The King Is Blind Bio

The King Is Blind logo


The King Is Blind is:

Stephen John Tovey (Pharynx & Larynx), Lee James Appleton (Lead & Rhythm Guitars),

Paul Alan Ryan-Reader (Lead & Rhythm Guitars), Barney Joseph Monger (Drums & Anvil), Ceri Monger (Bass)


“Our music is an unrestrained emotional outpouring, triggered by the vicious inhumanity we see every day” – Lee James Appleton (Lead & Rhythm Guitars) in Metal Hammer


“The band acts as a vehicle to vent against the deficiencies of man, as an opportunity for a release of the frustrations of being part of modern society; an emotional outpouring of the inner howls that would otherwise drag you down, and a genuinely cathartic experience like an irrigation of the mind and a discharge of negativity.”


“While the basic standard of band has improved compared to fifteen years ago, there is a depressing lack of innovation or true quality. We bring something that isn’t there” – Stephen John Tovey (Pharynx & Larynx) in Terrorizer




The roots of The King Is Blind go back over twenty five years, with school friends Stephen John Tovey and Lee James Appleton sharing a discovery of Heavy Metal, skiving off lessons to spend hours searching through old rock and metal vinyl at their local record store, Time Records. It is a bond that saw them, in 1995, form their first band together, Entwined, who recorded one album for Earache Records and toured with the likes of Morbid Angel and Orange Goblin. Entwined also played a lot of shows with fellow East Anglians, The Blood Divine, where a friendship with TBD guitarist Paul Ryan that had begun in Paul’s days with Cradle of Filth, was furthered.


Neither Entwined nor The Blood Divine was to last long, with both bands dissolving around the turn of the millennium. Paul, Lee and Steve remained firm friends and it was many years later, in 2013, that The King Is Blind was conceived. With a riff.


A fucking heavy riff…


The years of listening to all those Celtic Frost, Candlemass, Earache and Peaceville records bought in Time Records were ingrained in their brains, and what was to become the first TKIB songs were born. Instinctively, Lee reached out to Steve first with “I have an idea…” and a conversation later, a concept was created.


“It had to mean something,” says Tovey. “This wasn’t going to be for the sake of it. We agreed early on that not only would anything we worked on have to be of the highest quality musically, it would also need to have depth. We both have young children and are concerned with the world we are bringing them up in and the man-made horrors that exist. We would focus on historic religious stories – the aesthetic is very powerful and chilling, as are the atrocities committed – but they would serve as a basis to construct and deliver a wider message of our abhorrence of the actions man inflicts on his fellow man.”


Spending the summer of 2013 working on four songs that would form the promo/demo Bleeding The Ascension the pair made two songs available online to test the water. The response was immediate and overwhelmingly positive. Within days Ryan-Reader had been in touch offering to help in any way he could, an offer that led to Paul joining the band. Paul recommended drummer Barney Monger of Extreme Noise Terror, who formed an instant fit. It was time to make a decision, and Tovey and Appleton felt the material was too strong and their future ideas too promising not to make the next step to being a full band.


Others outside the band showed immediate interest too, with the band being offered a slot on the prestigious Sophie Lancaster stage at Bloodstock 2014 within weeks of the full promo being circulated. A first rehearsal with Ryan-Reader and Monger saw creative sparks fly, and the track ‘A Thousand Burning Temples’ was written in that first session. Writing continued in a flurry, and it was early in 2014, mere 12 weeks after the band had swollen to a four-piece (Tovey handling bass at this point) their first live performance was booked, as was studio time to work on a debut EP and a striking image-laden lyric video, produced by Sam Scott-Hunter, was unveiled for the aforementioned ‘A Thousand Burning Temples’.


It made sense for the bands’ first live performance to be at The Hole In The Wall venue in Colchester – the site of many alcohol fueled discussions about metal between Tovey, Appleton and Ryan-Reader in their years gone by – as the quartet shook off the rust in a blistering performance where “the band immediately drew comparisons to Celtic Frost with their presence and power. The King Is Blind look set to dominate the British Death Metal scene” (Metal Recusants).


