Reprisal are very quickly on their way to becoming a big name in the underground extreme metal scene, it’s easy to see why.
Fast riffs, intense drum work and impressive vocals make this band an unstoppable juggernaut. I managed to snatch a few words with the bands bassist, Theo Brooke, to talk about their recent triumph in getting through to the Metal 2 The Masses Reading Final.
Could you first give me an introduction as to how the band formed.
I’d known Ollie (du Toit, guitar) for years and in the summer of 2011 we were both looking for a project at around the same time. We’ve got fairly different tastes; I was really into punk bands like Zeke and NOFX and Ollie was always into proggier, more extreme music, and so our natural common ground was 80s thrash. Our early stuff was pretty indebted to bands like Suicidal Tendencies and D.R.I., until Ollie took over the majority of the songwriting and let his influences get a footing in our sound.
We were lucky enough to meet Sion (Mason, drums) within a few weeks of him moving here from Wales (great drummers are rare, great extreme metal drummers even rarer) and his preternatural skill gave us the confidence to push our music into more dynamic territory. We played a bunch of shows with some pretty bad songs (very fast, mostly about horror films, lacking musicality) until we got in touch with self confessed Metallica lifer Tom (Johnstone, vocals). As the music we were writing veered more towards the extreme, we decided we didn’t want a straight up death metal vocalist we wanted someone who was both a bit unhinged and had a bit of variety in there voice. Tom fit that bill perfectly.
How did the members of the band get into metal?
We all got into it through the ‘usual’ bands; for Ollie it was Guns n’ Roses, Aerosmith and Deep Purple, Sion was (and to my knowledge still is) president, chairman, treasurer and sole member of the Anglesey Joey Jordison Fanclub and Tom and I were huge Metallica fans. I got the Black Album on tape (!) when I was 10 years old and I’d never heard anything like it. I actually got into extreme metal accidentally during the heyday of Napster; I was looking for songs by the short lived UK nu-metal band Defenestration when I mistakenly downloaded the song ‘Defenestration’ by the Canadian death-prog band Cryptopsy. In my search for shouty teenage dirge, I stumbled across the band that made me want to make music.
Who knows, if Napster used the advanced search engine algorithms that we enjoy here in space year 2014, my life might have been different.
How does it feel to be in the Metal 2 The Masses Final?
You know when you start doing something and halfway through you lose the will to do it, decide it’s probably not worth it and pretty much just half ass the rest and hope no-one notices? Not that; the opposite of that. Getting the opportunity to play Bloodstock would be an incredible achievement and a genuine highlight of our career thus far.
Were there any nerves before the semi final?
Some. The pool of bands gets smaller at every stage, so the competition gets more intense and everyone brings their A-game. At times like that though it’s important to remember that you don’t have to be the best, you just have to be better than everyone else at what you’re doing.
L-R Sion Mason (Drums), Theo Brooke (Bass), Tom Johnstone (Vocals) Oliver Du Toit (Guitars)
How have you found the other bands that you’ve been competing with?
Ded Orse really were the standout to me. I’d hate to be the guy that says ‘they’re really great guys, they make awesome music and you should check them out’ because the currency of internet recommendation has little value; BUT the twist is that they really are great guys and they really do make awesome music and you really should listen to them. And buy their records. And wear their shirts. And tell other people that you’d hate to be the guy that says all of the above. It says alot when you hear a band for the first time, then a month later when you’re watching them again you remember all the songs they’ve played. And Phil’s voice. Christ. Has to be heard to be believed.
Why did you choose to enter Metal 2 The Masses Reading?
We picked Reading over London because it’s a great and well-established scene. Win or lose, we’d at least get to play some fun shows.
You released your debut EP a little while ago, any there underlying themes in the lyrics?
The Ichneumon wasp was the animal that made Darwin question his faith in God; he couldn’t understand how a benevolent creator of man could also have made something as completely evil as the life cycle of parasitic wasps. Whilst he found it repulsive, Darwin accepted its existence was as much a part of the planet as his own. Eventually he abandoned the church to conceive the theory of evolution that is now the cornerstone of our understanding of all life.
To me, the ichneumon wasp has had a great effect on human history; it is a reminder that we may have the power to create and shape life, but we are never able to define its boundaries.
Are there any newer songs on the way?
Yes! We have plans for a full length but we’re adamant we’re not going to rush it. It really has to be the best songs we have, the best production we can get, the best artwork, the best promotion etc. You only get to make a first album once. Plus even if we’re lucky enough to get to make 5 albums, metal fans have a tendency to ‘prefer the first album’. So there’s that too.
When and where are your next gigs?
After our handful of support slots on the Bonded By Blood UK tour, our focus will shift toward the M2TM final. Our mission; to make it ‘Reprisal in excelsis’. We have some ‘plans’ for pulling out all the stops for this one. In June, we’re playing in Hitchin with our good friends Aghast! as they prepare to unleash their highly anticipated debut album. Then it’s on to Cardiff for Eradication Festival in July, and in November we are playing the Headbangers Balls London event. In a nutshell, we’re sharing stages with the finest extreme metal bands the UK has to offer!
Reprisal are on the fast track to success. From endorsements and kind words from many of UK metals’ most influential people to a string of high profile gigs mean that they show no signs of stopping.