Malleus Trollheartus: Heavy Metal Lives Here

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    Malleus Trollheartus: Heavy Metal Lives Here

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    While Progressive Rock was my first love, from an early age I was also a Metalhead, though there were only certain types of metal I listened to. Nothing “extreme” appealed to me, particularly the vocals. If a singer screamed, screeched, roared or grunted, hissed or shrieked or was otherwise unintelligible to me, I didn't want to know. Iron Maiden, Saxon, Virgin Steele – I was all over that. Power Metal, NWOBHM, Progressive Metal of course, Symphonic/Gothic – all these subgenres I could listen to. But throw a Thrash or Speed Metal album my way, or a Doom or Death one, not a chance. I was, I guess to some extent, a Metal lightweight (an aluminium Metaller?) or any other derogatory or derisory name you wish to call me. I liked Metal, but only some Metal.

    In the intervening years though, and mostly, it must be said, with the help of the folks from Music Banter I started to listen to, and appreciate the Metal I had disregarded and written off. Now, there's no way I would presume to consider myself as versed in Metal at this point as people who have been listening to and enjoying the more extreme versions all their lives, but at least now when someone says “Ulver” or “Blut Aus Nord” or “Darkthrone” to me, I know what they're talking about and can remember the music they play. Subgenres that have been a mystery to me – Black Metal, Viking Metal, Doom Metal, Death Metal to name but a few – are slowly beginning to give up their secrets and allow me to enjoy them. No longer do I shudder when I hear a death growl or a screech, and stop the track. It's still not my preferred form of vocals, I admit, but I've learned to appreciate all the “extreme” vocals and not only endure them but actually, well, not enjoy them exactly, but let's say appreciate them. I don't run off screaming into the night when I hear Emperor, for instance, let's put it that way.

    Here I will be sharing my relatively newfound love of Heavy Metal, and inviting you to come along as I continue my education in this varied and diverse genre of music. If you’re new to the genre and want to explore it, then take my hand. No, it’s not gay, I promise! Oh well, have it your way. But at least hold the torch for me as we proceed into the darkened bowels of what has become known, sometimes correctly, as the loudest music in the world, but which has many secrets to divulge to those willing to make the journey, and which holds surprises, or, as Q put it once in Star Trek the Next Generation, wonders to satiate appetites both subtle and gross, and horrors to freeze the heart and mind. Or something.
    Anyone is of course welcome to comment, suggest, discuss or give recommendations. Just don’t spill beer on the carpets please, they’re only new.

    I would also like to warn any purists against telling me that this or that album/artiste is not metal. I will be researching all the stuff I put in here, but in general if it has “metal” in its description and if I can find the band on any of the main metal sites, it'll be considered acceptable to be featured here. You may argue that, of course, but don't expect to change my mind.

    Heavy metal: it’s all the same, innit? Loud, fast, aggressive music sung by long-haired, angry men about having a bevy with Satan while your motorbike waits outside with your trashy hot chick on the pillion. All noise, no finesse, chauvinistic lyrics and a hard-livin’ lifestyle associated with biker gangs like the Hell’s Angels, right?

    Well, you may be rather surprised to hear, my friends, that you’re entirely...


    About some of it.

    See, the thing is, heavy metal (or as we like to refer to it, just metal) music is, like virtually every other music genre, a rich and varied tapestry of many interweaving threads. Oh, I hear you sneer: every music genre? Like punk, for instance? Well yes; you can take that smarmy, self-satisfied look off your face, because that’s exactly right. Punk has its own sub-genres, including hardcore, Celtic, Ska, even Pop. Take the most seemingly (to some) bland and boring genre, classical. It’s been around for literally centuries, longer than most other music. It’s the basis, in one way or another, for nearly all of the music that followed, and yet even it has its subdivisions – chamber, baroque, romantic, and so on.

    So it’s no surprise that if you take off those prejudicial blinders you’re wearing and take the time to dig down into heavy metal music, you’ll find a wealth of music you never expected to find, sub-genres you probably didn’t even know existed, and some amazing bands. Hell, you might even find something you like! But first, you have to climb that ladder and dive off the springboard into the seething, roaring, incredible whirlpool that is heavy metal. Don’t worry, you won’t drown: I’ll be here to pull you out if you get into difficulties. Believe me, it’s taking the plunge that’s the hard bit: very quickly afterwards you’ll either learn to swim, and enjoy what you’re doing, or you’ll decide it’s not for you and move to the shallow end, where you can find music that is more to your taste. Nobody’s saying metal is for everyone – some people, even knowing what it is, hate it – but if you want to try it out, here’s the place to dip in your toes.

    I suppose we should start off with some definitions then. What does the OED say about heavy metal? Hmm. Chemical element that is malleable and capable of conducting electricity? No, no! The other metal! Ah, here we go: Loud rock music characterised by guitar riffs. Yeah, that’s not a bad way to describe it I guess, but it’s hardly comprehensive, now is it?. Wiki goes into it in a little more detail:
    Heavy metal(or simply metal) is a genre ofrock music[3]that developed in the late 1960s and early 1970s, largely in theUnited Kingdom.[4]With roots inblues rock,psychedelic rock, andacid rock,[5]the bands that created heavy metal developed a thick, massive sound, characterized by highly amplifieddistortion, extendedguitar solos, emphatic beats, and overall loudness. The genre's lyrics and performance styles are sometimes associated withaggressionandmachismo.[5]

    Aggressive? Who are you calling aggressive, you – just you come over here and say that!

    Um, sorry. Must remember to keep taking the medication. Now, where were we? Oh yes.

    So, that’s nice and clear then. Except of course, as I outlined in the paragraphs above, it’s not. Because metal is a genre of music, or, if you prefer, a sub-genre of rock music, and within it are so many different and interesting and sometimes downright weird sub-genres that it can’t just be categorised or pigeon-holed that easily. Some of the sub-genres in metal don’t even sound like metal! Confused? You will be; I still am, about some of them. Let’s look into this together, shall we?

    So let’s kick off with some sub-genres, but before we do: that loud, fast, aggressive music played by angry guys with long hair, who growl or scream? Yeah, that’s more or less all comes under the umbrella term of “extreme metal”, because, well, it’s extreme. But within extreme metal are more sub-genres. We’ll get to them all in time. For now, here’s how they basically break down. Alphabetically, because why not?

    Note: For this I will be referring to Wiki, but I will try to put my own spin on it.


    As the name implies, as in Alternative Rock, this sort of metal is seen as being somewhat outside the norm for metal, bringing in influences from alt-rock and other genres not usually associated with metal, such as maybe indie rock, country or folk, maybe even pop. Popular around the 1990s, Alt-Metal gave birth to several of its own sub-genres, which we’ll go into below shortly. One of the main things that distinguishes Alt-metal from other metal genres is that the guitars tend to be heavily downtuned, and they often use instruments that depart from the standard metal ones, such as maybe violin, accordion, bongos, whatever. Alt-metal bands are more likely to cross over or be accepted by the fans of other genres than most other metal genres, though not all stick rigidly to their own side of the tracks, as it were. Popular bands in the alt-metal scene are Alice in Chains, System of a Down, Faith No More, Tool and Godsmack.

    Sub-Genres are as follows:

    Funk Metal
    Again, as the name implies here, this is a sub-genre (or, if you prefer, sub-sub-genre, but let’s not get too technical here!) that fuses metal and funk. You’ll have heard bands like this even if you hate heavy metal, as names like Red Hot Chili Peppers, Rage Against the Machine and Primus are all bands who operate in this style. Funk metal bands tend to use a more generic and accepted riffing style which is endemic to thrash and speed metal, as opposed to other alt-metal sub-genres who use, as explained above, the more downtuned style on their guitars.

    Nu metal
    Literally, new metal, this should not be confused with rap metal (discussed next) although its vocalists do often use rap in their performances. They also tend to employ turntables, sequencers and samplers, again pushing them closer to the hip-hop arena, but the vocals also often tend to be screamed or growled, as in other sub-genres such as death metal and black metal, often to the extent of being next-to-impossible to make out. Here we find the likes of Slipknot, Korn and Papa Roach, among others. In general (though of course this does not hold true for everyone) traditional metal fans tend to look down on nu-metal, some declaring it not even to be metal at all.

    Rap metal
    See? These are all easy to understand, aren’t they? Guess what the guys in rap metal do? Yeah. They rap. And they use turntables too, right? BUZZ! Wrong. They don’t, which I guess is one way to tell them apart from nu-metal bands. That, and being able to understand what’s sung. Or rapped. They do sometimes use keyboards, and all songs are rapped, so not death growls or screams here! Notable bands include Clawfinger, Crazy Town and, um, Rage Against the Machine. Yeah, that’s where the sub-genres get a little, well, blurred, as you will recall (unless you have a VERY short attention span!) that we mentioned RATM as being a funk netal band, and they are. Hey, as someone once said, they can be two things! To add to your confusion, thrash metal giants Anthrax also figure in the rap metal sub-genre, having actually pioneered it, but they are not ever thought of as a rap metal band, so far as I know.

    Another note: As you’ll see as we go on, not only do some bands fit into more than one category, some straddle full sub-genres, comfortable in several, or even sometimes uncategorisable, while others might fall into one category for, say, their first album or two, then change their style and become more proper to a different sub-genre. Don’t worry about it: it’s not really that important, unless you’re arguing with another metalhead, which actual sub-genre a band belongs to, or is most considered to be.

    Now we’re into, as they say, experimental territory, because that’s exactly what avant-garde metal is: experimental. Here is where you’ll find, for lack of a better or indeed kinder term, all the weirdos: the ones who use, I don’t know, washboards, photocopiers, screeching cats, paint-strippers in their music. The ones whose songs are over twenty-four minutes long, the ones who wouldn’t know a verse from a chorus, and don’t care. In this sub-genre, everything and anything goes. Probably the most overtly “arty” sub-genre in metal, some of it can be almost unlistenable. Bands include Voivod, Celtic Frost, Maudlin of the Well and Boris. Avant-garde metal is a kind of offshoot, or bastard child if you will, of progressive rock and death metal. Yeah. Listen with extreme caution.

    Speaking of approaching with caution, here we go! If any one sub-genre typified the labelling of all heavy metal as “the devil’s music”, this, literally, is it. Black metal is concerned with lyrics and an image relating to Satanic worship, rejection of the Christian god, and chaos generally. It is, in essence, usually quite brutal, with fast, hammering guitars, pounding, almost explosive blast beat drums, and vocals either screamed in so high a register as to be unintelligible or husked in a menacing almost-whisper. All of this notwithstanding, the technical proficiency of black metal bands is not to be discounted, and despite what a lot of people (including, up to a few years ago, myself) think, they do not just “play noise”. Often, if you can divorce the vocal from the music, there’s some quite beautiful playing there.

