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Atomkraft are an English heavy/speed metal band who were part of the new wave of British heavy metal movement. They formed in 1979 and disbanded 1988. Their "Total Metal" approach is somewhere between fellow NWOBHM bands such as Motrhead and Venom, punk rock bands such as The Dickies, and early Exodus or Slayer. The band subsequently reformed in 2005.
The roots of Atomkraft date back to the summer of 1979, when Tony 'Demolition' Dolan and Paul Spillett got together with the intention to form a band. Initially, going under the name of Moral Fibre and playing punk rock, they recruited guitarists Ian Legg and Chris Taylor. Ian Legg then left to be replaced by Sean Drew who also subsequently left. However the band continued to operate as a trio.
On returning from a trip to Bremen, Germany, Chris presented his band mates with some button badges featuring the environmental slogan 'Atomkraft, Nein Danke!' (Nuclear Power, No Thanks!) They liked the way the word "Atomkraft" sounds and so adopted it as the band name, believing it suits the new "metal" sound they pursued. In the endeavour for something more metal and less punk they got rid of Chris.
After trying out a couple of guitarists they settled on Steve White, whom Tony knew from his art class at college. Another member of Tony's art class, Mark Irvine, joined on bass. With Tony on rhythm guitar and vocals and Paul on drums the new line-up played four shows. Unfortunately, Mark's parents disapproved of his heavy metal image and lifestyle and so persuaded him to quit the band. Tony switched back to bass and the band was able to continue.
In 1981 the band recorded the four song demo Demon at Impulse studios, this being funded by band member Paul Spillett who was the only one working at the time and with the help of Keith Nicol. It was their first "proper" demo, although, the limitation of time and a 2-track recorder gave results that were pretty bad. However, the band soldiered on, gaining experience by continuing to play live shows.
In early 1983, Atomkraft returned to Impulse studios to record another demo. Learning from their previous experience they opted to record only 2 tracks for the Total Metal demo, featuring the title track and "Death Valley". Steve passed a copy of the demo to Sam Kress, who ran a radio station and 'Whiplash' magazine. Sam liked the demo and promised to feature the band in his magazine. However, in late 1983, Steve left the band for personal reasons. Tony was left wondering what to do. By coincidence he was invited to stay with his sister in Canada to help out with her two kids, while she was studying. With Tony unemployed and the band effectively on hold, he decided to take her up on her offer.
In 1984 Paul Spillett joined Tony in Canada. Tony was further inspired when he got a copy of the magazine containing the write-up that Sam Kress promised. The write-up presented Atomkraft in a very positive light and also featured Venom, Raven, Metallica, Anthrax and Megadeth. Spurred on by this, Paul and Tony began writing material and returned to England in late 1984 to search for a guitarist. They later fell out over a girl and went their separate ways.
While visiting Neat Records to see if anyone could recommend a drummer, Tony met Cronos of Venom who informed him that Ged Wolf (the brother of Venom's manager) was looking for a band having just left Tysondog. Tony and Ged got together and started auditioning for a guitarist, but initially did not have a lot of luck. Then a 16-year-old guitar player, Rob Mathew, was recommended as being a great guitar player and so they all met up. Fortunately they got on well and this became the new Atomkraft line-up. The band began working on the new material that Tony had been writing, and went on to record the Pour the Metal In demo at Neat Records studio. It featured 3 tracks, "Pour the Metal In", "Burn in Hell" and "Carousel". The demo is sent to various fanzines and received a good response. Dave Woods of Neat Records also hears the demo and offered them a deal, and so the band started work on the Future Warriors album.
Recorded over a couple of weeks and produced by Keith Nichol, Future Warriors was released in September 1985. Despite getting a particularly poor review in Kerrang! magazine, other reviews were more positive and they got further requests for interviews. The band also opened for Slayer at The Marquee, where faulty equipment resulted in the band trashing the equipment in frustration after just three numbers. Despite this the band were asked to join the bill of the Venom/Exodus tour.
