NWoBHM

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The NWOBHM was a movement which gained media recognition in the late 1970s, achieved international attention by the early 1980s, and gave way to a snowball effect which has led to the development of many different styles, and the hugely increased popularity and diversity of heavy metal music.

Heavy metal music, unlike many other music genres, has evolved and matured over many decades, proving itself to be more than a simple fashion statement. The NWOBHM represented a sudden explosion of interest in the music and experimentation within the field, which was echoed across the Atlantic a few years later in the development of Thrash Metal and its various offspring.

The way in which it arose echoes the garage band and underground music phenomenon of the 1960s, with a striking feature being that bands were usually derived from fans of the music. This created a very protective culture, in which bands strove to develop their own sounds and styles to make them stand out from the rapidly expanding pack.

This in turn bred a tendency towards a technical proficiency of a rather flamboyant nature, echoing and sometimes imitating Progressive Rock bands, who had been somewhat stifled by the explosion of punk rock earlier in the 1970s.

It has been often cited that The NWOBHM drew its energy from the preceding wave of punk rock and, due to the open nature of the music, in some cases this is true. But Heavy Metal had always had a level of driving energy, right from the early hard rock pioneers such as Blue Cheer, Deep Purple, Blue Oyster Cult and the Scorpions through to the heavier Glam Rock acts such as Slade and The Sweet. This energy seemed to culminate in the music of Judas Priest, who were undoubtedly the most important musical influence on the NWoBHM.

What did arise from punk was the whole DIY aspect - the fact that anyone with any level of musical ability could form a band, record a demo and distribute it themselves among friends and fans, and this aspect was core to the way in which the NWoBHM grew and disseminated around the world. Metallica famously would listen to these demo tapes and decide to create their own, despite the fact that Lars Ulrich was yet to set up his drum kit, let alone play it.

Some bands, such as Diamond Head and Def Leppard even went as far as to set up their own record label in order to release their material (Happy Face and Bludgeon Riffola respectively). Many bands signed to small independent labels, and labels such as Neat records sprang up specifically to promote Heavy Metal music. A number of compilations appeared, such as "Lead Weight", "New Electric Warriors" and "Metal for Muthas".

Spearleaders for the movement, Iron Maiden, recorded a live set at the Sound House before signing to major label EMI, and were thus in the fortunate position of being able to have the EMI promotion machine available to promote their innovative and highly influential brand of metal at just the right time (Maiden had actually been in existence for at least 3 years before the NWoBHM). Def Leppard quickly got signed by Vertigo, Diamond Head were disastrously signed by MCA, and Sheffield-based Saxon signed to French disco label Carrere!

Despite often scathing critical backlash, the music was heavily promoted by the likes of Sounds journalist Gary Barton, who is credited with coining the term New Wave of Heavy Metal, Rock DJ Neal Kay, who played recordings of new acts extensively at London's Sound House, and Radio 1 DJ Tommy Vance. Magazines dedicated to the music, such as Metal Forces and Kerrang! sprang up, and later, Vance began to include a section called Rock Wars, dedicated to unsigned acts in his Friday night Rock Show.

But while the major label acts were crucial in the musics continued development and dissemination, it was the smaller acts, often acts with only one or two demos under their belts, that made the music what it was, and ensured that, while the signed acts either went on to international stardom or disintegrated completely, the music itself continued to evolve at an ever-increasing pace.

As for the musical style itsef, contrary to popular opinion, many early NWoBHM bands would incorporate 12-bar blues in their rhythm parts, and the minor pentatonic scale in lead guitar solos. This can make it hard to distinguish the music from Hard Rock, which is essentially blues rock played through high-gain amplifiers.

The bands that really stand out from this time are the bands that broke away from the hard rock traditions, modelling their compositions on structures with extended intros, outros and instrumental breaks, usually featuring extensive guitar solos.