    With the worst rap of any metal sub-genre, black metal has not helped itself in the press, with some of its practitioners involved in murder and church burnings, and suicides also troubling this hard-to-understand sub-genre. Most black metal bands are completely unapologetic about their music, and though many do use “Satanic worship”, as it were, as little more than a stage persona for their music, there are actual Satanists among them, such as Watain. Black metal is divided into two time periods when they began, also called “waves”.

    First Wave of Black Metal
    Time period: 1980s

    Many of the bands who feature in the First Wave are or were not actually black metal bands at all, but were mostly thrash or speed metal bands whose sound influenced what would become black metal. Notable among these are Venom, who, though more a thrash metal band, coined the phrase “Black Metal” with the title of their second album, and were the first to growl rather than sing, also using pseudonyms instead of their names, alter-egos which would become popular in the emerging sub-genre. Bathory, too, though originally an extreme/black metal band, and who had a massive effect on the emerging bands who would fly the black metal flag, pioneering the shrieked vocals that would become standard in the new sub-genre. Then there was Hellhammer, who became Celtic Frost, and Mercyful Fate, though bandleader King Diamond was later accused of being a poser, and using theatrics to sell his music. I’d tend to agree.

    Second Wave of Black Metal
    Time Period: 1990s

    Rising out of the cold wastes of Scandinavia, particularly Norway and Sweden, black metal had its unholy birth with bands like Mayhem, Emperor, Darkthrone and Immortal. Corpse paint (white face paint) pioneered by the aforementioned King Diamond, became the costume of black metal bands, and they declared themselves ideologically opposed to Christianity, some taking it to the ultimate extreme and burning down churches. Not surprisingly, jail time ensued, but the popularity of these bands, labelled true (or in their special parlance, trve) black metal, soared and the sub-genre thrived.

    Many of them espoused fear and hatred (whether this was serious or not is open to debate, but it was certainly propagated by them) with Mayhem professing to wish to “spread misery across the world”. Again, taking things to extremes (well, they were an extreme metal band!) Mayhem’s lead singer, the appropriately-named Dead, took his own life, to the apparent amusement of his bandmates, while Euroymus, their guitarist and founder, was stabbed to death by Varg Vikernes, a rival musician who had participated in the spate of church burnings with his victim. So not really the kind of music you want your mother to know you’re listening to!

    But even at that, black metal has its sub-genres, and a few of these can be, dare I say it, quite beautiful. Let’s look at some.

    National Socialist black metal (NSBM)
    This, you’ll be stunned to discover, is not one of them. I don’t need to tell you very much about NSBM, do I? You can figure it out for yourself. Nazi symbols, worship of Hitler, hated of Jews and other races, it’s all there, in what is considered either, depending on your opinion, humanity or ability to take this seriously, the purest form of black metal or the most repugnant. Let’s move on.

    Red Anarchist black metal (RABM)
    Kind of the polar opposite to NSBM I guess, RABM is ultra-left leaning, concerned with communism and Marxism, as well as environmental issues. RABM bands don’t sing about worshipping the devil, and don’t have a problem, per se, with Christians. Some bands from this sub-genre include Panopticon, Skagos, Wolves in the Throne Room and Leper.

    Symphonic black metal
    Seen as the “wimps” of black metal, these are the guys who use orchestras and singers with high, operatic voices, sometimes shrieked vocals yes, but I suppose you’d have to say they would be the “thinking man’s black metal”. I deliberately say man, because among other things, black metal is notoriously male-dominated and misogynistic. I don’t actually know of any black metal bands that have female members, never mind led by women. Guess Satan prefers his club to be a boys-only one, huh?

    Ambient black metal
    Yeah, you read that right. You wouldn’t think the two words go together, but yeah. Ambient black metal, also occasionally known (probably only to me) as atmospheric black metal, has produced some of the most beautiful music I’ve ever heard. I kid you not. Either instrumental or with “ambient” vocals (basically, the singer either screeching or howling in the background, usually sounding quite distant) ambient black metal concentrates on creating atmospheric soundscapes with its music. It’s layered, intricate, often fragile music, and is performed by, among others, Agalloch, Wolves in the Throne Room and Panopticon.

    Blackened doom
    Also known as black-doom, this fuses the energy and aggression of black metal with the slow, plodding, heavy morose figures of doom metal (see further). Blackened doom focuses on the more negative aspects of life, such as depression, anxiety, fear and of course death, all linked in to that good old Satanic worship.

    Depressive Suicidal black metal
    DSBM (not to be confused, of course, with BDSM!) takes the nihilistic forms of blackened doom further, into the realms of suicide, self-harm and despair. It’s one of the only versions of black metal that uses acoustic instruments as well as electric, and though the singers utilise high-pitched vocals, where other sub-genres use this as a means of getting attention or projecting aggression, DSBM singers howl out their frustration and hopelessness like dying animals. Trust me, if you’re feeling low this is probably not the best music to put on to cheer yourself up, and if you play it on the dance floor, make sure there are enough razor blades to go around!

    Simply melds 1970s hard rock to black metal.

    Blackened crust
    No, not what happens when you leave the bread in the toaster and forget about it until smoke is rising. Blackened crust merges black metal and what’s known as crust punk, which so far as I know is the heaviest punk rock music. Our friends Bathory and Celtic Frost/Hellhammer both have roots in this sub-genre, though they grew out of them in time.

    Blackened death-doom
    Combines the slow, grinding riffs of doom metal with the technical guitar riffs of death metal and the harsher, more shrieked vocals of black metal.

    Blackened death metal
    This is where death metal bands take influences from black metal, such as the Satanic imagery, the wearing of corpse paint and the lyrical content of black metal bands. However, rather than shrieked or screamed vocals, this sub-genre (which has its own sub-genres, coming right up) tends to favour the death growls, lower, more bestial sounds popular in death metal as a whole.

    Melodic black death
    While it sounds like a musical about the Bubonic Plague, this is actually a sub-genre of blackened death metal, and is characterised by a greater sense of melody and more thoughtful lyrics. It’s mostly melodic death metal taking on some of the tropes of black metal, though not all.

    War Metal
    The other subset of blackened death metal, this is one of the loudest and most chaotic of the entire sub-genre, aggressive to the, um, extreme, and described by one rock journalist as “rabid”. Enough said.

    Blackened grindcore
    As if grindcore, of which we shall, unfortunately, have to learn more later, wasn’t loud and unintelligible enough already, this fuses black metal to that most incomprehensible of metal sub-genres.

    Blackened thrash metal
    Easy enough. Combines elements of thrash metal with black metal. Our friends Venom were seen as one of the first ever blackened thrash metal bands.

    Folk black metal, pagan metal and Viking metal
    Based around the folklore of certain countries (in the case of Viking metal, obviously, of Scandinavia) these three sub-genres, interchangeable and almost impossible to distinguish one from the other in terms of stylistics, focus on harsh, usually growled vocals, often in the language of their own country or the country about which they’re singing (usually the same thing). Pagan metal, you won’t be astonished to hear, deals with the worship of non-Christian gods, while Viking metal champions and chronicles the way of the Viking invaders.

    Industrial black metal
    Incorporates elements of industrial metal (to be discussed later) and black metal.

    Post-black metal
    Basically the same as post-metal (again, to be discussed further on in the list), usually but not always instrumental.

    A sub-genre of post-black metal incorporating elements of shoegaze into their music. Deafheaven and Alcest are two blackgaze bands.

    Psychedelic black metal
    Fusing elements of psychedelia with black metal. A famous name here is Deafhaven. Again.

    Does what it says on the tin, promotes Christianity through its lyrics and shuns the devil and bad influences. Christian metal has its proponents in different sub-genres, including progressive metal and even black metal, as shown below. Naturally, within each sub-genre the Christian metal derivative conforms to the basic style of the sub-genre it’s involved in.

    Unblack metal
    Christian metal within the black metal sphere. Though it basically sounds more or less exactly like black metal, the lyrics (if you can make them out) concern Christian topics rather than Satanic ones, also sometimes attacking the ideals behind black metal, while taking on themes such as crisis of faith, salvation and conversion to Christianity. To my knowledge (though at the moment I can’t confirm) unblack metal bands don’t wear the corpse paint used by their black metal brethern.

    Tending to concentrate on the more political and social issues in their lyrics, crust punk bands meld, not surprisingly, hardcore punk and anarchic punk to extreme metal. Their music is usually quite bassy, loud obviously and aggressive, while vocals can run either end of the spectrum, shrieked or growled.

    Ah, now we’re into what most people, the uninitiated, think of as metal. The noisy stuff. Death metal is definitely one of the more aggressive forms of metal, sometimes on a par with black metal, although death metal bands generally have, if at all, only a passing interest in Satan, and even then only in their lyrics. Black metal did however have a part in birthing death metal, as did thrash metal. Death metal vocalists usually grunt or growl their vocals, leading to the term within the genre “death growls”, and the guitars are usually hard and fast, with blast beat drumming and abrupt changes in the direction of songs. Death metal has, of course, many sub-genres.

    And here they are.

    Blackened death metal
    Like blackened thrash metal earlier, blackened death metal combines elements of black metal and death metal.

    And again, like black’n’roll, this sub-genre utilises death metal and hard rock, mostly from the 1970s.

    Melodic death metal
    Sometimes hardly what your average listener would think of as melodic at all, this sub-genre, also called melodeth, fuses the style of bands from the NWOBHM (New Wave of British Heavy Metal) to death metal.

    Technical death metal
    Concentrates more on the technical aspect of the playing, where shredding and elaborate solos may be heard.

    Symphonic death metal
    In the same mould as symphonic black metal, symphonic death metal blends in orchestral elements with death metal.

    Perhaps the purest form of metal, certainly the first, as the legendary Black Sabbath were its progenitors, doom metal is slow, crunching along at a snail’s pace, evoking an atmosphere of darkness, claustrophobia and despair, the vocals usually very much in the lower register, often almost whispered in a kind of hoarse low hiss. It won’t surprise you to learn that such a pivotal and important sub-genre of metal has its own subdivisions.

    Branching out slightly from traditional doom, death-doom pulls in influences from thrash and death metal, using the double kick-drums and growling vocals of the latter, and often bringing in female vocals as well as orchestral instrumentation.

    Drone metal
    No, not someone going on for hours about something to the background of doom metal music. Well, sort of, really. For those who don’t know, a drone is a chord that is held or repeated throughout a song or piece of music (or, rarely, an entire album) which doesn’t change and maintains the same shape all the way through. Drone metal uses both high-pitched and low-pitched vocals, the guitars are full of feedback and distortion, and the songs are typically very long.

