Sparta UK – An Awesome New Wave Of British Heavy Metal!

Sparta UK - A group photo of the band Sparta UK

If you didn’t grow up in Mansfield, England, during the 1980s, chances are you never heard of Sparta UK. During that time, Sparta UK was at the forefront of what became known as the new wave of British heavy metal (NWOBHM).

Keep on reading to learn more about one of the bands that helped set the standard for much of what heavy metal has become today. If you’re already a Sparta UK fan, you’re sure to find some fascinating and fun facts about the band.

You can use the table of contents below to take you to the area that interests you. Click on the little box to open it and then click on the section of the article you want to read, or you can read from start to finish if you want the full Sparta UK experience!


Who Is Sparta UK?

Sparta UK - An image of the band's logo

Sparta UK is a New Wave Of British Heavy Metal Band from Mansfield (in Nottinghamshire, England) formed in 1979 by lead guitarist Tony Foster.

Tony Foster has written all the band’s music and lyrics over the years, including two singles and three albums, which are still highly collectible, especially in Germany and Brazil, where they can be quite costly to acquire.

Their Backstory

The genesis of this band is pretty straightforward. Tony Foster and Tony Warren came from a band called “Xerox” and added the other members to create the Sparta UK lineup.

The initial line-up also included Gary on drums and Sid Hopper on vocals, but they left the band during the band’s first single, “Fast Lane,” and were replaced by Steve Reders on guitar, Paul Reders on drums, and Karl Reders on vocals.

The band played the local pub-based clubs in the early 1980s, which led to recording a live album, “Scene of the Crime.” Shortly after that, they cut the first singles on vinyl, “Fast Lane” and “Fighting to Be Free,” on Suspect Records.

Sounds magazine named “Fast Lane” single of the week, and Kerrang (the Heavy Metal bible) wrote an article about the band in their “Armed and Ready” (named after the Michael Schenker Group song) section.

Sparta UK moved on to play bigger venues with bands like Diamond Head, Praying Mantis, and Lionheart. The band released its second single, “Angel of Death,” with “Tonight” on the flipside.

Suspect records released “Scene Of The Crime” in 1981, which was a compilation of local bands, including Sparta UK (who contributed “Lords of Time”), Panza Division, Tyrant, Savage, and Manitou.

Over the years, musicians and singers came and went. Sparta UK became dormant and reformed after their release of Use Your Weapons Well, a three-disc compilation album.

In 2006 Sparta UK released a limited edition album that included all their recorded material. This vinyl album is genuinely collectible and sells for quite a bit of money.

The band members for the current Sparta UK lineup are listed below.

Sparta UK - An image of the Band Members' names over a background of amplifiers and guitars.

The Band Members

Tony Foster – Guitar

Steve ‘Snake’ Reders – Guitar and Vocals

Tony Warren – Bass Guitar

Paul ‘Radge’ Reders – Drums

Karl Reders – Vocals


Musical Equipment

This is a listing of the guitars, amplifiers, and effects that the various band members use when recording and during the shows. Tony Foster’s wife, Diane, was kind enough to supply some of this information, and I obtained the rest by Internet research. I always strive to make this list as accurate as possible.

If you disagree or have something to add that makes it more accurate or complete, I would appreciate it if you would put that info in the comment section at the end of this article. I will correct and update it immediately!?

Tony Foster (Lead Guitarist)

Sparta UK -  A photo of Tony Foster on-stage.
Tony Foster

Guitars

  • 1972 Gibson SG Deluxe, with Bigsby-type tremolo and front-loaded control panel, no pickup covers
  • Custom painted Tao
  • Epiphone Acoustic

Amps

  • Laney VC30 with Celestion Seventy 80 speakers (G12P-80)
  • Carlsbro (backup amp) – Taken out of service
Sparta UK - Tony Foster's custom painted Tao guitar
Tony’s Custom Painted Tao Guitar

Effects

  • Ibanez Tube Screamer
  • Cry Baby Wah-Wah Pedal

Steve ‘Snake’ Reders (Lead Guitarist)

Guitars

  • Number 1 Axe – “Homemade”
  • Backup – Ibanez Paul Stanley (Iceman) guitar

Amps

  • Laney VC30
  • Peavey 60 watt combo

Effects

  • Ibanez pedals (flanger pedal on “Fast Lane”)

Tony Warren (Bass Guitar)

Guitar – Rickenbacker

Amps ?

