The New Wave Of British Heavy Metal! The time has come to list my top ten NWOBHM albums for the year 1982. This list is based solely on which albums I have listened to and enjoyed the most over the years. These are my personal favorites. No more. No less. Just one fan’s list.
It should be noted that I have chosen NOT to include Iron Maiden’s The Number Of The Beast in this list. The rule of thumb that I follow is this: the first two Maiden albums (1980’s Iron Maiden and 1981’s Killers) are definitely NWOBHM, but after that, in my opinion, Iron Maiden “graduated” from the NWOBHM scene and onto the world stage. Therefore, Iron Maiden’s 1982 album The Number Of The Beast does not qualify as NWOBHM as far as I’m concerned. We’ll leave this list to those bands that were still battling it out in the trenches, okay? In case you were wondering, had The Number Of The Beast been eligible for this list, it would indeed reside at number one! In fact, on my Top Ten Albums of 1982 (overall) list, The Number Of The Beast takes top prize for the year.
By the way, popular opinion would undoubtedly place Venom’s Black Metal (reviewed here), and Raven’s Wiped Out (reviewed here) in the top ten. However, you won’t find either album on my list because they’re not my personal favorites. I’m just being honest. Nevertheless, I thought I would mention these two noteworthy omissions. I’m not a big fan, but you may want to check them out for yourself and see what all the fuss is about.
Okay, enough with the intro. Here’s my list…
10. More – Blood And Thunder
Blood And Thunder was More’s second (and last) album (Atlantic Records). More’s leader (and the man who graces the album cover with a healthy mullet) was guitarist Kenny Cox. This album showcases his impressive heavy metal chops, along with the fine vocals of Mick Stratton.
I already posted a full review of Blood And Thunder here. Check it out. Bottom line: dumb cover, good music. My score: B
9. Tank – Power Of The Hunter
Power Of The Hunter was Tank’s second release of 1982. The other, their debut Filth Hounds Of Hades, appears further down on this list. Quite possibly in response to countless comparisons to Motorhead with Filth Hounds Of Hades, Tank ratcheted back the aggression a tad on Power Of The Hunter. Admittedly, this album falls short of the greatness of their debut, but Power Of The Hunter houses plenty of cool, wiry riffs and quirky, fun lyrics. A close listen reveals that Tank were actually a pretty articulate power trio with some impressive musical chops (at least on record, apparently they were horrible live).
Personal fave is the album opener Walking Barefoot Over Glass. Note the gnarly verse riff which utilizes some cool whammy work. Two more tasty tracks are Biting And Scratching and Used Leather (Hanging Loose).
At the time of its release, Power Of The Hunter was a critical and commercial disappointment, but I think there is plenty to love about this once dismissed piece of wax. Just don’t expect Filth Hounds Of Hades Part II. My score: B
8. Heritage – Remorse Code
This is a curious wonder. Heritage’s one and only album was Remorse Code on Rondolet Records. This NWOBHM offering is interesting to me due to the intelligent vocal arrangements on tap. How odd is it that these vocal parts remind me of an album that came out many years later (in the nineties) called Parachute by Guster? I can guarantee you it’s a coincidence, but its funny how two bands that have no business being used in the same sentence have crossed paths in the confines of my brain. But I digress, Remorse Code is not a milestone album by any means, but its an interesting find in a sea of forgotten nuggets and a rarefied element in the NWOBHM ether. This collection of sturdy and bright rockers holds up pretty well. Even amongst the NWOBHM albums, a group synonymous with obscurity, Remorse Code doesn’t seem to be on anyone’s radar. Maybe because it is more of a hard rock album than a metal album? I don’t know, but it seems woefully underrated to me. Vocalist Darryl Cheswick steals the show with his vocal melodies and well crafted harmony parts. Give this guy a trophy. My score: B
7. Fist- Back With A Vengeance
Fist underwent quite a few changes since their debut, 1980’s Turn The Hell On. First and foremost, they ditched their old logo. Damn, I loved that thing! Furthermore, the Fist line-up for Back With A Vengeance was quite different than that of Turn The Hell On. Only drummer Harry Hill and guitarist Dave Irwin remained from the first record. Keith Satchfield, who played such an important role in Fist, was out of the band. Satchfield sang, played guitar, and was Fist’s principal songwriter for Turn The Hell On. Not surprisingly, Fist sounds like a totally different band without Satchfield. Still good, but different.
After the commercial failure of Turn The Hell On for MCA Records, Fist was back with Neat Records for Back With A Vengeance. New vocalist Glen Coates brought a totally different singing style to the band. While Satchfield had a rough but warm voice, Coates had a clean, bright voice. Coates also brought plenty of enthusiasm to the table. His performance on Lost And Found is most impressive.