    Funeral doom
    Arising out of the birth of drone metal, funeral doom is probably the slowest of doom metal, making traditional doom seem almost fast by comparison! It incorporates ambient music elements, weaving often quite beautiful soundscapes, sometimes without any vocals, but when they’re there they tend to be in the background, low down in the mix. Like its parent, funeral doom songs tend to be very long, and address (if you can make out the vocals, assuming there are any) despair, sadness, loss and grief. Would would have thought it?

    Sludge metal
    As its name implies, this is dark, heavy, thick music which evolved from doom metal, and tends to also meld hardcore punk to southern rock. The vocals in sludge metal are usually screamed or shouted.

    An umbrella term for metal that is outside the “norm” of the likes of traditional or NWOBHM styles, it covers death, doom, thrash, speed and black metal, among others.

    As already touched on in the black metal section, folk metal is derived from the folk melodies and forms of various countries, and bands who practice folk metal often use traditional instruments such as violins, accordions and harps in their music. With such a wide and varied wealth of folk music, naturally folk metal has split into different sub-genres.

    Celtic metal
    Where the melodies and instrumentation native to Ireland, Scotland and Wales are fused with heavy metal. Celtic metal has however been exported and is now played in a lot of other countries.

    Pirate metal
    Fusing the tropes of thrash, speed and standard heavy metal with the mythologies, stories and lifestyles of the pirates of the sixteenth and seventeenth century, bringing in often sea shanties, the proponents of this sub-genre usually tend to treat their music with an edge of sharp humour, a nod and a wink so to speak, espouse heavy drinking and wenching, and often dress as pirates.

    Pagan metal
    In complete contrast to pirate metal bands, these guys take their metal very seriously indeed, professing a love of nature and revering the old pagan gods of various cultures. The music can be quite ambient, evoking pastoral atmospheres and moods, the vocals usually harsh and screeched or roared. In some ways, pagan metal bands - who also identify with viking metal and the wider folk metal - can be seen as the most ecologically aware of metal bands, usually urging a return to nature and simpler times.

    Playing into the sensibilities of 1970s glam rock, glam metal bands are often seen as the more poppy cousins of heavy metal, with bands like Ratt, Bon Jovi and Motley Crue among them. Glam metal bands often, though not always, wear makeup and “big hair”, and can be very flamboyant and in-your-face. Glam metal bands are also known as hair metal or pop metal. Mostly they tend to be American.

    Though having grown organically out of doom metal, gothic metal is not technically a sub-genre of it, being instead a fusion of death metal and doom metal, with elements of darkwave and gothic rock.

    If death metal is too tame for you, then step this way my friend, and feast your ears on the noise that is grindcore! Possibly one of the harshest, most brutal forms of heavy metal, it kicks black metal, death metal and even hardcore punk into a box and tells it to shut the fuck up and stay there or it’ll strangle it with its own intestines! Grindcore is fast and chaotic, some of the songs lasting less than a minute, and few lasting more than two. Its lyrics (if you can discern them) tend to be pornographic, visceral, violent and often misogynistic, with a heavy emphasis on gore. If you’ve ever heard Napalm Death, you’ve heard grindcore.

    And yes, it has its sub-genres too.

    Anyone? Yeah, grindcore meets death metal, they stagger off down the pub, slit the throats of a few virgins, do unspeakable things to their corpses, then fall to fighting over who gets to take trophies home. Once described as “brutal death metal and grindcore colliding head on” and “combining the technicality of death metal with the intensity of grindcore”, unlikely as it seems, deathgrind looks to be even more brutal and savage than its parent.

    Seems to be the same as deathgrind, but with more of an emphasis on gore and mutilation in its lyrics.

    I’m going to leave you to work this one out for yourselves...

    Sounds painful! But no, it’s grindcore in which the bands somehow mix in electronic music and also borrow from industrial metal. How you can do that in songs that last a few seconds is beyond me, but hey, grindcore is not and will never be my thing.

    Ah, I don’t consider it metal at all, but it’s in the list so who am I to question it? Grunge is “that” music, the one that came mostly out of Seattle in the 1990s and gave birth to Nirvana, Soundgarden and a whole host of other bands, heralding a lessening in the popularity of metal, for a time, as hipsters jumped on this new bandwagon. Grunge takes elements of everything from hardcore punk to thrash metal, and its mostly downbeat and depressing lyrics have led to some (well, me) calling them whiny bastard bands.

    Combining the often mechanical, emotionless sound of industrial rock with metal might seem at first a crazy idea, metal being all about energy and attitude, but many bands have made their mark by playing industrial metal, including Godflesh, Rammstein and Fear Factory.

    Japanese metal which uses elements of the pop show Japanese Idol, pop music, power metal and other theatrical elements, and is, to my knowledge anyway, more or less an exclusively female domain. Biggest examples of Kawai metal are Babymetal and Ladybaby. Yeah.

    I doubt you could really call this a sub-genre of metal, but it concerns bands formed in or using Latin influences, such as Spanish or Portuguese vocals and traditional Latin instrumentation.

    Using components from hardcore punk and metal, metalcore uses blast beat drumming, fast shredding, shouted vocals and breakdowns. Metalcore has its own sub-genres.

    Melodic Metalcore
    Brings in emo influences to partner the fusion of hardcore punk, metalcore and melodic death metal. Melodic metalcore tends to have more melodic instrumentals, can utilise clean vocals (though not always) and sometimes nod back to 1980s glam bands. Big names in this sub-genre are Asking Alexandria, Bullet for My Valentine and As I Lay Dying.

    With elements of both metalcore and death metal as well as hardcore punk, deathcore features those blast beat drums, heavy guitar riffing and hardcore punk breakdowns.

    Like math rock, these bands use odd time signatures, complex rhythms and melodies in their music. Converge and The Dillinger Escape Plan are examples of mathcore bands.

    Takes in the likes of trance, electronica and dubstep and marries it to post-hardcore and metalcore tropes.

    Nu-metal and metalcore, obviously.

    This sub-genre takes its main influence from classical music, and its guitarists are technically proficient, especially in soloing, or what is called shredding. They have also been known to work with orchestras and use orchestral instruments in their compositions. They are more likely to write musical suites than just about any other sub-genre in metal.

    A term for a sub-genre of metal that incorporates New German Wave, alt-metal and groove metal with industrial, dance and techno music. Also known as “dance metal”, it is, unsurprisingly, a German phenomenon and practiced solely or mostly by German bands. It utilises usually clean and almost always male vocals, and is one of the few metal sub-genres to use keyboards, samplers and synthesisers in its setup. Vocals are almost always in German.

    As touched on in the segment on black metal, post-metal, like post-rock, is mostly instrumental, or if there are vocals they’re generally subsumed into the background. It’s ambient but with a heavy touch, with long, evolving songs and esoteric themes.

    One of the more straightforward styles, power metal is quite commercial in ways, using as it does banks of keyboards to supplement the guitars (or sometimes the other way around) and concentrating on lyrical fare such as fantasy, mythology, sagas, dreams, adventures. It’s almost closer to progressive rock that progressive metal is. Songs are usually fast and bombastic, driven by galloping drum beats with technical solos on both guitar and keyboard. Vocals are almost always clean, and though there’s a great sense of fun in the lyrics, with most of the bands being quite upbeat and cheerful, it can be very derivative, and sometimes it’s difficult to tell one power metal band from another.

    They also tend to go for fantasy imagery on their album sleeves, such as Helloween’s classic The Keeper of the Seven Keys or Stratovarius’s Visions. Power metal bands are the ones most likely to create concept albums (albums whose tracks all follow a basic storyline), as in Blind Guardian’s treatment of The Lord of the Rings or Kamelot’s The Dark Halo.

    One of the most complex, and at times, most serious sub-genres in metal. Obviously derived from a fusion of progressive rock and metal, songs by progressive (or prog) metal bands tend to be longer, more intricate and complex, and they place a high degree of importance and pride on being able to play well, with involved solos both on guitar and keys, both of which are used extensively in prog metal bands. Unlike power metal, and perhaps oddly, given its pedigree, prog metal tends not to go too far into the fantasy and epic genre, preferring instead to explore themes related to the human condition: politics, ecology, exploration, mental health etc.

    As you might expect, there are sub-genres of progressive metal.

    Djent uses a particular type of distorted guitar chord, and songs and melodies are based around this technique. Djent players are usually virtuoso, given to much intricate soloing.

    Space Metal
    A marriage of space rock and progressive metal, dealing with psychedelic or otherworldly themes, space exploration and aliens, though not exclusively. Like its sister, psychedelic metal, space metal can also tackle psychological ideas, dreams, the state of the human mind, and, well, drugs.

    Progressive Metalcore
    Fuses progressive metal and metalcore. Simples.

    Taking the precepts of the NWOBHM-style metal further, speeding it up and making it more technical, speed metal was the direct progenitor of thrash metal. As its name implies, it’s played very fast, with particular emphasis on technical guitar solos. Keyboards are generally not used in speed metal. Anvil, Accept and Motorhead are speed metal bands.

    Taking its cue from stoner rock, this is much slower than speed metal (though not as slow as doom metal) and mixes influences from blues, psychedelia and doom metal. Bass heavy and with usually clean vocals, it’s (apparently) the best metal to get stoned to. Hence, I assume, the name.

    Already touched on twice. Not much more to add, really. The use of orchestras or orchestral instruments, the composition of suites, predominantly female singers who mostly sing in an operatic style, often complemented by a male singer who growls, and with elements of fantasy (though often darker than power metal lyrics) and mythology in their lyrics. Within Temptation, Epica, Nightwish and Therion are all symphonic metal bands.

    Speed metal and NWOBHM-style metal had a baby, and they called it thrash metal. It was the first real example of extreme metal, and all the other extreme sub-genres owe some of their sound and influence to thrash metal. The biggest metal bands in the world (apart from Iron Maiden) are thrash metal bands: Slayer, Anthrax, Metallica and Megadeth, who are known as “the Big Four”.

    Sub-genres include:

    Crossover thrash
    Thrash metal that emphasises the hardcore punk elements more than standard thrash metal does.

    Groove Metal
    Using harsher vocals than often in thrash, more downtuned guitars and solos that wander into blues territory.

    Teutonic Thrash Metal
    German thrash bands heavily influenced by the NWOBHM, whose vocals tend to be more raspy and hissed than shouted or growled.

    Non-extreme, “normal” metal such as Iron Maiden, Saxon, Judas Priest, Dio. Traditional heavy metal is basically the original metal before it split off into so many sub-genres, and includes bands who came to prominence during the NWOBHM.

    So there you are. The above is not meant by any means to be a comprehensive dissertation on heavy metal, and in fact barely scratches the surface. It’s merely supposed to give you a very basic grounding in the different and varied types of metal there is, and how one differs from the other, often in the same sub-genre. At some point, I do intend exploring some or all of the sub-genres listed above, but I won’t be doing in that in any sort of order or with any sort of regularity, just when the whim takes me.

