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** For fans of Dillinger Escape Plan, Meshuggah, Converge, Mastodon, Botch and Strapping Young Lad **

Utopia, the technical metal group centred around guitarist John Bailey and Corrupt Moral Altar vocalist Chris Reese, let loose their debut album ’Stalker’ in August 2022 on APF Records. 

The album sees John and Chris joined by an impressive list of guest musicians including drummers Billy Rymer (yes, THAT Billy Rymer), Baard Kolstad (Leprous), Lee Fisher (Fawn Limbs/Psyopus) and Si Blakelock (Tangaroa/Dream Troll) alongside Simon Peter King, bassist Arran McSporran (De Profundis/Virvum) and finally keyboardist Mike Moran (Ozzy Osbourne/George Harrison/Queen/Extreme).

The initial idea for the band was formed by John Bailey. By day he’s a touring guitarist for the likes of Aled Jones and Russell Watson, a far cry from the extreme metal of Utopia, but with ’Stalker’ he wanted to bring together all the music he loves, creating something aggressive and intense but also well thought out and intelligent. He comments,

'I wanted it to be super heavy and crazy but also really emotional. The music combines elements of jazz and various styles of metal. The songwriting is very important lyrically and structurally. The lyrics draw influence from philosophy, literature, art and film (particularly the films of Andrei Tarkovsky).

The concept of the name Utopia is a reflection of mental health / neurodiversity and social structures in the world we live in. The double edged sword of trying to lead a happy life in a world of conflicting ideology and bad faith between humans. I suppose the pitfalls of attempting a sophisticated life despite us being poorly evolved primates who are highly individual in their own rights. Its ultimately rooted in varying degrees of sensitivity, mental health and neurodiversity based on individuals trying to interface with one another in a constructive way.'

Utopia came together in March 2020. John was coming off the back of a busy touring and session schedule and felt this was the time to finally start the band which he'd been thinking about doing for years. For a vocalist he had no one else in mind but Corrupt Moral Altar’s Chris Reese.

After 7 to 8 months of writing it was then just a matter of getting each person to record their parts which posed its own geographical problems with his chosen musicians living in different parts of the world. Once recorded, the album was mixed and mastered by Rob Hobson at Silent City Records.

Across 11 tracks ’Stalker’ covers a vast array of subject matters, such as the opener ’The Bus Station Roof’ which John describes as a reference to "the place in Preston where people go to throw themselves off when they've had enough. The image of what might be going through people's mind when they make that decision is really the basis of the song. Truly disassociated from the world and no longer capable of interfacing with the world."

‘Impotent Prophet’ is a genre-bending social comment on religion and how it fails, whilst 'Smiledyawnednodded' is a word taken from the book 'Ulysses' by James Joyce. John adds, "It's a great word used to describe the boredom of talking to someone who only talks about themselves and their own successes in life."

"For fans of virtuosic playing and extreme metal styling Stalker will get your faces gurning with appreciation." – Musipedia of Metal 

"Grippingly imaginative and coherent. This is intelligent music indeed." – Ave Noctum 

"High pitched screams into alcoves of tech metal and doom.’" – Metal Hammer 

"As a work of creative extremity, it’s likely Stalker will be unparalleled in 2021." - A Certain Taste

"It’s prog rock on gonzo steroids having a meth party with Hunter S Thompson. Frame that around avant-garde jazz sensibilities, The Dillinger Escape Plan / Converge style tech metal, doom flavours with huge chunky riffs and it should be warned that Utopia are not for the faint of heart." – The Sleeping Shaman 

"Growling, technical, occasionally atmospheric, interruption-heavy songmanship with experimentation, discordance and jazz bits are where it’s at. Stalker is grippingly imaginative and coherent. This is intelligent music indeed." – Ave Noctum