In many ways Back With A Vengeance sounds like it could have come out before Turn The Hell On. It’s a bit more scrappy, and not as mature as Turn The Hell On. Nevertheless, this is a quality record with some very solid tracks like S.S. Giro and Going Wild Tonight. And that cover… hmmm… remind you of anything? My score: B
6. Samson – Before The Storm
Before The Storm featured a much different line-up than Samson’s previous LP Shock Tactics (1981). Gone was the gimp mask wearing “Thunderstick” from the drum kit (replaced by Pete Jupp), and gone too was over-the-top vocalist “Bruce Bruce” (Bruce Dickinson), who found greener pastures with Iron Maiden. But fear not, rock fans, because the band’s namesake, guitarist Paul Samson went out and got himself a fine singer in the person of one Nicky Moore. Moore’s deep, rich, and soulful voice was a complete departure from the theatrical shenanigans of “Bruce Bruce”.
The resulting album, Before The Storm, finds Samson heading away from the NWOBHM into a more old-school hard rock direction. This seems to suit Paul’s playing just fine, as he always had a blue-collar, somewhat conventional, heavy blues approach. Nicky Moore’s voice adds a different dimension to the Samson sound. His powerful pipes seem to throw a bit of a Southern rock twist into things. He has one of those voices that makes you think that he probably has a beard.
One of the unfortunate things about Samson is this: Most “fans” discover Samson while retracing Bruce Dickinson’s pre-Iron Maiden history. Therefore, unwarranted comparisons to Iron Maiden inevitably pop up. Worse yet, once Bruce was out of the band, most don’t care to look at what Samson did without Dickinson. It’s just stupid. Samson was so much more than Bruce Dickinson’s first band. They sounded nothing like Maiden. So let’s drop the preconceived notions about Samson, and don’t be afraid to venture past the Dickinson albums into some ridiculously solid material. Try something new will ya? My score: B+
5. Demon – The Unexpected Guest
Demon’s follow-up to their excellent 1981 debut Night Of The Demon is yet another solid batch of hard rock songs. The songwriting duo of Mal Cope (rhythm guitar) and Dave Hill (vocals) more or less repeated their formula from the first album. The songs are fairly conventional, with familiar chord changes and an emphasis on melody above all else. Despite the evil image, Demon’s music drew heavily from the “classic” rock music of the ’70s, while adding a bit of a metallic tinge. Hill’s unique voice is one that is rough and tattered, but he is a fine singer indeed. With The Unexpected Guest, the lyrical content remains consistently anchored within the occult-based themes that was touched upon for only a few tracks on Night Of The Demon.
One of the more “metal” tracks on The Unexpected Guest is the excellent Don’t Break The Circle. Yet, the album’s absolute gem is the upbeat (and somewhat AOR-ish) Have We Been Here Before?. This song is just so damn catchy, I find myself listening to it three or four times in a row.
I checked out some old live video of Demon’s stage act from ’82 (there is some stuff on YouTube). Seems Dave Hill would come out of a coffin at the beginning of the show, and perform decked out in “demonic” gear and makeup. Nice! My score: B+
4. Tank – Filth Hounds Of Hades
The raucous power-trio Tank debuted with Filth Hounds Of Hades; a mighty wallop of Motorhead inspired speed metal with a judicious dose of bluesy riffs thrown in. Tank was one of the fastest and most aggressive sounding acts of the NWOBHM, joining ranks with the likes of Venom and Raven. But unlike those two acts, Tank had a penchant for insanely catchy choruses.
Filth Hounds Of Hades is comprised of ten snot-nosed tracks, and not a single dud among them. Highlights include Turn Your Head Around, Heavy Artillery, and the title track. My personal fave is T.W.D.A.M.O. Cheers to the Brabbs brothers and Algy Ward for a spirited record built, no doubt, upon generous portions of blood, guts, and beer.
Filth Hound Of Hades was originally released by Kamaflage Records in the United Kingdom. It was the first of two albums released by Tank in ’82. Their second release was the slightly more refined Power Of The Hunter. My score: A-
3. Diamond Head – Borrowed Time
Working up to Borrowed Time, Diamond Head had generated quite a buzz in the metal world with their independently released debut (known as Lightning To The Nations), and a few independently released singles. Hailed as one of forerunners of the NWOBHM, Diamond Head were snatched up by a major label, MCA Records. Unfortunately, critics didn’t seem to like the LP that followed, Borrowed Time. The album failed to propel Diamond Head into super stardom as some had predicted/hoped. In hindsight, Borrowed Time may have been the wrong album at the wrong time for Diamond Head. Borrowed Time was a much tamer, well-behaved album than Lightning To The Nations, which wasn’t what the public was looking for. Nevertheless, I think that Borrowed Time is a really strong album, and in my opinion it’s somewhat of a hidden treasure.
