To me and an entire generation, this is the real deal - it don't get no more metal than this.
More extreme, yes, more technical, yes, more proficient, yes, - and even more Heavy, yes.
But this is the real deal - 'eavy metal from street kids - the same kids you'd have a drink and a laugh with at the bar after a long day's hard graft, getting dirt under your fingernails and grime under your collar, with the sweat dripping from your rat's tails hair.
There isn't an ounce of fat here - it's all prime cut to the bone, raw, dripping with blood 'eavy metal.
The opening track says it all - heavily based on a 12-bar blues progression replete with quasi Chuck Berry opening, Smokin' Valves sings of the glories of playing heavy metal music at top volume and not giving a rats about what anyone thinks. See, 12 bar blues can be metal when played the right way.
The production here is among my favourites, even though it is not big, well-equipped studio production - the drums are beautifully mixed so that the toms pound your eardrums and the cymbals shatter windows, the vocals are crystal clear and well placed (and mercifully free of vocal correction tools), and the guitars - well, you can practically smell the smokin' valves of those JCM 800s - and there can be no mistaking what is making that glorious sound!
That sound continues on the anthemic Death or Glory, which has a far more traditional Metal vibe to it, with those E pedal chugging riffs. Musically this is a perfect illustration of just why Holocaust were one of the defining bands. Let's just not listen to the lyrics too closely, eh? Got murder on my mind indeed...
There are some really nice changes in this piece, and tasty guitar licks seamlessly woven into the metal fabric - OK, it's not Iron Maiden, but the multi-part instrumental is built along the same sort of lines.
Back to an AC/DC inspired blues riff to kick off Come On Back - but the chorus is warped and very un-AC/DC like, and the guitar solo owes a lot more to Michael Schenker's Diatonic Minor licks than Angus' pure pentatonic.
Mavrock is a slower, doomy style piece, with, perhaps, shades of Black Sabbath and Priest - but overall, showcases John Mortimer's awesome songwriting abilities extremely well (It's notable that Mortimer's are the stronger compositions on this album). Even clocking in just over 5 minutes, it never bores but constantly provides delights in this emerging style that still haven't been completely tapped by bands eager to cover Holocaust's material. Check out the burnout, positively dripping with feedback and literally burning through that tension-building accellerando.
The tempo is raised somewhat for It Don't Matter to Me, which is a rather dull rocker that feels like filler until the instrumental break - I never seem to expect that no matter how many times I hear it!
The second Robin Begg composition follows hot on the heels of the first - and again, the songwriting here seems much weaker - a kind of Def Leppard style plodder. Even the guitar solo can't save it - and it's a nice solo with some interesting licks from all the band which break it up and give a bit of needed interest.
Heavy Metal Mania comes in an altered form - as it's another Mortimer composition, you just know this one's going to be good, but unfortunately, the intro is rather over done. I prefered the air-raid siren from the original EP.
Again, this song says it all. I've got Heavy Metal music in my blood - and I'd like to get it to you if I could.
Sheer genius - and the film "This is Spinal Tap" hadn't even been released!
It does lack the complete innocence and lack of self-awareness that makes the EP version so charming - this song shouldn't be polished - it needs to retain the dirt proudly under the fingernails. The manicure treatment just seems wrong. I do like the re-visited solo, however - Mortimer is a true craftsman, not satisfied with leaving things as they are.
The second composition from Ed Dudley follows - and the riffs are again AC/DC inspired, but there seems to be overtones of Raven in here in both the vocals and guitar tech (nice use of harmonics particularly), and quite a bit of thinking outside the box in the arrangement, especially during the instrumental.
The title track is the final Mortimer composition on the vinyl - and a juicy 6+ minuter. It bears all the Mortimer trademarks - dynamite riffs, experimental guitar work, unexpected changes and awful lyrics.
This is why Holocaust have so much respect in the Metal community among those who have heard of them. It's one freakin' awesome track and should blow you right out of your cotton socks. Progressive stuff...
In summary, the Mortimer tracks alone make this a must-have album for any fan of the NWoBHM - but this is all going to sound a bit lame to anyone used to post 1991 metal and little else. Context is what this is about - this album is right from the epicenter of the beginning of true metal, it's got the true spirit of Metal running right the way through though, and no self-respecting (or loathing) metal collection should be without a copy.