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Various Artists

NWOBHM Thunder: New Wave Of British Heavy Metal 1978-1986

Review by Gary Hill
This new collection of music from the New Wave of British Heavy Metal is particularly strong. We get three CDs of music along with a nice booklet. Each disc comes in a cardboard sleeve, and it's all packaged in a cardboard sleeve. I have to say that sometimes I find NWOBHM stuff (indie and often raw as it can be) to be a little less than stellar. Don't get me wrong, that raw, unpolished element can be charming, but it can also get old pretty quickly. All that said, every single song here really shines, though. I might quibble with some of it being heavy metal, but that's a very subjective thing anywhere. I think this is a great introduction to some cool songs. I should mention that I've reviewed a few of these songs before, and have in a couple instances used my original track reviews here for the sake of consistency. I should also mention that the non-standard capitalization here duplicates the stylization of the cover to the set.

This review is available in book (paperback and hardcover) form in Music Street Journal: 2020  Volume 5. More information and purchase links can be found at: garyhillauthor.com/Music-Street-Journal-2020.

Track by Track Review
CD ONE
                       
SAXON - Heavy Metal Thunder

Frantic metal that reminds me of Judas Priest (in fact, the British Steel album comes to mind) is the basis for this. It’s a pretty cool tune.

ROCK GODDESS - Satisfied then Crucified
This is a screaming hot stomper that sounds a lot like Warlock to me. This has some killer riffs and hooks. It's fierce and catchy at the same time.
PAULINE GILLAN BAND - You Got Me Running
A bit more of a power ballad, this still has plenty of metal built into it. It's a more melodic number, but still pulls of some real crunch. Comparisons to Doro Pesch are valid here, too. It's worth noting that Pauline Gillan is the sister of Ian Gillan.
PRAYING MANTIS - Flirting with Suicide

This powers in screaming hot. It's fast-paced metal that's definitely of the energetic variety. It is also a bit more mainstream rocker than pure metal. It has a melodic vibe. IN contrast to the title, this is quite cheery.

ARAGORN - Radar Love
Here we get a metal cover of the Golden Earring classic. On the one hand, they don't change the song a lot. Yet, they still make it their own. They definitely bring the pure metal crunch to it in terms of the overall arrangement. Beyond that, the guitar soloing is screaming hot. All in all, this is a classy version of a classic tune.
ELIXIR - Pandora's Box
I dig the raw metal approach on this. This is very much a real steel kind of tune. It's another fierce one. The vocal line gets some soaring hooks in at times, too. This really showcases a trademark NWOBHM sound.
CLOVEN HOOF - The Gates of Gehenna
Here is another fierce and rather raw metal tune. It calls to mind early Metallica in some ways. The vocals are literally screaming hot at times. There is an evil sound to the piece. I can make out sounds like WASP here, too. This is a real killer.
PAUL DI'ANNO'S BATTLEZONE - The Land God Gave to Caine
If you are familiar with the first couple Iron Maiden albums, you know what to expect here in terms of the vocal presence since Di'Anno was the singer on those discs The cut is a bit less complex than Maiden musically for much of its run, opting more for a basic metal concept. That doesn't mean it's lacking, though. It definitely is not. This is another killer metal stomper. We're taken later in the track to movement that's more mainstream rock based. It's a mellower movement with clean guitars in the back of it. I wouldn't quite call it a balladic movement, but it's not metal either. They bring it back out into some screaming hot metal at the end of that, though.
SIEGE - Goddess of Fire
Melodic female vocals bring something rather unique to this cut. The track has some screaming hot crunchy metal at its core. It's definitely produced in a typical indie NWOBHM way. I think the vocals might be just a bit too high in the mix, but it still works.
VARDIS - Too Many People

Take a mainstream hard rock and up the crunch factor. You'll be pretty close to this number. There is a bit of a punky edge, too. I love the fierce guitar solo.

BATTLEAXE - Burn this Town

This has some screaming hot NWOBHM meets punky hooks vibe to it. It's high energy and has a catchy chorus.