After the end of the Venom/Exodus tour, Atomkraft prepared and recorded a new EP, with the tracks "Your Mentor" on the A-side and "Demolition", "Funeral Pyre" and "Mode III" on the B-side. Unfortunately, the EP did not get released in this form, as a rift developed in the band as a result of discussions over management.
Tony wanted to use the services of a London-based company, while Ged and Rob wanted to use Venom's management. The disagreement could not be resolved and so Tony left the band.
Neat then released the track "Your Mentor" as part of the Powertrax promotional cassette, while the vocal tracks on the rest of the "Your Mentor" sessions were re-recorded by Ian Davison-Swift from Avenger. D.C. Rage (Darren Cook of Avenger) was brought in as bassist and two new tracks were recorded, with the new four-piece, "Queen of Death" and "Protector" (although Alan Hunter of Tysondog had originally contributed vocals to "Protector"). In October 1986 the re-titled Queen Of Death EP was released with the title track and "Protector" on the A-side, and "Demolition", "Funeral Pyre" and "Mode III" on the B-side. The pictures on the back cover show the line-up of Ged, Rob, Ian and D.C. Rage although this line-up never played live. A re-recording of the track "Future Warriors", with Ian on vocals was also licensed for future inclusion in a compilation. With touring commitments lining up for the band, Tony was invited to rejoin the band as rhythm guitarist, making Atomkraft a 5 piece outfit for their upcoming shows.
The new line-up records the mini-album Conductors of Noize, which was released in July 1987, and then promoted the record as part of support to Agent Steel and Nuclear Assault. The first date of the tour, at Hammersmith Odeon featured an expanded line-up of Max Penalty, Atomkraft, Onslaught, Nuclear Assault and Agent Steel, and was promoted as 'The Longest Day'. Atomkraft's performance was filmed for the Live Conductors video as well as being recorded for a live BBC radio broadcast. They also played Dynamo Festival alongside Testament, Destruction and Stryper with the show going out live on Dutch radio.
The expanded 5-piece embarked on a 1988 European tour with Nasty Savage and Exumer ultimately resulting in a 'unique' gig (for the time) in Katowice, Poland at Spodek Stadium. This show was recorded for live TV/video. On completion of the tour Tony (who was offered a position in Venom as replacement for Cronos), and despite Ged's attempts to recruit replacements the band folded in 1988.
In 2004 Sanctuary Records (who have previously acquired the Neat Records back-catalogue) released an Atomkraft anthology. With renewed interest in the band, Tony reformed Atomkraft for live dates in 2005 and a possible new album. The 2005 line-up includes Payre Hulkoff (from Swedish industrial band Raubtier) on guitar and Steve Mason on drums. However, this line-up didn't release any new material.
Atomkraft didn't have real activities during the following years, despite of regular rumors about a possible new album. Finally, an EP of new material came out in 2011 on Austrian underground label W.A.R. Productions. This EP was called Cold Sweat and contents three unreleased tracks recorded with members of the 2005 line-up and session musicians plus a Thin Lizzy cover of the famous "Cold Sweat" track, featuring Australian guitar player Joe Matera on guitar solo.
Following the release of the Cold Sweat EP, Tony Dolan recruited a new line-up and did one date in London under the Atomkraft moniker in 2011, performing classic tracks and songs from the new EP. The 2011 line-up includes Kraen Maier and Rich Davenport on guitars, plus Paul Caffrey (from Gama Bomb) on drums.
This line-up of Atomkraft (minus Rich Davenport) performed the Future Warriors LP in its entirety in March 2014 at the second edition of the Brofest, a NWOBHM festival based in Newcastle upon Tyne. Former Venom guitarist Jeff Mantas appeared as a guest during the gig.
A new compilation album, called Looking Back To The Future, was released in 2014 by Italian label Minotauro Records. It contains essentially unreleased demos and live tracks from every era of the band's history.