But it was not just about how complex the music could be; Beacuse of it's origins, there was a strong emphasis on crowd involvement, and many bands wrote anthemic songs with strong, straightforward melodies with that in mind. There was also the question of band identity and originality, and bands such as Samson and Holocaust seemed to re-invent themselves and their style with each successive song.

The music covered an extraordinarily wide range of styles, almost always centered around an aggressive, high gain guitar sound, typified by the Marshall JCM 800 amplifier and Gibson humbucker equipped guitars. Vocals were pushed hard, to sound either high-pitched and scream-like, following the lead of the likes of Led Zeppelin or Deep Purple, or, less commonly, growly like Motorhead or menacing like Ozzy Osbourne.

More was expected of bass players, who needed not only to provide a solid, rhythmic root note foundation, but to join in with ever more elaborate passages between extended musical sections, and drummers were required to be versatile enough to cope with both very slow, atmospheric music and ever-increasing speed.

The very challenging nature of the music they were writing and lack of funding for professional studio costs meant that quite often bands found it difficult to play and record their own material, so demos often sound extremely rough in these days of inexpensive computer recording environments.

But the music is frequently inspired and inspiring, contains many surprises for those who think they've heard it all, and, of course, still rocks hard!

Written by Certif1ed (May 2010)

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DEF LEPPARD On Through The Night

Album · 1980 · NWoBHM
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siLLy puPPy
DEF LEPPARD was of course one of the original 70s hard rock bands that stepped things up and joined the first British heavy metal invasion now tagged the NWOBHM ( New Wave of British Heavy Metal). The band originated in Sheffield, England as far back as 1977 with its roots in the prior band Atomic Mass formed by bassist Rick Savage, guitarist Pete Willis and drummer Tony Kenning. After lead vocalist Joe Elliot joined shortly after, he proposed a name change to Deaf Leppard which the other members agreed upon and soon after recruited Rick Allen to replace Kenning and then guitarist Steve Clark.

The band spent 1979 touring and gaining an audience which propelled the band into the nascent NWOBHM rather quick. This got the band noticed by the Phonogram / Vertigo label (which is Mercury Records in the US) and before long the band was on the road touring with AC/DC. The five members cranked out a bunch of tunes that were recorded and released on the debut release ON THROUGH THE NIGHT which was released on 14 March 1980 and raced to the top 15 on the album chart in the UK but despite touring the US and supporting acts like Pat Travers, AC/DC and Ted Nugent failed to make a dent at this stage.

If you ask me why the band failed to make the big time at this point, it has to do with the mediocre material presented on ON THE THE NIGHT. At this stage the band sounds like a rather ho hum garage band that was just getting acquainted to the heavier sounds of metal and the entire songwriting process. In many ways this debut album sounds like a demo to my ears. The production is shoddy, Joe Elliot’s vocals haven’t reached their full potential and the tunes themselves are fairly forgettable. Anyone coming to this after experiencing the much better following album such as “High ’n’ Dry,” “Pyromania” or even “Hysteria” will be let down by the amateurish performances here. This sounds like any old bluesy hard rock band from the 70s. Generic AF.

There were three singles released: “Wasted,” “Hello America” and “Rock Brigade” but none made a dent as the band was getting its foot in the door as an album oriented hard rock band through touring. This debut was produced by Tom Allom who seems to have failed both in scoring a decent production job but also failed to harness the band’s potential and create a signature sound. That duty would go to John “Mutt” Lange who took the ship by the helm and crafted DEF LEPPARD’s sound into a heavier arena with stronger material that suited the band’s strengths. The material on ON THROUGH THE NIGHT is decent but as many times as i’ve tried to get into this one, i’m always left cold and underwhelmed by the rather average sounding tunes with the exception of “Rock Brigade.”