The band capped a memorable 2014 with an impressive “bludgeoning” (Metal Hammer) set at Bloodstock and the release of the critically acclaimed The Deficiencies of Man EP via Mordgrimm, which earned the band KKKK in Kerrang! and led Terrorizer to proclaim it possessed “the groove of old school Death Metal, yet appreciative of newer styles with deliciously doomy riffs for good measure”. Respected site Echoes and Dust hailed “some of the most exciting tracks heard in Death Metal for a while”.


With live credibility established by a victorious set at Bloodstock, the band closed out the year with successful supports with Fen and Winterfylleth, and were quickly booked by HammerFest, Meh Suff! Winter fest (Switzerland) and Temples Festival for the first half of 2015. The band was to maintain the momentum and begin work on their first full length.


“It’s important we excel live, and it’s great we’re building that live reputation, but first and foremost we are a studio band” opines Tovey. “And all of this would be for nothing if we didn’t deliver a stunning debut album. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves, and were exceptionally critical and meticulous in the planning and writing of Our Father”, an album which was written throughout the course of 2014.


When establishing the parameters for The King Is Blind, the quartet knew that to be restrictive would be self-defeating. As such, the tag Monolithic Metal was used to cover a multitude of metal sins. With over 45 years of metal heritage to draw upon, there would be no restraints but their imagination and the demands of the song.


“Myself and Lee knew early it was going to be a concept album. We talked at length and in depth about what type of concept we wanted it to be and it felt right for it to follow the lines of a Seventh Son of a Seventh Son; it had to be truly epic in scope, have no barriers or boundaries attached and tell a complex story but also consist of songs that would make sense as stand-alone tracks. Seventh Son… was my first metal album, and is still my favorite album to date. To live up to the best, we had to really push ourselves.”


Appleton was single-mindedly ruthless throughout the writing process. No riff or section was to be sacred. The album had to be mapped and flow logically, with the music matching the themes and emotions of the lyrics and story. In talking about the concept, he pushed Tovey to resurrect an idea the vocalist had raised during the recording of The Deficiencies of Man: to tell the story of Satan, but to take it beyond what had been covered in literature, and to bring it to life, with Satan as a true anti-hero.


“The more we talked it, the more in depth I took it, and the more it made sense”, continues the vocalist and lyricist, “so I began to flesh out how I wanted to story to go. I had to be careful at each point; this isn’t a fantasy story, neither is it just a narrative… each line of each lyric has to work on at least three levels – to further the concept around man being fundamentally flawed, to further the overarching story and also to carry a separate stand-alone message in each song.


“It isn’t just about Satan vs God, or taking sides – everything is grey, there is no black or white –it has to translate to be able to mean something to people. To that end, neither God nor Satan are referred to by name; it is “He” and “I”. Our Father also highlights inherent hypocrisies – that He is forgiveness, yet is also “Wrath”, one of the seven deadly sins, and twice wipes out the whole of mankind. On the other side, Satan is wracked with inconsistencies in his thoughts and choices, too. The concept and the narrative can, and does, transcend; to be applicable to society, modern global and national politics, religion in general – not just Catholicism; oppressive states, bullying; it covers it all, all the way through to daily life.”


“Let’s be clear. It is not anti-Christian. It is not anti-religion. It is definitely not anti-faith”, continues Tovey, “but Our Father is against how people use religion as a banner and a mask to commit atrocities. I am pro-equality and pro-diversity, and we stand against oppression and division, and we use the music as a release of frustrations of the things that are too big for us individually to change.”


“The lyrics are to highlight the deficiencies of man; that despite thousands of years of existence, we still can’t tolerate difference. As a race we have lived in constant conflict, over land barriers, over whose God is “Better”, over whose scripture is “right”, over interpretations and misinterpretations of ancient teachings, with pride, ego and greed fueling constant unnecessary conflict.”


