Van Helsing are an English death metal band from Birmingham, England, formed in 1994. The band consists of Dan Chamberlain (vocals), Christopher Northwood (guitar), Alex Karas (rhytm guitar), Paul Oakland (bass), and Nico Richard (drums). They have cited major influences in Obituary, Morbid Angel, Deicide, Cannibal Corpse and Death, along with many other death metal bands. The band have been referred to as "The Birmingham Bastards" and "England's Cannibal Corpse".
Formation and early years
Van Helsing, named after the character, was formed in 1994 by Dan Chamberlain (vocals) and Christopher Northwood (guitar). Alex Karas, Swedish immigrant Jarno Jarevski, and Nico Richard soon joined on. The band recorded their first demo in 1995, aptly titled Death Cult. In 1995 the band were signed with minor label Karthasium, and recorded their debut throughout mid-1995 with producer Andrew Gosen. According to Dan Chamberlain, the band yielded little in the first recording sessions, until Gosen asked the band to look back on Death Cult. Gosen and the band decided to use the songs off the EP on the album, but re-recorded in Gosen's much more advanced studio. Additional songs "Bitch", "Rip Out Your Tongue", and "Infernal Gospels of Undivine Prophecy" were included on 1995's Bleeding the Weak. The album arrived on September 13th 1995, with both Gosen and the band initially happy with the end result. The album was a sucess in the underground British metal scene, but did not see the coverage the band wanted, and it would take 1996's Gutted, Decapitated, Disembowled, and Dead to get them where they wanted to be.
Second studio album and family trouble
After the minor success of 1995's Bleeding the Weak, Van Helsing returned to the studio after a short-break to record the follow-up, once again with Andrew Gosen. During in mid-production (March 1996), Jarno Jarevski had to return home to Sweden due to family issues, mainly his father's serious illness. The band recorded the rest of the album without Jarevksi, who was filled in by Paul Oakland, a friend of the band. When Jarno Jarevski expressed fear that he would not be able to remain with the band for the album's process, Dan Chamerlain suggested he stay in Sweden and get things sorted. Jarno Jarevski returned to England shortly after the album's completion, and was promptly fired from Van Helsing. Dan Chamberlain payed him the royalties for Bleeding the Weak and then asked him to leave. He was replaced by Paul Oakland. Gutted, Decapitated, Disembowled, and Dead was released in 1996 regardless of the chaos surrounding Jarevski's firing. He was reportedly very angry with Chamberlain and the rest of the band for leaving him hanging broke and without anything, but later relocated to Sweden with his family and formed Forked Tongue Horde in 1997. Several local Nottingham church representatives protested outside stores selling the album; claiming it to be Satanic and sacrilegious. Dan Chamberlain even received a death threat from the son of the town's head priest, to which he recalled in a later interview: "People in Nottingham really either loved us to shit or hated us like hell. We had droves of fans, all the young kids and a few old guys who had grown up with metal as we had. But then there were those who thought we were Satanists and trying to slander Christianity with our offensive songs. Yes, Gutted, Decapitated, Disembowled and Dead was offensive and blatantly bastardized Christianity. Yes looking back on it now we wrote ridiculous and controversial shit to get some attention; but a death threat is just taking it too far".
Controversy and Censorship
Due to their highly violent and graphic lyrics, particularly those on their earlier albums, Van Helsing have met with controversy and censorship around the world. The band were denied a concert appearance in Germany in 1998 and both Dan Chamberlain and Alex Karas were arrested for resisting the authorities.
- Bleeding the Weak (1995)
- Gutted, Decapitated, Disembowled, and Dead (1996)
- Thrice Death Toll (1998)
- Necropolis of the Damned and Destroyed (1999)
- It Eats Your Face (2001)
- Saturated In Sin (2003)
- Bloodsoaked Bastards (2005)
- Drain Souls, Eat Flesh, Devour Hearts and Minds (2007)
- Destruction Is The Only Way (2008)
- The Blood Runs Through The Hallowed Halls of Deathliness (2010)
- Living Dead (2002)
- A Night of Blood n Guts: Van Helsing Live" (2009)
- Current members
- Dan Chamberlain - vocals (1994-present)
- Christopher Northwood - guitar (1994-present, Insulated Corpse Syndrome )
- Robert Aärkesk - rhythm guitar (2010-present, ex-Anti-Christian )
- Peter Oakland - bass (1996-present)
- Nico Richard - drums (1994-present)
- Former members
- Alex Karas - rhythm guitar (1994-2010)
- Jarno Jarevski - bass (1994-1996)