    Mostly, this journal will contain reviews of albums by metal bands from almost every arena, as well as articles discussing metal and occasional ones focusing on this or that band or sub-genre, and anything else I can think to post. As usual, anyone else is welcome to post, comment, request or offer recommendations for albums or artists, or to arm-wrestle me down the pub (I have very weak arms so you’ll probably win).

    The main point of this journal, though, is to introduce those of you to metal who have never heard it, are curious about it, or have an interest in it, as well as discuss it with likeminded fans. I don’t profess to be an expert, but I think I know my Judas Priest from my Kreator or my Cryptopsy from my Suicide Silence. Anyone who knows better (and I’m sure there are many of you out there) is welcome to educate me. This isn’t a masterclass, more a community where we all get together and talk about metal. We can argue, disagree, wax lyrical over or laugh at bands, and try not to get too drunk (though there is a three-drink minimum).

    Oh, and let’s keep the cops out of it huh? What happens in Trollheart’s Metal Journal stays in Trollheart’s Metal Journal, all right?
    Come away, human child to the waters and the wild
    With a faery hand in hand.
    For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand. - WB Yeats "The Stolen Child"

    I drink to forget, but I never forget to drink.

    "If the real Jesus Christ were to stand up today
    He'd be gunned down cold by the CIA" - The The, "Armageddon Days Are Here (Again)" - Mind Bomb, 1989

    The most destructive force on the planet is not nukes or global is the human ego. - Ralph Rotten

  2. #2
    Offline: Depressed Trollheart's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2019
    Where the sour turns to sweet
    Come away, human child to the waters and the wild
    With a faery hand in hand.
    For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand. - WB Yeats "The Stolen Child"

    I drink to forget, but I never forget to drink.

    "If the real Jesus Christ were to stand up today
    He'd be gunned down cold by the CIA" - The The, "Armageddon Days Are Here (Again)" - Mind Bomb, 1989

    The most destructive force on the planet is not nukes or global is the human ego. - Ralph Rotten

  3. #3
    Offline: Depressed Trollheart's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2019
    Where the sour turns to sweet
    Come away, human child to the waters and the wild
    With a faery hand in hand.
    For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand. - WB Yeats "The Stolen Child"

    I drink to forget, but I never forget to drink.

    "If the real Jesus Christ were to stand up today
    He'd be gunned down cold by the CIA" - The The, "Armageddon Days Are Here (Again)" - Mind Bomb, 1989

    The most destructive force on the planet is not nukes or global is the human ego. - Ralph Rotten

  4. #4
    Offline: Depressed Trollheart's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2019
    Where the sour turns to sweet
    Come away, human child to the waters and the wild
    With a faery hand in hand.
    For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand. - WB Yeats "The Stolen Child"

    I drink to forget, but I never forget to drink.

    "If the real Jesus Christ were to stand up today
    He'd be gunned down cold by the CIA" - The The, "Armageddon Days Are Here (Again)" - Mind Bomb, 1989

    The most destructive force on the planet is not nukes or global is the human ego. - Ralph Rotten

  5. #5
    Offline: Depressed Trollheart's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2019
    Where the sour turns to sweet
    Come away, human child to the waters and the wild
    With a faery hand in hand.
    For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand. - WB Yeats "The Stolen Child"

    I drink to forget, but I never forget to drink.

    "If the real Jesus Christ were to stand up today
    He'd be gunned down cold by the CIA" - The The, "Armageddon Days Are Here (Again)" - Mind Bomb, 1989

    The most destructive force on the planet is not nukes or global is the human ego. - Ralph Rotten

  6. #6
    Offline: Depressed Trollheart's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2019
    Where the sour turns to sweet
    When you’re a kid and have little or no disposable income, or when you’re a teenager with just as little, you don’t have the luxury of buying all the new albums. As I’ve mentioned before, when I was growing up there was no internet as such, and certainly no itunes, YouTube, Spotify or Grooveshark. There were no torrents. If you wanted to hear an album you either bought it, borrowed it or, if you were lucky, got to hear it at a listening post in a record shop. If that last sentence made no sense to you, you are too young. I officially hate you.

    So you had to be careful how you spent your money, and one of the ways I found to get the best bang for my Irish Pound was to buy compilation albums. This was a way to hear bands I did not know of, and see if I liked them. It meant there could be a lot of dross of course, but the chances were that I would get at least two or three decent songs off the record, and maybe an introduction to a new band or two I could follow later when I started earning properly. There weren’t too many metal compilations about at that time, but three I recall having, and as they turned me on to many new artists (and off others), I thought I’d use them to kick off this first feature, which will concentrate on my early influences, or to put it another way, and give the section its title

    Metal for Muthas, Volume II
    --- Various Artists --- 1980 (EMI)

    Note: Rather than link every video separately to each track, I’m just going to put the video for the full album here. Sorry but if you want to find particular songs you’ll have to look after that yourselves.

    For years - and I mean years - I wondered idly what a mutha was? I thought it was pronounced “myoo-taw” and that it was some secret name of heavy metal heroes or something. Of course, I eventually got the joke. Strangely, I never bought or even heard volume I - I think I bought this second hand with a pile of other records, in the days when you could go into the city with twenty quid and come back with a bag bursting with albums - and it seems to be acknowledged as the better of the two, with contributions from Iron Maiden, Praying Mantis and Samson, whereas the bands here are all, or were all at the time, pretty much unknown to me. But in a way, that’s what made it such fun, discovering new music.

    As well as briefly running through the tracks here, I’m going to be checking in on each artiste, to see how they did after this album. Did they go on to great things? Did they have a moderately successful career? Or did they vanish without a trace? Some I know the answer to, some I don’t. We open however on a band that not only bookended this album, providing both the opening and closing tracks, but who became a firm favourite with me. Which is unfortunate, as they never seem to have gone on to have released any albums and I never heard from them again.

    Track One: “One of These Days” by Trespass.
    They were a short-lived band from Suffolk who all had day jobs. Of course, after the release of this single they all …. kept their jobs. Yeah, they were never even moderately successful, and recorded little material, making it all the weirder that they not only ended up having an anthology but also at least three compilations, most if not all of which were bootlegs. Still, I loved what I heard here, and “One of These Days” gets the collection going with a jangly, Lizzyesque guitar before the guitars kick up and take the song into a rockin’ hard boogie rhythm. Oddly, this was their most famous (as such) and successful track, and while I like it I much prefer their other one. But I think this really shows a band who could have broken through but somehow just never got the breaks, despite being managed at one point by The Enid’s manager. Guess it was never meant to be.

    it’s nothing revolutionary but it’s clearly good enough to stand beside the likes of Praying Mantis, Samson, Xero, White Spirit and the slew of others who rode the New Wave of British Heavy Metal in the early 80s, and with a few exceptions the contributions from Trespass stand head and shoulders above everything else on this album. But sometimes it just doesn’t happen, and barring the closing track, and despite much frenzied searching, I never found anything else by them until about a year ago when I pounced on their “anthology”, also called One of These Days.

    So where are they now?

    Bad pun though it may be, one of these days never arrived, and having failed to make the big time (or even the slightly smaller time) Trespass broke up and later three of the band members formed a new band, which itself broke up after about three years. Maybe they were just cursed. The guys then released an album called Head, which is said to contain new Trespass material, but despite a lot of searching and many sacrifices offered to the metal gods, I have never been able to track it down. That came out, apparently, in 1993, since when the band have just fallen off the edge of the world, and have not been heard from since. If anyone has information on them I’d love to talk to you.

    Track Two: “Telephone Man” by Eazy Money.
    I’m always (was even back then) sceptical of bands who replace an “s” with a “z”. Can’t find much information on them, which probably means they’re no longer around. In fairness, from what I remember of their track here that was not too surprising because I recall it being distinctly under-par. Mind you, maybe I was just seriously disappointed after having heard Trespass to be shackled with a much inferior band. Perhaps time has changed how these ears will perceive this song. Let’s find out.

    Interestingly, it opens on a soft keyboard and organ line, then the guitar cuts in and the song very much reminds me of Deep Purple. It’s not bad, very American sounding and the guy certainly has a good voice, though it’s not anything that terribly special. The constant beep-beep from the synth, mimicking the sound of a telephone, gets annoying after a while. Yeah guys, we got it: even ELO only used the sound of the phone once on “Telephone Line”. No need to beat us over the head with it! Good chorus to be fair, but it’s much more verging towards AOR than NWOBHM. Picks up at the end with a fine guitar and keyboard solo which quickens up the tempo and helps the song end really well. You know, I need to revise my opinion even from a few lines ago: this is awesome! Just shows how a song can develop and suddenly kick you right in the --

    So where are they now?

    Again, sorry for the pun (hell with that: I’m going to try to use a pun on each track! What do you mean, you’ll kick me in the ---?) it seems there was to be no easy (or eazy if you prefer) money for these guys. After their contribution here I can find nothing about Eazy Money. No albums, no singles, no inclusions on other various artists albums. However, there is some good news, as their vocalist, Marc Storace, did go on to front one of the bigger rock/metal bands of the 80s in Krokus. So in one way at least, the spirit of Eazy Money lives on.

    Track Three: “Cutting Loose” by Xero

    Now this band I have been finally able to dig up some information on, oddly enough through the website, and thanks to a guy called Eduardo Rivadavia. Seems that Xero (pronounced “zero”) were set to break into the big time, being championed by rock’s biggest fan on the radio, DJ Tommy Vance, but they unfortunately ran afoul of Iron Maiden’s management when they tried to release a song they had played live but which was a cover version of a song which Brucey had been involved in (for the full story see here Xero: Information from and their label dissolved under legal pressures. That was the end of Xero, and a salutary lesson in naivete.

    A good heavy fast rocker, “Cutting Loose” is a decent track with a lot of blues Rory Gallagher about it, and maybe early Free, kind of more hard rock than metal really. It has perhaps one of the silliest lines ever in a metal song (and that’s no easy feat!) to say nothing of being a prophecy that failed to come true --- ”They used to call me boomerang/ Cos I kept coming back!” Gods preserve us! Goofy lyric aside though this song shows a band who were just really getting it together and could have been big. With a guitar riff very reminiscent of NWOBHM giants Iron Maiden, this song keeps the quality high on the album, and singer Moon Williames certainly knows how to scream in a Dickinson style, while Bill Liesgang is no slouch on the guitar either.

    So where are they now?

    Fame for this band: Xero. Sorry. I’m not going to stop. Put down the lump hammer. Well, as I mentioned Xero the band did not last beyond about 1983, but again thanks to Eduardo I have information on what happened to them in later life, and it’s a somewhat varied result. Moon Williams hooked up with prog rock icon and ex-Asia man John Wetton, while Liesgang got plenty of session work. Strangest of all, bass player Boon Gould joined Level 42!