“That was the starting point of the concept for the album. The song ‘A Thousand Burning Temples’ on The Deficiencies Of Man is about purging clean the human race of people who sin in the name of religion, and of the truly corrupt, about starting again. But in doing so, there

was a realization that even if we did, humanity is so fundamentally fucked that we wouldn’t learn. We haven’t done so far from our mistakes. We don’t teach our next generations, we don’t learn from history.”


“Using a host of reference materials, such as the Bible, Paradise Lost, Paradise Regained, The Last Temptation of Christ, the Book of Revelation, The Holy Blood and The Holy Grail and The Divine Comedy amongst others, Our Father takes that premise and looks deeper into it. It’s an allegoric tale based in the telling of Satan, as a literary character, and his story from his genesis through the genesis of man to resurrection, to highlight that in us all is the instinct to commit the seven sins; that, despite the incredible potential in each of us, apathy and pride, mis-teachings, and this horrific, selfish world, take over. The true creator of mankind is not God, but Our Father is Satan, and in us all, from his creation of Adam as a gift to God, through to his seed implanted in Eve at the point of the Fall of Man, are these seven failings.


“It isn’t our fault, our core is flawed, but yet we still haven’t learned how to learn – how to evolve”


The failing comes, but not from the child. The failing comes from the Father.




Since completing the recording of the album, the decision was taken to expand to a five-piece with the addition of Ceri Monger. “The album has required some very challenging vocal parts – in deference to Mercyful Fate, there are several different lead vocal styles and inflections for the different characters (an additional voice is provided in the form of some truly vicious guest vocals from Christopher Naughton of eminent UK Black Metal band Winterfylleth) all within the Extreme metal styles – without the bass I found I could really concentrate on giving each line the energy and ferocity it deserved” confirmed Tovey.


“We’re thrilled to announce that we have enlisted Ceri Monger as our new bass player, leaving Steve free to stalk the stage like an unleashed apex predator” stated Appleton via the band’s Facebook page. “Some of you will know Ceri from his work in one of the UK’s truly great bands, New Model Army, others will know him as the brother of TKIB drummer Barney. We thank Justin and the rest of the NMA guys for their understanding in allowing Ceri to spend some of his down-time with a bunch of miscreants, such as we are. With his sublime musical intuition and ebullient disposition, we look forward to sharing some great times with him.”





All of which brings us to today, and the exceptional debut album Our Father, which is to be a flagship release celebrating the relaunch of one of UK metal’s most prestigious labels Cacophonous.


“It’s a serendipitous full circle” states Tovey. “The Principle Of Evil Made Flesh (co-written by and featuring Ryan-Reader) was an important statement by 6 guys from our town, which meant a lot to us. It stands as one of the greatest British metal debuts of all time, and it was released on Cacophonous, one of several seminal releases they had.”


Ryan-Reader adds: “It feels good to blast out some death metal riffs again, and I’m delighted Cacophonous, in their “resurrection” want to put the record out. It marries with the concept of the album, of the Beast re-emerging, and it’s a great closing of the circle for me. I couldn’t think of a more fitting choice for such ungodly worship.”


“Cacophonous has always had a reputation for uncovering some truly remarkable new talent,” concludes Tovey, “and we’re delighted to continue the legacy not just of Cacophonous, but of British metal. Bands like Napalm Death, Cathedral, Paradise Lost, and My Dying Bride et al exploded out of the UK closely followed by that Cradle of Filth debut. No British band has seized the mantle for twenty years since then, has dared to be different and challenging, and to stand out and add to a glorious legacy. That is the full intention of The King Is Blind, for Our Father to be an album that enhances the heritage of British metal.”


The King Is Blind will play Damnation Festival, Leeds (UK) on Saturday November 7th



The King Is Blind contacts:

Press / PR – Angela Owen

Live / Festival Bookings – Sharon Richardson (Factory Music)

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The King Is Blind cover

Blackened Horde Zine © 2015