UPDATE November 2016:
IAN TOOMEY-Masters Of Ligtht (independent)
You gotta love this CD, whether you will or you won’t. The new solo CD of IAN TOOMEY is a true beauty and I think it’s by far his best release ever. It contains eight songs, but there are no fillers just killers on there. Ian walked on a road of thirty-five years to a temple of learning. He feels that with this album he has reached an important milestone in his life. What has been required of him has been completed now. The questions that he had in his life have been answered and he closes an important chapter with the release of this album. After a journey of thirty-five years, he is inside the temple. Every year floats away on this silver disc in about one full minute. The total playing time is a very intense thirty-five minutes (well, maybe a few seconds more). I think, you’d better read the whole story behind Ian’s milestone in his musical career in the CD booklet. In an interview with NWOBHM icon John Tucker, he speaks out openly about achieved goals, influences, friendships and all background information you need to know to fully understand the meaning of this album. Let’s focus on the music here. The album starts off with “Underground”. No matter how good your music is, somehow it will always be part of the ‘underground’ scene. However, this is not what the meaning of the song are about. Ian is the rough diamond that you can find in this scene though. He’s still anxious to make good music, loved by many underground music fans, well-known for his past and a cult-hero after all these years in my book. Just listen to the great power in this opener and the awesome guitar work. The very first notes may refer to RUSH’s “Tom Sawyer”, but pretty soon the powerful chords will hit you. The guitar solo is much more in service of the song and yet breathtaking. The police sirens gain the powerful action that is spread out here. What a great opener! Also when the band takes a step back in speed, it’s the magic sound that catches my attention in “Devil’s Chord”. An “Enter Sandman” (METALLICA) kind of intro will ask you the question if you would play the devil’s chord to have a chance to life again. Now would you? You can wait until the torturing of the strings starts, as there’s nothing that can stop the man. “The Priest” remind me of “Stairway To Heaven”, but only for a few seconds, when the guitar strings have been touched. After that, the steady firm beat of drummer Steve Turton will catch my attention. Seriously, this is an all destroying beat. No wonder, they call him ‘Stixslayer’. And just before I want to sing the words ‘when you need a friend through thick and thin’ of MONTROSE’s “Rock Candy”, “The Priest” starts. The drive of “Only Words” sounds miraculous and the way Dave A. Mills sings will make you think of the good old days of Phil Mogg (UFO). A song like that simply asks for another breathtaking guitar solo and that’s exactly what you are going to get. The song is a tribute to the late GARY MOORE, so you know in what direction things it will be heading. A good tribute to a great guitar player, let’s be honest. “We Are The One” is a powerful track with a freaky part at the end of the song, in which the band and especially Mr. Guitar player, totally lose themselves. It’s there when you hear how much fun these guys have had when recording the album. It sounds like a spontaneous jam. “Burning Up” is another up-tempo pounder with fiery axe work by Ian and Chris Tsangarides. Yes, you read that right. Chris is providing his skills again on this album. With a friendship like that, there is no escape that the ‘The Dark Lord’ would make his appearance again. “Another World” also has got that dynamic sound, that will remind you of bands like UFO, the amazing sound of the seventies and eighties when classic rock bands were still making music instead of making noise. Just check out the blasting bass sound in the beginning. It’s like a bulldozer enters your living room. The fiery axe work is the cream on this cake again. It will bring you in trance and transport you to ‘another world’. The darkest sound is provided in “Too Many Goodbyes” at the end of the CD. Despite the dark sound, it contains some excellent guitar work. You can’t keep the predator down. “Masters Of Light” has become an excellent album and I didn’t doubt that for a second with such a bunch of skilled musicians. Standing on the T-cross, the question will remain in which direction to go to after this release. Will there be yet another solo album or will Ian start to play ‘the sound of silence’? The answer is in the temple, that he has reached now. Website: http://www.iantoomey.com. (9,5/10- Toine van Poorten)
UPDATE April 2016:
When a special request from the band itself comes in to write a review of their album, we can always make that happen, especially when that particular band is called SAVAGE from England. It’s the year 2000, when I do an interview with Andy Dawson, the guitar wizard in this amazing NWOBHM outfit. Their new album “7” is out now, which contains twelve tracks and plays about fifty minutes. “I Am The Law” opens in a way, that I like a lot. A fast beat, loud riffs and what an awesome power, which is indeed a very good start. Waiting for a guitar solo? Well, there it is and it will give you shivers running down your spine. The lads still have it and I didn’t really doubt it, seeing them twice in a row at a live show. The opening riff of “Lock ‘N’ Load” could easily be from their debut album and it will push you back in time twenty-five years or so. The guitar solo sounds as dirty as it can be and my head starts to move up and down to the rhythm of the fast beat. “Empire Of Hate” is slower, but it contains more groove and power in my opinion. The guitar solo is fast and might remind you of the early work of MICHAEL SCHENKER, who also knew how to torture his Flying V this way. “Super Spy” sounds dynamic and the stomping beat of “Circus Of Fools” creates that straight forward rock and roll feeling as well. “Crazy Horse” starts with warrior chants of Indians. The song title must be the name of the Indian warrior, while calling the song “Winnetou” was a bit too obvious, I think. “Speed Freak” is uncomplicated, loud and wild and therefore one of the highlights for me. “The Road To Avalon (Sins Of The Father)” is a mind switch because this one starts slow and with acoustic guitars. The slow structure of the song is amazing and when the guitar solo starts, you will be in ecstasy already. “Children Of The Night” will get your feet stomping to the beat of it. The guitar cries and in “Paybacks A Bitch” the band is at full steam. “Shake The Tree” contains some amazing drum beats and it’s another awesome guitar experience. The album closes with “Heads Will Roll”, which brings back the groove and the power in a wild and exciting rocker. I think, that “7” is a great return to the old school sound, the band once started and became adored by many heavy metal freaks out there. But wait, there is more. There is so much more, because this album has got a live album attached, containing thirteen live tracks, that run for a bit over a full hour. We call that value for money over here in Holland. The instrumental intro is called “Prelude To Rage” and the rage begins with “The Rage Within”. This is SAVAGE live at their very best. Remember Aardschokdag 1984? The guys are only a few years older now, just like me. The sound is heavy like hell and the guitars take control. “Black And Blue” reminded me a bit of WHITESNAKE’s “Crying In The Rain”. Many songs are taken from their debut album of course, just like “White Hot”, which continues this raunchy live set. They’ve still got the holy fire. Just have a listen to “The China Run”, and then especially the mind-blowing guitar work of Andy. Deep respect, man! “On The Rocks” continues and contains another guitar eruption, that is not to be missed. In a live setting the band grows to a not to be topped level, where many bands can only dream of. “Ain’t No Fit Place” will easily please all the metal freaks. What a thundering sound. Is it loud enough? Check out the crowd’s wild reaction. Of course it isn’t. It’s never loud enough. So they crank it up a little bit more in “Dirty Money”. “Berlin” sounds exciting with more Schenker-like shredding. “Cry Wolf” contains some finger tips burning smoking hot guitar work from the maestro himself. It’s an awesome experience, which is topped by that song we’ve all been waiting for. Your hand already grabs the knob to turn up the volume. “Let It Loose” is on next and they turn the world upside down here. It’s no wonder, that METALLICA was so keen on covering this one. The encores come in two parts. The first part is called “Smilin’ Assassin”, which is based upon a stomping beat. “We Got The Edge” brings the album to an explosive ending. Just listen to the drummer. He must be the brother of Animal. I can only conclude, that if you don’t have the album yet, you might as well be dead. SAVAGE consists of Andy Dawson on guitar and backing vocals, Mark Nelson on drums and backing vocals, Chris Bradley on vocals on bass guitar, Kristian Bradley on guitar and backing vocals. Go to; http://www.savageband.com or http://www.facebook.com/savageuk for all the information you need to know about this fantastic NWOBHM band. (8,8/10- Toine van Poorten)