    Track Four: “High on High” by White Spirit

    Another band who released one album only and then split, but whose members all did okay for themselves afterwards. White Spirit also share the distinction of being the only artist here, other than Xero, to appear on two out of three of the albums I have chosen for this section. If they have a claim to fame it must surely be that from their ashes sprung later Maiden guitarist Janick Gers.

    With an intro more out of something you’d expect to hear on a prog rock album than a metal one, it’s a pumping, boppy start but you really would think you were listening to Kansas or REO Speedwagon here. It’s a good song but very wimpy in terms of metal. Don’t get it. I hear elements of Asia and Yes in it, but not Maiden or Motorhead. That said, it’s a great song, just not what I would consider a great metal one. Vocalist Bruce Ruff certainly has an interesting voice, but then just to reinforce the prog rock idea there’s a very proggy keyboard solo in the song, and no guitar one really.

    So where are they now?

    Spirited away! Like so many bands, White Spirit became just another casualty of the NWOBHM, unable to capitalise on their debut album sales - not surprising really, as it sounds like they wanted to be more a prog/AOR or even soft rock band more than a metal one, and they were never going to survive among the likes of Leppard, Girlschool, Angel Witch and even Praying Mantis. In musical genre terms, White Spirit were the dolphins among the sharks, and they got torn apart.

    But as I said, their big star was Janick Gers, and he went on to work alongside Ian Gillan in the ex-Deep Purple vocalist’s eponymous solo band, also spending time with Fish on his debut solo album and Bruce Dickinson on his before joining Iron Maiden proper, where he has remained to this day. Of the rest, Bass man Phil Brady joined Therapy, an English band not to be confused with the Irish one Therapy? while drummer Graeme Crallan can be heard playing on Tank’s 1984 album Blood and Honour but left after that. He sadly then passed away after an accident in 2008.

    Track Five: “Lady of Mars” by Dark Star

    Here we have finally a band who recorded more than one album, though in fairness they did split after the first, reforming in 1987, two years later, to record a second album. Having no luck with that they then split for good. Again this is more in the melodic, almost AOR vein than out-and-out metal, and I doubt too many metalheads would rate it. However it became and remains one of my two favourite songs on the album, even beating out Trespass’s “One of These Days”. I really loved this. Though it starts off with a good, punchy guitar and indeed rides on a heavy riff, and the vocalist has a great rough gravelly voice, there’s something too poppy about it to make it a proper metal song. It’s infectiously catchy as Ebola in Sierra Leone (What? Too soon?) and there are great backup vocals. It also ends with a really heavy guitar and crashing drums.

    So where are they now?

    Dark horses? Stars? (Gimme a break! I ain’t got much to work with here!) After the second split following the lack of success of their 1987 second album, Dark Star stayed together, minus their singer, who went on to management, while his bandmates formed a new outfit called Poker Alice, a primarily blues-based band.

    It’s my recollection from my youth that from this point on the album dipped seriously in quality, though as has already been proven, my memory can’t always be relied on, as I thought “Telephone Man” was crap and it wasn’t. Nevertheless, I have a clear remembrance of a sense of disappointment till we got to the closer, the second Trespass song. But we’ll see how time has treated that memory.

    Track Six: “You Give Me Candy” by Horsepower

    The only thing I can find out about them is that, uncharacteristically for an NWOBHM era band, they were not in fact English or even British, but relocated to the UK from Philadelphia. That’s probably evident from the use of the word “candy” in the title. Perhaps they saw or heard of the burgeoning metal scene across the ocean and thought “We’ll have some of that!” Well, this is more like it! Much as I loved Dark Star, this is more like the kind of metal you’d expect to have found on an album like this. With a big, fast, rocking beat very reminiscent of the likes of ZZ, Horsepower rock unashamedly on with good-time guitars and who-gives-a-shit drumming.

    It’s like Horsepower brought a sense of American fun and freedom to a subgenre that was often at this time in danger of taking itself too seriously. As bands struggled to get noticed, many aping or in some cases copying the established or rising bands - often note for note and riff for riff - some of the enjoyment in the music got left behind. These guys from the city of brotherly love remind us that music is to be enjoyed, and they’re like the best of Blindside Blues Band, ZZ and Lynyrd Skynyrd all rolled into one. With a healthy dose of Southern Boogie this track not only rocks but is enormous fun.

    Let me see if I can encapsulate it in one sentence. Oh yeah. I love this! How could I have thought this was the beginning of the slide? The equine ones remind us this is supposed to be a party, and they’re makin’ sure everyone has a real good time! Sure, it’s not what I’d call NWOBHM in any way shape or form, but then neither were White Spirit, and if they belong here then sure as there’s shiit on their shoes, Horsepower do too!

    So where are they now?

    Rode off into the sunset. Sadly for us, after setting our shores alive with their own brand of Yankee fun rock, Horsepower headed back over to the States, where they released their first album and obviously stayed together throughout the 80s and 90s, as they recorded a song in memory of the victims of 9/11.

    Track Seven: “Open Heart” by Red Alert

    Really, really hard to get any proper information on this band, as not only was there a punk band of the same name operating at the same time (the Wiki link on the album goes erroneously to their entry, which confuses things further) there were two metal bands called Red Alert. Add to that the fact that it’s also the title of a song and it makes it next to impossible to find an entry on them. All I did find is that they were yet another of the jetsam of the movement, releasing just the one single, the song here, and then changing their name, after which nothing more is known of them.

    It’s more straight-ahead metal this time. Whereas “She Gives Me Candy” was a great rocking tune and a rollicking good ride, it could not really be called metal, much less NWOBHM, but this can. With a killer riff driving the song and a singer who sounds like he chews cigarettes for breakfast, it’s rough and raw and just the right side of punk that would allow it to fit right in among the many hundreds of bands all pushing and shoving for a recording contract, or at least recognition, in those heady days. It has to be said that it’s nothing special, but it’s not bad. I remember it as a little forgettable, and this time it would seem my memory is pretty much right on the money.

    So where are they now?

    Absolutely no idea. Cancel Red Alert.
    Track Eight: “Chevy” by Chevy

    For once, it’s nice to see that someone has compiled a decent amount of information on a band I hitherto knew nothing about, so I can tell you that Chevy began life as 4 Wheel Drive in the sixties and played pop songs until they caught the metal bug in the wake of the NWOBHM and decided to change their playing style. They released one album but were another band to fall prey to a clueless label who had no idea how to market them, and possibly no interest in doing so. They did play with some giants, Hawkwind and Gary Moore to name two, but split in 1983 after their first album Taker.

    A big screeching guitar leads in a real three-chord boogie that just has your head moving right away, and with a lot of Springsteen in the feel. Odd that they would change their name to Chevy, a recognised symbol of American motor power, when they came from the metropolis of … Leamington Spa. But I suppose Transit or Vauxhall wouldn’t have had quite the same ring to it! I hear traces of Lizzy here, and again ZZ, even if the song is a little repetitive. I could see this having been very popular onstage though.

    So where are they now?

    Driven out of town? Not quite. Again there’s a lot of information and I’m not going to bore you by telling you the separate path each band member followed, but suffice to say one still plays with Dr. Feelgood, one is a guitar teacher and the others all went on to play with well-established bands including Badfinger, Atomic Rooster and the Steve Marriott Band. Humorous aside: their record label, Avatar, who caused them so much trouble and possibly cost them a chance at fame and success, went bankrupt and apparently formed a company producing porn videos! Ah, revenge is sweet!

    Track Nine: “Hard Lines” by The Raid

    Actually called Jameson Raid (sounds like a heist at an off-licence!) the band had been around since 1973 and were annoyed that EMI remixed their song, without their permission, and according to them it was ruined.
    The song opens on a thick bass line, and runs almost like a metal version of bluegrass for a moment before it takes shape. I don’t really like the singer’s style, but if I had to compare him to anyone it might be Bowie? It’s a pretty intense number, almost claustrophobic with the heavy guitar riffs pounding down and the vocalist almost seeming like his voice is coming through a phaser or some effect. Seems to be based on an accident taking place in deep space, from what I can gather. A very dark, bleak song which belies its mostly uptempo style. Certain touches of the Clash or a slower, more restrained Tank about it.

    So where are they now?

    Guess the raid didn’t come off, after all. After the two founders quit the band in 1980, the remaining two members, Phil Kimberley and the man whose name should have been synonymous with metal, Terry Dark, continued on the band. Apathy seems to have been the big killer of this band, and they began to fragment shortly afterwards, with two of the founders leaving. By 1983 the band was effectively dead. However, although all four original members have now left, Jameson Raid continues with an entirely new lineup and is the only band on this compilation to be able to say they are still active.

    Track Ten: “Stormchild” by Trespass

    They saved the best till last. This song will forever be in my top ten metal tracks, even though most people would look at it and say “Stormwhat? Who the hell are Trespass?” Despite that I’ll always love them and this remains one of the best metal tracks I’ve ever heard. It opens with a lone guitar riffing, then another, harder single chord joins it, so two guitars are now riffing separately but in the same melody. Drums cuts in after a short moment and the song takes off, rising on a completely infectious guitar line. Vocals come in, though only after over a minute of guitar riffing, and just complete the song: strong, powerful, clear. Not a hint of rawness or roughness in the voice. A superb, fluid solo bisects the song and it ends in a storm of guitar riffs with a final fluttering cymbal and a vocal that sort of echoes out, leaving you wanting more, even though the song is easily the longest on the album, at just over five minutes. Shouuld have been an NWOBHM classic and a metal standard. Life’s cruel, y’know?

    So where are they now?

    Already told you. Please check the writeup on the first track.


    1. One of These Days --- Trespass
    2. Telephone Man --- Eazy Money
    3. Cutting Loose --- Xero
    4. High upon High --- White Spirit
    5. Lady of Mars --- Dark Star
    6. You Give Me Candy --- Horsepower
    7. Open Heart --- Red Alert
    8. Chevy --- Chevy
    9. Hard Lines --- The Raid
    10. Stormchild --- Trespass

    When I bought this album as an impressionable teenager/passing over into twenties all I saw it as was a collection of heavy metal songs. I didn’t even know, probably, despite being in the middle of it, about the NWOBHM. But looking back on it now, thirty-some years later, I can see it for what it is: a partial encapsulation of that era, a showcase of some of the bands who never made it, and a repository of examples of how naive bands were back then, how greedy and often incompetent record labels were, and how unprincipled managers can be. If the labels and management teams behind some of these bands had been better, or cared more, or knew how to do their job, some of these artists could have been huge, or at least survived.