Effects ?


Welcome To Hell: The Single And The Album

Sparta UK - The Sparta UK "Welcome To Hell" image.

The “Welcome To Hell” album was released in 2014, on the heels of a compilation album called “Use Your Weapons Well,” released by High Roller in 2011. The actual tune (Welcome To Hell) was written in 1985.

The Welcome To Hell album contains the most well-known line-up with their original heavy metal sound.

Here is the tune “Welcome To Hell, uploaded to YouTube by Codex Metallicus.


Sparta UK - An image of a skeleton in a black robe holding an hourglass.

How Is Sparta UK Different?

Heavy metal has been around for a while now, and it’s still going strong. Bands like Metallica, Slipknot, and Disturbed have made a name for themselves with their edgy music.

But there is one band out there that hasn’t really gotten the recognition they deserve, and that is Sparta UK. I’m not just talking about how they write their music but also what they’re done with their lyrics.

Their rhythm is dark and tight, with guitar solos that perfectly fit their lyrics and sparkle with brilliant riffs.

Sparta UK has set itself apart from other bands of their genre by creating their own signature sound. They have been true to this sound throughout their entire career.


Sparta UK - Tony and Steve playing guitar onstage.

Why You Should Listen To Sparta UK

If you like bands like Black Sabbath, Motorhead, and Iron Maiden, you’ll love Sparta UK.

They’re a perfect fit for your next metal playlist because their material has formed the nidus some of the best tunes from some of the biggest bands that followed. This makes them a great alternative if you’re looking for something new to try out and learn about.


Sparta UK - a man in a straightjacket.

Don’t Confuse Sparta UK With Sparta

Don’t confuse Sparta, the UK band, with Sparta, the American band from El Paso, Texas, formed in 2001. the American band with the same name is known for its contributions to the alternative rock, punk, and post-hardcore genres.

The current members of the American Sparta band are Jim Ward, Matt Miller, Cully Symington, and Gabriel Gonzalez.

Comparing the sound of these two bands is like comparing night to day! We’re talking about Sparta UK in this article, which is sometimes also referred to as just “Sparta,” so be aware of the difference and accept no substitutes!


Sparta UK - "Fast Lane" on vinyl (45 RPM).

Discography

Here are the albums and compilations that Sparta UK has recorded up until now.

Albums

Welcome To Hell (2014)

Tracklist:

Sparta UK - The "Welcome to Hell" album cover
  1. Welcome to Hell
  2. Angel of Death (2013)
  3. Time
  4. Solder of Fortune
  5. Wild Night
  6. Dreaming of Evil
  7. Arrow
  8. Rock and Roll Rebel
  9. Kingdom of the Sky
  10. Death to Disco

No Retreat No Surrender (2016)

Tracklist:

Sparta UK - The "No Retreat No Surrender" album cover
  1. No Retreat No Surrender
  2. Dark of Your Mind
  3. Right To Fight
  4. Lords Of Time
  5. Land of Mystery
  6. Stand Up for Heavy Rock and Metal
  7. Fight of the Storm King
  8. We Are Gods
  9. Victory

Compilations

Sparta (2006) – Released in vinyl only (500 copies)

Sparta UK - An image of the Sparta album cover.

