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)

Sub-genre collaborators:

Same as Traditional Heavy Metal.

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SAXON Strong Arm of the Law

Album · 1980 · NWoBHM
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Unitron
Like Blue Cheer in '68 and Black Sabbath in '70 before them, Saxon joins the chosen few bands who've not only released two great albums in the same year, but have the second one even better than the first. Strong Arm of the Law indeed takes the Saxon sound that was formed on Wheels of Steel, and kicks everything up to eleven more than it already was.

Heavy Metal Thunder couldn't be a more fitting opener, because that's just what this album is. Instead of striking with lightning, Saxon strikes with hooks and there's so much damn energy in their performance that you want to scream along to every song even before you know the lyrics.

It follows the same formula set with the previous album, just with even stronger songs. Both the swaggering title track and Hungry Years swagger even better than the last album's title track, and 20,000 Ft. is even more frantic than anything before. Taking Your Chances may be my all time favorite Saxon song, it's got such an infectious hook coupled with being one of the most classic sounding of classic heavy metal songs. It just gets me so pumped, feeling ready to take on the world, which is what I love classic metal for.

If someone were to ask me to define 80's heavy metal, this would be a close second choice after a Judas Priest album. All the attitude, energy, and personality of classic metal is here in a thirty-six minute ride.

SAXON Wheels of Steel

Album · 1980 · NWoBHM
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Unitron
"Fighting through the night!"

Wheels of Steel is commonly known as the first of a masterpiece trilogy of albums that include this, Strong Arm of the Law, and Denim and Leather, and not without good reason. While their debut was a decent foot in the door of music recording, Wheels of Steel expands upon the sound of the best songs of the debut. Right from opener Motorcycle Man, it's obvious that the band chose to truly become Stallions of the Highway.

Stand Up and Be Counted (Funnily enough there would be a Krokus song a few years later called Stand and Be Counted, Krokus being a band that reminds me of Saxon a bit), 747-Strangers in the Night (Damn, there's another Krokus connection), the swaggering title track, the roaring closer Machine Gun, and my personal favorite Street Fighting Gang all display the perfect Saxon sound. It's raucous and raw with tons of kickass attitude yet melodic and majestic as well. Biff Byford in particular is one of metal's finest frontmen, there's great riffs aplenty, but Byford's commanding vocal performance takes everything to even greater heights.

I think the following three albums are my favorites, but Wheels of Steel kicked this legendary band's career into full gear and is a bonafide metal classic.

SAXON Saxon

Album · 1979 · NWoBHM
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Unitron
Saxon's self-titled debut is the epitome of a band's first album that doesn't quite know what it wants to be. Saxon aren't the heavy metal motorists they would become just a year later, in fact there's only a couple metal songs on this album.

Instead this album leans more towards that weird kind of rock that sits in between prog rock, boogie/blues rock, and has just a slight hard edge. Think bands like Queen, Wishbone Ash, and maybe early Scorpions; that's the sort of sound to expect here for the most part. However, Biff Byford's signature rough yet melodic vocals makes it clear that this is indeed Saxon, similar to early Scorpions still sounding like Scorpions with Klaus Meine's distinct voice.

There are a couple great songs here that are a display of what was to come, particularly Stallions of the Highway. If Highway Star is heavy metal's song for road rage, Stallions of the Highway is heavy metal's song for cruising down the road with the wind blowing in your face. That's followed by Backs to the Wall, which follows in a similar adrenaline rush of metal.

Despite being such a short album, Saxon's debut ends up being pretty boring with the exception of the aforementioned tracks (Still Fit to Boogie is good too). If someone's a fan of the aforementioned bands, this might be their favorite Saxon album, but for someone looking to get into Saxon, listen to Stallions of the Highway and then skip to the next album.

DEF LEPPARD High 'N' Dry

Album · 1981 · NWoBHM
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Unitron
Def Leppard's 1980 debut album On Through the Night fits right in with the NWoBHM sound, with that raw charm shared by many of their contemporaries such as Diamond Head and Di'Anno-era Iron Maiden. It's an excellent album and all, but Def Leppard was a band that couldn't stay underground, as their 1981 follow-up High and Dry shows. Gargantuan drums, infectious vocal hooks, roaring guitars, and flashy solos. This was perhaps the real beginning of what many refer to as the arena rock sound. Though while the album has a massive sounding production, which makes it sound like far-cry from the raw garage band sound of the previous album, the music itself is still screaming with heavy metal of the NWoBHM variety.

While not as well-known as the band's following two albums, High and Dry does come with their first radio hit in the form of "Bringin' on the Heartbreak". It's a good song on it's own, but works even better in the album as a whole as it segues into the instrumental of 'Switch 625' which ranks as one of metal's best instrumentals. Many of the songs could've been hits though, especially the great 'Lady Strange'. From the explosive opener of 'Let It Go' to the almost as excellent closer of 'No No No', this is an album that will bring the sound of the 80's rock arena right to your stereo.

RAVEN Screaming Murder Death From Above: Live In Aalborg

Live album · 2019 · NWoBHM
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Kev Rowland
1979 was Year Zero for a new musical movement in the UK, and a term was coined by Deaf Barton which perfectly summed it up, NWOBHM. I was 16 at the time, listening to Tommy Vance on a Friday night, reading Sounds music magazine, and trying to buy as many singles and albums I could of the phenomenon. One of the issues I had was I lived in a small town in the West of England, and it was incredibly hard to get hold of material. So much so that I wrote to Neat Records asking how I could get hold of their material as no-one stocked it near me! I was soon the envy of my mates as they sent me stickers and badges to try and make up for it, all of them emblazoned with the logo of one of my favourite bands, Raven. There are a few singles from that time which have gone down in history, Iron Maiden’s “Soundhouse Tapes” and Def Leppard’s “Getcha Rocks Off” are just a couple. But in the North East Neat Records were becoming THE label, with one incredible release after another. Within their first ten singles was the debut by Tygers of Pan Tang, Fist, Venom, Blitzkrieg and “Don’t Need Your Money” by Raven (who incidentally were also the first band on the label to release a second single, as well as the first album).

Raven had decided to speed everything up, something they called athletic rock, and was a huge impact on the scene which followed – that both Metallica and Anthrax were given their first touring opportunities with Raven was no surprise to anyone. Over the years the Gallagher brothers (John, bass/vocals and Mark, guitar) have kept the flag flying for their style of metal, and for much of that time drummer Joe Hasselvander has been at the back, but shortly before their 2017 US tour he suffered a heart attack, putting an end to his active music career. After a few temporary replacements, it was quickly decided that Mike Heller (Fear Factory, Malignancy) would be Raven’s new drummer. They settled in to doing what they do best, blasting uncompromising metal into the masses, and when they left the stage at Skråen in November they were presented with a digital copy of the gig they had just performed. What made this unusual is that none of the band were aware it was being recorded, so it was a case of turning up, plugging in, and blasting it out without any thought to what it might mean from a recording aspect.

The band has been in existence now for some 44 years, and although I can’t speak for the very early years, what is playing now is a beefed-up version of the same band I fell in love with back in 1980. These guys are showing no sign at all of slowing down, or going down a different path, this is a band still playing “Faster Than The Speed of Light” and meaning every single word. It is harder and faster than it was when they were 30 years younger, and this set is essential to anyone who enjoys this style of music. It is brutal NWOBHM. Turn it up, play it loud, and party as if it 1979, not some forty years later. I may be seeing this with rose tinted glasses given how much I loved this band in my youth, but when metal is a brutal, raw, and bloody excellent as this, then it demands attention.



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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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