Category Archives: NWOBHM

HMO Digest – 25th September 2022

It’s been two whole months since the last digest so let’s not waste time with idle banter! Here’s what’s been happening on the blog.

Recent Posts

Thin Lizzy – Thin Lizzy (Album Review)

Lynott and chums scatter their beans over different scenes on their eclectic, but sleepy, debut.

Stratovarius – Hunting High And Low (Song Review)
Helloween – Why? (Song Review)

Two power metal classics in a row. Why? Why the hell not.

KISS – Bang Bang You (Song Review)

Cause 80s KISS is the best! And you wanted the best.

Emerson, Lake & Palmer – Knife-Edge (Song Review)

This song rhymes seagull with eagle which is just one of the many reasons for its awesomeness.

Cream – Badge (Song Review)

A great example of lyrics not mattering as long as they sound the part.

Tankard – Mercenary (Song Review)

A great example of lyrics not mattering at all.

HMO Salutes

R.I.P Michael James Jackson, producer of my favourite two KISS albums (Creatures Of The Night and Lick It Up… 80s KISS again!)

Steve Grimmett, best known as lead throat of NWOBHMers Grim Reaper, who has died aged 62.

The exalted Piledriver (aka Gord Kirchin) who has died from cancer aged 60. I wrote about a great Piledriver tune here if you want to familiarise yourself. And their albums Metal Inquisition and Stay Ugly both got stellar reissues lately so get involved.

New Stuff

A good year for new releases continues with Megadeth’s The Sick, The Dead… And The Dying! and Behemoth’s Opvs Contra Natvram which are both enjoyable efforts. Not up with either band’s best work but better than I was expecting. Other notable purchases include Marillion’s Holidays In Eden box set (love!), KISS’s Des Moines set (wow!), a Steeleye Span box set (fol-de-rol!), Whiplash’s The Roadrunner Years (ermagerd! Thresh meddle)

Darkthrone

I also had a big blow out and bought all the Darkthrone albums I’m missing. Basically all the studio albums between Panzerfaust and F.O.A.D. I should really have bought all these long ago because Darkthrone, but the news of their upcoming Astral Fortress inspired me to finally bite the bullet. I can listen to the whole discography now before the new one comes out on the 28th October.

What I Was Listening To While I Wrote This Post

Cathedral’s The Carnival Bizarre from 1995. Monstrously heavy stuff with classic tracks like Vampire Sun and Hopkins (The Witchfinder General) as well as wonderful deep cuts like Inertia’s Cave and guest guitar from one Frank “Tony” Iommi on Utopian Blaster. Let’s get it on!

Coming Up

We’re getting in to the heavy release schedule months now. There are new releases and reissues galore on the horizon. Coming up in Oct there’s new albums from The Antichrist Imperium, Avatarium and Queensryche and on the reissue front there’s Diamond Head (expanded Lightning To The Nations), Danzig (the long out-of-print 666: Satan’s Child) and album boxes from Deicide and Blitzkrieg.

On the review front I have some Deep Purple, Brian May and Whitesnake posts in the works. And probably some Darkthrone cause that’s all I’m going to be listening to for the next month or so, let’s face it. Until next time… eternal hails!

HMO Digest – 10th July 2022

I closed out the previous digest with a question: were KISS genuinely boring when they played Donington in 1996 or was I just too sunburned to enjoy them properly? Well, I’ve listened to the Off The Soundboard recording of the show now. It’s a bit sluggish and takes a few songs to get going but, in the comfort of my own darkened living room, it’s way more fun than I remember! I’m getting the classic KISS vibes. Verdict: too sunburned.

Recent Posts

Hell – Darkhangel (Song Review)

One of the best songs of the ’10s but sadly Hell haven’t released anything since. Last I saw of them was supporting Saxon at what can only be described as a very farty Glasgow gig. At least I got some fresh air at Donington.

Running Wild – Final Gates (Song Review)

Don’t walk the plank, spank it! It’s all about the bass on this insanely catchy instrumental.

Fist – Throwing In The Towel (Song Review)

Apollo Creed’s least favourite NWOBHM song.

Shrines – Ghost Notes (EP Review)

I never got a press release for this so I’m not sure what the pitch is. A wee music theory joke for you there.

HMO Salutes

Original Nazareth guitarist Manny Charlton has died aged 80. Brilliant musician, songwriter and producer on some of my favourite albums. Listen here for a great interview with the man himself, where he discusses his classic Nazareth albums and his involvement with Guns N’ Roses. Warning: Fife accent.

