-- Sacrilege gets shredded --

Stijn Daneels
Review written and conducted by Stijn “Metal Shredder” Daneels.

In late 2018, through the power of social media, I was contacted by Bill Beadle, founding member of the NWOBHM (New Wave of British Heavy Metal) band Sacrilege to promote his then-upcoming album “Court of the Insane.” An enjoyable release warmly recommend to fans of old-school metal tunes from the likes of Black Sabbath and Judas Priest. Bill and I kept in touch with each other and eventually arranged to do a Skype shred on Tuesday September 17, 2019.

Bill and I talked about Sacrilege’s return to form in 2012, the production of their new “Court of the Insane” album, Bill’s love for Black Sabbath (and the countless times he has seen them live between 1973 and 2016), the confusion caused between his band Sacrilege and the thrash/doom metal band Sacrilege from Birmingham and finally how they did their very first live gig on a popular British TV show, sharing the stage with none other than the Stranglers and U2.

BMS: Hello Bill! When I was doing research about Sacrilege, I saw that your band started in the early 1980s and were part of the NWOBHM movement. Then Sacrilege went inactive for about 20 years until you revived the band in 2012. What were your primary motivations to become sacrilegious again?
Bill: After Sacrilege’s initial run had stopped, I did many other things in my life and I initially had no plans to become an active musician once more. However, one faithful day in 2007 I was bored and so I went out to buy myself a new guitar, play some vintage Sacrilege tunes and record them once more. This time with modern technology and nowadays it’s more than possible to buy some good-quality portable recording equipment at affordable prices. I had my little home studio setup in no time and then things escalated quickly and positively.

Before I knew it, I had about 4 brand new Sacrilege songs written and then I came into contact with Finnish lead guitarist Pekka Loikkenan who did the guitar solos on those first new Sacrilege tunes. His riffs were awesome and it motivated me to write even more material. Eventually I got into contact with a local cover band from my home region. Those guys were huge Sacrilege fans and they asked me if we could do a gig together. After much consideration, I’ve said yes and the gig was a mind blowing experience! The place was packed and everybody went crazy when we were playing those classic Sacrilege songs. It was just like the old days, complete with smoke, lasers and pyro.
BMS: You know, I’ve noticed such longtime loyalty towards a metal act isn’t unusual. For instance, in my country we’ve got Acid, a band that retired about 30 years ago but who still have a large cult following today! Same thing goes for other vintage Belgian bands like Ostrogoth, Killer and Scavenger, all three of those bands started and split-up in the 1980s but they all have returned into action in the past 6 years and still draw solid crowds.
Bill: Yeah, it’s strange but amazing! And I’m very grateful that I’m back in the shredding game!

BMS: Tell me, Bill, how different is your Sacrilege work ethic today compared to how it was during Sacrilege’s first career run?
Bill: Aside from the obvious social media (dis)advantages, I now have the opportunity to pretty much record all parts of a Sacrilege song here at my self-made home studio. I can track drums, guitars, bass and vocals all on my own, make a solid mix out of it and then email it to my Sacrilege colleagues for feedback and additional ideas. Back in the early years I had to physically meet up with my band mates and play my freshly written tunes right then and there and hope they would memorize it. In other words, the recording and production aspects have become much more convenient today compared to the vintage period.
BMS: I see. How did you meet your current fellow Sacrilege band members?
Bill: I’ve got to know Neil, our drummer, from his work with the now defunct heavy metal band Dervish. Paul, our second guitarist, has obtained plenty of guitar shredding experience with hard rock band Salem. Our bassist, Jeff, mainly did cover bands but his bass work has always been very crisp.
BMS: Interesting. Now, let’s talk about your latest album, “Court of the Insane.”
Bill: I wrote the material for “Court of the Insane” two years ago, however, we had a huge setback when our lead guitarist at the time, Tony Vanner, retired from the music scene. He was a highly talented guitarist with whom we recorded the earlier album “Six6Six” in 2015. While looking for a worthy successor for Tony, we recorded the entire “Court of the Insane” album expect for the lead guitar parts. Eventually Paul came in and did a tremendous job on lead.

As for the songwriting, I wanted to do something different compared to “Six6Six,” which was heavier and more doom metal inspired compared to “Court of the Insane.” The latter is more classic heavy metal inspired such legendary bands like Black Sabbath and Judas Priest while retaining that typically dark Sacrilege feel.

And finally there’s the artwork, just like those iconic metal albums from the past I wanted our album to stand out visually with artwork that’s colorful and intriguing. During my youth I often visited record stores and scrolled through the vinyl cases and when I saw a release with good-looking artwork, I would take a shot at this unknown band. After all, the internet didn’t exist back then so it wasn’t possible to look up a band before you bought material from them or a ticket to one of their shows.

