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Metal/Prog Metal CD Reviews


Heavy Metal Mania: The Complete Recordings Volume 1 - 1980-1984

Review by Gary Hill

This band was part of the NWOBHM. The thing is, they were a lot less known than many of the other groups who were part of that movement. Metallica, though, made clear their love of the group, even covering one of their songs. That helped to life them out of obscurity. This six CD collection includes a lot of their studio recorded work and more. The more includes a couple live CDs and an album by the band Hologram. That band was guitarist Ed Dudley's post-Holocaust effort.

While the music here is always strong, at times there are vocal issues. That's most prominent on the first live album. The music has a nice mix of heavy metal, punk, early thrash and more. Hologram stretches well beyond the metal zone. This collection works as both a historical record of an important metal band and an entertaining set warts and all.

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Track by Track Review
CD1: The Nightcomers (1981)
Smokin' Valves

Drums get things going here. This tune has a lot of punk and old-school rock and roll in the mix. It's also packed with plenty of NWOBHM and general underground metal.

Death or Glory
That punk angle is still present here, but this is more pure metal overall. It's a screaming hot song that works really well. It definitely feels underground, but in a great way.
Come on Back
The punk is pretty much gone here. This has some killer guitar work, and is a great underground metal stomper.
This is a bit slower, but it's pure metal of the underground variety. I like this track a lot. In fact, I'd consider it one of the highlights of this first CD. The instrumental section late gets into some pretty crazy territory and gets a speeding up treatment as it continues later.
It Don't Matter to Me
We get some punky angles back here. This is a solid tune that has more of a rock and less metal vibe.
Cryin' Shame
I really love the guitar solo on this tune. The number is another that sits more in the pure metal zone. There is a cool section where different instruments become the focus for a measure or two.
Heavy Metal Mania (Re-Recorded Version)
There is some dual guitar work early on this that sounds so much like K.K. Downing and Glenn Tipton in Judas Priest. This is another highlight of the first CD. It has plenty of old-school metal and even some solid hooks.
Push It Around
This is a mean metal stomper. It has some hints of that punk edge that shows up from time to time here.
The Nightcomers
The title track is one of the most interesting things here. It has some drama and hints of mystery. There is an echoey vibe that works well. Yet it also gets thrashy at times. It also has a metal guitar freak-out section later.
CD2: Live (Hot Curry & Wine Video Soundtrack (1983)
No Nonsense

This sounds a little rough around the edges at times. The vocals seem too high in the mix to me. It's a hard rocker that works reasonably well, though.

Push It Around
Punky, hard rocking and cool, this is another solid live entry.
Death or Glory
The punk and metal merge well on this. I think this elevates the show a little from the previous two tracks.
Bridge of Impressions
Again this has both punk and metal angles at play. The guitar solo is too far down in the mix, which sucks because it sounds pretty good.
Out My Book
Another screamer, this is rough around the edges for sure.
A metal instrumental piece, this is among the most effective stuff on this particular CD of the set. It has some cool twists and turns and a lot of meat on its bones.
Heavy Metal Mania
This comes in purely on fire. The twin-guitar approach serves it very well. This song is rough around the edges here, and it earns a parental advisory.
The Small Hours
Punky and metallic, this rocker has some edges that could use some smoothing out. Still, I dig the slow groove on it.
Forcedown Breakdown
This is very punky, but it has some definite metal in the mix, too.
Lovin' Feelin' Danger
The spoken introduction to this earns it a parental advisory. This has killer almost blues rock in the mix. It has both metal and punky leanings, too.
Crying Shame
More of a straight-ahead rocker, this has plenty of that punk angle to it.
The Nightcomers
The chimey intro here is cool. The track is fierce and driving. The crazy movement later is on fire here and includes a drum solo. This gets extended out to roughly ten-and-a-half minutes long.
Smokin' Valves
This has plenty of punk in the mix, but also lots of metal. I love the guitar soloing.
Long the Bell Will Toll
The guitar work on this is great. Otherwise this isn't a big change, although it is decidedly metal in approach.
It Don't Matter to Me
This isn't a big change. It has both punk and metal in the mix. It gets pretty crazed at the end.
CD3: Hologram: Steal the Stars (1983)
Can't Live Without You Anymore

This track is intriguing. In a lot of ways it's more hard rock than metal, but there are metal edges here. This also gets into some intricate, almost Latin inspired sounds in a break mid-track. There is also a short dramatic mellower section that calls to mind progressive metal. Then that breaks out into a more rocking section that feels part Van Halen and part Rush. That mode ends the song. This whole thing works well.

