Founders of Blackstorm Greg Sablan and William Santos (William) are blood relatives that grew up together on the tropical island of Guam. They had dreams of putting together a music project that would take them on an adventure of a lifetime. While Greg Sablan was attending college at the University of San Francisco, he was reunited with his childhood friend and relative William who was living in the South Bay. A year later in the spring of 1986 Greg and William had a meeting that would change the course of their lives. While the plans to create the new group were being discussed, Led Zep’s “Achilles Last Stand” played on the radio some prophetic lyrics that would set the tone for the project … “it was an April morning when they told us we should go”. That was a sign of the beginning. Later that summer the duo left for Guam to form the band that was a childhood dream that would emerge from the mysterious Asian Pacific region. They met with many potential members and worked with two key guitarists, Peter Gutierrez and Frank Emmi. After four months things weren’t happening as quickly as planned and Greg and William decided to relocate back to the Bay Area. After months of auditions, Frank Emmi rejoined the group and collaborated in writing Blackstorm’s first 3 songs Bad Winds Rising, Merciless Peril and House of Dreams. Emmi soon moved on to Florida. Greg and William started auditions again and this time hit the jackpot. First to join was former Hellhound guitarist Robert Kolowitz. Then the duo of David Matela and Marko Parker of Ascending Power completed the Quintet. A many hours of practice and determination, the group released its first demo album “Twist of Fate” in 1987 recorded at Suspect Studios in Santa Clara. Soon after, the band played its first live gig on Halloween Eve at the world famous club “The Stone” on Broadway St. in San Francisco. The band loved to perform live and its popularity grew quickly among bay area metal fans and club owners. Soon after the band’s first performance, Blackstorm would be opening for big name acts in the metal world such as, Apocrypha, Cacophony, Armored Saint, David T. Chastain, and Vicious Rumors. Geoff Thorpe (guitarist for Atlantic Records’ Vicious Rumors) and engineer Dennis Hulett (Death Angel, Vain) enjoyed the groups sound and offered to produce the band’s sophomore demo album “Tales from the Wishing Well” in 1989. Blackstorm continued its quest for a record deal and were offered several distribution deals in Europe. In the meantime, the band continued to headline shows in the major bay area clubs such as the Omni, One Step Beyond, The Cabaret and Puma’s. The band also opened for acts such as Racer X and Nitro.
Blackstorm’s demo releases gained recognition in international publications with articles and reviews in Rip, Kerrang, Rhythm, Metal Forces, Thunderbolt and Metalized magazines as well as numerous world-wide fanzines. Guitarist David Matela was featured in Mike Varney’s “Spotlight Solo” column in Guitar Player magazine. Drummer Greg Sablan was also was featured in Marquis De Rhythm column in Rhythm magazine. Both demos received airplay throughout the United States, the Far East and Europe.
In 1990, after rejection from record labels such as Atlantic and Metal Blade, the group went on a short hiatus. The band soon reformed with frontman David Locken and continued to write and work on its third demo album. Now a four-piece group, the band recorded the first set of tracks at San Jose’s “The Big House” studio with producer Bill Durham. The band continued writing and decided to diversify the production and recorded the second set of tracks with engineer and producer Doug Caldwell (Forbidden and Testament). The demo album “The Lands of Yesterday” was complete in 1992 and the band was back out supporting the release. Blackstorm was still headlining venues around the Bay Area and was selected to open for major shows with Yngwie J. Malmsteen, Michael Batio, and White Zombie. The band also taped a studio performance video that showcased three songs off the latest album with award winning local film producer Emerson Dong.
Just as the total package was coming together for Blackstorm, the Grunge scene was now the preferred flavor for rock music and this suffocated everything coming out of the Bay Area rock scene. Soon after Grunge took over MTV, it was apparent that the band was out of vogue and David Locken left the group. The remaining members Greg, David and Marko also parted ways to pursue other projects. In 1999 the original group reunited not to play but to rekindle the friendships that were established. As of 2009, there is talk of a performance reunion.
Greg Sablan -Blackstorm-