Heavy Load! The original heathens from the north! Yes indeed, Heavy Load are known as the very first legitimate heavy metal band from Sweden, a country known today for its extremely rich heavy metal heritage. Heavy Load were there before it all began, releasing their debut album in… (gulp)… 1978!
Let’s take a look at Heavy Load’s sophomore release, Metal Conquest from 1981. This release was a 12” record (45 rpm) containing five tracks of Scandinavian steel. A glance at the band photos on the album’s back cover reveals a real life Spinal Tap of sorts. Ridiculous looking to say the least. But the wax beneath wields a heavy viking hammer of brutish, beard-pulling metal!
At the heart of Heavy Load were two brothers, Ragne Wahlquist (guitar) and Styrbjörn Wahlquist (drums). The two also shared vocal duties. Rounding out the Heavy Load lineup on Metal Conquest were bassist Torbjörn Ragnesjö, and another guitarist/singer, Eddy Malm.
The Wahlquist brothers formed their own record label, Thunderload Records. It was on this label that Heavy Load released Metal Conquest and their subsequent records.
My Worthless Opinion: I like to call this kind of music “chest metal”; as in puffed-out chests, furry loin cloths waiving in the breeze, and heavy broadswords slicing through the night. Yes folks, before Manowar, there was Heavy Load – the original “chest metal” band!
I find it interesting that Metal Conquest showcases three different lead singers on its five tracks. Ragne Wahlquist provides lead vocals on You’ve Got The Power and Heathens From The North. His brother Styrbjörn sings Heavy Metal Heaven. The remaining two tracks, Dark Nights and Hey are sung (and written) by Eddy Malm. This guy is Heavy Load’s secret weapon! He is the best singer of the three by a country mile, and his melodies are rich and mighty. Hey is a particularly exquisite cut. The chorus sounds like something from some arcane 1950’s oldie rock n’ roll song. Very unique for a heavy metal tune.
When you listen to the simple riffs, pounding drums, and larger than life melodies of Heavy Load, keep in mind that this was 1981, an early date in the evolution of this kind of lusty “power” metal. Sure, Metal Conquest is a bit crusty and rough around the edges, but these guys had the power and the glory of true heavy metal in their hearts. After all, they christened themselves with the name “Heavy Load”, didn’t they? Did they live up to such a “more-metal-than-you” moniker with Metal Conquest? Why don’t you ask my underpants. My score: B+