AGINCOURT-Angels Of Mons (Agincourt Music)
Two weeks from now, we will be attending the fifth British Steel Festival in London. The openers on this great festival will be AGINCOURT, a British band from the Midlands. They were formed in 1991 and their debut album is called “Angels Of Mons”. It contains ten tracks and almost fifty minutes of steaming hot classic rock and NWOBHM. The CD sleeve shows the ‘Angels Of Mons’, who were helping out the British Troops, so the legend goes. I guess, a link to the NWOBHM is easily made here, as “Angel Of Mons” is also one of the songs on SHIVA’s debut album “Firedance”. However, the first recognition, when hearing the name AGINCOURT, was not the actual battle of Agincourt in 1415, but it set my mind back to one of the funny episodes of Fawlty Towers, where ‘The Battle Of Agincourt” was mentioned by hotel owner Basil Fawlty (John Cleese)... Opener “Edge Of Paradise” has got a THIN LIZZY-like structure, including a twin lead guitar solo. The sound OF AGINCOURT has got a lot of power, but it also contains a lot of melody to set the balance straight. The first NWOBHM influences pop up during the second song “Going Insane”, which reminds me a little of “Breaker” by THE HANDSOME BEASTS. AGINCOURT consists of Richard E. Toy on vocals and guitar, Paul Anderson on guitar, Russ Weaver on bass and Paul Brookes (ex BENEDICTION, ex SCARAB) on drums. For the live shows, Paul Brookes will be replaced by Steve Riley, who also played in SCARAB. “Captured King” contains a very fine riff, which takes you back to the early eighties, when many great songs were based on riffs like that. “Breakdown” has got that typical ‘back to the eighties’ feeling as well. The guitar solo sounds simply amazing and could very well have been on any album released in that time frame, if you’d ask my opinion. “Come With Me” turns the speed down a little. It has some SAXON influences from the mid-eighties, but then with Ozzy on vocals, because the vocal parts sound very much like the madman himself. Brian Ross (BLITZKRIEG / SATAN) and Paul Taylor (ELIXIR) also come to mind, when listening to Richard’s voice. “This Life” is not really my cup of tea in the beginning, but later on it gets more powerful, showing that the band is able to build up a tension real nicely, including a good guitar solo at the end as beautiful climax. This is the only song, in which you will hear the keyboards by Aryan Amoli of HANGING DOLL, an orchestral gothic metal band from Birmingham. Next up is “Fool No More”, which is an up-tempo song and to me, definitely one of the highlights on this album. Just listen to the subtle ending, when the bands sings the word ‘stop’. These are just a few small details, that I liked a lot. “Queen Of The Night” is another phenomenal foot stomper, which creates a nice old school SAXON-like atmosphere. Another highlight for me, because of the great guitar work in this one. “Promised Land” brings back great memories of BLITZKRIEG, because of the way Richard uses his voice. The song also contains a nice speed change in the middle somewhere. “Agincourt” starts off with the sound of the battle, mentioned earlier in this review. The exciting instrumental mid-piece lifts the song up to another sensational highlight for me. Then, the battle is over and the ‘Angels Of Mons’ disappear back into the sky, from where they have defended AGINCOURT for the last fifty minutes. AGINCOURT certainly is a name to remember and I am really looking forward to seeing the band in action in London, when they will crank out their battle hymns on stage. I expect, that the ‘Angels Of Mons’ will be there as well. I’ll be keeping an eye out in the sky for that to happen. For more info about the band, go to: http://www.agincourtmusic.com.
(8,2/10- Toine van Poorten)
AGINCOURT-4 Track EP (independent)
We received this four track EP on the British Steel Festival in London. Not knowing what the band would sound like, the fact that they were at this festival already pointed me in a certain direction. And I can say, that my intuition was right. This band plays music, that could be labelled as NWOBHM, although AGINCOURT was founded in a later stage. Listening to their songs, I hear influences of TYGERS OF PAN TANG, IRON MAIDEN, DIAMOND HEAD and BLITZKRIEG (especially in “Going Insane”). Their music is very powerful and it has got some really crazy guitarwork. “This Life”, the CD closer, starts out as a ballad. Quickly, the band collapses in some beautiful instrumental piece of firework, after which they return to the more slower part. This is definitely a band, that could do with some more attention. The songs are easy on the ear, although not commercial or poppy. And if you like the pure underground sound of the NWOBHM, than AGINCOURT is a safe call. The four songs presented here play for about twenty minutes, which is more than enough to realize that this band has got potential enough to become huge. Get ready for Download boys, because this might be your next step. AGINCOURT consists of Richard E. Toy on guitar and vocals, Paul Anderson on guitar, Russ Weaver on bass and Paul Brookes on drums. Check them out on http://www.agincourtmusic.com.
(8/10- Toine van Poorten)
ANGEL WITCH- Angel Witch (Castle Music)
Some albums have meant a great deal to me in the past. A lot of NWOBHM stuff made me realise that there was more than all those fantastic bands like UFO, THIN LIZZY, SABBATH, PURPLE, LED ZEPPELIN , PRIEST, RAINBOW, BOSTON, SCORPIONS and URIAH HEEP. The debut of ANGELWITCH is such an album, on which every note and phrase in the lyrics seems to be perfect. It also became the highlight in the whole career of ‘the Witch’. When listening to this album twenty-five years after it’s first release, it still captures some real magic moments for me. It easily stood the test of time. It’s the combination of the occult lyrics and the artwork and magnificent guitarwork of Kevin Heybourne, which made this album to the classic it is today. The re-release sounds good and it also bears some interesting bonus features, which would cost you a fortune if you’d buy them in its original format. Think about rough diamonds like “Loser”, “Suffer”, “Dr. Phibes”, “Flight Nineteen”, “Baphomet” and “Hades Paradise”. All classics tunes in my opinion. And if that isn’t enough, you also get the ANGELWITCH BBC sessions at the end, consisting of “Sweet Danger”, “Angel Of Death”, “Extermination Day” (another long lost classic) and “Angel Witch”. All together, this comes very close to the maximum playing time a CD can have, which means that you get almost eighty minutes of high quality NWOBHM on your stereo set. I hope, you can handle this. ANGEL WITCH can be seen as one of the very first black metal bands. If you have any doubts about that, you’d better read their lyrics, maybe then you’ll understand what I mean. Okay, the music may not exactly be what you’ll associate to this genre, but the lyrics certainly are. If you take a painting like “The Fallen Angels Enter The Pandemonium” by John Martin (you can see the original in the Tate Gallery in London!), you’re not a band that sings about a beautiful love relation at the sunny costas of Spain. After this album, the decline came for me. I am not saying, that the magic wasn’t there anymore on “Frontal Assault” and “Screaming And Bleeding”, but they never reached the high quality level again of the “Angel Witch” album. When Kevin moved his *ss to the USA, the whole story was over. He became part of an overfull Bay Area scene and drowned. I am always hoping and praying to the mighty Baphomet, that he will reform the old band again, and starts touring the continent with a setlist that contains the songs on this CD. Until that happens, I will torture my neighbours on a regular base with this classic masterpiece.
