Warlord is an American heavy metal band, formed in 1980 and based in Los Angeles, CA. The brainchild of guitarist/songwriter William J (Bill) Tsamis and drummer Mark S Zonder, Warlord made the trip from their native San Jose, California to Los Angeles and proceeded in crafting their unique style, which pioneered what is called today “Epic Power Metal.” The new band caught the attention of Brian Slagel, whose label, Metal Blade Records, had recently issued Metal Massacre, a compilation featuring up-and-coming local metal acts such as Malice, Steeler, Ratt, Slayer and Metallica.
An aficionado of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal and admirer of the Euro-metal aesthetic, influences of which are evident in Warlord’s sound, Slagel was impressed by Warlord’s semi-progressive style inspired by such diverse acts as Rainbow, Scorpions and Jethro Tull. Slagel decided to offer the band a spot on his next compilation and Warlord would make their vinyl debut with “Lucifer’s Hammer” on 1982’s Metal Massacre II. Earning rave reviews, Warlord made a repeat appearance with “Mrs Victoria” on Metal Massacre III and were signed to Metal Blade for their 1983 Deliver Us album which got the band featured in important publications such as Kerrang, Sounds, Burrn, and Music Connection. Furthermore, Warlord was receiving continual FM radio play in major US markets.
Adding further intrigue to the growing Warlord mystique was the band members’ use of pseudonyms such as ‘Destroyer’ / ‘The Raven’ (Tsamis), ‘Thunderchild’ (Zonder), ‘Damien King’ (vocalist Jack Rucker), and ‘Sentinel’ (keyboardist Diane Kornarens) as well as Warlord’s refusal to become just another LA club act, opting to present themselves on a grander scale instead. To that end, the band rented The Raymond Theater to stage what would turn out to be the only Warlord live performance in the USA until now (August 2013). It was filmed and recorded for the group’s first full-length release, “And The Cannons Of Destruction Have Begun…,” issued in October 1984 and accompanied by a VHS home video release of the same name (now in DVD). The album featured 2 brand new tracks, “Soliloquy” and “MCMLXXXIV”, as well as both cuts from the “Lost And Lonely Days” / “Aliens” 12″ single released earlier that same year. Tsamis, Zonder, and Kornarens were joined by bassist Dave Watry (‘Archangel’) and new vocalist Rick Cunningham (‘Damien King II’). A third vocalist worked shortly afterwards with the band (even if just in studio-recording and never on a stage): Rick Anderson, also known at the time as “Damien King III”.
The prevalence of “hair metal,” “rap music,” and the inability to retain a live lineup that could be up to Tsamis’ and Zonder’s high standards led to the cessation of band operations in 1986. The band’s label, Metal Blade, would issue “Thy Kingdom Come”, a quasi Best-Of, in December of that year. An extended version, including the whole Deliver Us album, followed in 1989, titled “Best of Warlord.” Unbeknownst to Tsamis and Zonder, however, the music of Warlord had already taken off in Europe, and the band amassed a cult-like following. This was largely due to rave magazine reviews, continuous radio play, and the circulation of many demos via “tape trading,” as well as positive word-of-mouth promotion among metal fans. With the onset of the internet, the music of Warlord spread worldwide and thus helped secure Warlord a place in the history of heavy metal as one of the greatest metal bands of all time for both artistic integrity as well as their unique melodic style.
Post 1986, found Tsamis recording first an acoustic demo under the name “Lordian Winds” as part of a sprawling project based on John Milton’s “Paradise Lost” (released in 2012 by NoRemorse records) and then launching an apocalyptic-themed female-fronted band called Lordian Guard. In the meantime, Zonder joined Prog Metal pioneers Fates Warning and went on to release numerous albums with them as well as other bands since (due to his universally recognized talent) his skills were -and still are- in high demand.
It was during one of Fates Warning’s tours that Zonder realized that Warlord’s following had grown considerably with fans approaching him to sign Warlord albums and demanding new music from the band. Zonder contacted Tsamis and, as soon as schedules permitted, Warlord was once again converted to active status. Vocalist duties were assigned to Hammerfall vocalist (and big Warlord fan) Joacim Cans. Thus, in 2002, a new album, “Rising Out Of The Ashes,” was recorded and released worldwide to rave reviews. And this was followed by the first ever Warlord live performance at the Wacken Open Air festival.
A string of mishaps and very serious family health issues plagued Warlord after these performances and Warlord was once again, put on a hiatus which lasted for almost 9 years. With these issues resolved and considerable pressure by fans and promoters alike, Warlord returned to active status formally in March 2012, with the surprise release of the first new Warlord song in 10 years. “Night Of The Fury” was first released on Warlord’s fan club (and in general) on Facebook where it was also revealed that not only was Warlord back in the studio working on a new album, but that vocalist duties would be handled by one of the original 80s Warlord vocalists, Rick Anderson (whose stint in Italian band Martiria had just ended). Philip Bynoe (current Steve Vai) joined the band on bass and the collaboration resulted in a new 55 minute album, “The Holy Empire,” which quickly sold out, leading to ongoing re-pressings. “The Holy Empire” was also released on all major digital platforms as well as a collector’s edition limited-release cassette which sold out in under one day. A vinyl 2 LP version (with a live bonus track) of “The Holy Empire” was in October 2013 by Alone Records followed by a Japanese CD edition by Rubicon Music (with a bonus track recorded live in Dittigheim, Germany) in November 2013.
In the meantime, mounting pressure by promoters and fans bore fruit and Warlord announced that it would headline the April 2013 German “Keep It True XVI” Festival. This announcement was followed by two more headlining dates in Greece – Thessaloniki and Athens which sold out, thus demanding a second show in Athens which was sold out as well. Vocalist duties for the live shows were assigned to Giles Lavery of Australian power metallers Dragonsclaw (who had guested on “The Holy Empire”, singing the Halford-like lines of “Kill Zone”), Paolo Viani was once again (just like in 2002) on second guitar and with the addition of keyboard player Angelo Vafeiadis of the fusion rock-metal band 9mm the 2013 touring line-up of Warlord was on the road performing in front of it’s die-hard fans.
“The Holy Empire,” has received numerous rave reviews from the international metal press and has been featured in almost all major in-print publications as well as internet-only outlets the world over. In April 2013 Warlord took the full page cover of the prestigious Greek Metal Hammer print magazine.
On September 2013 during an interview with Mike Catricola, Tsamis and Zonder announced that they have tapped vocalist Nicholas Leptos of Arrayan Path and Astronomikon to be the new Warlord singer. Said Tsamis “In Nicholas we have found the perfect Damien King we were always looking for”.
Currently Warlord is working on their fifth yet-unnamed full length studio release as well as overseeing the production of a Blu-Ray/DVD/Double CD combo shot in HD video and audio during the Athens concerts of 2013.
Warlord will embark on their second tour in 2014, bringing them back to Europe. So far four dates have been announced; Athens and Thessaloniki, Greece and the Bang Your Head and Headbangers Open Air festivals in Germany as well as Barcelona, Spain. Early 2014, Warlord announced that due to ongoing obligations Philip Bynoe, would not take part in the 2014 tour and his place was filled by Gary Wehrkamp of the progressive rock outfit, Shadow Gallery.
All content © 1982 – 2014, Sons Of A Dream Music LLC. All Rights Reserved.