While this is more pure metal, it still has mainstream hard rock built into it. This isn't quite a ballad, but it's not a major rocker, either. It's another solid tune. The guitar solo section that takes the track out has some great melodic jamming on it.
Expected To
There is almost an April Wine vibe to this in some ways. I love the bass work on the tune. There are some intriguing twists and turns. I'm not sure I'd call this metal. The bass work on this is absolutely great. There's almost a progressive rock vibe to the track at times.
Together Again
While this does have more metal in the mix, this also has more of that April Wine kind of thing going on. It's also got some cool instrumental moments.
Shoot the Moon
This comes in as a ballad, but quickly starts rocking out. While the metal sound here is very 80s, it is decidedly heavy metal. This is a strong cut with good hooks. It's one of the highlights of this third disc.
A driving and unusual melodic metal number, this is another highlight of the album. The guitar sound calls to mind Rush's "reggae-inspired" era.
Lost in Love
Creative and unusual music, this barely qualifies as metal. It's very unique and accessible.
Vigilante Man
More metal, this has a good energy. It still has some of that Van Halen reference points along with some April Wine. There is an intriguing instrumental break later in the number that includes acoustic guitar soloing that again has some hints of Latin music.
Desolation Island
This merges hard rock and metal pretty well. It's got a nice balance between mellower and more melodic stuff and more rocking sounds This has some intriguing bass work. The instrumental break on this again takes us in some unexpected direction.
Cliché Pastiche
This cut is an odd little jazzy jam built around just vocals and clean guitar.
CD4: Live (Hot Curry & Wine Original Album(1983)
No Nonsense

The sound is definitely cleaned up from the other version of the song. This works so much better than that other recording. It's more pure metal and really rocks.

Smokin' Valves
Now, this is definitely more punky. It's a hard-edged rocker that's a little rawer than the previous cut, but still more polished than the version on the other CD. The guitar solo section on this is positively on fire.
Long the Bell Will Toll
While this is a bit of an improvement from the other live version, it has some issues. It's a bit rawer than the two songs that preceded it.
This song was the highlight of the previous live CD here. It sounds even better in this recording. It's a real winner here, too.
The Small Hours
Another that's an improvement from the previous disc because of the cleaned up sound, this is pure metal and it rocks. This gets pretty crazed and a little weird. It's also a solid metal tune.
Forcedown Breakdown
The guitar solo section on this thing is on fire. The whole tune is energized and really rocking. It's definitely not as raw as the other recording.
Heavy Metal Mania / The Nightcomers
I love the riff that brings this two-fer into being. The vocals coming over the top of it don't work as well. The track works through as a pounding metal stomper. Then we get a drum showcase that takes it into the next half of the two-fer. Some killer metal jamming ensues as that part gets going. That eventually turns out to more of a punk meets metal jam that works pretty well.
CD5: No Man's Land (1984)
No Man's Land

They bring this album in with the title track. I'm reminded of Motörhead to a good degree here. This is fierce and raw. It has plenty of hard rock built into it, but it's more pure metal than some of the stuff in this set.

We Will Rock and We Will Roll
This isn't a big change from the last track. It has some catchier hooks, though, but it's also more on the raw side.
No Time Left
There is plenty of that Motörhead thing here, along with a lot of punky angles. I dig the main riffing and some of the hooks, but overall this is a bit of step down from the two previous cuts.
Let's Go
This is much more pure punk. It's raw and a little hard to take at times.
On the Ropes
Another with a lot of punky angles, this reminds me quite a bit of The Ramones at times.
Satellite City
This is very much a punk-rock-like number. There is some metal and some straight-ahead rock and roll in the mix, though.
Power Play
This instrumental is more metallic, but melodic metal at that. It's less than a minute long.
By the Waterside
Here we get another song that's more pure metal. It's a good tune, but the vocals are a real problem here.
Missing Presumed Dead
The vocals on this are more punk-like, but the music has more metal edge to it.
This rocker has plenty of metal built into it. The vocals come in more along the underground metal line. The instrumental section later really includes some smoking hot guitar interplay. This is definitely a highlight of the disc.
Here Comes the Good Times
Another that calls to mind The Ramones, this is punky and metallic at the same time. It's a cool rocker. It has some scorching guitar work late, too. This is another standout.
CD6: Heavy Metal Mania (1980-1982)
Heavy Metal Mania

This version of the song is a power rocking tune that has both punk and metal built into it.

Love's Power
I absolutely love the guitar interplay on this thing. It's a hard rocking tune with both punk and metal in the mix.
Only As Young As You Feel
The bass gets things underway here. They launch out into another hard rocker that has both metal and punk reference points.
Smokin' Valves
The energy and metal groove on this is so strong. I love this version of the song. It's on fire.
Friend or Foe
A good energetic rocker with some metal built into it, this is a fun tune. It's got some good hooks.
Out My Book
This feels so mean and both metal and punk oriented here. It's so strong.
Lovin' Feelin' Danger
Another fierce rocker, this works pretty well. It definitely has some punky angles at play.
No Nonsense
This one works well here. I love the guitar solo section so much.
Death or Glory
Much more pure underground metal, this thing is fierce and effective.
Forcedown Breakdown
This is the version with the better sound that we heard before.
Coming Through
Catchy and meaty, this has plenty of punk and 80s indie metal built into it. It's one of the stronger tunes here.
Don't Wanna Be (A Loser)
High energy and punky, this also has plenty of early thrash type sound built into it.
Good Thing

Sort of a "more of the same" kind of thing. This is solid, but kind of an "also ran."

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