The story so far…
“My songs are little pieces of my soul, each one telling a story about some part of my life, or a value that I hold”, says Sam Russell. “My new record, Impetuous Desire, is straight up 80s heavy metal. Everything was done for the songs. While I can shred, I didn’t want a tasteless shred-fest, I wanted great songs with awesome guitar work on them.” When asked to be a bit more specific, a grinning Sam replied, “Check it out for yourself”.
When you listen to the record, you understand. You understand a few things about Sam. This is definitely the work of a great guitarist who has some serious skill on the guitar, but also a great songwriter and lyricist. And with this album, the songs shine through. The first track, “The Disciples Hand”, gives us a well structured song, demonstrating heavy metal and neoclassical influences. The following tracks, “Waves of Tomorrow” and “Passing Light” cement the great songwriting and guitar playing in the mind of the listener. “Longing” present a huge dynamic shift in the album, moving into a more classical realm – this track is a stripped down instrumental with a clean guitar and a cello. The following track, “Leigh Woods” is the ballad of the album, featuring the Queen of Metal herself, Doro Pesch. The album then moves back into the real of heavy metal, with “The Darkest Night”, a tribute to Dante’s Inferno, closely followed by “Tonight”, which features some of the best guitar and arrangement on the album. The record then moves into its final phase with “Fire, Desire”, a death metal style song, and the closing instrumental “RiffstruMental” featuring more great guitar work from Sam.
Sam recalls some of the struggles he faced as a young musician. “I wasn’t very good at music at school. I would struggle to play songs by the Kinks and Nirvanna in time. In fact, my timing was pretty bad for a while!” he recalls. “But it was something I wanted and I kept working at it”, and that wasn’t the only challenge, “Getting more and more into heavy metal, I loved it, so I started growing my hair longer, wearing the denim and leather, which in a not-so-nice suburb didn’t go down well, you would get strangers shouting at you, picking on you, I was on a train into London with some friends going to the Underworld to see a show and some random guys cornered us and tried to rob us!”
At the age of 9 or so Sam started taking guitar lessons… for three weeks before his teacher quit. A few years passed then lessons started again with a new teacher, who introduced Sam to Joe Satriani and Yngwie Malmsteen. “The first time I heard those guys play… my mind was blown. I knew that I had to play like that, that this was the music for me. It was the start of obsessive practising and focus over the next decade.”
A week after moving to university, Sam quickly joined a metal band. He recalls, “I was at an open jam night, got on stage and played some improvised stuff with the other guys on stage. Afterwards, someone came up to me asking to join their band, that was pretty fun”, and Sam’s first major experience in a band began. “We practised, played shows around the north of the UK, put out an EP, it was a great experience and helped set up what was to come next”.
After university same attended a music college for a year, then left and started studying with some private teachers and joining local bands in London. “Unfortunately, those bands did not work out – I got fired from two bands, once for being too ambitious and the second time for not being good enough,” Sam recalls, “then I started auditioning for other bands, I got offered places, but nothing was quite right. So I thought whatever, I’ll write everything myself”.
And work on Impetuous Desire began. “I wasn’t sure how to write songs, so I took my physics training from university and started dissecting songs that I liked, figuring out how to put them together. Every time I wrote something and it didn’t sound the way I wanted, I would go back to the drawing board and figure out what it was I had missed”. Sam scraped together the money for the album with a bank loan and a credit card, and started putting together the team for it “I knew a local recording studio with a great producer / engineer, Phil Kinman. That’s where all the guitars were recorded and the record was mixed / produced. I knew of Jason Bowld from music college and after a couple of emails, he recorded the drums for the entire record. Getting Doro Pesch on the record was a massive moment for me, it felt amazing, she put a really lovely touch on the album.”
When asked the meaning behind the album’s title Impetuous Desire, Sam explained “I wanted to make the album so badly, I feel the title sums up my attitude perfectly. I had this impetuous desire to create the album…. so I did.”