The NWOBHM Thread

First Post November 23, 2022 08:36 PM

Mythra - "The Death & Destiny E.P." (1979)

I first came across this underground gem of the NWOBHM scene while conducting research for the Metal Academy podcast many years ago but I didn't give it anywhere near enough time because this is a damn fine example of what the movement was all about. It's heavy, it's raucous, it's energetic & it's as fun as a drunken bar fight between bikers. These four short songs have a punky edge to them that would have Lemmy spillin' his Jack down his leather vest. In fact, I have to say that the chorus to "U.F.O." sounds uncannily similar to Motorhead's "Iron Fist" only it was released three years prior. Coincidence? Hmmm.... I'm not sure as it's so fucking obvious. Anyway... if you dig ol' NWOBHM records from lesser known bands then you owe it to yourself to check this out. In fact, I'm gonna go so far as to say that this is one of the top ten NWOBHM releases I've heard & I've researched pretty much every noteworthy release in detail so that's gotta be worth somethin'.

For fans of Motorhead, Holocaust & early Tygers of Pan Tang.


November 29, 2022 08:52 PM

Ethel The Frog - "Ethel The Frog" (1980)

This obscure NWOBHM release is another one that I first discovered while conducting research for the Metal Academy podcast around many years ago now but I chose not to include it on the show as I didn't consider it to be genuine metal. This revisit has seen me giving the album a more focused review but my position has remained the same. Of the ten tracks on offer there are only three that I'd suggest should qualify for the NWOBHM tag. The other seven tracks see the unusually titled band (a Monty Python reference by all reports) traversing hard rock, pub rock, blues rock & rock 'n' roll. The production & performances are pretty primitive but it's the song-writing that has impacted my score here as I just can't get into the more lightweight bluesy pub rock stuff much. The vocals aren't terribly accomplished either. The cover version of the Beatles classic "Eleanor Rigby" is a great way to kick the album off though & is probably the best track included while the energetic Motorhead inspired "Fight Back" is also very solid. At the end of the day though I only find around 40% of the tracklisting to be enjoyable so I can't see myself returning to this album for a third helping.

For fans of Vardis, Dark Star & Status Quo.


November 29, 2022 09:05 PM

Chevy - "The Taker" (1980)

This one-off album is another one whose NWOBHM credentials are extremely flimsy. There's actually not a single track of the nine included that I regard as being metal. What we get here is a classic hard rock sound with strong southern rock influences & a touch of AOR here & there. The vocalist is the spitting image of Montrose/Van Halen front man Sammy Hagar & he does a very good job at driving the material which is admittedly pretty inconsistent in its quality. It's really pretty hard to believe the this isn't an American band as the southern rock influence in the guitar harmonies & vocal twang as so easily associated with the USA that it's almost impossible for Chevy to have hailed from anywhere else, even more so when you consider the band name. How they've become associated with the NWOBHM is baffling & is a clear sign of just how loose the boundaries were at the time. Anyway... at the end of the day "The Taker" is a fairly professionally put together hard rock record but the song-writing quality isn't strong enough to keep my interest with any level of consistency.

For fans of Sammy Hagar, UFO & The Black Crowes.


December 05, 2022 11:58 AM

Limelight - "Limelight" (1981)

The debut album from this little-known Nottinghamshire outfit came a full fourteen years after they first formed in 1967. God knows how Limelight have then gone on to be included under the NWOBHM banner given that they were hardly "new". It's even more strange given that there's really only the one metal track on the album in the early speed metal track "Metal Man" which also happens to be the weakest inclusion in the tracklisting in my opinion. What we have here is an interesting blend of dirty pub-style hard rock with a more expansive & melodic progressive rock sound with the lengthier prog tunes being the clear highlights. The vocals have a punky innocence to them that often allows them to work when they don't seem to have any right to while the quality of the lead guitar work was a nice surprise as it's quite accomplished for such an underground rock release. There are a couple of weaker tracks included but these are easily outweighed by the more rewarding material which makes this little album worthy of your time.

For fans of Rush, Shiva & Saracen.


December 17, 2022 09:31 PM

Here's my updated Top Ten NWOBHM Releases of All Time (1979-1983) list following my recent discovery of the Mythra's very solid "The Death & Destiny E.P.":

01. Iron Maiden - "The Number of the Beast" (1982)

02. Iron Maiden - "Piece of Mind" (1983)

03. Iron Maiden - "Maiden Japan" E.P. (1981)

04. More - "Blood & Thunder" (1982)

05. Saxon - "Power & the Glory" (1983)

06. Diamond Head - "Lightning To The Nations" (1980)

07. Saxon - "The Eagle Has Landed: Live" (1982)

08. Saxon - "Strong Arm of the Law" (1980)

09. Mythra - "The Death & Destiny E.P." (1979)

10. Def Leppard - "High 'n' Dry" (1981)

December 29, 2022 09:16 PM

Bitches Sin - "Predator" (1982)

What we have here is yet another underground also-ran from the NWOBHM movement in the debut album from Cumbria-based outfit Bitches Sin. The cover art gives you the distinct impression that you'll be in for a heavily metallic experience (perhaps something similar to Satan?) but the reality is very different to that so it's a bit misleading. Bitches Sin's sound sits somewhere between hard rock & heavy metal with the production sitting a little closer to the rock side of the equation. In fact, the production is the biggest detractor here as the guitars are miles too low in the mix with the pitchy vocals booming over the top but front man Tony Tomkinson's somehow manages to make up for his technical inadequacies in sheer charisma, regularly bringing to mind the blue-collar approach of original Iron Maiden singer Paul Dianno. The lead guitar work may be a little primitive but it oozes attitude (particularly in the electricity of the lightning fast bluesy pentatonic runs) & this helps to carry the weaker material. There are a couple of very catchy songs here that somehow manage to overcome all of the flaws that are doing their damnedest to draw your affections away (see "Lady Lies" & "Looser") but at the end of the day "Predator" was always destined for the second-hand bins & the dustier back pages of NWOBHM history.