While the band would step things up for their sophomore release, at this point they were trying to sound like Thin Lizzy, UFO or even Mott The Hoople but didn’t quite have the magic mojo to craft interesting stand alone tracks yet. There is nothing outright bad about this album but in the company of much better material that followed, this one just doesn’t match the quality of the album’s that followed. Despite the band’s phenomenal success as a hard rock band starting with “Pyromania,” ON THROUGH THE NIGHT along with the following “High ’n’ Dry” are the only two examples of the band generating a heavier NWOBHM sound and had they continued down this road, it’s hard to tell how their career would’ve developed. For my listening pleasure i find this debut by DEF LEPPARD a bit tedious and even boring but the material is decent enough and for those who don’t mind a crappy production and straight forward heavy rock tunes then you might like this more than me.

IRON MAIDEN Powerslave

Album · 1984 · NWoBHM
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SilentScream213
The greatest pure Heavy Metal record of it's time. While Thrash, Speed, Doom and Black Metal were taking the genre into more extreme - and dare I say interesting - directions, Iron Maiden were sticking with the tried and true and perfecting it. Here, Maiden mix the fantastic guitar work and hooks they’ve always had with a slightly speedier and more progressive sound, and it works magically. Every song on here is great, but the bookends and title track are truly special. Bruce’s voice has always been fantastic, but he sounds better than ever here, and that’s not just his range – the notes he hits to harmonize with the music are really unique here, and he’s pulling off magnificent vocal lines while still changing things up every so often to keep your brain entertained. It really is a Heavy Metal masterpiece.

QUARTZ Quartz

Album · 1977 · NWoBHM
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voila_la_scorie
Often cited as being the first album released in the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, that notion does have strong historical backing. One of the new British heavy rock bands among many who formed in the mid-seventies, Quartz was fortunate enough to get into a recording studio and pull off a piece of vinyl while many bands were still touring their local circuits. Strangely, it would be three years before their sophomore release, and by then the dam had already burst.

But there's something to note about this album that distinguishes it from many of the acts who wouldn't hit record store shelves until 1980 and onward. One main difference between this album and debuts by the likes of Tank, Tigers of Pan Tang, and Raven is that Quartz were still showing strong prog connections in their music while a lot of other bands had tapped into the punk scene by the time their debuts came round. Quite simply, in spite of the album being the at the vanguard of the NWoBHM, it's still a product of 1977.

The first track, "Mainline Riders" is heavy and blissful to listen to. I hear a slight similarity to Scorpions in the music, but more like the early Matthias Jabs albums. Still, a great heavy metal song in a year where hard rock still dominated most of the heavy guitar rock releases.

But then "Sugar Rain" brings something that reminds me Yes meets Jethro Tull. A decent enough track but evidence that this album's music was developed before punk really took over.

"Street Fighting Lady" sounds to me like a cross between Ted Nugent and Triumph. Perhaps the latter comes to mind because they had a song around the same time called "Street Fighting Man". Maybe the two characters knew each other.

"Hustler" once again reminds me of Scorpions though this time the Uli Jon Roth era, at least during the opening. The verses are more typical of 1977 hard rock, thinking of Thin Lizzy for example.

"Devil's Brew" has a cool, simple and heavy riff to it and at first it's easy to think of Black Sabbath or Angel Witch. But those keyboards and tempo changes are closer to Uriah Heep. Cool lyrics: "When the dead no longer dead begin to rise" and "In the fires that are burning / Give the living back to me". Now I'm thinking of the contemporary American hard rock outfit, Sorcery.

"Smokie" is a short acoustic guitar instrumental, and then we're on to "Around and Around". This has a cool blend of UJR Scorpions at the intro, Sweet chorus vocals and guitar riffs around the chorus, a Uriah Heep part that then leads into a proggy section that reminds me of something you'd hear from Genesis around this year before it gets heavier and sounds more like something from a NWoBHM album. Along with "Mainline Riders", this is one of my two favorite tracks.

"Pleasure Seekers" is a great hard rocker with a heavy riff. To me, this is one of those 1976-8 songs that indicate a new direction for heavy rock music. Alright, count this as a third favourite track.

