~ The Stockholm Black ~

The Stockholm Black’s founding members were school friends at St. Michael’s High in Boronia. Their first public performance was at their annual parish fete in 1995. The initial line-up consisted of Marcus Denehey on guitar, Graham Portland on drums, Phil Pasman on lead and Natalie Driscoll on bass and vocals. They called themselves The Widow Curse and performed covers of Ted Nugent, AC/DC and Rush songs.

Shortly after, they began headlining high school heavy metal shows in the Melbourne area and were on stages with groups like Foster Child and Crossbow. After a New Years Eve gig at the Box Hill TAFE Hall, guitarist Phil Pasman was dropped from the lineup because he was considered too short to fulfil the image that they were trying to achieve, and also for using the ladies toilet on the tour bus.

The remaining trio soon recruited Mark Fraser on guitar, renamed themselves The Stockholm Black and recorded their first session at Chestie’s Studios in West Melbourne in February 1996. These recordings were distributed as a demo tape to major record labels. One found its way to Paedamonte Records scout Daryl Purchase, who signed The Stockholm Black in September 1997. The band released their debut single ‘Chinatown Blast’ that December.

~ original line-up ~

~ Footscray TAFE ’96 ~

‘Chinatown Blast’ garnered both acclaim and controversy. While the single’s provocative title led to accusations of racism and promoting drug use, the song is actually based on a popular sherbet milkshake available at the time. The band placed a sticker label on the release that denied any racist connotations “It’s just about having a good time, and milkshakes.. Heavy Metal Milkshakes!”

The Stockholm Black released their debut album Poronkusema: Dance of the Reindeer in April 1998. Because of the band’s inexperience in the studio, engineer Mike Hedges took control of the recording. The band, particularly Driscoll, were unhappy with the album. In a 2005 interview, she admitted, “A few songs are little lightweight yeah.. yeah… My bass should sound like there is a chainsaw destroying your hi-fi… A Heavy Metal Chainsaw!”

The band’s second single ‘Warlocks Nought Cry’, was released in May. The Stockholm Black then embarked as support for The Uncanny X-Men’s reunion tour through England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales between July and October. Soon afterwards, Marcus Denehey was dropped from the line-up for a seeming lack of interest in the musical direction that Driscoll was writing and for using the ladies toilet on the tour bus. Kenny Sorachi was quickly recruited.

During this time The Stockholm Black became increasingly popular in Europe and the US, where Poronkusema: Dance of the Reindeer had been charting quite well. On 2 December the band were recorded for their first live TV special at Teatro Arriaga in Spain. Their set was re-broadcast on Christmas Eve in that country and also in Poland and Canada.

~ promotional shot for Poronkusema ~

~ Battle of the Elves stage ~

Due to the band’s lack of creative control on the first album, Driscoll exerted a greater influence on the recording Alvilda: Battle of Elves, which she co-produced with Kank Wolverang. The album was released in 1999 and reached number 10 on the Australian, UK and US charts. The single ‘Little Forest of Nightmares’, became the band’s first Russian hit. To promote the release, The Stockholm Black set out on The Battle of Elves World Tour, which would keep them on the road for a full year.

The medieval concept stage consisted of flying dragons, a state of the art laser light show, and four castle towers. At the Staples Centre Arena in Los Angeles, Driscoll unveiled the Three Eyed Mephisto – the first and most famous of her custom bass line produced by musical instrument manufacturer Schecter. The endorsement of the Californian bass maker continues firmly to this day.

A series of incidents prompted Graham Portland to leave The Stockholm Black at the tour’s conclusion. Portland and Driscoll did not talk to each other for twelve months following his departure.

“It was a hard period in my life,” Driscoll reflected in her 2013 autobiography. “I’ve never actually punched Graham, but after the gig in Bosnia I came really close. Graham was drinking too much and simply wasn’t cleaning up after himself. We came offstage that night and our change room smelled like cigarettes. I started yelling at him. We were a gang, a unit, but I was just so angry. Heavy Metal Angry!”

~ Graham Portland’s final performance ~

~ ? ~

In 2003, The Stockholm Black released Dynke: The Cloak of Snow: a psychedelic glory metal album on which Driscoll played all the instruments including a great stalacpipe organ and drums. The album was a Top 10 hit in the UK and was their first to break the Top 5 in the US. Metal Melody Maker praised the release as “psychedelia glory metal that will never date.”

For the ensuing tour Driscoll recruited Kip Anderson and bassist Ian Costigan. The Stockholm Black’s first live album consisted of their Slane Castle performances recorded in Ireland during this tour. At the start of the Central American dates, Anderson quit in Panama for not being allowed to use the ladies toilet on the tour bus and was replaced by Columbian guitar virtuoso Ronnie Ramos.

This line-up continued touring for the next eighteen months, performing arena shows that culminated with a blistering headline set at Malpaga Folk & Metal Festival in Italy 2005. A live concert DVD of the show was filmed and broadcast.

~ Costigan and Anderson join the line-up ~

~ Festhall Frankfurt 2006 ~

The Grammy-nominated double album Mjøll: Journey through Ice was released in 2008 after being delayed for two years. According to Driscoll, Mjøll was the third of a trilogy along with Poronkusema: Dance of the Reindeer and Alvilda: Battle of Elves.

At this point the band embarked on their most successful world tour to date which saw them again playing stadiums. On 6 September 2009, The Stockholm Black performed ‘The White Winged Moth’ at the MTV Music Awards at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas, where they also took home the trophy for best music video.

“We began thou quest as dreaming teenagers in East Melbourne,” Driscoll proudly stated from the podium. “Believe what may becometh of dreams… Heavy Metal Dreams!”

On 18 August 2014, the band announced via the Paedamonte Records website that their fifth studio album, Brynjar: Warrior in Armour, would be released worldwide the following November. They also unveiled the track listing, album artwork and released a music video for the first single ‘Armour’. The album was released as scheduled and debuted at No 1 on the Billboard 200.

~ MTV Awards 2009 ~

~ ? ~

The Stockholm Black are one of the few metal bands to have chart and commercial success in an era when metal was being disregarded by the mainstream. In 2016 NME declared The Stockholm Black ‘a resilient heavy metal hit machine, a phenomenon’. Journalist Murray Lesman surmised in his Time Magazine article ‘Was the World ever prepared for Natalie? Everyone wants to emulate her.. But to me, you can’t be Natalie Driscoll if you’re not Natalie Driscoll.’

~ behind the Iron Curtain 2009 ~

~ Stadio Olimpico Rome 2010 ~