(10/10- Toine van Poorten)
A-II-Z- The Witch Of Berkeley Live (Majestic Records)
It was really not done to release a live album in the eighties, without being a well-known band. It worked with these guys though, because after the release of this marvellous live album, the name A-II-Z was highly well-known in the NWOBHM scene. Their live album is finally captured on CD now with five bonus tracks. Worthy of a full hour of the best NWOBHM available. Meaning that you’re finally able to check out their best song ever on CD, and that’s “Treason”. The live set was recorded in Manchester, and my personal fave from the live LP is undoubtedly “Danger UXB”. After the second single “I’m The One Who Loves You” was released, the band slowly died. This single was a final attempt to become a million seller, because it was written by RUSS BALLARD, and it didn’t really sound like NWOBHM at all. Their sound changed into a some kind of TOTO, SURVIVOR, FOREIGNER, MAGNUM kind of band. Musically, they didn’t sound bad at all, but if you compare this song to the music from the live LP or the twelve inch single, it’s like you’re listening to two different bands. The flipside “Ringside Seat” sounds quite allright though. Most of the time, the B-sides were much more interesting than the more commercial sounding A-sides. Former TORA TORA drummer Simon Wright went on with his career, and he played with AC/DC and DIO for a while, but we never heard anything from the Owens brothers again. Guitar player Gary Owens went to TYTAN, but that cooperation didn’t last too long. A-II-Z recorded an historical live album, and it’s a damn shame, that their career didn’t last too long. Yet, the memory of this good band remains with this one hour silver disc.
(8,5/10- Toine van Poorten)
BERLYN- This One Bites – Live At The Green Gate 1983
(High Roller Records)
There’s no information available about the NWOBHM outfit BERLYN, other than the band line up, which consists of Tony Thurlow on vocals, Maurice Coyne on guitar, Trevor Walker on guitar, Alan Levett on bass and vocals and Cliff Massey on drums. But hey, what more do you need to know, if you let the music do the talking? Eight songs are performed live on this vinyl record and this self-written material is of a very high standard. By adding some boogie influences to their sound, you might hear some influences of LED ZEPPELIN, BAD COMPANY, FRANKIE MILLER and THIN LIZZY here and there. However, BERLYN definitely sounds heavier at times. All songs have got an uptempo beat and the recordings don’t sound too bad at all. Let alone the fact, that we are able to listen to such a band, we’ve never heard of before, twenty-three years after this show was recorded, is a true miracle! In “We’ve Heard It All Before” (did we?), the band introduces themselves. Album closer “Gonna Be Somebody” is the closest to the NWOBHM sound, that we can possibly get. Just listen to the opening riff, and you’ll know why. Any information about how long the band existed and what happened to the band members after they quit, is unclear to me. The fact, that they played a mighty fine gig at the Green Gate in 1983 is captured on this live LP, that comes with a full-colour poster.
(8/10- Toine van Poorten)
BITCHES SIN- The Rapture (independent)
“The Rapture” is the new album of BITCHES SIN and for all the long term fans of the band, we’re in for another killer! Forty-five minutes of heavenly music will enter you room once you’ve pushed the ‘play’ button. Don’t be shy and just try, you will be dying to hear more! Most of the time I am one of the very first people to write a review of the new album of these NWOBHM heroes. Now I wanted to check out first what other people have to say or write about the album before giving my own comments. There was one very negative review so far and a few good reviews. I think that good is just not good enough for a special band like BITCHES SIN. They deserve more. Especially with an opener like “Don’t Let Go”, where Stixslayer pounds out the firm beats, that leads us to this marvelous track. New vocalist in the band is David A. Mills, who shows his skills here with some high-pinched vocal lines. Bass player Dan McNamee is also a newcomer, who shows that he has found his way already in the warm nest of BITCHES SIN. The heavy rockers go back to the old sound of the band and it feels like the band wants to bring you back to the eighties. This is not completely true though, as we will hear later on the album. BITCHES SIN shows, that they have matured a lot and there are songs on this album, that would have never been played with the BITCHES SIN, that existed in 1982. They just wanted power, speed and fire combined in a three minute song. Now the songs go much deeper. In the beginning of the album, there is even room for a cover. “Sounds Of Silence” (Simon & Garfunkel) has been covered some time ago already by bands like HEIR APPARENT and NEVERMORE. This one is a nice version to enjoy as well, especially when played in a live situation. At first I didn’t quite like the idea of covering “Sounds Of Silence”, to be honest with you. The song turned out fine though and it fits very well with the rest of the material here. In the first riffs on “Save Me”, we will hear the band returning to their old sound, but the most special part is to be found near the end. It’s there, when guitarists Ian Toomey and Chris Tsangarides take turns and fight their guitar battle. The first ultra fast and mean solo comes from Ian. It almost sounds like, if Chris is wanting to slow him down a bit, but Ian definitely is not in for this and continues his fast way of playing. The duel goes on for a while and no winners were reported at the end. The best way of listening to “Never Forget” is while closing your eyes and imagine the following scene. Soldiers entering the coast line in a country, where a bloody war is going on. Are they still alive the next day? No one can tell. For those, who have gotten in situations like this is “Never Forget”. Dave’s voice matches very well with songs like this. The guitar solo at the end of the track is one, that could go on and on forever, if it doesn’t fade out. This is a good example of the average sound of BITCHES SIN in the new millennium. It still rocks like hell, and the guitar solo is still flashing and breathtaking, but the speed went down a little bit and the lyrics hit you harder than before. Not always maybe, but songs like “Never Forget” and later on “Thanks For The Memories” are very good examples of how the band matured in their sound. Another highlight comes up, when title track “The Rapture” continues with its doomy BLACK SABBATH type of sound. The guitar sound is heavy and filled with effects, that make it sound even more heavy than it already was. There is a certain dark atmosphere in this track, that makes it highly enjoyable. Like I already said, a real highlight in my book. “Love And Faith” is on next, which is a more sensitive track, as the title predicts already. The groove is fine though and the lyrics will hit you right in your soul. The guitar solo in the end adds some pepper to the whole. Some parts remind me a bit of “Perfect Strangers” by DEEP PURPLE and I think it isn’t a shame to be compared with these hardrock gods. “You Want Paradise” has some influences of another great guitar hero from the eighties, Michael Schenker. At least, the first riffs sound even more Michael Schenker than Michael Schenker does sound today. Long term Schenker fans should definitely check this one out. They will be positively surprised. The whole song has actually got that good old Schenker vibe. The way, that David sings the lyrics made me think of another old school classic rock band. The verses made me think of the way Phil Lynott sang a song like “Nineteen”, which means that he chants out a whole lot of words without any intervals. So to cut things short, “You Want Paradise” dares to go where Schenker and Lynott meet each other musically. “Old School” can be categorized as the fastest, meanest, most powerful track on this new album. It’s a wake-up call for a long busy day, but it will give you the energy boost for a whole week. At least, that’s what it does for me. It’s a tribute to the early days in every aspect of the song. In this pounding track, you can also hear where Stixslayer got his nickname from. He simply sounds like the reincarnation of Cozy Powel and John Bonham, but then put together in one drummer. Not possible, I hear you say. Just wait until the wood splinters of his sticks hit you in the forehead, then you will change your mind! And no, Ian is not driving away in his sports car at the end of this song, that’s him driving away on his guitar. “Thanks For The Memories” is, like I mentioned before, a good example of how the band has matured musically. I guess, you would never expect a song like that on one of the older BITCHES SIN albums, besides the more recent “Uduvudu” perhaps, but this song also contains that good old rock atmosphere, that I am looking for nowadays. Just listen to the Schenker type of solo by Ian in this track and you’ll catch my drift. “Hollow Man” has got