So, you wanted to know more about Infernäl Mäjesty, eh? Well, here’s a fuller bio of the early years. I cut this for space, but if you’re interested, here it be.
Kenny Hallman and fellow guitarist Steve Terror answered a newspaper classified ad placed by former Rapid Tears drummer Rick Nemes. They hit it off. With Nemes’s bud Psycopath taking on the bass duties, the four got to jamming. When it came time to find a singer, the guys went back to the ad well. Hallman, in an interview with Mirgilus Siculorum, remembers getting “tons of calls”, but those trying out weren’t prepared for the kind of music these fellers were playing. Hallman again: “So we held auditions for about a week and I [remember] this one guy who walked in and he looked just like Mick Jagger. He had the look and the moves. This guy told us that he was the greatest singer that we would hear at the auditions and that there would be no reason to listen to anyone else. Then as soon as we started playing the guy shit his pants as he had never heard anything that heavy in his life. The expression on his face was priceless.” Needless to say, the job remained open.
“So when I turned 18, I moved to Toronto and started looking in the classifieds of the Toronto Star,” Chris Bailey said recently to Tough Riffs. “I saw an [ad] looking for a metal singer for a band that wanted to write all original music, influenced by Slayer, to take on the metal world with the idea of writing the heaviest music ever created at that time.” He called Nemes. He auditioning over the phone. Success. “I showed up at a small rehearsal studio, the air thick with the haze of smoked Hash. That was a good first impression. I knocked on the door, walked in, met everybody and the rest is history.” Bailey was in.
Now with a voice, the group needed a name. First stab? Lord Satans Deciples. Yeah, LSD. It, thankfully, didn’t stick. For a spell, the band took on the name of a song Psycopath was working on: Overlord. But, even in the pre-Google age, they soon found out that Overlord was already taken. Attempt number three according to Bailey: “Ultimately we decided on Infernal Majesty from our frequent readings of passages from the Satanic Bible. It was in plain sight the whole time calling out to us.” In a profile penned to be the PR for High Roller’s 2016 None Shall Defy repress, Bailey explained the band name’s defining characteristic: “The use of the Umlaut is more a matter of distinction.”
Things moved fast. Six months after forming, Infernäl Mäjesty had a four-song demo. “We self-financed it and released 2,000 copies of which we sent out 200-300 out to fanzines, magazines, and record companies,” Hallman recalled. He also noted a key recipient: “One magazine in Europe loved the demo so much that they told Roadrunner about us … We finally sent them a demo and they sent us a contract. We had many offers to sign with labels at that time … so we took them to a lawyer to find the best deal and that happened to be the Roadrunner deal ….”
Contract in hand, Infernäl Mäjesty headed back to Metalworks Studios in Toronto to lay down a full-length. Psycopath and Nemes also donned the producer hats. Then, as band bios colorfully noted, “on a snowy day in 1987,” None Shall Defy hit the streets, tagged with the Roadrunner (then Roadracer in North America) catalog ID of RR 9609. Oh, and quite the cover. Bailey: “When we commissioned the artist we gave him the concept and he painted exactly what we had described. We wanted the Lord of Hellfire to be consuming the heavens, tearing apart the fabric of space and time.”
What was the immediate reaction to the record, then? Well, in 1987, the music business moved a lot slower. “At the time we had no idea the response that would follow after its release,” Bailey said. “…it didn’t really hit me that some people actually liked it until a fan from [Poland] sent us a letter in the mail explaining in great detail how our music destroyed his speakers and that it was the best thing ever.”
In addition to, according to band bios, “a considerable amount of fan mail [sent] from almost every country in the world,” None Shall Defy “received very promising reviews from leading magazines such as, Metal Hammer, Aardschok and Kerrang.” But the print press wasn’t enough. To help get the word out, Infernäl Mäjesty paid for a video. In 1988, MuchMusic would air “None Shall Defy” during a Pepsi Power Hour that Hallman and Nemes hosted. During the interview portion, the two mentioned an upcoming European tour with Whiplash. They even put together a contest: Name the, ahem, “Lord of Hellfire” on None Shall Defy’s cover. Apparently “Bob” wasn’t cutting it.
Then, things started to unravel. The next time MuchMusic viewers would see Infernäl Mäjesty on live TV, Bailey would be standing with two new band members: a bassist and drummer. The three winced when the VJ inferred that their current video looked cheap. But, hey, congrats on naming “Deadalus”, Gordy. Pretty soon after, though it’s hard to tell exactly when, IM and Roadrunner would part.
In some interviews, Hallman is pragmatic about the move: “The relationship with Roadrunner could have been a lot better. They never really supported us in any major way. We had to book and finance all our own tours … so we decided that we would go it alone.” In others, he hints at the instability then whirling within: “Rick Nemes … was doing all the talking for Infernal Majesty … Roadrunner was just talking to Rick about the future and Rick told them that he really didn’t want to tour that much until the 2nd album was done. Well Roadrunner didn’t want to hear that … I know that was our biggest downfall, we should have toured when that album came out, if we did then things would be different for Infernal Majesty today.”
Bailey backed Hallman up: “To this day I still have no idea what was going on in Rick’s head but it was devastating to the band. … It was explained to me that Rick and Psycopath had informed Roadrunner that we weren’t going to tour until the next album, which was unknown to the rest of us at the time. We were shocked to say the least.”
This betrayal, Bailey remembers, put the kibosh on that planned European tour, one that would’ve included a festival stop with Death Angel and Pestilence on the bill. The latter even covered “Night of the Living Dead” at Metal Attack Festival held in Holland on September 7, 1988, which adds some weight to the claim. Regardless of what actually transpired when and why, the damage was done. Infernäl Mäjesty would limp around for a few more years with different lineups and even crazier members. Yeah, crazier. Meet Don “Vince” Kunz, Canada’s metal vampire.