The all-star hard rock and heavy metal group DevilStar, which founding producer/guitarist Paul Crook (Anthrax, Meat Loaf, Sebastian Bach) and executive producer John Madera describe as the world's first interactive band, has posted a teaser video of the group's debut single – a cover of the Judas Priest classic “Beyond The Realms Of Death.” The clip can be seen in the player above.
Due out digitally June 1 on all streaming/download platforms via M-Theory Audio, “Beyond The Realms Of Death” was covered to commemorate the 40th anniversary of Stained Class, the legendary album on which the song originally appeared. In addition to Crook, DevilStar's rendition of the song features performances by three former members of Judas Priest – vocalist Tim “Ripper” Owens, longtime guitarist K.K. Downing and drummer Les Binks, who co-wrote the track with Rob Halford – as well as bassist Joey Vera (Armored Saint, Fates Warning).
According to Crook, the idea of covering “Beyond The Realms Of Death” originated from a shared love of Judas Priest between himself, Madera and Vera. “I was speaking with Joey about the thought of DevilStar reaching out to Binks,” he recalls. “He was in before I could even finish the sentence.”
From there, Crook and Binks willed the project to fruition. “It took some time to get this song together.” Crook says. “I live in New Jersey. Les and K.K. both live in the UK. Ripper is in Ohio, and Joey is in L.A. Les was the key, as he kept us all 'talking.'”
Recording commenced in October, Crook remembers. “I did some simple due diligence to figure out a working key center and tempo,” he says. “I then recorded all the rhythm guitars and Glenn’s solo parts and fired the project over to Les. I remember calling John when I received Les’ files – 'We have Binks and he is playing great!'”
The next steps were to add bass, vocals and Downing's solo. “I dropped a stereo drum mix into the project and fired it to Joey,” Crook says. “He sent back two huge sounding tracks with beautiful bass tones. Receiving the isolated solo from K.K. was also very exciting for me. Thinking about it now, my arm hairs are standing. Then Ripper’s files arrived – wow! He really put in the time and sent me several tracks to work with. I comped his vocal then carefully mixed the song.”
Crook believes that DevilStar did the song justice. “I feel confident that all fans of metal and hard rock are going to love this 40th anniversary rendition of 'Beyond The Realms Of Death,'” he says. “We all put in the love, making sure Priest fans wouldn't be disappointed. K.K. was very vocal about this point. He had final say on the mix. I can't wait for everyone to hear it.”
“Beyond The Realms Of Death” will be followed by subsequent DevilStar single releases in the coming months, which will be a mix of covers and original material that feature other notable hard rock/metal names, with Crook handling production and mixing in addition to playing guitar. While several tracks have already been recorded for release, fans are invited to email firstname.lastname@example.org to propose potential “dream team” lineups and/or suggest cover songs to tackle in the future.
Crook first rose to prominence as lead guitarist of thrash pioneers Anthrax in the mid-1990s, when he performed on and toured in support of the group's albums "Stomp 442" and "Volume 8: The Threat Is Real," the latter of which he also co-produced. In 1999, Crook began a five-year stint as lead guitarist for former Skid Row front man Sebastian Bach.
For the last 15 years, he has served as lead guitarist of Meat Loaf's Neverland Express and also produced the iconic vocalist's two most recent studio albums. Still, Crook – who over the years has also collaborated with artists ranging from Glenn Hughes to M.O.D. – remains a hard rock and heavy metal fan at heart, and he founded DevilStar to serve as a supercharged vehicle through which he'll exorcise his heavier musical demons.