a heavy beat and very sensitive vocal lines. It’s slowly preparing you for the acoustic ballad at the very end of this album. What???!!!!! An acoustic ballad on a BITCHES SIN album? Yep and it is called “No Regrets”. And I have no regrets saying this, but I don’t think that an acoustic ballad belongs on a BITCHES SIN album. It doesn’t mean that this isn’t a good song, but it just isn’t BITCHES SIN, in my opinion. Which brings me to the final words of this review. It’s a shame, that some people are not listening carefully enough to what they’ll hear. They have a certain expectation about the sound of a band, and if they don’t live up to it, then they are dead meat and receive an awful review. However, if you know the background to some of the songs and you listen to it more than once (and that’s usually the trouble here), it will all fall into place. There is no recipe for a good rock song, like there isn’t a recipe for making Coca Cola. A lot of stuff, that is produced, comes close to that original taste, but it just isn’t exactly a hundred percent like the taste of a real Coke. The songs on “The Rapture” all come close to the perfect rock song and they all sure taste good to me, except for the acoustic ballad in the end, because that’s not my cup of tea. I hope, that the band can forgive me for this. What I do know is, that I’ve given this album more than enough spins to judge it fairly and I can tell you that it still grows on me, which is a good sign. Both thumbs up for the new BITCHES SIN release. Website: http://www.bitchessin.co.uk
(9,1/10- Toine van Poorten)
BITCHES SIN- Uduvudu (independent)
BITCHES SIN consists of Ian Toomey on lead guitar, Steve Turton on drums, Chris Tsangarides on guitar and keyboards, Tony Tomkinson on vocals and of course the ‘metal bitch’ in the band, DBasser on bass guitar. This comeback album “Uduvudu” (pronounced as ‘You Do Voodoo’) contains ten songs, worthy of approximately forty-five minutes of heavenly heavy metal, covering a lot of styles but mainly focussing on hard rock and heavy metal. Title track “Uduvudu” opens the CD with the excorsising, repeating drums by Stickslayer (© BITCHES SIN) Turton, and the Nicky Moore (SAMSON) like vocals of Tony Tomkinson upfront in the mix. When the speed changes, Ian is adding his fabulous guitar skills to the songs and my first favorite song on this album is born. The song ends with sounds that could very well be on almost any PINK FLOYD album. “Metalize” is a song, that simply asks to sing along with, when playing live on stage. In my vision, I can see the crowd already chanting “Metalize”. It’s a very metal song indeed. Containing lyrical parts like ‘Show me the horns, and stand with pride’. Both horns up for this one! “Selling Paradise” contains some Eastern melodies, which fit very well to the lyrics of the song. Lyrics, that are in some cases based on war situations, that we frequently witness on television these days. Not only in the Middle East, but worldwide. War is also the main topic in a song, called “Red Skies”, which is another favorite of mine. The lyrics in this song tell the story so well, that it almost scares the shit out of you. And all these wise words are topped by a great rock sound. Catchy, yet not too commercial, if you know what I mean. This is the sound of BITCHES SIN in 2008. It’s been twenty-five years since the release of their last album, but their music still stands with pride. It rocks and sometimes it also gets so much deeper, that it bangs your head with a big hammer, because of the in-depth messages of the lyrics. “Nobody Wants You Here” has got that typicial BITCHES SIN tension, which slowly builds itself up. You know that a guitar explosion will follow at a certain point, and it is there, just wait. The title reminds me of a certain metal festival in England, where we got drifted away like sheep at the end of the evening. The security didn’t dare to speak out these words to the people who were still around, but we missed out on that one, luckily enough. Back to the CD then. “Mr. Toomey” is definitely the highlight on the CD for me. The song title has got nothing at all to do with the family name of Ian. Or maybe just a little bit, but it’s not autobiographical or something. The song is based upon the story of a guy, who took over The Bates Motel in “Psycho II”, who is called Mr. Toomey. It can best be described as “Strangers On The Shore” part II. The guitar excorsism you hear is simply not of this world and a lot of voodoo must have been involved to let Ian play these ultrafast solos. I get goosebumps all over my body, even at places where I just didn’t realise that I could get goosebumps there. Old school BITCHES SIN fans will agree that this is a true masterpiece. Big is the change in music style, when “Beggars Parallel” starts off. This is an acoustic ballad and a short point of rest, before “Second Life” enters your room. I already mentioned it several times to the band. Most albums I review start off very promising and after a while, they slowly fade away into nothingness. You simply can’t keep focussed the whole time. With “Uduvudu”, it’s so much different. The album gets stronger as it proceeds. Especially these last three songs are very strong and they can easily be added to my (long) list of favorite songs. “Second Life” is a good uptempo song with a great guitarsolo and some innovative drum parts of Steve. “White Room” (not the Eric ‘slowhand’ Clapton song) shows the tightness of DBasser very well. Stunning bass parts open this fast rocker and another big compliment goes out to the vocal parts of Tony Tomkinson, who originally wrote this song for his former band THE ALL NEW SINISTER DEXTER BAND. The song fits perfectly to the sound of BITCHES SIN nowadays. The CD closes with “The Eleventh Hour”, which can be described as the BITCHES SIN version of “Black Sabbath”. This is a shortcut to describe the immense heaviness of this song. It sounds dark, doomy and Steve really pounds the hell out of his drum kit here. He should be prisoned for the loud bashing and torturing his skins. What a brutal drum sound! When the CD stops, and I have removed the wood splinters from my ears (stop hitting that drumkit so hard, Steve!!), I simply can’t control myself by putting this CD in the player one more time. I keep pushing the repeat button on my stereoset, which had to be replaced several times since this album has hit the streets. BITCHES SIN is back and their next step will be to invade the stages. I’m confident enough, that “Uduvudu” is only just the beginning of a flashing comeback. These kind of releases can only receive full score. Website: http://www.bitchessin.co.uk. Cheers to Ian, DBasser, Chris, Steve and Tony, you have amazed me again with this one!!
(10/10- Toine van Poorten)
BITCHES SIN- 20 Essential Sins (independent)
Looking for the Holy Grail? Just have a look what the cat dragged in. It’s BITCHES SIN’s Holy Grail, containing all their essential sins. The CD is based upon the “Your Place Or Mine” demos, which already has the length of a full-length album. And to me, those recordings belong to the most valuable material available in the NWOBHM scene ever. I am not talking about money here, but something that has a much more deeper value. A value, that money just can’t buy. The sound of BITCHES SIN made me feel good. The ultrafast axework made me forget everything around me. The slightly catchy chorusses invited me to sing along many times, no matter how off key my singing did sound. Besides the demos, there are some ‘special’ songs added to this release, that make it a real treat to explore the work of this band. The Moor Green studio sessions give you an idea of how these songs sounded before they got on the “Predator” album. From that session, you can listen to “Ridin’ High”, “Runaway”, Haneka” and “April Fool”. “Aardschok” and “Loser” are left out for some reason. It shows the strength of BITCHES SIN: raw, unpolished and with a power that Tsjernobyl would be proud of. This is what they were supposed to sound like originally. Okay, you might miss the guitar eruption, that you’d expect after the last tones of “Haneka”, but that’s the only remark I can place here. The vocals of Tony Tomkinson have a heavy blues feel during “April Fool”, which lifts it easily to a much higher level. These recordings were discovered by surprise, and Ian Toomey only knew one way to celebrate this. Put them on a silver disc and make them available for all the fans. A great strategy, because he knew that he was releasing top- notch material here. Besides the Moor Green sessions, there is much more to enjoy as well. “Overnight” from the “No More Changes” EP is there, and “Abduhl’s Boogie” from Pete’s “State Of The Art” demo, released in 1983. The last three songs are taken from the English version of the “Invaders” album. “Essential Sins” contains over seventy-five minutes of the finest NWOBHM available. Add to this the comeback of Sharalee on the front cover, and you must admit that you’re listening to the Holy Grail of NWOBHM. And what about my essential sin? I’d definitely go for BITCHES SIN. Check it out!!