Tracklist:

  1. Rock Don’t Roll
  2. Boy King
  3. Fast Lane
  4. Angel of Death
  5. Tonight
  6. Lords of Time
  7. Fighting to be Free

Use Your Weapons Well (2011)

Tracklist:

Disc 1

Sparta UK - The "Use Your Weapons Well" album.
  1. Fast Lane (Single 1981)
  2. Fighting To Be Free (Single 1981)
  3. Angel of Death (Single 1981)
  4. Tonight (Single 1981)
  5. Lords of Time (Compilation-LP 1981)
  6. Rock for You (Radio Hallam 1982)
  7. Gods of War (Radio Hallam 1982)
  8. Street Walking (Radio Hallam 1982)
  9. Shady Lady (Radio Hallam 1982)
  10. Lady Evil (Radio Hallam 1982)
  11. Hot Rock (Radio Hallam 1982)

Disc 2

  1. Crossfire (Demo 1984)
  2. In League (Studio 1987)
  3. Welcome to My Nightmare (1987)
  4. Legends (Studio 1987)
  5. Assassin (Studio 1987)
  6. DrBill (Live 1987)
  7. Lord and Master (Studio 1990)
  8. Rich Bitch (Studio 1990)
  9. Wild Touch (Studio 1990)
  10. Trees and Fields (Studio 1990)

Disc 3

  1. Rock Don’t Roll (Demo 1979)
  2. Boy King (Demo 1979)
  3. Fast Lane (Demo 1979)
  4. Tonight (Alternate Take 1981)

Sparta UK - A photo of the band members posing with a tank.

Sparta UK Music – Songs Online

Here are some of the tunes that Sparta UK has recorded over the years, which you can listen to, courtesy of Metal Music Archives, which can also be accessed on YouTube.

Click on each of the links below to hear them.

Lords of Time
Angel of Death
Fighting to be Free
Fast Lane

Here is a YouTube song compilation from Descent Of Madness. It includes the tunes Tonight, Rock Don’t Roll, Lord of Time, Fighting to be Free, Fast Lane, Boy King, and Angel of Death.


Beware of an issue in this review

Beware Of Poorly Recorded Bootlegs!

There are a fair number of pirated or bootleg copies of Sparta UK’s material available for purchase from collectors and online.

They tend to be pricey, but these bootlegs’ audio and video may be substandard and, in some cases, too poorly done to be worth a look and listen.

Also, it may be illegal to purchase these copies, and it could cheat Sparta UK out of well-deserved income.

Be aware that some available VHS tapes, CDs, and DVDs will not play on all VHS, CD, and DVD/Blu-Ray players.


Sparta UK - An illustration of some Sparta UK artwork.

Sparta UK Metal – Is It Legit?

Many heavy metal bands have come and gone over the years, but Sparta UK has definitely stood the test of time. Just have a listen to any of their recorded material, and you will hear what I’m talking about.

The band’s overall sound really drives their music and makes you want to pick up a guitar and be part of it! I wish I was familiar with their music when I first learned how to play rock, blues, and metal.

They don’t rely on a lot of effects or stage gimmicks but let their music do the talking. What you get is a no-nonsense metal show, which is what people who are really serious about their music want to hear and see.

Each of the band members are true gladiators of sound, and the stage is their arena of battle!

They have accumulated quite a following over the years, especially among guitar players and “metalheads.” This band can still pack small to medium-sized venues, like a rock club.

From my point of view, Sparta UK is totally legit! It’s unfortunate that this band did not achieve more considerable international acclaim, but they do have devotees from many countries outside of England.


Final Thoughts

Final Thoughts

Sparta UK is a new wave of British heavy metal (NWOBHM) band from Mansfield, England, formed in 1979 by lead guitarist Tony Foster. They are one of the bands that helped set the standard for much of what heavy metal has become today.

Sparta UK albums are difficult to find and can be worth a lot of money if they are in good condition. Fortunately, a number of their songs are available to stream on YouTube.

You can clearly hear the influence that bands like Black Sabbath had on them, and guitars players like Tony Iommi had a significant impact on Tony Foster’s guitar playing after he first heard them.