    Instead, we have a vinyl graveyard littered with the musical skeletons of those who were thrown in the deep end and found they either could not swim or were forcibly dragged down under the water by the incredible pressures put on them by those around them: fans, managers, labels and indeed the climate itself. To survive and make your mark in the NWOBHM you had to have something special, you had to be able to work hard (no problem there mostly) and you needed a good team around you, a team that could support, market and sell you.

    Without these crucial elements, most of these bands were doomed to failure, and to be remembered only as a track or two on a compilation album that most people have forgotten about, or like me, remember with fondness. But ultimately, fame was never to be theirs and in the case of just about every band here, that really is the world of heavy metal’s loss.
    Come away, human child to the waters and the wild
    With a faery hand in hand.
    For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand. - WB Yeats "The Stolen Child"

    I drink to forget, but I never forget to drink.

    "If the real Jesus Christ were to stand up today
    He'd be gunned down cold by the CIA" - The The, "Armageddon Days Are Here (Again)" - Mind Bomb, 1989

    The most destructive force on the planet is not nukes or global is the human ego. - Ralph Rotten

  7. #7
    Offline: Depressed Trollheart's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2019
    Where the sour turns to sweet
    The second of this trilogy of various artists albums I want to look at again concerns many of the bands who rose - and many who fell - during the NWOBHM. There are names on it who went on to become semi-famous - Diamond Head, Raven - but like the other album the larger percentage of the contributors to it faded away or just failed to get the big break they would have needed. Two of the bands featured on Metal for Muthas Vol II are here too, so it’s not such a catalogue of the dichotomy that existed between the bands who made it and those who didn’t, but it’s still an interesting look at the differences between the various bands who jumped onto the NWOBHM train, all hoping to hitch a ride to success and stardom, the vast majority of whom had been found not to have paid for their ticket and who got booted off at the next stop, left to find their own way home.

    Brute Force --- Various Artists --- 1980 (MCA)
    It’s not a very imaginative sleeve, and even the title could be said to be overstating the case, as some of these bands would not be what you would consider to be on the heavier side of things, but the album did at least showcase some real talent, and provides us in some cases with a rare opportunity to hear bands who were never heard from again. One of these is of course not Diamond Head, who open up the compilation.

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    Track One: “It’s Electric” by Diamond Head

    All you need to know (and much more) about Diamond Head you can find by watching for their inclusion in Witches, Bitches, Maidens and Monsters - the Bands of the NWOBHM, a six-part series I am running on the subject. Suffice to say, Diamond Head were moderately successful, but never quite broke into the big time the way the likes of Maiden and Def Leppard did. With confusion over the direction in which they wanted to head, tensions built between the band and their fans got bored after a too-long hiatus, losing interest. This was rekindled in the 90s when thrash gods Metallica covered their “Am I Evil?” giving them another brief shot at fame, but at that point they had been away from the scene for so long that really, nobody remembered them and the young ‘uns getting into Metallica thought the song was theirs, so that when DH played it they all thought the boys were doing a Metallica cover! Oh, the irony of fate!

    The track is a typical DH song from their early period. Hard, dirty rock and roll with little or no finesse and the idea of a real crowd pleaser on stage. Even here though you can tell that Sean Harris had a special voice, and these guys really should have got it together and made it as they deserved to. Stop/start riffs and romping drumwork carry the song, and it’s a decent rocker with a lot of potential that would crop up on their debut album, Lightning to the Nations.

    So where are they now?

    Diamonds are a boy’s best friend? Well, not quite. Unfazed by their lack of commercial success, and perhaps buoyed by the Metallica seal of approval, Diamond Head are still going. They released their sixth album in 2007, though Sean Harris had by then departed after the old “creative differences” chestnut. Too many splits and reformations: the first in 1985 meant they pretty much missed any chance of getting in on the wave of enthusiasm for labels signing metal bands, especially ones from the NWOBHM era, and then they got back together in 1990, following the rekindling of interest in them via the Metallica surge. They released what was then their fourth album, ten years after the “golden era” Canterbury, but again split in 1994, meaning that when they once again got back together as the new millennium got going, but once again there were problems and this time Harris left for good in 2003. Since then they have continued with a new singer, the release of their albums slowly turning from the trickle of the nineties into not quite a flood, but they did release their seventh and eighth album within three years of each other, so that’s an improvement.
    It should also be stated that Diamond Head, among other issues of course, fell prey to the curse of MCA, the record label known for not quite destroying bands, but wanting to mould them into its own commercial image and thus preventing them from achieving their full potential. I’ll be doing a full feature on this poison label later on.

    Track Two: “Brain Damage” by Fist.

    Possibly an appropriate title, given the general air of concern at the time that teenagers were putting themselves in danger by headbanging.
    With an almost industrial opening, the song marches along nicely on the back of hard guitar, a sort of dark, ominous feel to it, and their vocalist is a little high-pitched in a manner which reminds me of Halford, though nowhere near as good. If “It’s Electric” was the clean track, “Brain Damage” has dirt all over it, and revels in its muckiness. It falls apart in the middle, when the guys try to emulate a madman being released from the nut hatch, but it just sounds like they’ve gone out of tune. Good solo though.

    So where are they now?

    Not quite a fistful of dollars, or even pound notes, I’m afraid. Like Diamond Head, Fist were feted but through a combination of factors never hit the bright lights. They recorded three albums but were dropped by their label, the infamous MCA, after the first album failed to perform, while Neat followed suit in 1982 after their second album did as poorly. They broke up then but reformed in 2001 and in 2005 they released their final album, no doubt thinking “third time’s the charm.” It wasn’t. After the release of their third album, Storm, on their third label, nothing more has been heard of Fist, and even that album was recorded by a totally different lineup, with only the original founder remaining. Having managed to struggle to survive into the twenty-first century - more than many NWOBHM bands could do - we must assume they are now broken up.

    Track Three: “Let It Rip” by Raven.

    Again, you’ll find a full profile of them in that series in my journal, but Raven were considered one of the stayers of the movement, and augmented their success by heading Stateside, unlike Praying Mantis (also featured) who used their trip across the ocean to disassociate themselves from their fanbase and never really recovered. Raven were one of the harder bands, playing loud and fast, almost edging into speed metal territory, though they apparently described their style as “athletic rock”.

    The track flies along with snarling guitars, vocalist John Gallagher coming close to the sort of vocals Lemmy and even James Hetfield employed. Again there’s nothing clever or groundbreaking about the song, even in its lyrical content. But it is a lot of fun, and it rocks like a good thing!

    So where are they now?

    As I said, Raven were one of the few to make it out of the slew of bands all fighting for success in the early eighties, and released thirteen albums, the most recent of which hit the shelves in 2015. With gigs lined up including a cruise from Miami to Mexico, they’re definitely still relevant today and one of the small number of survivors from the NWOBHM.

    Track Four: “Gotta get Back to You” by Prowler

    Very little information available on these lads, not helped by the fact that there were in fact two bands in the UK called Prowler, both of whom operated during the era of the NWOBHM and both of whom played the same style of music.
    The track’s a fast, uptempo kind of song, sort of a Memphis blues feel to it, decent singer but at the moment I don’t hear anything special that lifts it above the rest of the pile, and nothing to justify some comments that it was better than average. I’m assuming - though I could be wrong - that the band’s name was taken from the Iron Maiden song on their debut. Whether the other Prowler did the same or not I can’t say. Pretty sweet guitar solo, to be fair. Oh wait! This is nice! The guitarist is riffing off a Russian jig! Now that’s different, if somewhat out of place.

    So where are they now?

    Maybe their song title was a promise to go back to whatever they did before forming a band, but whatever happened, rock music was not for them. They certainly don’t seem to have appreciated the value of researching your band name before settling on it, as having already confused things by not realising there already was a band called Prowler, and having only ever recorded one track (this one, presumably) they then changed their name to Samurai (with stunning and almost pigheaded irony, again taking the name already used, this time by a band in Wales!), but this didn’t work out either and they are split up now. Research, guys! Research! Oh, you can’t hear me. Probably gone to work in banks or insurance or something.
    Track Five: “Fantasia” by Sledgehammer

    Another, it has to be said, fairly average band, their profile probably not helped by the fact they came from Slough, in Berkshire. I mean, do you know of any big bands who originated there? Again though they appear to have been badly managed and despite releasing an album (more than Prowler did!) they just never made it big. Oddly enough, this doesn’t seem to appear on their only album, Blood on Their Hands, nor the, ah, compilation released in 1984. Strange little track with a good beat and a slight sense of Lizzy in the guitars. Interesting and funny lyric in ”She blew my mind/ And that ain’t all!” Cheeky, boys! Cheeky! A good stomper, good fun, but ultimately a little throwaway I feel.

    So where are they now?

    Perhaps fame and riches was a fantasia, as little is known of what happened to them, and after a three-year hiatus in 1980, somewhat a la Diamond Head, they lost whatever momentum they were gaining through their purportedly excellent live shows, people moved on and forgot them. By the time they returned in 1983 with their album, nobody really cared and Sledgehammer became yet another burned-out shell of a car on the busy motorway of the NWOBHM.

    Track Six: “Breakdown” by Colin Towns.

    Colin Towns was best known for his work with Ian Gillan in the ex-Purple man’s solo band, though he later broke out from the metal genre and composed soundtracks for many films and TV series. He is principally a pianist/keyboard player.

    Well, unfortunately here is where I have to make a confession. I don’t have the album. It was never mine. My brother owned it and I listened to it, but that was three decades ago and whether he even has it now is doubtful, but if he does it doesn’t help me as a) we don’t talk and b) it was on vinyl and I have no turntable anymore. Deep searches on the net have all come up blank, mostly due to this I guess being an obscure song in the now-impressive catalogue of a successful composer, so I can’t tell you what the song is like, though I have a feeling it was quite progressive. But I don’t recall being overly impressed by it. Oh well.

    So where are they now?

    Certainly no breakdown for Colin, although he found fame in a genre other than metal. As related above, Towns parted company with Gillan and became a very successful and in demand composer of soundtracks. He also released some solo albums. He’s still going strong today.

    Track Eight: “Earthquake at the Savoy” by Mick Underwood

    Another ex-Gillan alumnus, Underwood had been around a long time before he joined that band, and became a respected drummer for many bands.

    Sadly, the track is another one that has the internet stymied and has not survived. I know it was an instrumental, and given that Underwood is a drummer, well you can guess the picture. Bernie Torme, ex of Gillan and later Whitesnake, also guests on it.

    So where are they now?

    Well, the earthquake didn’t bury him, and it was no disaster. Having been in so many bands prior to Gillan, Underwood is still going strong and has his own band, Mick Underwood’s Glory Road.

