|Holocaust is one of metals most influential and pioneering bands. Tributes have been paid by no less than Metallica ("The Small Hours"), Six Feet Under ("Death Or Glory"), and Gamma Ray ("Heavy Metal Mania"), among others. These few examples illustrate — with the subtlety of a brick to the head — how many different styles of metal Holocaust has impacted.
Founding member and principal songwriter John Mortimer (guitar, vocals) has written some of the genres most intelligent and unique works. For example, 1997's concept album Covenant is based on The Chronicles Of Thomas Covenant The Unbeliever by Stephen R. Donaldson. Mortimers styles are diverse, and his presentation of stellar musicianship and thoughtful lyrics combine to make music that cannot simply be heard; it must be experienced.
Lead guitarist John McCullim, like Mortimer, hails from Edinburgh. A longtime friend and supporter of Holocaust, McCullim joined the band in 2000. He brings an incredibly smooth and fluid style, evoking thoughts (at least for this listener) of a heavy metal Hendrix. Without his guitar, McCullim would cease to exist.
Drummer Ron Levine is Holocaust's newest member. An 11-year fan, Levine jumped at the opportunity to join in April 2001. His Holocaust web page, originally published as a tribute site, now serves as the official Holocaust band page. Levine lives in his native Boston, MA and played with area bands in the 80s and 90s.
Holocaust is currently auditioning bassists on both sides of the Atlantic.
Originally formed in the late 1970s in Edinburgh, Scotland, Holocaust has become one of the most revered acts from the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal period. Their two New Wave Of British Heavy Metal-era full-length releases, The Nightcomers and Live: Hot Curry And Wine, should be in anybody's top ten list of "must have" items for an New Wave Of British Heavy Metal collection. The live LP from 1983 includes the first release of ''The Small Hours'', later covered by Metallica.
The Sound Of Souls EP from 1989 is a brutal, thrashing trip through futuristic progressive metal. Upon hearing the album-closing thirteen-minute-plus epic ''Three Ways To Die'', you might have trouble believing that this is the same band that put out The Nightcomers. This is largely because it isn't; only guitarist John Mortimer is the common link between the two (he had also taken over the vocal duties by this point).
Hypnosis Of Birds is a much more thoughtful, introspective release. Sometimes doomy, sometimes depressing, but often eerily beautiful, this is a real treasure which is something of a "dark horse" Holocaust release. While the remake of ''The Small Hours'' is more than passable, it is the songwriting and lyrics on tracks like In the ''Dark Places Of The Earth'', ''Caledonia'', and the title track that make this CD a real prize. While the original Hypnosis Of Birds release is long out-of-print, it was reissued by Neat Records as Spirits Fly and includes several bonus tracks.
The next full-length release of all new material was 1997's Covenant. The band's first concept album, this is based on The Chronicles Of Thomas Covenant The Unbeliever (with emphasis on Lord Foul's Bane) by Stephen R. Donaldson. This release is an absolute assault, a real return to the brute force introduced by The Sound Of Souls. Make no mistake, this is a dense album and will take most listeners several journeys to start getting into it. Some of Holocaust's greatest moments, however, will be discovered on these journeys. ''Leper's Progress'', ''Salt Heart'', and ''Alexander'' are more examples of killer material…but I truly feel sorry for anyone who has never had the chance to hear the seven-part 16:40 epic ''The Battle Of Soaring Woodhelven''. This masterpiece is capped off with ''Victory?'', one of the greatest things I have ever heard (both musically and lyrically). If it doesn't give you the chills, you don't have a pulse.
Holocaust's most recent outing is The Courage To Be. It's as simple as this: if you like The Sound Of Souls and Covenant, you will definitely like this CD. It is very much a combination of those two releases, without quite as much density as Covenant. From the opening track ''The Collective'', there will be no doubt that Holocaust has not lost a single step. A few tracks are mostly or entirely instrumental and will bring the style of The Sound Of Souls to mind, while tracks like ''Fundamentalist'' are as heavy as anything they've done before. Another in a line of killer releases.