(10/10- Toine van Poorten)
BITCHES SIN- Your Place Or Mine (Internet download)
Why is BITCHES SIN the best NWOBHM band in the world for me? It’s easy, just listen to this CD for forty-five minutes and ask yourself the same question again. If you don’t know the answer, then you’ll never get it. This is a gift of the band to their long lasting, die hard fans out there. A great collection of songs that are not available on CD, really hard to find and the best, that NWOBHM has got to offer. Just listen to the flashing solos of guitar players Ian and Pete Toomey in these songs. It’s like a speed contest without a real winner. Because every time you think you have a winner, the other one goes over it with another solo, which is even faster! It’s a real treat to my ears. The structure of the songs are very recognisable. Sometimes they are ‘simple’ (sorry for the expression!) and catchy, and all you have to do is to wait until the guitars start doing their thing. Then you’re in heavy metal heaven. A nice example is “Fallen Star”. Maybe it’s not the most epical metal anthem, you’ve ever heard. Especially if you would compare it to “Child In Time”, Stairway To Heaven” or “2112”. But when I hear the guitar work on this song, I get the shivers running down my spine. This is perfect, this is just the way I want it to sound. The guitar solo in “What The Hell” breaks every speed record imaginable, and “Over The Top” is simply going ‘over the top’, like the song title indicates. “XF2894” ( from the “Your Place Or Mine demo”) is an instrumental track, while “Up For Grabs” is another speed monster. “Runaway” is from the well-known “Predator” album. “Riding High” is from the same sessions, too. “Overnight” is from the “For Adults Only” demo and also from the “No More Chances” 12 incher. “Abduhls Boogie” is from Pete’s demo (How can I find a copy of it? It’s still one of the missing links in my collection!), “Destroyer” (Why did this song never get the success, that it earned so well? It’s a real BITCHES SIN classic to me!) and “The Cry’ are from the album “Invaders”. And every song has got these magic ingredients. The great vocals, the flashing speed record breaking axework and stable rhythm section, that keeps their sound as tight as possible. Which isn’t easy with two guitarplayers, who constantly want to go on at breakneck speed. What a great gift for the fans of this band, which captures the best moments of NWOBHM history on a silver disc for me.
(10/10- Toine van Poorten)
BLITZKRIEG- Sins And Greed (Metal Nation Records)
A steam locomotive will enter your room, when BLITZKRIEG opens their album with “Hell Express”. It will be the perfect opener for their live shows in the future. “Standing Still” is a mix of SAXON (riffs) and SATAN (song structure and singing). Yes, I am listening to the new BLITZKRIEG album right now. The headliners of our own Heavy Metal Maniacs festival in Hoorn. I will be honest with you and tell you that I liked their previous studio album more. Was it the input of Tony Liddel? I guess so. But then I must be sure too, that you don’t get the impression that this is a bad album. Listen to the draging sound of “Rise” or the great PRIEST-like sound in “Traitor’s Gate”, and every NWOBHM adept will get goosebumps all over. “Excessive Force” is a BLITZKRIEG anthem pur sang for me, although the distorted vocal parts are not my thing, but that’s only a minor detail. “Escape From The Village” is an uptempo rocker. But to be honest with you, “Eyes Of The World” is not the strongest track on the album. Every metal album needs a good ballad, but I am afraid that this song is not BLITZKRIEG worthy, so to speak. However, I think the song must very important to Brian, because there is also an acoustic version as an hidden track at the end of the album. I really can’t stop singing “Riding With The Angels” during “Desolation Angel”. At the end of the album, things get better again with “Jeckyl & Hyde” and the JUDAS PRIEST cover “Hell Bent For Leather”, which is an excellent choice, when you think of the leather outfits by frontman Brian Ross. Brian Ross is still a hero for me, and he has accomplished many things for the NWOBHM movement. It would be great, if Brian would record a new album with SATAN as well. I hope, that dream will become reality one day. BLITZKRIEG will continue recording good albums, and they will keep on playing great shows everywhere. And with this album ‘the Krieg” will please many NWOBHM fans. No, the Krieg is not over yet. (Don’t mention the war, I mentioned it once, but I think I got away with it!). BLITZKRIEG’s “Sins And Greed” lasts about an hour, and the band now consists of Ken Johnson on guitars, Paul Brewis on bass, Phil Brewis on drums, Paul Nesbitt on guitars and Brian Ross on vocals and keyboards.
(8/10- Toine van Poorten)
BUDGIE- The Last Stage (NPL)
Love ‘em or hate ‘em, but BUDGIE have always been a consistent factor in the English metal scene. From the early seventies on, the band went their own way, not really following any trends or hypes, that were on at that very moment. This CD is a good compilation of never released songs, that the band recorded between 1979 and 1985. To me, BUDGIE was always at least one step ahead of their competitors. The songs on the album give you a good vision on how gifted the band was. Ranging from very heavy stuff to songs that could almost hit the charts that time, because they were a bit more catchy and accessible. The band, in most of the songs consisting of Big John Thomas on super flying V and vocals, Burke Shelley on bass and vocals and Steve Williams on drums, even crank out a stunning version of the IKE AND TINA TURNER classic “River Deep, Mountain High”. Most of the songs recorded here were demos for the new album, which never saw the light of day. So we have the chance to listen to the ideas, that might haven been the songs on this never released record. Songs like “Rock Your Blood” are brilliant, and they really sound like BUDGIE at their very best. On “Can’t Get Up In The Morning”, we hear Rob Kendrick on guitar and vocals. BUDGIE is now re-releasing all their albums with comprehensive liner notes and bonus tracks, and they are also compiling some radio recordings and live shows on CD. A must have for all the fans of these Welsh rockers, who have been, are and always will be very much underrated, except by a few diehard followers. The BUDGIE will always manage to survive and fly on, and I really hope to see them in our country again soon. Great material and a safe buy for all the fans of this metal bird!
(8/10- Toine van Poorten)
BUFFALO- Ride The Beast (Karthago Records)
This is a compilation CD, you can buy with your eyes closed. BUFFALO plays kick ass NWOBHM, and this sixty-five minutes CD is full with that. Sometimes, the recordings are raw and unpolished, like in “The Other Side Of You”. But that has got its charm as well, in my opinion. All songs are full with biting axework, breathing the sound of the eighties. While a song like “Why In Hell” was actually written in the nineties. It’s great to hear songs like “In The Flesh”, “Take It To The Limit”and “Backs To The Wall”, which were on the five track cassette that was released on Heavy Metal Records. It’s a shame though, they left out “Detroit Motor City” and the SPENCER DAVIS GROUP cover “Gimme Some Lovin”. What we get as a bonus is the video for “Why In Hell”, which I mentioned earlier, was recorded in the nineties. BUFFALO is a good example of what NWOBHM is all about. And despite some of these songs were new to me, I sing along with them quite easily, because of their catchiness. Add to that the perfect instrumental breaks and you are listening to a CD, which is full of nostalgia. Who dares to put this band on their festival bill?? http://www.buffalo-nwobhm.co.uk.
