(5 / 5)
For fans of bands who come under the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal genre, snapping up this three CD, 51 track box set covering the years 1979 to 84 is a no-brainer.
Although its roots and influences would stretch much further, the bands that are bound together under the NWOBHM banner, flourished across the UK between 1979 and 1985. Spearheaded by the likes of Diamond Head, Saxon and the Tygers Of Pan Tang, who all feature in this set, this underground scene was highly influential and produced future rock legends.
By the end of the 1970s, hard rock heroes Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple and Balck Sabbath had either graduated to the arenas of the world, or even split up. The second wave of British heavy rockers, including UFO, Motörhead and Judas Priest, were beginning to fill theatres across the land.
Punk exploded in 1976 and 1977, and the DIY ethos that sprang up in its wake soon influenced the grassroots metal bands who had yet to leave their local bars and clubs. Often independently released, some of the bands in this set never made more than one now highly prized and collectable 45 or one-off EP.
Championed in the national music ‘paper Sounds, as leading lights of the NWOBHM scene, this triple disc set kicks off with Diamond Head, and their classic track “Prince”, which is one of four of their songs that Metallica has covered.
Diamond Head were one of the first NWOBHM bands to release a full album, albeit in a plain white sleeve. Metallica would also cover another NWOBHM band featured on this collection, Blitzkrieg, who deliver their track “A Time Of Changes” here.
The North East of England’s Neat Records recognised the importance of the NWOBHM scene early on. An independent label that released music from hugely influential acts such as Venom, Fist, Raven, Warfare, Jaguar, Aragorn, Avenger, Bitches Sin and Tysondog, among many others.
Celebrated all-girl band Girlschool are represented here by their debut single ‘Take It All Away’, and fellow London all-girl trio Rock Goddess feature with a track from their self-titled major label debut for A&M, ‘The Love Lingers Still’.
Before Bruce Dickinson joined Maiden in 1981, he fronted London heavy rockers Samson, featuring Paul Samson on lead guitar. Represented here with the single “Vice Versa”.
Samson had previously featured Iron Maiden’s Clive Burr, a drummer who would later play with the band Elixir. White Spirit’s track here, “Midnight Chaser”, features future Iron Maiden guitarist Janick Gers.
The scene was typified by the long hair, jeans, leather jackets and bullets-belts of the band Angel Witch, who belt out “Loser” on this set. Formed in London in 1977, they inspired Lars Ulrich to form Metallica.
But the glam rock influences were also present within NWOBHM, with bands such as Silverwing and Tokyo Blade (the latter who have a new album due soon for the first time in seven years) as well as London’s Girl, featuring future Leppard member Phil Collen.
The satanic, Hammer Horror vibe was provided by the likes of Witchfynde, Satan’s Empire from Dundee, Satan and Demon Pact.
Aside from the recognisable names here, there are some gold nuggets in the form of bands that some may not have come across as yet. Dark Star, Persian Risk, Axis, Brooklyn, Gaskin, and a good few more that are new to me, but well worth copping an earful of.
All in all, a spectacular collection, with some informative sleeve notes and a set I shall be re-visiting on a regular basis as a music history lesson, to soak up some great rock music and with the volume on 11; to get my own back on my neighbours for those early Sunday morning DIY hammering, drilling and sawing sessions. How’d you like them apples?
By Andy Faith
(1 / 5) ‘Dull Zone’
(2 / 5) ‘OK Zone’
(3 / 5) ‘Decent Zone’
(4 / 5) ‘Super Zone’
(5 / 5) ‘Awesome Zone’