Phil Demmel / ‘Category 7 Is A Band Not A Side Project’

Category 7, hailed by Metallica frontman James Hetfield as his favourite new band, delivers fast and furious Heavy Metal for the masses. MetalTalk’s Sara Harding caught up with her dear buddy, Phil Demmel, while on tour of duty with Kerry King. Demmel was very excited to share the news of his brand-new metal band, Category 7.

Demmell is joined by John Bush on vocals, Mike Orlando on guitar, Jack Gibson on bass and Jason Bittner on drums. This new band are a tour de force of Metal royalty having played with Anthrax, Armored Saint, Exodus, Shadows Fall and of course Kerry King.

Kerry King - Electric Ballroom, Camden - 18 June 2024
Phil Demmel – “I think we’re pretty super.” Photo: Robert Sutton/MetalTalk

“I think we’re pretty super,” Phil Demmel joked. Demmel has earned mega-Metal cred over the decades as a member of Machine Head and Vio-Lence and has also played as a fill-in road guitarist for Slayer, Lamb Of God, Overkill, and others. “Really, I feel like this is a band, not a side project. I feel like we have written this incredible piece of music, and we’re not done.

“I’m so proud of the way this came together and the people who were involved. I think we all feel super positive about this and what else we can do with it going forward.”

Category 7 - Out 26 July 2024 through Metal Blade Records
Category 7 – Out 26 July 2024 through Metal Blade Records

The band’s self-titled debut is due for release on 26 July 2024 through Metal Blade Records. The songs speak for themselves, crushing and confrontational as an armed rebellion. Rhythmically thunderous, fiercely melodic, infectious riffs and aggressive vocals fill the album.

Category 7 is a new breed of Metal that lives up to the Heavy Metal histories of its members. They are as heavy as hell, yet the songs are meticulously structured, skillfully balancing thrash beats, New Wave of British Heavy Metal rhythms, punk Metal attitude, blistering and ferocious dual guitar work, and scar-inflicting vocals.

“It’s all about big verses and big songs,” explains guitarist and main songwriter Mike Orlando (Adrenaline Mob, Sonic Universe, Noturnall). “It has a lot of the elements we’ve explored in our other bands.”

Category 7, named after the numerical designation for the most powerful wind storms, came together from a batch of musicians who strived to play music they loved and weren’t hearing elsewhere and wanted to do so with bandmates they enjoyed being with.

In Stitches was the debut single from Category 7. “It gets heavy,” Mike Orlando said. “it’s thrashy at times, but it opens up in the verses. Then the double-bass drums come in and knock you off your chair, but in a great way.”

The track is the album opener. “I read an article on an unhoused pregnant woman named Stitches,” Bush says, “who resided in Los Angeles obviously living a very difficult life that was compounded by mental illness and drug abuse. The encampment situation in my beloved city drives me bats.

“I balance between serious empathy and complete anger. The combination of imagining her life as well as my own internal turmoil led me to an almost humorous insanity state while writing this scathing album opener.”

The second single was Exhausted. “Insomnia happens more frequently as I’ve aged,” John Bush said, “usually in connection with nightly visits to the loo. The frustration to just slumber and dream only makes matters worse.

“This is all a little exaggerated for me ’cause people truly struggle with this, using medication or whatever remedy will hopefully solve the problem. Truth be told, my primary goal is to avoid all those deep, dark thoughts in the middle of the night that seem to grow because I just can’t sleep. Zillion? Mr. Cooper.”

Mousetrap, the single accompanied by a killer video, drops this week, and the album pre-orders are flying in on Metal Blade Records. If there is a tour, hell yeah, my Metaltalk compadres and I will be right there at the front. 

With James Hetfield adding the band to his official Metallica podcast, there is no better Metal endorsement. Category 7 pre-orders are available from

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