(9/10- Toine van Poorten)
BURNER- Resurrection (High Roller Records)
This is the resurrection of British metallers BURNER. Ten songs are here to enjoy, starting with the JUDAS PRIEST-like “Razor Wire Rock”. How else would you call the flashing rhythms, flaming solos and the vocals, that seem to be inspired by the great metal god himself, Rob Halford??!?? BURNER consists of Steve Peach on drums, Andy Rotherham on vocals and Andy Richards on guitar and bass. The latter sounding like two guitarists instead of one, which is a huge compliment to the man. “Why Now” takes back some speed, but still cranks out with full force, sounding a bit darker in a way. From the guitar solo on, the song becomes a bit balladesque, until a new power explosion gets unleased at the end of the song. “Man Or Machine” opens with a RAINBOW-like riff, but soon it brings back to mind the thoughts of JUDAS PRIEST. That Andy comes very close to Rob Halford in the lower regions sometimes. Most of the songs here are written and recorded in this millenium. This song however takes us back to 1984, but it was recorded in 2008 though. “Calm Before The Storm” develops itself as the title suggests. It slowly builds itself up, until you’re in the eye of the storm. The talking vocals are different, but match very well to the song. “Midway” opens with a typical metal riff and this mid-tempo song with great solos closes the A-side of this record. The B-side starts with “Exciter”…..eh, I mean “Burner”. The two songs sounds very much alike. Even the high notes are there at the right place… A real highlight for me indeed. Although I must confess, that I haven’t heard any weak songs at all. “I Bleed Speed” is a tough rocker, that will keep your heads banging. And then we have reached the second old track, that’s re-recorded, namely “Long Lost Friend”. It starts off slowly, but gains more speed all the way. While “Standing On The Edge Of Forever” brings back more power and can be seen as another highlight for me. The guitars sounds absolutely mindblowing! The LP closes with the fast “SK2 (Resurrection)”, the title track so to speak. Your last chance to let out some sweat. Perhaps BURNER was not such a huge name in the NWOBHM scene and post NWOBHM scene, but they’ve positively surprised me with their strength. I can highly recommend this album to all the fans of old school JUDAS PRIEST and NWOBHM addicts out there. I’m glad that another band from the past has resurrected.
(9/10- Toine van Poorten)
CHARLY UNGRY- The Chester Road Album (Obscure NWOBHM Releases)
I have mixed feelings about this CD. Okay, CHARLIE UNGRY is not quite the most successful NWOBHM band ever. And to be honest with you, until the release of this album, I’d never heard about them either. This is not really strange, because this album is on the thin line between NWOBHM and rock (sixties and seventies style). I hear some QUO, some LED ZEPPELIN, and of course some influences of the well- known NWOBHM style as well, but sometimes I also hear stuff that has almost nothing in common with other NWOBHM bands, like ANGELWITCH, TYGERS OF PAN TANG, WITCHFYNDE, BITCHES SIN, RAVEN, WITCHFINDER GENERAL and FIST. A ballad like “Where Are You Now, Christina?” for example is much too sweet for words. And songs like “We’re Gonna Ride” and “Digby Rising” are not really my cup of English tea, too. A song like “Keep The Peace” though is definitely worth checking out. CD closer “Poor Boy’s Blues” though, is another song, which would sound okay in the sixties maybe, but is not interesting enough for the heavy metal freaks out there. The CD is not bad, but can only be recommended to the real diehard fans, who collect everything that has got the tiniest bit to do with NWOBHM. Not every CD, that is released under the monnicker of NWOBHM, is a big success.
(5/10- Toine van Poorten)
CLOVEN HOOF- Eye Of The Sun (Escape Music)
Air, Water, Fire and Earth. No, I am not going insane, but those were the names of the bandmembers of CLOVEN HOOF, when they first started their career. It’s more than twenty-five years later now, and the band consists of Matt Moreton on vocals, Andy Shortland on guitars, Lynch Radinsky on drums and Lee “Air” Payne on bass. Gone are the nicknames and glammy costumes and CLOVEN HOOF is a grown up hard rock band for many years now. But I can’t help comparing this album to their awesome “The Opening Ritual” EP. I know, that’s a wrong approach, but hey, that’s the way things go. Okay, away with the past and let’s have a fresh listen to this album and pretend that CLOVEN HOOF never existed before and this is a brand new band that I am listening to. They present us ten songs in fifty minutes. And they bring you a very new fashioned, ‘in your face’ sound on this album. Sometimes there’s a bit more melody than at other times, but a lot of these songs are just steaming hot. Here and there I hear some TWISTED SISTER influences, but also some of the latter ACCEPT sound pinches through at times. Powerful, melodic metal with great guitarwork and strong harmony vocals. It’s a real pleasure for every metal fan out there to listen to these ten tracks. Especially opener “Inquisitor”, “Golgotha” and “King For A Day”are a great listen and you see your hand slowly move to the ‘repeat’ button of your stereoset after hearing them. In “Eye Of The Zombie”, we hear the helping hand of Tom Galley (brother of former WHITESNAKE, TRAPEZE and PHENOMENA guitar player Mel Galley, remember), who wrote the song. But all the other songs were written by Lee ‘Air’ Payne. “Eye Of The Sun” is a good metal album………but it’s just not the CLOVEN HOOF, as I remembered them. In a live situation, these guys still kick some serious ass. I’ve witnessed that in Germany at the Keep It True festival. And on CD they still deliver the goods. A good album, they can be very proud of indeed. Old school NWOBHM fans may get the point, that I am trying to make here, I think. Maybe I am getting too old for these positive improvements that this band has made.
(9/10- Toine van Poorten)
DEEP MACHINE- Deep Machine (EP) (independent)
DEEP MACHINE recorded this EP during February-April 2012. I still have very fond memories about their show at the Negasonic in Aalst (Belgium) in 2011, while writing this review. Their NWOBHM sound still stands proud and it’s so wonderful to hear the devotion by which they made these three songs. Opener “Iron Cross” sounds very catchy and contains some fiery guitar work. Hear the marching soldiers singing brave on their way to the battle field. Not knowing, if they will ever return to their beloved ones. You can shout along to “Iron Cross” almost right from the start and enjoy a great piece of music at the same time. Surely, that’s their strength, when hearing this three tracker. It will definitely please the metal fan of today, but also those that have listened to the band since the early eighties, when their career just started out. For example listen to the great opening riffs in “Killer” and you’ll see what I mean. The guitar solo is cranked out really loud, just like it should be. When Lenny shouts, that he’s going to kill himself with a gun, the introduction to the solo has already begun, but after he shouts out ‘shoot it’, the guitars really start crying here. What an awesome track! “Whispers In The Black” is a great mix of IRON MAIDEN (Do I hear the riff of “The Ides Of March” for a moment??) with a SAXON-like vibe during the rest of the song. This song could very well be on “Strong Arm Of The Law” or “Wheels Of Steel” for that reason. If this doesn’t sound like old school NWOBHM to you, then I’ll eat my hat (if I had one). After about twelve minutes, the fun is over and you’ll have to push the ‘repeat’ button again to give it another spin. DEEP MACHINE is still very much alive and kicking and this three track EP (limited to 200 copies!) is a very good example. The band consists of Lenny Baxter on vocals, Bob Hooker on guitar, Nick East on guitar, John Biley on bass and Chas Towler on drums, but John Wiggins (TOKYO BLADE) guests on rhythm guitar on every song of this great EP. Check it out, if you can. (9/10- Toine van Poorten)
DEMON- Better The Devil You Know (Plastic Head Music)
DEMON exists for twenty-five years, and they celebrate this with a brand new CD and a comeback to their old familiar style. The band still knows to rock hard on this eleventh studio album by this British band, who originally started out as a NWOBHM band. On “Better The Devil You Know”, I hear influences of British collegue bands like THUNDER, MAGNUM, UFO, GARY MOORE and THIN LIZZY. Meaning that the guitars are upfront in the mix, and they sound perfectly alright. Highlights for me are the title track “Better The Devil You Know”, which also opens this strong new album, and songs like “Standing On The Edge”, which sounds very catchy, and “Warriors” because of its strong groove. But also a song like “Obsession”, that you just can't stop singing along to, ‘cause it's very easy on the ear. “Change” closes the CD, and this is a beautiful ballad. Every good rock album needs one. DEMON proved again, they are still alive and kicking after all these years. Maybe they sound better than ever before, and with more power! The only negative thing I can mention about this album is that it only counts nine songs and forty minutes of music. But I think, it’s cool to hear DEMON pick up their old sound again. And it’s always better to come up with an album that sounds good from the beginning to the end, than a long album with lots of fillers on it. Check out their website at: www.the-demon.com.