VENOM - Live Like an Angel, Die Like a Devil
Raw and furious, this is a frantic rocker. I dig the guitar riffs on the piece, and the whole thing just works well. There are some cool hooks, and a bit of a punky vibe at times. The guitar solo section is crazed and incendiary.
SATAN'S EMPIRE - Suicide Man
I dig the raw sound of this cut. It's part psychedelia, part punk and yet all metal. This is another tune that's trademark NWOBHM. It's got a real indie sound to it. It has some cool riffs, too.
WAR MACHINE - Power
Another female fronted outfit, this band really screams raw power. Yet they have some technical proficiency, too. The balance between more rocking and mellower movements is great. That said, it doesn't drop that far down, and doesn't stay there long. The guitar solo is on fire.
CD TWO
             
BLITZKREIG - Inferno

A guitar workout bit starts this thing. The cut moves outward from there, and a scream comes over the top. I dig the chops on this tune. There are some vocals that come over at the end of the intro that make me think of The B-52s a little. As the song proper hits, it's screaming hot metal that makes me think of The Dead Kennedys a bit for some reason.

MANTAS - The Green Manalishi
Here we get a cover of the Fleetwood Mac chestnut. Well, actually it is a cover of Judas Priest's version of it. The general sound seems closer to the mighty Priest. Certainly it's closer in terms of the tempo. Keyboards almost feel like they bring it more in the FM vein, though. Wherever you see the comparisons belonging, this is a raw and fierce version of the tune. It's a real metal stomper.
DARK STAR - Lady of Mars
I love the guitar fills on this tune. The metal romping concept that serves as the clay on which this piece is constructed is great, too. This is a rather mainstream rocker, but definitely ramped up as metal.
MIDAS - Power in the Sky
Trademark NWOBHM in terms of production and sound, this is a bit stripped back. It's less metal and more hard rock, but it's still quite strong. I dig the guitar work on the instrumental section a lot. It has a bit of an Irish jig flavor somehow. The backing vocals bring some magic to the piece, too.
CHEVY - Just Another Day
I don't know that I'd call this song heavy metal, but it's still strong. It has some cool slide guitar on the opening. Yes, the tune is crunchy, but it's more of a blues based 70s rock tune. The chorus hook is catchy and clean. Metal or not, this is a strong tune that is effective.
BLACK ROSE - Ridin' Higher
A furious screamer, this thing is on fire. It's a bit punky and raw, but it's also just plain magic.
HAMMERHEAD - Time Will Tell
The intricate metal ballad approach at the start of this makes me think of Lovedrive era Scorpions. The number shifts out to a high energy metal stomper from there as guitar solos over the top of it. While there are vocals on this song, the bulk of the piece is instrumental. It's raw and fiery with some killer guitar work.
METAL MIRROR - Crazy
Scorching hot, this has plenty of punk and metal merged together. It's high energy and fierce. It's also catchy.
LIAISON - Only Heaven Knows
A bit more of a mainstream rocker, this isn't quite a ballad, but it's not far from it. This is another that I'm not sure I'd call metal. There are even some jazzy guitar fills in the mix at points.
SHIVA - En Cachent (demo version)
I dig the hard-edged opening bit on this, but the mellower, almost trippy movement that takes over from there is even stronger. This might be a demo, but it's also a great piece of music. It's perhaps not really metal, though. I'd almost think of this number as prog rock. That says, it does get crunchy later for a little while. Whatever you call this, though, everything about it works so well. It's actually one of my favorites of the set.
GIRL - Hollywood Tease
This is a killer rocker, the cut has some cool hooks and metal crunch. It's another that's trademark NWOBHM.  Guitarist Phil Collen went on to play in Def Leppard.
SARACEN - A Face in the Crowd
Now, this cut has a real ballad approach and vibe to it as it opens. I can make out some prog and psychedelia in the mix. The tune grows outward to gain some crunch after the first set of vocals. This is more or less a power-ballad. It has a real epic vibe to it. It's also screaming hot.
TYGERS OF PAN TANG - Love Potion No. 9
Who would have thought that this old chestnut could have been turned into a metal screamer? Apparently Tygers of Pan Tang because they really deliver. This is crunchy, catchy and classy. It's also a lot of fun.
DEMON PACT – Demon Pact
Raw and fierce, the indie kind of screaming NWOBHM sound is at the heart of this number. It's a killer tune.
TAROT - Feel the Power
I dig the blues rock meets metal vibe as this opens. After that introduction works through, they shift the song to screaming hot raw metal groove
CHROME MOLLY - Nuclear Attack
Fierce, raw and screaming hot. This has a lot of intensity and drive. The ending of this is a rather drawn out stomping segment. I'd have to say that it goes on a bit too long, almost to the point of feeling silly.
CD THREE
                 