    Track Nine: “Back to the Grind” by White Spirit

    We met White Spirit on Metal for Muthas II, and again we find a song pretty much out of its subgenre really, being led in on thick organ and mostly keyboard-based. This track does at least have a goodly amount of guitar, but there’s no way it’s anything approaching metal. It might slide in as pomp rock but I think it’s very close to progressive rock, and there is no room anywhere in its style for metal. Like “High upon High” on the previous album it is in fact a really great track, just totally out of place here.

    So where are they now?

    Again, see the other review.

    Track Ten: “Can’t Say No to You” by Quartz

    Quartz came out of the mean streets of Birmingham around the mid-seventies, and at that time there was one man anyone in a band was bound to bump into. Yes, that pop rocker hated of so many metallers, Jeff Lynne. Guitarist Mick Hopkins worked with Lynne in The Idle Race, before the man who would later mastermind ELO moved on to, um, The Move. Quartz released three albums, and are still together.

    A fist-pumping anthem, this is taken from their second album, Stand Up and Fight, but though it’s hard enough the vocals are totally wimpy, more on the side of Rod Stewart or maybe David Coverdale than Ronnie James Dio. Good track though, edges into AOR territory more than once.

    So where are they now?

    Mining for new information on this band (geddit?) isn’t easy. Sure, they’re still together, but three albums released up to 1983 and nothing new since makes me wonder if we’ll ever hear any new material from them again. I suppose nobody will be holding their breath in anticipation though. Quartz reformed in 2011 after twenty-eight years apart to play a reunion gig. No new material was forthcoming, and so far their less than prophetically-titled 1983 album Against All Odds remains their last release.

    Track Eleven: “Hold on” by Xero

    Another band we introduced in the previous review. This is much more like it! After an almost doomy, grindy opening it kicks into a Maiden-style high tempo rocker with some exquisite guitar and some fine bass lines. Very commercial in its way, quite catchy but still heavy and rocky. One of the better tracks on the album. Yeah, even including Diamond Head. Unfortunately. as this was the B-side of that “dodgy” single featuring Bruce Dickinson which I mentioned in the review of their track on Metal for Muthas Vol II it’s very hard to get your hands on. Should have been a classic.

    So where are they now?

    See previous review.

    Track Twelve: “Day to Day” by Cryer

    Okay, well other than that they were also from Birmingham I can find no information about this band. Seems this was their only single, and track. Speaking of which:

    Yeah. Thought I had it, till that annoying message came up: “This video does not exist.” Seems there’s no trace left of them, even their music.

    So where are they now?

    Don’t cry for me. Or them. Hey, your guess is as good as mine. Even the internet doesn’t know!

    Track Thirteen: “Black Queen” by May Westt

    Oh this will be fun! No doubt Google will constantly ask me “did you mean Mae West?” No I bloody didn’t! Oh, and it’s a round dessert cake with cream filling, apparently! Ah, I give up! Can I find the track?

    Yes, that’s what I said. The track. Is there an echo in here? Did someone bring their pet parrot in? Do we - Forget it. I can’t find it either. What a crock!

    So where are they now?

    Come up and see me some time. But always let me know beforehand. Don’t expect this song to be playing when you do come up though. What happened to the band? Will you stop asking me that? I told you, I don’t know!!!

    Sorry about that. The unavailability of many of these last few tracks, coupled with a total dearth of information about them, shows I suppose the lack of impact their music had on the metal scene in general, and on the NWOBHM in particular. However it isn’t all doom and gloom; as we saw, some of these bands went on to do quite well, and some are still around today. In contrast to the bulk of those heard on MFM2 I think the odds swung a lot more in favour of the vast majority of these bands, whereas those on the previous one largely disappeared into obscurity.


    1. It's Electric (Diamond Head)
    2. Brain Damage (Fist)
    3. Let It Rip (Raven)
    4. Gotta Get Back to You (Prowler)
    5. Fantasia (Sledgehammer)
    6. Breakdown (Colin Towns)
    7. Earthquake at the Savoy (Mick Underwood)
    8. Back to the grind (White Spirit)
    9. Can't Say No to You (Quartz)
    10. Hold on (Xero)
    11. Day to Day (Cryer)
    12. Black Queen (May West)

    So perhaps “Brute Force” was the way to go in the end huh? Fight your corner, or to put it in the words of one of the failures of the scene, Fist: “Stand Up and Fight.” If you didn’t then you were most likely to end up like Cryer, Xero, Quartz, Sledgehammer, May West. Oh yeah, and Fist.:

    Come away, human child to the waters and the wild
    With a faery hand in hand.
    For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand. - WB Yeats "The Stolen Child"

    I drink to forget, but I never forget to drink.

    "If the real Jesus Christ were to stand up today
    He'd be gunned down cold by the CIA" - The The, "Armageddon Days Are Here (Again)" - Mind Bomb, 1989

    The most destructive force on the planet is not nukes or global is the human ego. - Ralph Rotten

  8. #8
    Offline: Depressed Trollheart's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2019
    Where the sour turns to sweet
    I have other VA albums to review in due course, but for now I just want to wrap this up with a look at what can certainly be viewed as an American take on the metal scene, not least due to the fact that it features, almost exclusively, American bands. And one British one. And one Canadian.

    In direct contrast to the first two albums I reviewed in this trilogy of various artists compilations the final album features almost exclusively established bands who are still working, many of whom are well known or even famous. As I said above, almost all of them come from the US or Canada, and hardly any of them have anything to do with the NWOBHM. That notwithstanding, this was for me the first time I heard of many of them. In some cases it led me to check further into their music. In others, not so much.

    Killer Watts
    --- Various Artists --- 1980 (Epic)

    Considering that this was released at the height of the NWOBHM, it shows quite clearly that, until the new bands in the UK began making themselves heard, and some of them such as Maiden, Leppard and Raven extended their fanbase across the water, US metal ruled. Although really some of these artistes could scarcely be called metal. Journey? REO? Gimme a break! Still, the fact is that many of the bands and singers featured here could pack out a stadium while even Maiden at this point could just about fill the likes of the Marquee, though that of course would change. But for now, British metal was mostly seen as the newcomer, the little annoying brother who kept wanting to come on trips with his older, more experienced and world-weary sibling, but who could not be easily shaken off.

    American Metal - even if you prefer to call it Hard Rock, or in the case of Journey and REO, soft rock - was well established by 1980 and though the tectonic shift taking place across the ocean would change the musical landscape globally forever and have far-reaching consequences for the older guard as bands like Metallica and Anthrax and Slayer rose up, right now they were in the ascendancy, unaware that their reign was soon to be challenged. A new breed of metalheads, hungry, raw and champing at the bit to be let loose, were about to descend upon the shores of America and do for US Metal what the Irish did for the Chicago Police Department.

    But all that was in the (near) future, and complacent in their superiority, these were the bands who ruled America from coast to coast, some of the heaviest bands striding the Land of the Free and showing the youngsters who dreamed of being as huge as they were how it was done. As these bands are all well known I won’t be running the “Where are they now” section: everybody knows where REO, Aerosmith and Priest are now, and as for short bios? I doubt anyone will need them for a large percentage of the bands here. But those who are perhaps lesser known may be afforded a line or two.

    Track One: “The World Anthem” by Frank Marino and Mahogany Rush

    The only artist to have two tracks on this compilation, it’s a little strange that Epic decided to put them one after the other, which kind of dulls the impact of the second one, but however. Frank is one of the Canadians of which I spoke, and in fact as I double-check the track listing I see there are two European bands here, one from England, but the rest are all from ‘cross the water. One of the most underrated guitarists of the age, Frank Marino recorded seven albums with his band, Mahogany Rush, later albums appending his name to the band, but they split in the late seventies and Frank continued on his own, solo under his own name. My only real other experience of his music is the 1981 album Juggernaut, which is ok, suffers from a lot of weak tracks but redeems itself by containing one of the most powerful anti-war songs I have ever heard.

    This first track is from his fifth album with Mahogany Rush, released in 1977, and it is in fact the title track of that album. It’s a typically bombastic track with a big keyboard and guitar intro, which may or may not be “O Canada” (some Canadians might help me out here?) and is an instrumental that runs for over three minutes. If you were to have an introduction to this album then this is a great one, and it really highlights Frank’s Hendrix-like skills on the axe. In fact, if, as has been said, he is emulating the Great One, an accusation he wishes to distance himself from, and if this is the Canadian national anthem, then he’s not helping himself by repeating what Jimi did with “The Star-Spangled Banner”.

    Track Two: “Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame” by Frank Marino and Mahogany Rush

    Like I said, for some reason the label saw fit to put two Marino tracks one after the other, so if you hate him it’s not a great start. Still, who could hate Frank? It’s a faster, rockier track which allows Marino to exercise his vocal cords as well as his guitar arm, and though he has that sort of gravelly voice you associate with the likes of Joe Cocker it’s certainly distinctive and powerful. Real rock and roll, man! Plus his guitar skills cannot be ignored.

    Track Three: “USA” by Ray Gomez.

    Although I had never heard of him and can find no big bands he was in, it’s odd because apparently Ray rubbed shoulders with everyone from Lennon to Anderson, and Bruford to Emerson, as well as working with some jazz giants. “USA” is from his first solo album called Volume. It’s generally a kind of AOR/soft rock song with a kind of West Coast feel about it, reminds me of the likes of REO and maybe Foreigner. Definitely not what I’d call metal, though to be fair the album never claims to be a metal compilation. Very catchy in a sort of Jackson Brown/John Cougar Mellencamp way. Powerful guitar, which is only what you would expect of the man once dubbed “a guitarist’s guitarist”.

    Track Four: “Flesh and Blood” by Ted Nugent.

    Ah, who doesn’t know the wildman of metal? Whether you’re revelling in his screaming guitar solos or shaking your head at his ideas on gun control and hunting, you can’t ignore this force of nature. This track is taken from his sixth album, Scream Dream, and while I’ve never been a fan and don’t know much of the man - got halfway through the track then could take no more of his screaming - it probably needs to be accepted that this is the first of the real metal tracks on the album. After all, if Ted Nugent isn’t heavy metal, who is?

    Track Five: “Knock ‘Em Dead kid” by Trooper.

    Apparently well known in their native land, this is the second Canadian artist featured on the album, and comes from their third album of the same name. Oddly, though they had hits from the album - presumably only in Canada - this was not one of them. It’s a pretty good track, with a sort of marching, swinging boogie rhythm and some very decent vocals. One of the first on the album that really made me sit up and take notice.

    Track Six: “Rapid Fire” by Judas Priest.

    Sounding as out of place within this mixture of American rock giants and minnows as a nun at a Slayer concert, Priest are the only English band on the album. I’ve never been a fan, and what I heard at the time of this song did nothing to change that. Listening to it now, I like it a whole lot better than I did then. It comes from their seminal classic British Steel and I guess gave American audiences a preview of what was soon to hit their shores. It’s a fast-paced track with something of the rhythm of Motorhead in it, but then, it’s off British Steel so let’s assume you all know it backwards.