The album closes with "Little Old Lady" and I swear someone asked Roger Daltrey to sing the opening. This song sounds like it's going to be a weak one but does have some redeeming moments. The lyrical theme, I'm guessing, addresses the writer's grandmother in her old age. It has a Queen feel to the music, alternating between softer acoustic and electric guitars and a hard rock riff for the chorus.

My conclusion? This album reminds me of several different groups which means that there's a lot of diversity in the music. For that, I think it's a very good album to listen to from time to time. It's not one that I'll just shelve and forget about. As an example of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, I'll say again that it's not derived from exactly the same influences as bands dropping albums three or four years later. However, if we are looking for music that is a departure from the standard hard rock acts of 1976-78 (Thin Lizzy, UFO, Sweet, Nazareth, etc.) I think Quartz were beginning to steer things in a new direction, albeit in a way that their German counterparts, Scorpions, were also doing around this time.

SAXON Power & the Glory

Album · 1983 · NWoBHM
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Unitron
As fantastic as Saxon's great trilogy of albums before are, Power & the Glory is what I consider to be the band's best album. They take their classic metal sound that has proven to be such a winner, and expand their songwriting skills further with more subtle changes to create a rich sound while never deviating from what they do best.

Everything sounds so powerful, extra energetic, and if Power & the Glory isn't a fitting title I don't know what is. The title track is one of the finest openers I've heard, six minutes of pure metal that makes me feel ready for anything. One example of a subtle expansion of songwriting is Redline. It's a swaggering rocker that the band's always been great at, but with added guitar harmonization that really enhances the impact it has. Midas Touch has an instant hook of a riff, and great contrast between catchy riffs and moody sections. Nightmare is a great metal ballad, and is the first time I ever heard double bass drumming in a song of its kind. It closes out the song and makes an already memorable song that much more.

The album closes out with one of Saxon's most unique songs, the gargantuan The Eagle Has Landed. It's almost psychedelic, starting out like something from Pink Floyd's Animals album. It has a wandering and grandiose atmosphere, even once it gets heavy with riffs as slamming as they could get in '83. It's a wonder they never did anything else like this song, but that just makes it that much more special.

Saxon has no shortage of excellent albums, but Power & the Glory has just an extra edge above other favorites like Strong Arm of the Law and Rock the Nations. One of classic 80's metal's finest.

SAXON Denim and Leather

Album · 1981 · NWoBHM
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Unitron
As soon as that riff that opens Princess of the Night and the album starts, it just screams classic. Again, Saxon continues the same route of melodic and infectious classic metal of the previous two albums, and it works just as well.

Strong Arm of the Law is the best of what's often considered their best trilogy of albums, and I'd place Denim and Leather in between Strong Arm and Wheels of Steel. The songs aren't quite as strong as the likes of Taking Your Chances, few are, but a bit stronger than most of Wheels of Steel. The aforementioned Princess of the Night is rightfully so the band's biggest hit, it is the definitive example of a Saxon song. The title track and Rough and Ready are a couple other favorites of mine.

Denim and Leather is maybe Saxon's most consistent album, most of the songs are equally great and catchy, so it's harder to describe the album than its predecessor's. An excellent album, but the next album would show how just a few little additions in sound would refresh the band before they could go on auto-pilot.

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IRON MAIDEN Live After Death

Movie · 1985 · NWoBHM
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siLLy puPPy
Universally cited as one of the absolute best live albums of all time, LIVE AFTER DEATH is the first live album / video release of IRON MAIDEN’s classic early Bruce Dickinson years and was recorded during their “World Slavery Tour.” Despite lasting a whopping 331 days, this double LP album only took two venues as their source for representing their electric live performances. The first 13 tracks were recorded at the Long Beach Arena in California, USA and the remaining five tracks were taken from a night at Hammersmith Odeon in London. While LIVE AFTER DEATH was released both as audio LP and video VHS in 1985, the two aren’t exactly identical in content. The audio LP originally contained 18 tracks (one of which is “Intro: Churchill’s Speech”) but the VHS visual experience only had 14 tracks. Unfortunately when LIVE AFTER DEATH was originally released on CD it was too long for a single disc and instead of simply issuing a double disc, EMI unwisely decided to cut the last five tracks which included the Odeon performance, therefore it is highly advisable to obtain the Sanctuary remastered version which was released as a double disc and retains the entire run of one classic song after another.