(8/10- Toine van Poorten)
DEMON PACT- Demon Pact (High Roller Records)
Six songs are on this album by DEMON PACT. Who could ever think that an album of this cult band from England would see the light of day in 2006? The album consists of four demo songs from 1982, and the two songs, that were on the single “Eaten Alive”, which was released in 1981. “Waiting For The Lady” is a fast rocker. “Escape” opens slowly, and you might expect a ballad, but then the song develops itself to another fast rocker. The growling voice of Donald Meckiffe is raw and fits quite well with the powerful sound of the band. It sometimes reminds me of Jurgen Tichelaar of VORTEX fame. The mighty riffs of Richard Dickerson take care of the rest. “Ain’t No Woman” opens with the drums of Iain Finlay and the stunning bassguitar of Roy Bridle. “Demon Pact” was supposed to be the second single of the band, but it never got released. It opens on the B-side of this six tracker, and made me think of ANVIL’s “Winged Assassin”. Why this band ever disbanded is again a real mystery to me. Fact is, that this is another band from the NWOBHM scene, that had real potential to become huge, but unfortunately never got any further than the release of one cult single. The frontcover might look a bit too evil for the image of this band, but I think it’s very nice. A real must for every NWOBHM devotee.
(8/10- Toine van Poorten)
DIAMOND HEAD- It’s Electric (Secret Records)
The intro alone is worth a fortune. This band was its time far ahead. And I am glad, that they’re still going strong after so many years. And hopefully for many more years to come after this. This live CD was recorded at the London Astoria on November 4th, 2005. It contains fifteen songs and seventy-five minutes of hot, steaming NWOBHM. After the awesome intro of “Am I Evil”, I slowly raise my fists in the air, but for the full version of this classic, I will have to wait another hour. Nonetheless, I can keep my fists in the air, because a lot of the songs are truly brilliant, although some of the diehard DIAMOND HEAD fans will miss original singer Sean Harris. I still keep saying, that newcomer Nick Tart is as good as Sean, and his voice has got this magic mix of Phil Mogg, Biff Byford, Sean Harris and Robert Plant together. Add to this the guitarplaying of Brian Tatler, and you will relive the well-known classics in its most purest form again. And they’re all there. From “It’s Electric” to “Mine All Mine”, “Lightning To The Nations”, “Sucking My Love”, and the METALLICA covers “Helpless”, “The Prince” and “Am I Evil”. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, METALLICA nicked three songs of this band in the past. But here you can hear them in its original format, how they were meant to be played. I can feel the difference in my underbelly, because I don’t hear just music like any other average rock fan. No, I am blessed to feel the magic. And on this album, the magic is absolutely there. If you’re not convinced yet, you can also see this live concert on DVD, or you’re just on the wrong website. Got it? Don’t miss DIAMOND HEAD on Keep It True in Germany in April 2007! Be there!
(9/10- Toine van Poorten)
DRAGONFLY- Dragonfly EP (Phoenix Records)
How obscure will it get in the future? Nobody will ever know, I guess. For the NWOBHM fans out there, these days are a wet dream come true. In the eighties, you could only read about bands like DRAGONFLY. And if you would have been able to listen to a demo of the band somehow, you possibly worked for a magazine, or had loads of tapes to trade with penpals or tape traders worldwide. Now you can buy music from a band like DRAGONFLY on vinyl, like it’s the most normal thing in the world. Anyway, there are eight songs on this album. It contains the DRAGONFLY 7” EP “Silent Nights”, as the album title already suggests. Besides the four songs of the EP, it also contains four demo songs from 1982, which can be found on the B-side of this vinyl disc. The EP of DRAGONFLY is a very sought-after item, that was released in a very limited amount back in 1980. The EP opens with the uptempo tracks “Silent Nights” and “Mercy”, including some mindblowing axework of Stephan Heath. “Space Bound” is much slower, but again the axework is great and it even sounds as if there were two guitarplayers in the band. On the demo we hear the evolution of the band, which leans towards a more commercial approach. “Loser” might be a fine example of this new direction. Although “No, No, No” almost proves the opposite, because they crank up the speed to the highest possible level here. “Mercy” was also on the EP, and we can hear the demo recording of this song as well. A couple of months later, DRAGONFLY disbanded. Vocalist Rudi Riviere moved on to SAPPHIRE, NEW TORPEDOS, BLACK MAIL and even TERRAPLANE. Drummer Nik Szymanek moved on to TRILOGY, who played a more progressive type of music. The main question that remained after listening to this magnificent album, what happened to the very talented guitarplayer Stephan Heath? No one cares of course, besides the real music fans like me.