RAVEN - Break the Chain

They fire right out into the fierce metal pounding. The riffing driving this is great, and the tune has a killer old school metal vibe. The bridge almost brings an early Iron Maiden sound to this.

WITCHFYNDE - I'd Rather Go Wild
There is almost a punky Ramones vibe to the riff that opens this cut. It works out with a scream to more typical NWOBHM stuff. This is a powerhouse stomper.
STREETFIGHTER - She's No Angel
The galloping sort of sound at the start of this makes me think of Iron Maiden to some degree. When the vocals join early Maiden is definitely a valid comparison. This is meaty and fierce. It's also a killer tune. The guitar soloing is on fire.
HEAVY PETTIN' - Love Times Love
A bit more mainstream rocker, there is plenty of metal here to drive the vehicle to its destination. I particularly dig the guitar soloing on the number.
JAGUAR - Another Lost Weekend
I dig the fierce hard rocking sound of this. It has enough hooks and polish to make it feel almost mainstream. Yet there are raw edges to keep it real and mean.
SAMSON - Earth Mother
This powerhouse is literally a screamer. Bruce Dickinson is unmistakable as the lead singer on the number. It's a killer piece that is among the best of the set. I'm reminded just a bit of Danzig in some ways here.
DEMON - Liar

A bit more mainstream rock and roller, this is a classy stomper. While this is catchy stuff, it still has plenty of meat on its bones.

GIRLSCHOOL - It Could be Better

Now, this is less metal and more mainstream rock. It has some killer hooks and hints of old school rock and roll. It's Girlschool, so you know it has to be good. I love the killer guitar solo on this.

TOKYO BLADE - Dirty Faced Angels
Powering in fierce and Maiden-like, this turns to more of a straight-ahead metal stomper. It is definitely classy stuff.
STORMTROOPER - Still Comin' Home
The cool riffing that starts this makes me think of AC/DC just a bit. As the tune kicks out from there washes of keyboards lend almost a space rock thing. The bass work is on fire. It settles into more of a pure metal sound for the entrance of the vocals. This is a crazed and particularly cool stomper that works really well. The instrumental section at the end is cool.
SAVAGE - Stevie's Vengeance
Firing in furious, this works out to some pretty straightforward metal. This is trademark NWOBHM and reminds me a bit of Iron Maiden in some ways. The mellower section later in the track brings a different flavor, but the metal seems even fiercer as it powers back out from there.
DIAMOND HEAD - In the Heat of the Night
This is perhaps a bit more mature than some of the rest. It's definitely metal, but there is a mellower edge to it. Still, I wouldn't call it a ballad. It's a bit anthemic. It's one of the most different tunes here. It's also another highlight of the set.
STATETROOPER - Veni, Vidi, Vici
Anthemic and melodic, this is more of a mainstream tune. It still has some metal crunch. It's more polished than a lot of the stuff here. It is a solid number, but I think I prefer the more purely metallic stuff. That said, I dig the guitar soloing on this a lot. It leans toward the technical end of the spectrum.
FIST - Lost and Found
There is a great balance between slower, and more dropped back movements and powered up ones. It has a bit of a hair metal sound, but with a rawer, real steel edge in place.
 
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