    Track Seven: “Godzilla” by Blue Oyster Cult.

    Even the least metal-savvy poseur has heard “Don’t Fear the Reaper”, so BOC can happily say there is unlikely to be anyone in the world who does not know of them, if not actually know their music. This is from their album Spectres, and was a hit for them. Again, BOC kind of straddle the line between hard rock and heavy metal, though I would tend to say they fall more on the side of the former. The track is down and dirty, with grindy guitar and some hilarious lyrics, but then what would you expect from a song written about a monster Japanese lizard? ”Oh no! They say he’s gotta go/ Oh no Godzilla!/ Oh no! There goes Tokyo!/ Oh no Godzilla!” Class.

    Track Eight: “Need a Little Girl (Just Like You)” by Rick Derringer.

    A man who has played with everyone from Zep to the Stones, and Alice Cooper to Steely Dan, Derringer was, and remains, someone I personally know little about, though his band had a huge hit in the sixties. Derringer is not his real name of course. Cool bass intro with some wild guitar, but the vocal doesn’t do anything for me.

    Track Nine: “Back on the Road Again” by REO Speedwagon.

    One of the biggest rock groups in the USA during the 80s, REO of course became famous for the ballads “Can’t Fight This Feeling” and “Keep on Loving You”, but they could rock as well, as this song demonstrates. Taken from their Nine Lives album, it’s interestingly the only one on the album written by their bassist, Bruce Hall. Wonder if it reflects real-life experience by him? I must admit, one of the better tracks on the album. My favourite overall.

    Track Ten: “Line of Fire” by Journey.

    Most self-respecting rockers, never mind metallers, would raise their eyebrows and roll their eyes at the inclusion on a record ostensibly showcasing the best America and Canada had in heavy rock of a band who are known better for ballads such as “Who’s Crying Now” and “Don’t Stop Believin’”, and to be fair, I fully agree. Although I’m a big Journey fan this is from one of their albums I really hate, Departure --- ironic in a way, as my favourite of theirs is Arrival --- but it does showcase the harder side of a band renowned and often reviled for soft-rock ballads. “Line of Fire” proves Journey have some teeth, but I never liked it. Sort of a fast boogie feel to it but it’s way too wimpy to be on this album. A broken circuit in this high-energy fretfest. Someone put the plug back in!

    Track Eeleven: “Solid as a Rock” by Shakin’ Street.

    Ah, that’s better! We’re back on track. Another of my favourites, Shakin’ Street were a pretty well known band in France, and among others featured a man who was to make his mark in no uncertain terms later, one Ross the Boss, who of course went on to help form Manowar. The song has his trademark guitar sound, and a real sense of melody to it, and singer Fabienne Shine certainly has a powerful voice. The song is of course driven by a powerful, stomping guitar riff and has an almost punk sensibility about it.

    Track Twelve: “L’Elite” by Trust.

    Following on from a French band we have another, the mighty Trust who, although virtually unknown beyond their home shores, have continued to churn out excellent albums over a career spanning more than thirty years. This is from their second, Trust I (L’Elite) before they began singing in English. Unless you know French you have no idea what’s being sung but that doesn’t matter as it’s a rocking, speeding track that gives you everything you want in a metal song: power, pace, passion and (I sound like Alan Hansen!) energy. Vive la France!

    Track Thirteen: “Too Wild to Tame” by The Boyzz.

    Wow. They really took their time coming up with a snappy name for their band, didn’t they? Living up to their “too wild to tame” claim though they were a biker band whose vocalist performed athletic feats on stage. However they may have been too wild to tame but they were not too good to drop, and Epic did just that when their first self-titled album failed to sell well. Good song though and kind of reminds me a little of a heavier Quireboys. Interesting use of brass in the track.

    Track Fourteen: “Let the Music Do the Talking” by The Joe Perry Project.

    Guitarist with American icons Aerosmith, Joe Perry formed this solo outfit after a nasty argument with Steven Tyler which resulted in his quitting the band. Possibly much of the material that formed the debut album of the same name could be said to be technically Aerosmith property as it was recorded while Perry was with them, and he took it with him when he left. However there seems to have been no fight over ownership, and Perry released three solo albums before returning to the fold in 1984. It’s a good fast rocker, as you would expect from Aerosmith’s lead axeman.

    Track Fifteen: “No Surprise” by Aerosmith.

    And to follow the wayward guitarist we have his parent band. This is actually taken from the album on which Perry walked out halfway through, and so between the two tracks we capture a moment in the history of the band, a moment when Aerosmith had to go on without Perry as he sulked and created his own music. I’m not a huge fan of Aerosmith, which is to say I know little of their music beyond the hits. But even this sounds a little weak compared to what I have heard. Were they missing Perry that much?

    Track Sixteen: “Checkin’ It Out (Baby Don’t You Cry)” by Ozz.

    Hard to find any information about these guys without running into Ozzy, so I can’t tell you anything other than that they were a mixed-race duo. And as far as I know, from America not Australia, as you might have thought. Not a bad track but a little lacking in power and energy. Was never one of my favourite tracks on the album, but it leads into one.

    Track Seventeen: “Boogie No More” by Molly Hatchet.

    Oh yeah! I love some Southern Boogie, and the Hatchet do it better than most. This is a great track that starts with a slow, grindy guitar accompanied by a growling, raw vocal from Danny Joe Brown that soon ramps up into a real Southern Boogie guitarfest that almost - almost - rivals that on “Freebird”. What a closer!


    1. The World Anthem (Frank Marino and Mahogany Rush)
    2. Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (Frank Marino and Mahogany Rush)
    3. USA (Ray Gomez)
    4. Flesh and Blood (Ted Nugent)
    5. Knock 'Em Dead Kid (Trooper)
    6. Rapid Fire (Judas Priest)
    7. Godzilla (Blue Oyster Cult)
    8. Need a Little Girl (Just Like You) (Rick Derringer)
    9. Back on the Road Again (REO Speedwagon)
    10. Line of Fire (Journey)
    11. Solid as a Rock (Shakin' Street)
    12. L'Elite (Trust)
    13. Too Wild to Tame (The Boyzz)
    14. Let the Music Do the Talking (The Joe Perry Project)
    15. No Surprise (Aerosmith)
    16. Checkin' It Out (Baby Don't You Cry) (Ozz)
    17. Boogie No More (Molly Hatchet)

    Although this can be seen as a flawed collection - I mean, really! Come on! Journey? REO? Did anyone ever, in the history of everything, ever once link those two bands with the term “killer watts”? Credit us with some intelligence and taste, Epic! - its release was either timely or a great coincidence, as being on the market the same year as the other two albums - albeit three thousand miles away - gives us both sides of the spectrum of rock music at the beginning of the 1980s. On the US side of things you have established acts like Aerosmith, BOC and Molly Hatchet, plying their trade as they have always done, secure in the knowledge that they are big bands and are always assured of sell out concerts.

    On the other side of the Atlantic, quietly plotting the overthrow of the old order (okay not quietly but without too much initial fanfare), bands nobody had heard of were staking their claim, gearing up for the revolution to come and more than ready to show the old guard how it was done in the new decade. Some of these bands would of course come to nothing, and fade away with barely a whisper, but others would not only conquer America but influence a whole new movement there that would bring heavy metal out from behind the skirts of hard rock, and make it faster, harder and more aggressive, even progressive, than its older cousin could ever have hoped to be.

    It’s interesting, though hardly surprising, too, to note how different the two compilations are from each other, if you take Brute Force and Metal for Muthas as one product. In the UK, with the NWOBHM in full swing, record labels were showcasing the new talent, unknown bands who (they hoped) would rise to become stars and lead a new revolution in music. Apart from Iron Maiden - who were even at the point of the release of these two albums a long way short of proper commercial success - there isn’t one band on either of the two UK albums that was known in any real sense at the time. The US album is stuffed full of bands everyone knew, who had been the mainstay of American rock for at least a decade and who, honestly, probably never foresaw any challenge to their dominance. Yes, there were other, lesser known artists there, and even a few European ones, but in general Killer Watts is a US release and proudly shows off the superior firepower of American rock music, somewhat smug and complacent.

    But there was a storm brewing, a change coming. It hadn't broken over America yet, but over on the shores of old Blighty, thunder was rolling and lighting was crackling, and heavy clouds were moving across the sky. In the approaching tsunami which was making its way from Britain to the USA, those who held musical power in the States would soon find themselves being carried along, learning to swim with it or risk drowning and being cast aside as the new order made landfall, established itself, sweeping all before it and creating a whole new world.

    Come away, human child to the waters and the wild
    With a faery hand in hand.
    For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand. - WB Yeats "The Stolen Child"

    I drink to forget, but I never forget to drink.

    "If the real Jesus Christ were to stand up today
    He'd be gunned down cold by the CIA" - The The, "Armageddon Days Are Here (Again)" - Mind Bomb, 1989

    The most destructive force on the planet is not nukes or global is the human ego. - Ralph Rotten

  9. #9
    Poetry in Metal

    Yes, Metal has some of the best poetry I have ever read in any genre of music. Deep, soulful, existential, the stuff that gets deep under your skin and shakes you to the core, before slapping you in the face and inspiring you to persist in whatever it is you are doing.

    Especially acts like:

    Within Temptation, Testament, Devin Townsend, In Flames, Paradise Lost, Kamelot, Metallica, Nightwish... So many others!
    I threw a glance at humankind and saw them treacherous and feeble.
    Severe judges, cruel, unkind and fools who are always close to evil.
    Before their frightful, anxious mob, indifferent hate forever rages.
    Not learnt the lessons from the ages!
    What use are wise and tempered words?
    "Sometime, in my sweet blindness" - Pushkin

  10. #10
    Offline: Depressed Trollheart's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2019
    Where the sour turns to sweet
    Exactly. People who don't know metal think it's all about booze, birds and bikes, but while that is part of it, the lyrics in some genres, notably prog and power metal, as well as doom and even black metal can be awe-inspiring, and often show a far deeper understanding and grasp of their subject than songwriters in other genres.

    Mind you, I'm not saying that "That's the way I like it baby/ I don't wanna live forever" or "I wanna rock and roll all night/ And party every day" are necessarily good examples of that, but like most things, look beyond the surface and you'll be often surprised by what you find.
    Come away, human child to the waters and the wild
    With a faery hand in hand.
    For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand. - WB Yeats "The Stolen Child"

    I drink to forget, but I never forget to drink.

    "If the real Jesus Christ were to stand up today
    He'd be gunned down cold by the CIA" - The The, "Armageddon Days Are Here (Again)" - Mind Bomb, 1989

    The most destructive force on the planet is not nukes or global is the human ego. - Ralph Rotten

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