Artist Ken Kelly, the creator of some of my favourite album covers, has passed away aged 76. A framed poster of Love Gun graced my living room wall for many years. And where would Manowar be without his muscular and boobular artwork?

My long-running campaign to “BRING BACK ALEC” has come to a sad end with the death of ex-Bon Jovi bassist Alec John Such, aged 70. The campaign did at least achieve some closure when he reunited with the band at their 2018 Hall Of Fame induction.

New Stuff

My most exciting purchases from the last month were the new Kreator album Hate Über Alles which is really good (definitely better than advance reviews led me to believe) and Porcupine Tree’s Closure/Continuation (album of the year so far). On the reissue front, I got the Thin Lizzy package that pairs up the expanded Sydney show with the doc Songs For While I’m Away, which is essential viewing for Lynott fans. And I finally got the anniversary box set of Mayhem’s De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas which I’ve been looking forward to since pre-ordering it back in November 2021. It was worth the wait.

What I Was Listening To While I Wrote This Post

Enuff Z’Nuff’s 1985. It’s a strange one… a 1994 release that was technically their fourth album but is actually their 1985 demo recordings. I don’t really know the full story here. It’s sounds way too good to be a demo and sounds incredible for 1985 even. Re-recorded or touched up old material? Whatever it is, it’s brill and infectious glam rock.

Coming Up

I’m looking forward to the reissue of UFO’s High Stakes & Dangerous Men paired with Lights Out In Tokyo. Supposedly not the best era for the band but I’ve not heard either album before so I’ll judge for myself. Also Whiplash’s The Roadrunner Years set is an exciting prospect, I’ve wanted that stuff for ages but it’s always been too pricey.

On the review side I’ve got quite a mix coming up soon on the blog: thrash, power metal, black metal and classic prog. Stay tuned and expect no mercy!

Fist – Throwing In The Towel (Song Review)

“Speed gone, reflex missing”

Neat Records’ 1981 release Lead Weight was one of the best NWOBHM compilations, featuring a whole bunch of songs you couldn’t hear anywhere else. My favourite of the bunch is Fist’s Throwing In The Towel. It tells the tale of an ageing boxer lured into the ring for a comeback bout… only to realise his thunder-crapping days are behind him. It’s got a wonderfully downtrodden chorus and there’s real tension in the verses as the staccato vocals punch and jab. It’s brilliant, inventive stuff that holds its own amongst the compilation’s heavy-hitters like Raven and Venom. Unfortunately, Throwing In The Towel was the last song this lineup of Fist released which is a shame… they could have been contenders.

Hell – Darkhangel (Song Review)

“Read the rites, cast the spell, call the chaos lords of Hell”

I loved Hell’s 2013 album Curse & Chapter but Darkhangel cast a particularly strong spell over me. It reminds me of two of my favourite British bands, combining Sabbat’s medieval thrash with Cradle Of Filth’s theatrical horror. And it shifts from goosebumps catchy (“from thy kingdom will come”) to esoteric tongue-twisting (“whose might unmarred the maker’s mind unmade”) with intense flair. Best of all, when vocalist David Bower performed Darkhangel live he did it dressed as a 12ft-tall horned Pan on stilts while twirling a firework-spouting trident like a catherine wheel. He knew that a song this good deserves mad props.

[And the live version]

Midnight – Lust Filth And Sleaze (Song Review)

“I’m gonna bust when you’re down on your knees”

You’d think devil worship and debauchery went hand in hand but Satanic metallers rarely sing about shagging. Midnight are one of those rare bands that dare to put their log in the fiery place. Taken from their essential 2011 debut album Satanic Royalty, Midnight’s Lust, Filth And Sleaze is a prime NWOBHM-inspired rager with a savage speed metal attack and venomously delivered single-entendre lyrics. Total satisfaction guaranteed.

Raven – Rock Until You Drop (Review)

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Raven – Rock Until You Drop (1981)

Despite being dubbed “athletic rock”, Newcastle’s Raven were slow off the starting blocks. Their 1980 single Don’t Need Your Money was well-received but there was a big wait for their debut album to finally appear in October 1981. Not sure what took so long because Rock Until You Drop sounds like the power trio just rocked up to the studio and banged out their live set in one go. This is just one corker after another, crackling with raw energy and infectious enthusiasm (just check out John Gallagher’s crazed yelp at the end of Hell Patrol). And it’s loaded with classics too: from gonzo hard rockers Hard Ride, Over The Top and Don’t Need Your Money to superb Priest slashers like For The Future. I could do without the pair of Sweet covers though. They’re fun and add to the live gig vibe but I’d rather have had another Raven original or two. But it’s a minor gripe as Raven then proceed to wreck the place with the proto-thrash Lambs To The Slaughter and the mighty epic Tyrant Of The Airways. Raven might not need your money but you should fling some their way because you need this over-the-top NWOBHM madness in your life.