Borrowed Time contains only seven tracks, but I think all of them are quite good. The album starts off with In The Heat Of The Night. Immediately one notices that the in-your-face guitars of Lightning To The Nations are no more. Instead, we are greeted with a polite, well-balanced mix with excellent fidelity. In The Heat Of The Night is a slow-paced tune, and with a surprising subdued main riff. Yet the song works thanks to Sean Harris’ clever vocal performance. Harris really shines on this album. Vocal-wise, he had many unique idiosyncrasies in terms of timing and note selection that made him an entertaining listen. Diamond Head continue to show their restraint with To Heaven From Hell and Call Me. Again, the pacing and arrangements of these tunes are a stark contrast to the Lightning To The Nations album. Speaking of the Lightning To The Nations album, the song Lightning To The Nations follows, a re-recording of the original. Track number five is the album’s cornerstone, the brooding title track — a menacing atmospheric tune that clocks in at almost eight minutes. Don’t You Ever Leave Me follows, another eight minute number. The first five or so minutes of Don’t You Ever Leave Me kind of meander aimlessly, but for the last three minutes the tune turns into a beautiful slow blues piece highlighted by Brian Tatler’s mournful lead guitar and Harris’ emotive vocals. The last track is a re-recording of the now classic Diamond Head masterpiece Am I Evil?. This version is not quite as good as the definitive original but it still brings the Borrowed Time album to a rousing finale (note the small lyric changes on this version). In the end, we are left with an album that I truly believe is better than Lightning To The Nations, though I expect few would agree with me. I definitely recommend discovering this misunderstood album for yourself! My score: A-
2. Witchfinder General – Death Penalty
Death Penalty was the debut full-length by Witchfinder General. Sonically, Witchfinder General played direct homage to Black Sabbath. However, lyrically, Witchfinder General were much more tongue-in-cheek than their idols. This is where some misappropriated criticism seems to come Witchfinder General’s way. Some seem to think that just because Witchfinder General played thick, doomy Sabbath riffs that they were also supposed to cop Sabbath’s overly serious lyrics, too. But the lyrics of Zeeb Parkes are juvenile and endearingly dumb. When he sings of drugs, he doesn’t mince words or use veiled references. He basically says “gimmee some drugs so I can do ’em”. The same can be said for the lyrics dealing with the occult and witch burnings. I really don’t think Witchfinder General were trying to be serious. I think they were just kids having a blast and making a cool record. Just look at that album cover! Nothing says awesome like a gargantuan pair of bare breasts swinging in the breeze! Nice cans!
Death Penalty opens up with an absolute monster of a track called Invisible Hate. This song is centered around a massive riff that just crushes. Easily one of my favorite songs of the whole damn NWOBHM! Death Penalty is stacked with sludgy, fat riffs that should make any Sabbath fan drool. These two-ton riffs are what make this album so fricken’ great. The playing isn’t all that tight, and Zeeb doesn’t always sing on time or in tune, but Witchfinder General compensate for their lack of technical skill with tons of enthusiasm and a willingness to rock HARD! Truth be told, I like Death Penalty much more than the Black Sabbath albums of the same era. Though great albums, the Sabbath albums of the early eighties (with Dio) were peppered with dull moments, and Dio’s lyrics were sometimes nonsensical. Witchfinder General’s Death Penalty never gets boring and is just one continuous barrage of sledgehammer riffs and sing-along lyrics. My score: A-
1. Shiva- Firedance
On the more hard rock end of the NWOBHM spectrum, we have this fairly obscure offering from Shiva. This Bristol power-trio released just one album in their career, Firedance on Heavy Metal Records. Firedance is an honest and engaging rock record featuring great performances by all three Shiva members and, quite simply, is just a great collection of well-written, well-performed tunes. Don’t expect a neck-wrecking head bang with Firedance. Instead, what you get is a collection of infectious hard rock songs with a hint of early eighties pop and a nod to ’70s-era Rush.
Firedance opens with How Can I?, an infectious track with an upbeat overall tone that paradoxically has some rather depressing lyrics. Call Me In The Morning is a very radio-friendly song and maybe the album’s most “pop” tune. Wild Machine is Firedance’s heaviest track and is centered around a massive Iommi-like riff. What I love about this album is that every song is a winner and vocalist John Hall has a great voice.
I can’t leave you without telling you that my favorite track on Firedance is Angel Of Mons. This song is one of my all-time favorite songs, period! I can literally go on binges where I listen to this song like ten times in a day. This song is like crack-cocaine for my ears. I can’t explain it, but Angel Of Mons has some kind of spell on me.
I really wish that Shiva stuck around and released more albums. This band was the goods. My score: A
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