LIVE AFTER DEATH is the absolute perfect live album. I very rarely put live albums high on my list of favorites because more often than not something or many things prevent them from capturing my attention and worthiness as essential. If it’s not the weak production values then it is the inability of the band to capture the magic that is manufactured in the studio. That is not the case here. IRON MAIDEN was at the pinnacle of their creative prowess at this point and after several outstanding and classic albums to mine for material, they perfectly execute these live performances and offer every little ounce of excitement heard on the studio releases. Bruce Dickinson nails the vocals and the thundering trio of Steve Harris’ bass and the guitar synergy of Dave Murray and Adrian Smith accompanied by Nikko McBrain’s stellar drumming style doesn’t get any better. While most of the tracks are performed rather faithfully to their studio versions, there is plenty of live improvisation taking places as well. Standout moments include Bruce’s attempt to get audience participation on “Running Free” and another great difference can be heard on “Revelations” where the tempo is upped and Bruce changes the vocal phrasing to make the track sound different and refreshed.

The video release offers all the theatrical visuals of the tour. The “Powerslave” album was based on ancient Egypt and likewise the stage was Egyptified to the max with sarcophagi, hieroglyphs and a mummified Eddie embellished with ridiculous amounts of pyrotechnics. The tour was a smashing success and this release whether it be audio or video is the perfect testimony to the genius that went into every single detail. The sound and mixing is perfect as well as Martin Birch found the perfect balance of every cast member and delivered one of the most satisfying production jobs for a live release that i have ever heard. In the visual department Jim Yukich perfectly captured two nights in Long Beach showing a great band doing great things at the peak of their game. Another piece of perfection with this one is the brilliant cover art of Derek Riggs surpassing previous album themes of Eddie as the mascot by incorporating those themes of previous albums covers and then putting it all on steroids. The spread of the album is breathtaking in content and color with the boldness of the yellows and blues. Every aspect of talent on board with this release guarantees to wake the dead. I cannot find one negative thing to say about it. It is true that Bruce doesn’t hit every note exactly as on the studio version every single time but when he doesn’t he offers interesting new ways of interpreting the classics. This is simply one of the most perfect live releases i have ever encountered and even MAIDEN themselves haven’t even come close to achieving similar results. Masterpiece.

IRON MAIDEN The History Of Iron Maiden Part 1: The Early Days

Movie · 2004 · NWoBHM
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friso
Iron Maiden - The Early Days (2004), subject (1976-1983)

Such an amazing band!

I'm in love with Iron Maiden now for 10 years, it al started when I was eleven years old. I saw the band live once, during the tour to promote this dvd. This was the best show I've ever seen and might see in my live.

On this super-complete dvd we've got lot's of interesting Iron Maiden material, covering the first four albums and some footage of the band before the first album.

The Early Days documentary. This 90 minutes of documentary that shows the prehistoric times of Iron Maiden. All former band members are discussed, the reason line-up changed, the circumstances they were in, who the material came to be, etc. This way we learn that there was an Iron Maiden that only had Steve Harris playing in it of all the current members. Interviews with the now unknown former members (1976-1979) are done in nice settings and it's nice to hear their stories. Steve Harris reflects on a lot of subjects and early member Dave Murray is also to be seen in some interviews. The old footage and photo's are nice for Iron Maiden fans. This documentary also shows a short making of of the first four albums and the line-up changes that occurred during that period. This dvd is a real threat for fans and it's fun to watch for people who are new to the band. The process of the creation of such an important band is interesting and fun to watch.