Alien – Could Have Done Better (Song Review)

“The road has disappeared behind me”

Could Have Done Better is one of just two songs that Alien left behind after their brief visit to a NWOBHM scene in the north east of England that was teeming with hairy life. It was recorded as a demo and selected by Neat Records to open their 1982 compilation EP One Take No Dubs. It’s a bit too simplistic and punky for comfort. Even with the wild guitar sound the full and strummy chords sound dated compared to the next generation riffing that many of their contemporaries were putting out. But you can instantly hear why it was picked. It’s a strong tune that instantly implants itself in your mind and it has the electricity and energy of pub-hardened performers. Even if it’s not quite the real deal, it’s the kind of fun obscurity that makes trawling the depths of the NWOBHM so rewarding.

Venom – Bloodlust (Song Review)

“Sparing no one, the meek and the mild”

I was thumbing through the booklet that came with Venom’s MMV box set today and a quote from their frontman Cronos jumped out. “In Venom we wanted to be the devil, we wanted to be the vampires!” Well, it doesn’t get more vampiric than their essential non-album single Bloodlust. In fact, the singer refers to himself in the song as “Count Cronos, vampire supreme”. Guitarist Mantas gets a shout out too (this time simply as “Mantas”). That leaves poor drummer Abaddon as the only Venom bloodsucker to not get a mention which is probably why he tries to get everyone’s attention by playing as many of his drums as he possibly can. As often as he can. It’s a chaotic, slightly-out-of-tune mess but it is glorious! Pure punk metal battery, deranged and in your face. Come on, turn it up!

(And because one Venom box set simply isn’t enough here’s the Bloodlust picture disc that came with their 2019 box set In Nomine Satanas)

Legend – Frontline (Review)

Legend – Frontline (1982)

Try as they might, Jersey’s Legend just couldn’t rise above the myriads of NWOBHM bands all competing for attention during the early 80s. It didn’t help that they were stuck out in the Channel Islands, removed from the scene’s industry hotspots and gigging circuit. But their proggy brand of metal was also intropspective, dark and dour. Great stuff for fans of gloomier fare; not the kind of music that was going to stand out alongside anthems like Angel Witch, Let It Loose, and Blitzkrieg.

Legend eventually gave up the ghost but on their final release, 1982’s Frontline EP, they went out in style: taking a more direct and melodic approach. The title track and Open Up The Skies are on the slight side in terms of song structure but are packed with catchy melodies and Peter Howarth’s masterful guitar work. The latter song in particular features the kind of axe heroics that would have gone down a storm if the band had been based in LA rather than Jersey. The ballad Sabra & Chatila gets back to the darkness of their previous work but its dreamy quality and lush Bill Nelson-esque textures make it a highlight.

But best of all is the awesome Stormers Of Heaven. It’s the kind of anthemic, hook-laden rock song that would have graced any compilation of the genre. If it had appeared on any. But sadly, it remains criminally overlooked. Legend might just have been in the wrong place at the wrong time all along.

 

Bathory – Sacrifice: 1st Version (Song Review)

“I spread eternal dark on Earth”

Taken from the 1984 compilation album Scandinavian Metal Attack, Sacrifice is the first recorded release from one of metal’s most revered and influential acts: Bathory.

It’s the first of two songs the Swedish band (led by mythic mastermind Quorthon) recorded for the compilation. And compared to the enjoyable trad metal performed by the other four Swedish and Finnish acts on the album, Sacrifice sounds like the next level in extremity. It’s a ballsy and chaotic rager in the style of Motorhead, Venom etc… with cavernous, noisy vocals and a catchy, evil ascending chorus riff. The label were inundated with letters demanding more from Bathory. And rightly so. This is great stuff for fans of the more punky, violent end of the NWOBHM and fans of early, primitive thrash.

But the song would go on to have a second, and even more important moment in history. The early version sounds positively conventional compared to the version that appeared later that same year when Sacrifice was re-recorded for Bathory’s seminal self-titled debut album. By that point the band were delivering all their music with grim, frostbitten harshness that was like nothing before it. The black metal sound was born.