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Steelersfan87 06-23-2012 04:00 PM

New Wave of British Heavy Metal
I'm assuming that I'm posting this in the appropriate forum.

Anyway, I'm not sure how many fans of heavy metal there are here (hopefully at least a few), but music is an even bigger passion of mine than sports, and heavy metal is the vast bulk of that for me. Some here are aware that I write about football for, but I've been writing about music there for an even longer period of time. I took the time to write a sort of beginner's guide to the NWOBHM movement over the past couple of days because it's something that I find really interesting, and I also believe that fans of bands such as Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, early Metallica, etc., might be surprised to find so many great bands from England in the late 70s and early 80s.

The nature of Examiner is such that they don't like you to write more than 400 words per article, and they advise you to break up articles longer than that, so due to that fact and the fact that I included a lot of links in this article that are worth checking out, in particular youtube links to the songs that I mention, I think it is better if I copy and paste segments of the article here while providing links to the actual article. If you are into metal, it's worth it to check the links, I think. Hopefully some people find this as interesting as I do. Also, feel free to turn this thread into a discussion about NWOBHM as a whole and the bands that influenced the movement, as well as the bands the movement would later influence.

NWOBHM was more than Iron Maiden's birthplace and Metallica's playground - pt. 1


If the acronym NWOBHM means anything to the casual observer, it is at best the musical movement that ultimately spawned Iron Maiden, among the largest heavy metal acts in the genre’s history; either that, or an early source of inspiration for Metallica. Yet the richness and depth of the NWOBHM scene is a treasure trove of obscure and genuine early heavy metal untainted by the movement toward extremity that would emerge just a few short years later when the infusion of punk influences helped to form thrash, death, and black metal.

So what is the NWOBHM, exactly? To begin with, it is not a genre, nor sub-genre. Rather, the name describes a movement. It stands for New Wave of British Heavy Metal, a term coined by Sounds Magazine writer Geoff Barton in 1979 to give a name to the burgeoning heavy music scene that had begun to emerge in England beginning in the mid to late 70s. In other words, it's just heavy metal, in its purest sense, from the birthplace of the genre.
NWOBHM was more than Iron Maiden's birthplace and Metallica's playground - pt. 2


As previously stated, however, Iron Maiden was not alone in the early British heavy metal scene, nor is the band’s commercial success necessarily a testament to their superiority over all of the other bands that contributed to the NWOBHM movement. Some of the earliest bands to establish this movement include Saxon, Diamond Head, Savage, Quartz, Mythra, Holocaust, Jameson Raid, Angel Witch, White Spirit, and, yes, even Def Leppard, all of whom boast a date of formation before 1980.

While Def Leppard may have achieved the most commercial success out of this group, however, the band’s most financially lucrative material came after they left their early roots behind. It was bands such as Angel Witch and Diamond Head that would establish the future sound of the genre, both of whom would be cited by the aforementioned Metallica as a significant early influence.

Metallica’s umbrella of influence is indeed heavily oriented toward the NWOBHM; it was also not much of a secret. Thanks to drummer Lars Ulrich’s extensive music collection and the band’s early insatiable desire for new music, much of Metallica’s early career can be tied directly to NWOBHM. In the booklet from 1998's Garage Inc. release, which anthologizes all of their cover songs throughout their history up to that point, the band notes that their first ever live show in March 1982 included “everything they knew”: 3 originals, and 7 covers, “all pulled from Ulrich’s deep library of British underground-metal vinyl”.
NWOBHM was more than Iron Maiden's birthplace and Metallica's playground - pt. 3


Yet another band covered by Metallica for that inaugural live show is Savage. The song in question, “Let it Loose”, later also covered on an early Metallica demo, was first released as a split with a few other NWOBHM bands in 1981. Both this and the Weapon song represented a movement toward a faster, grittier, and more ‘metallic’ sound that the early thrash metal bands such as Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth, and Dark Angel would later run with, so it’s no surprise that these two songs in particular struck the band in their youth.

Of the other two NWOBHM acts featured in the band’s set that night, Blitzkrieg is perhaps the more notable. Covering the band’s eponymous song (first released in 1980), Metallica would take quite a liking to it over the years, later recording it (along with Diamond Head’s “Am I Evil?”) as the B-side for the 1984 Creeping Death single.
NWOBHM was more than Iron Maiden's birthplace and Metallica's playground - pt. 4


Such is how a preliminary history lesson of the NWOBHM movement might run. It would be a disservice, however, to look at it as simply an antiquated period of musical development that would eventually go on to influence the heavy metal bands of today. Indeed, the quality that is left to be uncovered amongst the ruins of this fallen empire is well worth exploring. One must keep in mind that for every Iron Maiden that managed to even release a proper full-length LP, there are a dozen bands like Marquis de Sade or Tyrant that would never be afforded the opportunity to get past the demo or 7” single stage.

Largely thanks to the work of record labels such as Neat, Shadow Kingdom, Buried by Time and Dust, High Roller, Steel Legacy, and others, many of these minor recordings once thought lost to time have been revived, however. The rise of the internet and subsequent proliferation of the availability of information unsurprisingly led to an increased interest in older music, the NWOBHM movement most certainly included.

It started with Castle Communication and Neat Records, the Newcastle, England based label primarily responsible for driving the movement by signing many of the more commercially noteworthy bands at the time, including Venom, Tygers of Pan Tang, Jaguar, Raven, and Bitzkrieg. The label, which was subsumed by Sanctuary Records in 1995, released a number of compilations consisting of songs from various singles in their catalog starting in the early 00s, and then began reissuing some of the classic full-length recordings from the larger acts aforementioned on their roster.
NWOBHM was more than Iron Maiden's birthplace and Metallica's playground - pt. 5


Among the lesser known bands of the early British heavy metal scene have also some of the more interesting and rewarding recordings, including those by the likes of Legend, Damascus, Pagan Altar, Bleak House, Trespass, Aragorn, White Spirit, and Dragonslayer. Therein is a wide variety of influences, some of which retain a strong blues influence inherited from the likes of Deep Purple, while others begin to point toward a harder edge.

White Spirit and Legend are two of the earliest bands of their era to release a full-length album, the former in 1980 and the latter the year after. White Spirit in particular retains a strong hard rock influence, which at the time drew heavy comparisons to the likes of the aforementioned Deep Purple, as well as Styx.

Typically best known as the first band of Janick Gers, who would later join Iron Maiden, the band’s “Red Skies” from White Spirit's self-titled LP (recently reissued on vinyl by High Roller Records) showcases a keyboard display that Jon Lord would envy. Meanwhile, Legend’s balance of musicianship, sensitivity, and deceptively heavy tone makes the project one of the more intriguing acts from the scene, as testified by “Hiroshima” from the band’s debut self-titled LP (reissued on vinyl by Svart Records).

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