Very occasionally, something comes along that you know is going to be good from the off, and although we all know that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, in this case that initial gut feeling turns out to be justified. Marquis De Sade’s first album – ‘Chapter II’ – is a masterpiece from start to finish.

NWOBHM aficionados will know the Londoners from their sole, obscenely collectable, 7” single. The band came together when Kevin and Gary Pope’s band Mixdix split, and the guitarist and drummer’s (respectively) Melody Maker ‘musicians wanted’ ad introduced them to singer Kriss Gordelier and his bassist brother Pete. With San Remo on keyboards Marquis De Sade were born, and in 1981 they released ‘Somewhere Up In The Mountains’ b/w ‘Black Angel’, their one record before they split up in 1982: in fact, they only recorded five songs in their short lifetime: the two single tracks plus ‘Living In The Ice Age’, ‘Welcome To The Graveyard’ and ‘London Air’. Pete Gordelier probably had the biggest shot at fame and fortune, hooking up with Kevin Heybourne in the original Blind Fury and then a reformed Angel Witch, while San Remo formed Sanctus, taking ‘Welcome To the Graveyard’ with him. The band’s material was collected up by High Roller Records for an EP in 2015, at which point interest in the band started to snowball and their reformation would have been the highlight of BroFest 2021, had the pandemic not scuppered everything.


The band used the downtime to keep writing though, and the result is the excellent ‘Chapter II’. It’s available both on CD and vinyl, but to optimise the experience the vinyl version in its luscious gatefold (with its LP + 12” single split) is much better – the artwork and packaging is superb, including the continuing large images of the marquis’s captive carried over from the cover to the series of abstract thumbnails, reminiscent of the work of Hipgnosis. As for the music, the album serves up nine songs over the space of an hour, with only the lengthy ‘Living In The Ice Age’ re-appearing from past recordings. The songs are opulent, often keyboard driven, and beautifully composed and performed by a band of particularly gifted musicians. The core of the original band remains, although as Kevin Pope passed away in 2018 – the release is dedicated to his memory – Kriss and Pete Gordelier and Gary Pope have been joined by guitarist Pauly Gordelier and keyboard player Giles ‘Doc’ Holland, who between them bring so much to the table in terms of solos and deft flourishes. The band never really saw themselves as part of the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal anyway, and so for those who care about such things their style straddles the heavy rock/NWOBHM boundary in a quasi-progressive kind of way. Whatever you want to call it though there’s no weak links on the album: all nine tracks are outstanding and picking any particular stand-out is a difficult task – although the menacing ‘Border Wall’, with its aggressive guitar work and almost classical piano interlude is certainly dominating the stereo at the moment. If there is a downside, it would have been useful – from a trainspotter point of view – which songs were written way back when and which are more recent. ‘...Ice Age’ is obvious, and the ‘Alien’-orientated lyrics of ‘Last Survivor’ imply that too is an older song. But it’s a testament to the consistency of the songwriting that old and new material meshes so seamlessly.


Well written, stunningly executed, and superbly presented, ‘Chapter II’ is a truly great album, and must rank as one of the best releases of recent years.

© John Tucker July 2023