January 02, 2023 08:28 AM

Satan - "Into The Fire" demo (1982)

"Into The Fire" was the second demo tape from these Newcastle heavy metallers who would go on to become huge players in the NWOBHM movement shortly afterwards through their 1983 debut album "Court In The Act". I first dug into Satan during my research for the Metal Academy podcast many years ago now. I really couldn't get into their 1982 "Kiss of Death / Heads Will Roll" single as it was simply too primitive but I did quite like "Court In The Act" although it never really threatened to have me gushing over it like most NWOBHM fans seem to. This demo came between those two releases & unsurprisingly sits right in the middle from a quality & development perspective. Six of the seven tracks would end up on the album in a more polished & developed form but this is still a very well produced & executed demo for the time. There are truckloads of effective Iron Maiden inspired guitar harmonies going on although the guitar solos are noticeably weaker than those we'd receive on "Court In The Act" the following year. Blitzkrieg front man Brian Ross was still yet to join the band & I'm not the biggest fan of his performance on the album so I was kinda hoping that previous singer Ian Swift might be more to my taste but unfortunately it seems that he has a lot less talent than Ross. In fact, he really struggles to stay in key throughout the whole tracklisting so it's lucky that the instrumentation & song-writing offer enough to keep people interested. Overall, I'd suggest that this is an inessential piece of work that doesn't offer a lot of replay value given that nearly all of the material was re-recorded in a superior format so I'd only recommend "Into The Fire" for the Satan tragics & NWOBHM completists out there. Think Angel Witch & Blitzkrieg meets Paul Dianno-era Iron Maiden & you won't be too far off the mark.


January 05, 2023 10:07 PM

Fist - "Back With A Vengeance" (1982)

I wasn't a fan of Newcastle-based NWOBHM act Fist's 1980 debut album "Turn The Hell On" when I investigated it during my Metal Academy podcast research many years ago now so I suppose I should have known better than to try it on with their sophomore record from a couple of years later. The band line-up is very different from that of "Turn The Hell On" though with two of their four members having been replaced with three new faces, the most notable of which is new front man Glen Coates whose talented hard rock voice is a welcome addition. Unfortunately the song-writing is just as inconsistent as it was on the debut which leaves the record falling a bit flat despite a very decent production job & some excellent musicianship. Unlike the debut which was very much a heavy metal/hard rock hybrid, I'd suggest that "Back With A Vengeance" is positioned much further over towards the hard rock side of the equation with the Van Halen & AC/DC references being more common than the "Sad Wings of Destiny"-era Judas Priest & Motorhead (particularly in the use of double-kick)  ones. This leaves Fist's second full-length sitting in the same sort of space as Tygers of Pan Tang's post-"Spellbound" NWOBHM records or Vardis' "100 M.P.H." live album in my opinion & I'll be posting a Hall of Judgement entry to have it removed from The Guardians as a result.


January 09, 2023 12:39 AM

Mama's Boys - "Plug It In" (1982)

A very well produced & executed debut album from this very underground Irish NWOBHM outfit who played a crunchy brand of hard rock similar to AC/DC, Thin Lizzy & "Wheels Of Steel"-era Saxon. The musicianship is excellent but I think Mama's Boys probably just lacked a bit of x-factor in both the song-writing & the vocal delivery as the album lacks any real highlights & includes 3 or 4 pretty flat tunes, particularly when the band branch out into lighter & more accessible creative spaces. The album isn't currently listed on the Academy database & I'd be happy to keep it that way as there's really very little actual metal included here.


January 24, 2023 11:36 AM

Quartz - "Against The Odds" (1983)

I quite liked Birmingham NWOBHM outfit Quartz' 1977 self-titled debut album & also their 1980 sophomore record "Stand Up & Fight" which saw them upping the metal significantly. I'd never ventured further forwards than that in the band's discography until now but thought I'd take on the third of their more well-known releases in 1983's "Against All Odds" third album. Quartz would split up later the same year, only to reform in 2011 & they're apparently still around today & have in fact just released a brand new album. Anyway... "Against All Odds" isn't as entertaining as its older siblings with the wishy washy production job & uninspired song-writing missing the mark they'd previously reached. You can certainly expect to hear the hard rockin' brand of heavy metal that became the calling card of the NWOBHM but the tempos are sluggish & the chorus hooks are a bit lacking this time, particularly when they attempt their more accessible numbers. The best moments inevitably occur when we find Quartz channelling metal idols like Black Sabbath & Judas Priest but there are a couple too many failures overshadowing the album highlights here in my opinion. My suggestion is that you stick to the first two Quartz records if you're looking to expand your NWOBHM horizons.