BMS: That’s exactly how it would describe “Court of the Insane.” A sound inspired by the metal classics of the 1980s. A dark, melodic sound backed by sharp riffs, eerie vocals and mid-to-fast paced rhythms. And speaking of Black Sabbath and Judas Priest, I’ve read that you’re a huge Sabbath Priest fan!
Bill: Indeed! I love Judas Priest’s fast and powerful guitar riffs and Black Sabbath’s dark, moody tunes so with Sacrilege I’ve always aimed for a sound that blends both worlds. And I’ve grown up listening to those 1970s Black Sabbath songs countless times and I’ve seen them live numerous times over all those years.
BMS: I had the pleasure to witness Black Sabbath’s final Benelux show at Graspop Metal Meeting 2016. It was a truly memorable experience! But tell me Bill, did you witness Sabbath with all their iconic frontmen? Specifically Ozzy Osbourne, Ronnie James Dio, Ian Gillian, Glenn Hughes and Tony Martin?
Bill: My first time seeing Sabbath was in 1973. I’ve seen Sabbath the most times with Ozzy on vocals as well as a couple of times with Dio. I’ve also seen one-time gigs with Gillian, Hughes and Martin.
BMS: I admit that I’m pretty jealous! I would’ve loved to see a Sabbath gig with Dio or Martin. In particular the Black Sabbath album “Headless Cross” (with Martin on vocals) is a huge favorite of mine.
Bill: Indeed, I love that release too. It’s amazing to see how varied but always impressive Sabbath was throughout their enormous 5-decade career. When you compare a release like “Paranoid” with “Heaven & Hell” or the aforementioned “Headless Cross,” they sound so different yet so familiar. Tony Iommi is a real genius!
BMS: Yes, he certainly is! It’s time for a pretty awkward question. I read online that there exists another British band called Sacrilege, a thrash/doom metal act from Birmingham. Does your band often get confused with them?
Bill: (face palm) All the time, my friend. You know, that other Sacrilege band was formed in 1987 while my band was founded in 1982 so yeah, we came first. The other Sacrilege wasn’t aware of our band’s existence but at the time I didn’t mind because I had retired and had no plans to return as an active musician. Now, of course, things have changed and I’ve always had to make it clear to bookers, promoters and venue owners that we’re not Sacrilege, the thrash/doom metal act from Birmingham, but rather Sacrilege, the old-school heavy metal band from Gillingham (located in the Kent county, southern England). But ever so often they refuse to book us for classic metal or doom metal events because they don’t want thrash metal on their lineups. But we don’t give up, they will learn the difference eventually!

BMS: In fact, I’ve heard of your Sacrilege before I’ve heard of the other Sacrilege, so you’ve come first indeed, at least in my Shredder book. So, this October you’re playing in the Ragnarok in Bree. Have you already played in Belgium before?
Bill: Oh yeah, many times! For instance, we did two consecutive gigs in the Rocking Bull venue in Antwerp (during which we played two different sets), we also played in the Negasonic bar in Aalst and other places. I love your little country, it’s full of friendly people and enthusiastic metal lovers. And I have a great appetite for your Hoegaarden beer!
BMS: Thanks for those kind words! And yeah, I like Hoegaarden as well. Now, what are your future plans for Sacrilege?
Bill: We recently appointed a new manager, her name is Valeria Campagnale and she’s from Como, Italy. And speaking of Italy, we’re heading there this December to record a music video for the “Court of the Insane” title song. We’ll also be heading to Malta next March as well as a German tour later in 2020. We have huge plans for 2020, so keep in touch with us!
BMS: We sure will! Time for one of my traditional questions, what other activities do you do aside from Sacrilege?
Bill: Aside from guitar I also play keyboards, I don’t play live, but I love to learn and play some tunes that I hear. I also watch plenty of football and I frequently play badminton to keep my body in shape.
BMS I also love doing sports, particularly athletics. One of my favorite activities is running through my local countryside.
Bill: I used to live in London until I moved to the southern England countryside about 30 years ago. In fact, during Sacrilege’s early years the South London press loved us. Speaking about the media, I’ve got an interesting Sacrilege fact that I wish to share with you all!
BMS: Please tell us!
Bill: Our debut gig was in 1982, during an episode of the popular David Jensen music show, where we shared the stage with the Stranglers and U2! That particular episode was dedicated to heavy rock music and we were selected to appear on the show out of the 4000 tapes they received!
BMS: HOLY MOLY! That’s beyond impressive, Bill! That would be like me getting the chance to shred someone like Tom Araya, Corey Taylor or Doro Pesch on my very first interview.
Bill: Yeah, and to top it all off, I wasn’t even aware of Sacrilege’s participation! My dad had secretly sent the tape to the show’s hosts and when I got that phone call from the David Jensen Show crew saying that we were invited to play on his show I believed that someone pulled a prank on me! It was unbelievable!
BMS: You’ve got one hell of an awesome dad, Bill!
Bill: Thank you, I’m very proud of him! In addition, we were also scheduled to have one of our tracks (which would’ve been “Rat Race”) featured on an independent NWOBHM compilation album by John Glover along with material from Iron Maiden, Saxon, Def Leppard and others. We had hired a producer, contracted a record label and had the song recorded, but at the last minute Go West, a pop rock band that Glover managed, had scored two major hits (which were “We Close Our Eyes” and “Call Me”) and suddenly Glover pulled away from his intended metal compilation project and put all his money and efforts into Go West’s sudden mainstream success.
BMS: Go West for them, go South for you. Too bad, but you still did one hell of a debut show where most rock bands can only dream of!
Bill: Indeed. I’m still very thankful for that miraculous opportunity! And it was an equally awesome opportunity to talk to you tonight!
BMS: The pleasure’s all mine, Bill! Have a good one, friend!