On the other side of that coin, I can easily hear how Sparta UK influenced some of the newer bands, which is especially apparent in many of Iron Maiden’s guitar solos.

To learn more about Black Sabbath and Tony Iommi, see Black Sabbath End Tour – Blu Ray Review – Is That Really It? and Gibson SG Electric Guitar Update – Iommi “Monkey” SG Special.

Sparta UK predated the American band “Sparta,” from  El Paso, Texas, which was formed in 2001. It’s easy to confuse the two bands because they have the same name, but that is where the similarities end.

I hope you will check out Sparta UK’s material at your earliest possible opportunity. It’s awesome music that will definitely add to your knowledge and enjoyment of heavy metal!


A rock band of figures made from nuts and bolts.

Tell Me What You Think

Please leave a comment below if you enjoyed this article, have any questions about Sparta UK, or want to give your point of view. I will be happy to help you.

  • Were you familiar with Sparta UK before you read this article?
  • If you are familiar with Sparta UK, what is your favorite album and favorite song on that album?
  • How do you think Sparta UK’s music compares to the sound of the newer metal bands around today?
  • After reading this article do you intend to learn more about this band and their music?

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6 thoughts on “Sparta UK – An Awesome New Wave Of British Heavy Metal!”

  1. Hi Frank, honestly I just heard about this Spart UK from your blog post. I’m not a fan of heavy metal music, but looking at your comprehensive review about this band, I can tell that this band does provide a unique electric guitar sound. I have a friend who enjoys heavy metal and I’ll let him know about your page and discuss this further with you about this band. Thanks for creating this article!

    Reply
    • Hi, Sugiya

      Thank you for your comments!

      Heavy metal is certainly not for everyone. I tend to enjoy the guitar solos, which can be quite complex and challenging to play. As a guitar player I’m always trying to learn more.

      Frank

      Reply
  2. You have certainly produced a note worthy piece of information about a band that you feel has been under-rated. Although I don’t enjoy the words of their songs, I do enjoy the music as it is very upbeat. For Heavy Metal Band enthuists, this information will be very interesting and appealing. Freedom of speech should be encouraged and this band is certainly not afraid to offer their opinions. This is the success of this type of music!

    Reply
    • Hi, Toplink

      Thank you for your comments!

      I can certainly understand and respect your point of view. I’m not much of a lyrics guy. When I listen to this kind of music, greater than 90% of my focus is centered on what the guitars are doing, but I’m a guitar player.

      I appreciate you stopping by! 😊

      Frank

      Reply
  3. Hi – thank you for this excellent write-up on Sparta. The NWOBHM genre is often overlooked, yet, it is responsible for the formation of some of the biggest rock bands of today. Sparta’s songs have undoubtedly stood the test of time, and there is no denying the skill of their guitar work. I am pleased you mentioned the bootlegs, as it is an ongoing problem, particularly as regards their often poor quality, which doesn’t give a true reflection of the band’s expertise.

    Keep on rocking!

    Reply
    • Hi, Diane!

      Thank You for taking the time to add your comments to this article, and I’m absolutely thrilled that you like it!

      Yes, I totally agree that the NWOBHM genre was instrumental in making heavy metal what it is today. Your husband and the other members of Sparta are definitely some of the true innovators of this era! I love all the guitar work, and I wish I had discovered this band many years ago!

      I have to admit that I have listened to substandard bootlegs, even though they often are not a fair representation of a band’s ability. Way back when Jimi Hendrix died, I desperately collected every bootleg album available in an attempt to keep his music alive. Luckily, a lot of the material from the Hendrix archives has been remixed and legitimately remarketed for fans of this musical genre to discover.

      I hope that Sparta fans will be rewarded with new material in the near future! I’ll definitely be “keeping an eye out” for whatever might be on the way!

      Rock On, Diane, and I hope you will return to my website again soon! ??
      Frank

      Reply

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