Interview with Martyr

During the five years that Martyr was alive and kicking (1982-1987), the band released two albums that are considered cult in the Metal scene today. For The Universe (1985) and Darkness At Time’s Edge (1986) are classic Metal, a delight for those who love strong melodies, speedy riffs and a high level of technicality.

In those years, Martyr appeared on compilation albums from Roadrunner and Metal Blade, was voted Holland’s best new Metal band in Aardschok magazine, has toured with several international acts and appeared on Sky Channel’s Monsters Of Rock.

Martyr disbanded in 1987, but reunited in 2001 to play the Heavy Metal Maniacs festival. Four years later, the band revived almost the complete 1982 line up to play the Headbangers Open Air and Keep It True festivals. The flame has been burning again and the band continued to play live ever since. December 2008 MARTYR supported US Shock Rockers Lizzy Borden on their European tour. But also in 2009 and 2010 MARTYR hit the European stages supporting great acts like Flotsam & Jetsam , Vicious Rumors, Jaguar, and Evergrey.

In 2009 the first new Martyr record in almost 25 years was released . That’s when the new EP Fear was coupled with a re-release of the classic For The Universe album as a double digipack entitled Fear The Universe on Rusty Cage Records (RCR0017).

In 2010 and 2011 Martyr re-entered the studio between the live shows, by working on the successor for Fear.

A complete new album called Circle Of 8, was released by Metal Blade Records in November 2011 worldwide, and has proven to be a significant impulse in Martyr’s revival after it’s release. With 30 years of MARTYR (with a big celebration in hometown Utrecht – Tivoli) ,and 30 years of Dutch Steel , by signing with Metal Blade again : “The Clan Is Back Home and stronger than ever”…….

And the band proves it again in 2014 with new national and international tours and ……a heavy new album in the making!

Martyr is:

Rick Bouwman – Guitars
Wilfried Broekman – Drums
Rop van Haren – Vocals
Marcel Heesakkers- Guitars
Jeffrey Bryan Rijnsburger- Bass


Dutch Steel – Roadrunner Records – 1984
For The Universe – Megaton Records- 1985
Metal Massacre VI – Metal Blade Records – 1985
Darkness At Time’s Edge – Metalloid Records – 1986
For The Universe reissue – High Vaultage / Metal For Muthas- 2004
Darkness At Time’s Edge – High Vaultage / Metal For Muthas- 2004
Fear The Universe 2 CD (Fear & For The Universe reissue) – Rusty Cage Records – 2009
Circle Of 8 – Metal Blade Records – 2011

Metal Express Radio: How did the band originate?

Rick Bouwman: MARTYR was established in the early 80’s when a bunch of friends with an average age of about 16-17 years old decided Holland needed a true Metal band that was varied and stood out from the already established bands at that time. MARTYR achieved that goal quite quickly as with the 2nd demo “Metal Torture“ the band was already mentioned as best newcomer Metal band from Holland by Aardschok Magazine.

The demo was distributed all over the world and was the break-through for the band that dared to be different.

MER: Which bands/albums have been the most influential to your music, and why?

Rick: Lots of people may think MARTYR is influenced by major acts like Iron Maiden or Metallica back in the 80’s. No, in fact, MARTYR’s influences were the more unknown and underground bands. Especially US Metal bands and Japanese Metal bands were influences like Loudness, X-Ray, Warlord, the early Queensrÿche . But we also loved Mercyful Fate, Satan Jokers. Great Metal bands with excellent musicians and unique styles at that time that also dared to be different and groundbreaking.

MER: Which musical trademarks/elements/styles are most typical for your music?

Rick: MARTYR is characterized as Classic / True 80’s Metal, but with a modern touch. Metal with speedy and varied riffs and a certain high level of technicality. A delight for those who love strong and heavy melodies.

MER: Do you feel you would ever compromise on your musical style in order to gain success?

Rick: Never. MARTYR made that mistake once which was the cause of the split up in ’87. Still the young band of MARTYR was with a Major Record label that tried to force the band into more commercial Metal / Rock . It was against the band’s “nature”, and it did not work out. So, that will never happen again! From then on MARTYR has always followed it’s own path. Our statement is… MARTYR only plays the material it likes at all times! If after that, the band can reach their fans and they love it too then that will be amazing.

MER: What is your band’s greatest highlight thus far?

Rick: There are a few (actually impossible to mention them all).

Let’s start with the release of the first album: For The Universe in 1985, still considered to be a classic. It is an amazing feeling to finally have your own record (on vinyl) in your hands where at that time it was not common for Dutch Metal bands to have an album released at all.

Secondly, I have to mention a few live shows. Our 2nd reunion at Keep It True is something MARTYR will never forget. It was the start of a new career for us.

The European tours with Lizzy Borden and Flotsam & Jetsam were amazing and helped us a lot on the development of the band live and on tour.

The return to Metal Blade Records for the release of our latest album Circle Of 8 felt like a homecoming and was a big step forward for the band (we did contribute in the mid 80’s on Metal Massacre VI).

And, last but not least, our appearance in London – Camden – The Underground supporting Lizzy Borden. Our 1st appearance in the UK, where probably only a few ever heard of MARTYR before. But there was an immediate bond between the band and the fans.

MER: How much live experience does your band have and what is your most memorable gig?

Rick: We play quite a lot in Europe and especially Benelux / Germany of course. After our reunion mid-zero’s that train kept on rollin’.

Most memorable gig besides the ones mentioned earlier must also be our 30th anniversary party in our hometown at Tivoli – Utrecht. This venue is really characteristic and breathes Rock ‘N Roll. We invited several bands to play with us, where most of them performed a tribute to MARTYR by playing one of our songs in their own style.

MER: If you could tour with any band, who would that be, and why?

Rick: Of course it would be easy to mention a major act like Metallica or Iron Maiden. But when we look back and take our influences into consideration then our “heroes” to tour with, and if MARTYR can choose a favorite part of the world as well, is Loudness on a Japanese tour.

MER: If you could choose one festival to headline, from the past or present, which one would that be and why?

Rick: There are many great festivals to choose from. Maybe Graspop, great atmosphere, and always some fine smaller and major bands. Hanging out for 3 days for fun and drinks and get to watch them all will be something we can live with. Another festival, maybe smaller but in my opinion with the best atmosphere, is Alcatraz fest. It seems these choices are close to home this time.

MER: What do you hope your fans and the music industry will say about your band in 10 years?

Rick: What i have noticed from our albums in the 80’s and what I hope fans and the music industry will also mention is our latest releases Fear and Circle Of 8 is that the music still stands out after 10 years and will be considered timeless or classic. We may be opinionated and follow our own path but I hope in 10 years or so people will remember us for that, and whether they like the songs or not will respect that choice.

MER: What are your immediate plans for the band?

Rick: Back to the studio to work on the new album. We hope for a release late 2014. In between we will be touring and will be playing all over Europe. So we are keeping ourselves busy.


  • Scott Jeslis

    Scott is one of the partners at Metal Express Radio. He handles a lot of Metal Express Radio's public relations, screening of new music and radio scheduling. On occasion, he also does reviews and interviews. He has been a proud member of the Metal Express Radio crew since 2004.

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