The Seven Bells John Saga – Part 1

Seven Bells John is a character that has been haunting my songs for quite a while. In fact he’s obsessed me so much that he’s spilled out of songs and into short stories as well.

Through These Veins, my first release this year, included a short story and the new one, Black Water does as well.

Who is Seven Bells John?

He’s a criminal, a murderer. He first turned up by name in the perfectly sensible song The Steam Engine Murders and the Trial of Seven Bells John, but his first appearance was in Lines overheard at a Séance on my first solo album Spinning the Compass.

The songs haven’t been released in chronological order however so here’s the low-down on which songs fit where in the saga of Seven Bells John.



Nightfall is chronologically the earliest song. It tells the story of Seven Bells John as he struggles with what Dr Margoyles and her husband did to him. Imagine running through a forest at dusk, craving meat and hating yourself for what you’ve become.


Moon the Water


Moon the Water is a song from Seven Bells John’s point of view. Several years have passed since he escaped from Margoyles.  He is once again forced to flee from his home, pursued by people who want him dead, but he does not care because he feels free. He has come to terms with what he is and knows what he must do – kill the doctor.

Lines Overheard at a Séance


Having exhausted the more orthodox methods available to him in his pursuit of Seven Bells John, Detective Coppertree turns to a medium. He and the parents of some of John’s victims ask the spirit world to help. When they ask for information on where the last bodies are buried this is what they hear in reply.

So that’s a guide to the first half of the story. Part two will turn up soon. Ish. 


A couple of reviews

Interestingly, Through These Veins continues to split opinion. People seem to think it odd, or object to ‘Without my Medicine’. Or my voice. Or both.

(To be perfectly clear, I am more than happy for people to express any opinion on my work, and both of these reviews are positive. I’ve had bad ones too, which I always enjoy because they’re a great source of quotes!)

Here’s a great quote from Kev Rowland: This music should be very carefully labeled, as take it from me this is not something that will immediately make the listener think that it is essential, and will more likely elicit the “this is awful, what are you doing playing this?” response. Luckily for me my brain is used to me ignoring my ears and playing music more than once, and the more I played this the more I got inside Tom’s twisted, dark and surreal world.

And from Diego at Progshine: The title-track closes Through These Veins (2014) very well. Initially, it starts with a little piano and it follows with a weird sounding guitar in a waltz rhythm. A really good and different track!

Through These Veins – First Reviews

The first couple of reviews of the new EP are in:

The closing title track, begins as a Rhodes lullaby for the first 28 seconds before going into the style of Camille Saint-Saens heavy inspirations of the Danse Macabre in the sinister waltz time signature and not to mention the string section, keeps the tension going in this jazzy-classical-rock sound. And it is really terrifying and menacing, but the lyrics that Tom wrote are staggering and mind-boggling.

Zachary Nathanson – Music from the Other Side of the Room


Steampunk is a genre of fiction and style that takes many forms, from a joyful celebration of Victoriana to disturbingly bio-dysmorphic body-horror; Tom Slatter’s interests tend towards the murky darkness of the latter, and his music is largely directed at articulating unsettling character-driven narratives in such a setting. Through These Veins continues his efforts in this… vein, with dramatic, cinematic songs telling stories of scientific hubris, unhealthy creative obsession and personal tragedy.

Oliver Arditi

Through These Veins – The New EP

I have a new EP. I’ve written about it in the third person:

Tom Slatter Releases ‘Through These Veins’, the first of 3 releases based on the same conceptcoversmall

What could be more prog rock than a concept album? ‘Two concept EPs and a concept album,’ is Tom Slatter’s answer. In his continuing effort to jump on the prog rock bandwagon, Tom has made the commercially savvy decision to dedicate the next twelve months to composing and recording two EPs and one album about the same story, including a twenty minute epic to crown the whole project off sometime in the Autumn.

The first step in this cynical, conceptual sell out is Through These Veins, an EP that tells the story of a rogue surgeon who starts turning her patients into macabre living sculptures.

‘My songs are usually driven by narrative, and this is no exception. In particular I was thinking about albums like Outside by David Bowie, or Operation Mindcrime by Queensryche.

‘Plus, I saw all these English prog rock guys coining it in with their long songs and concept albums and I thought – I need a piece of that. Matt Stevens drives a limousine you know. Alan Reed takes a private jet to the studio every single day,’ said Tom

Through these Veins will be available in 3 forms:

The Pay-What-You-Want version

Tom Explains: Just the 4 tracks, no frills. You’ve got to do pay what you want these days, ever since Radiohead. I hate Radiohead.

The Paid-For download version

Tom explains: This is the one I actually want people to get. You get the four tracks, plus extra artwork and a 2000 word short story that fits in with the EP.

The Physical version

Tom explains: You get a CD with this too, plus all the download stuff. This is the best one, obviously, cos it has the higher profit margin.

Through These Veins – Available for pre-order

Through These Veins is now available for pre-order.

The title track can be heard right now and you get the digital version on 21st Jan. The physical version will ship soon after that and there will be a pay-what-you-want version by then as well. But that version won’t have the extra artwork or the short story that this one does. You should get this one.