LIVE AT THE RAINBOW, Filmed at The Rainbow, London, December 1980 This is pure gold! This set shows Iron Maiden playing seven songs from their first two albums, though Killers wasn't record yet. This particular part of dvd is mega-essential because of the wild performance of lead singer Paul di'Anno. There isn't any better footage of the band in this phase of the band! Iron Maiden plays very motivated, the songs are great and the people enthusiastic. They were so good in their early days! As I said, essential for both fans and people who like the metal/hard rock genre.

BEAST OVER HAMMERSMITH, Filmed at Hammersmith Odeon, London, March 1982 One of the early shows Iron Maiden performed during the time Bruce Dickinson had joined the band and The Number of the Beast came to be. Iron Maiden plays unbelievably motivated and this can be seen as the one of the highlights of Iron Maiden's and vocalist Bruce Dickinson's career! Most tracks are from The Number of the Beast and the material is fresh! It's also nice the band included the important b-side Total Eclipse in their set. Essential metal footage.

LIVE AT DORTMUND, Filmed at Rock and Pop Festival, Dortmunde, Westenfalle, Germany, 1983 This concert was recorded during the Piece of Mind tour. Most songs originate from this album. Though the footage is almost as good as the Beast over Hammersmith from 1982, it's lacks some of it's bombastic enthusiastic power of Hammersmith. Still this is a very interesting show and fans will appreciate this very much!

EXTRA'S The first five clips of Iron Maiden and some top of the pops performances are nice, but they are less hard to find then the gigs on dvd one. Still a great bonus to complete the release.

LIVE AT THE RUSKIN, Home Video filmed at The Ruskin Arms, 1980 This is home video footage of the band in an early stage. This might only appeal to hard-core Iron Maiden fans for it's historical value.

Conclusion. This is the meaning of completeness! This is everything I could ever ask for, concerning the theme of this dvd. Five stars without doubt. Every fan should own this and others might be surprised on how energetic and complete this release is.

IRON MAIDEN Live After Death

Movie · 1985 · NWoBHM
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friso
Iron Maiden - Live After Death DVD (2008)

The ultimate metal-concert.

This live footage is simply amazing. The biggest energy-boost ever recorded! The good thing is I recently re-discovered this live concert. I've been fan or Iron Maiden since I was eleven years old and had discarded this live album because of the vocals. At that time I though they weren't good enough. And though I still thing the vocals on songs with high- pitched vocal lines aren't perfect, I totally missed out on the amazing sound of the band.

This dvd represents a very good piece of evidence of how much Iron Maiden was of a live- band, instead of a studio-band. Even simple tracks like Running Free and Sanctuary sound simply amazing live. The guitars-bass-drum-combination has so much power in it. Unbelievable... and all songs are classics.

And yeah the vocals of Bruce Dickinson are sometimes less good then on the albums, but on other moments he's even more powerful and dramatic. His performance is a total surrender to the what the public wants to see. A god-like metal-concert. The aim for all metal-bands, the promise of the NWOBHM, the promise of rock: a divine all-important rock show. Somehow the album-versions of the songs gain on a new dimension: The Iron Maiden live experience. I've never got this feeling on any other live dvd-set. I saw Iron Maiden live once, and it is still the best live concert I've ever seen (though Magma was pretty amazing too!).

Iron Maiden alway had the better songs, the masterful musicianship, the intelligent compositions and the wide range of emotional depth. The band allowed a controlled portion of sophistication into their energetic music, which makes is so interesting for fans of the progressive genre. This makes them a really unique band in the metal-genre. On top of that I really like the personalities of the band members.

This concert, as can be concluded from my fanboy-review, is a highlight of Iron Maiden career. It's is important however to be aware of the fact the band had more highlights in their long career. The early-days dvd shows some extremely good moments of the Paul Di'Anno era (with Clive Burr on drums!), the Seventh Sun album shows some very good progressive moments (another highlight!), the mature X-factor album has some great art-rock influences and the gathering of six band-members in the Brave New World period can also be seen as an artistic and energetic zenith.

Well this manifestation of the final expression of the promise of intelligent heavy metal can not be rewarded with a lower rating than the five star rating. Buy.

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