Although its roots and influences would stretch much farther, the bands that are loosely bound together under the banner the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal (or NWOBHM), flourished across the UK between 1979 and 1985. Spearheaded by the likes of Diamond Head, Saxon and the Tygers Of Pan Tang, as this set illustrates, this underground scene was fertile and highly influential, producing many future rock legends.
By the end of the 1970s, the original triumvirate of hard rock heroes Zeppelin, Purple and Sabbath had either graduated to the arenas of the world, or even split up, whilst the second wave of British heavy rockers, including UFO, Motörhead and Judas Priest, were beginning to fill theatres across the land. Punk exploded in 1976 and 1977, and the DIY ethos that sprang up in its wake soon influenced the grassroots metal bands who had yet to leave their local bars and clubs. Often independently released, some of the bands in this set never made more than one now highly prized and collectable 45 or one-off EP.
Championed in Sounds music paper as leading lights of the NWOBHM scene, this 3CD set kicks off with Diamond Head, one of the first bands to actually release a full album, albeit in a plain white sleeve. Their influence would be far reaching, and Metallica would cover no less than four tracks from this LP, including ‘The Prince’, featured here, as part of their “Garage Inc.” covers album. Metallica would also cover NWOBHM band Blitzkrieg, represented on this collection by ‘A Time Of Changes’.
A major champion of the groundswell of new HM bands was the north east of England’s Neat Records, an independent label that brought us music from hugely influential acts such as Venom, Fist, Raven, Warfare, Jaguar, Aragorn, Avenger, Bitches Sin and Tysondog, among many others. It wasn’t all about the boys, mind, as the all-girl Girlschool are represented by their debut single ‘Take It All Away’, and fellow London all-girl trio Rock Goddess feature with a track from their self-titled major label debut for A&M, ‘The Love Lingers Still’.
Before Bruce Dickinson joined Maiden in 1981 he fronted London heavy rockers Samson, featuring Paul Samson on lead guitar, and represented here with the single ‘Vice Versa’. Samson had previously featured Iron Maiden’s Clive Burr, a drummer who would later play with the band Elixir. White Spirit’s ‘Midnight Chaser’ features none other than future Iron Maiden axe slinger Janick Gers.
Although the NWOBHM scene was typified by the long hair, jeans, leather jackets and bullets-belts of Angel Witch (‘Loser’), glam rock influences were also prevalent, no less so than with Silverwing and Tokyo Blade as well as London’s Girl, featuring future Leppard member Phil Collen.
There was also a slightly satanic, albeit Hammer Horror vibe to many of the bands, including Witchfynde, Satans Empire, Satan and
This set was compiled in conjunction with NWOBHM authority John Tucker, who also wrote the informative liner notes.