(9/10- Toine van Poorten)
DRAGONSLAYER- Dragonslayer (Shadow Kingdom Records)
DRAGONSLAYER is undeniable a piece of pure gold for the NWOBHM scene. Hidden for many years, but I’m glad that Shadow Kingdom Records has made these songs available, because from back to forth this album sounds very strong and powerful. The band started their career in 1978 under the name of HEAVY THUNDER and carries out the influences of the big classic rock acts, like BLACK SABBATH, UFO, JUDAS PRIEST, SCORPIONS and bands from the NWOBHM movement. “The Slayer” opens the album, followed by the mighty “Run Like Hell”, which could have been a hit in my teens, when I ‘d known about it thirty years ago. The song has a lot of variation and contains just the right riffs to make it a fantastic tune. These first tracks were taken from an eight track demo recorded in 1982, that was traced back not long ago. Unfortunately, their earlier stuff like “Calling The Devil” and “Memories And Teaser” seems to be lost forever... Anyway, I am glad to be able to check out the other marvellous stuff now. “Blind Terror” contains a nice speed twist halfway the song. It reminds me of the mid-piece of “Slave To Freedom” by the TYGERS OF PAN TANG. “Want Your Life” was not on that eight track demo either, but somehow it’s there between the eight songs, that are captured here. This stuff fits perfectly in that given time frame of those early eighties, so if you want a good flashback of these golden days, just listen to these first nine tracks. “Satan Is Free” is a raw track with even more power than before, which fits very nicely to the song title. Before you’ll know it, the horned hoof is right before your face, no warning given upfront! “Broken Hearts” is, like no surprise, a very sensitive ballad of seven minutes, including a nice guitar solo at the end to beef it up a little. Obligatory or not, I liked the song anyways. “Man In The Dark” has got a tight pace and calls back some influences of TYGERS OF PAN TANG here and there, especially in the vocal parts this time. The guitar solo is mindblowing! While “Hammerhead” is ready to beat your brains out with its enormous power. The original eight track demo recordings close with “Lady Of The Night”, a more melodic attack with some more great guitar work. It’s a slower track, but with a crunchy bite, so to speak. At the end, there is a marvellous speed change, that makes you bang the sweat out of your body for a couple of seconds, awesome! After that, we slowly move the timeline for a couple of years, until we arrive in 1984, where the band records a new demo. And although a lot of bands had lost their faith in the very original sound of the NWOBHM scene, DRAGONSLAYER kept clinging to their powerful beat on “Rock With Me”. It’s like time stood still and their music didn’t evolve a bit. Unfortunately, it would actually ruin the interest gained by record companies, that were really searching for a new MÖTLEY CRUE type of band at that time. That was mainly the reaction the band received after sending out their demo songs, you can hear here. I’m glad though, that the band did stick to their guns, because the riffs that I hear in “Lies In Your Eyes” are really my cup of tea. “Dragon Drums” is being introduced by drummer Dave Philips of course. It’s a great stomper and one of the highlights on the album for me. Besides Dave, the band consists of Tony Mamwell on vocals, Phil Odins on guitar (who also wrote the liner notes in the booklet), Steve Morgan on bass and Bob Carol on drums (early demo). “The Hunger” contains a riff, that reminded me of the PICTURE material released at that time (“Eternal Dark” era). “Satan’s Soldiers” sounds a bit more epic than the other songs. “The Battle Is On” will raise some fists in the air, I guess. The CD closes with “Catch Me”, another strong headbanger from this very underrated band. One of the better bands, that I didn’t know of and discovered in the past few years. No fillers on the album, just winners for me. In 1987, the band decided to blow out the candles and leave the arena, after an almost ten year long career. When they would sound like this in 2010, a reunion would be a very welcome idea, because this is definitely a helluva CD and a real must for the true underground NWOBHM fan out there. The CD has got a great fantasy artwork cover and the booklet contains the lyrics of the songs as well as some nice pictures of the band. The CD contains sixteen tracks and runs for seventy minutes – value for your money, I’d say.
(9,1/10- Toine van Poorten)
THE E.F. BAND-Live At The Mudd Club In Gothenburg 1983 (T.P.L. Recordings)
There was only one Swedish NWOBHM band in the scene and that was the EF BAND. And man, did they kick ass! Nobody ever realised, that they went straight into the NWOBHM scene and became part of the madness, without being British. They just released their albums, which were full of heavy metal that sounded exactly like the thousands of bands that did their thing in England in the late seventies and early eighties. In Holland we also had bands like GILGAMESJ or PICTURE, who shared the same sound, but I’ve never see them appear on classic albums like “Metal For Muthas”. THE EF BAND however, did this without any trouble. After the ultimate compilation “Their Finest Hours” saw the light of day in 2004, it’s now time for a seventy minutes live CD, recorded in Gothenburg in 1983. And what I hear makes me realise, that this was the best non-British NWOBHM band around. Not only on LP did they deliver the goods, but also live on stage they knew how to make a stunning live show. Hear the classic “Deep Cut” line up blast it out loud during this excellent live show. Listen to the great “Fighting For Rock & Roll” or a song like “Through The Enemy Line”, which reminded me of the good old DEEP PURPLE classic “Soldier Of Fortune” in the beginning. THE E.F. BAND was a band full of highly skilled musicians, who had been listening very well to their British collegues. I hear PURPLE, GILLAN, RAINBOW and WHITESNAKE (just listen tot he vocalist, when he starts up “Money Talkin’ Mama”) in their sound, covered up in a solid NWOBHM jacket of course. “Sail Away” is a more mellow piece of rest in the middle of the set, but this is only a short time for the band to load their batteries again. After that Pär Ericson goes insane in a madness bass solo. Drummer Dag Eliason gets his solo piece in “Last Laugh”, where he tortures his drum kit like he is Ian Paice in own person (I definitely hear some resemblance between the two drummers!) At the end of the set, the band pays tribute to another great rock band of the seventies in a great version of ZZ TOP’s “Tush”. It’s a shame I’ve never been able to see the E.F. BAND live on stage, after hearing this great live CD, which has a good sound quality. Especially when you know, that these recordings are over twenty years old already. The only missing link to this great NWOBHM outfit now is a DVD with some live video footage. Now that would be something special. But this is a real treat for the fans, too. Two members of this legendary band have died already (guitar player Bengt Fischer and vocalist Jon Ridge sadly passed away (Rest In Peace, metal brothers), but their music will live on forever. Special thanks go out to my good friend Andy Goodwin, former mamnager of this great band, for sending me a promo copy of this absolutely mindblowing live CD.
(9/10- Toine van Poorten)
ELIXIR- Live (TPL Records)
Put ELIXIR on stage and you will be served a fabulous, breathtaking old school NWOBHM show. It’s good thinking of these guys to record such a magic moment and release it on a live CD. Only then, you can capture the magic. As they did with their show at the legendary Ruskin Arms in London. It was at this place, where IRON MAIDEN played their very first live gig. This CD contains seventeen tracks, worthy of about seventy-seven minutes of some of the finest NWOBHM. Every second they could use on a CD was filled with the magic sound of classics like “Moonlight”, “Son Of Odin”, “Sovereign Remedy”and the ultimate crowd pleaser “Treachery”. Paul’s voice still has that good old fashioned NWOBHM sound, which matches very well with the sound of the band. And it’s good to hear, that their original drummer is back keeping the beat together from behind his kit. The real party animals of the band however are the axe-mates Stormin’ Norman Gordon and Phil Denton. They fight every guitarbattle until the very end and it’s a miracle, that they both survive the set pretty easily. Good guitar teamwork is unbearable, and in ELIXIR they have found the right combination in Phil and Norman. This live CD is a real must for the fans of this music genre. It would be even better to see the band live yourself, because the enthusiasm of these guys is unknown and they constantly lift each other up to the highest level imaginable. And thereby they always know to create a small private party at the same time. These guys live to rock and to please their fans, which can be heard on this CD. Both thumbs up for ELIXIR. I can’t wait to hear their new studio album. The CD booklet contains a nice collection of live pics, which makes this good live document complete, and turns it into a real 'must have' item for every metal fan out there.
(9/10- Toine van Poorten)
ELIXIR- Knocking On The Gates Of Heaven (CD single) (TPL Records)
This is the second single release of ELIXIR after “Treachery”. We had to wait twenty years for this new single, but it’s very much worth the waiting. The title track is a great song to sing along to. NWOBHM, pure and passionate, with a great chorus and the wonderful, mindblowing guitarwork of Phil and Norms. The middle part might remind you of SAXON, because the vocals of Paul show some resemblance to the voice of Peter ‘Biff’ Byford. He sounds a bit hoarse sometimes, which suits the sound of the band really well. This song is a pre-taster of the new album “Mindcreeper” and it will also appear on this brand new release this year. I really can’t wait to hear it. “Death Toll” is another great metal song. It may not sound as catchy as the opener, but it is perhaps even more exciting. When the church bells start to roll, you know there is no way to escape anymore. The man with the scythe is in town, and you’re his next victim. The last two songs on this twenty-two minute release are recorded live. They don’t appear on the live CD, so they’re a great addition to these recordings as well. We can enjoy “Last Rays Of The Sun”, which sounds a bit like “Stairway To Heaven” (LED ZEPPELIN) in the ELIXIR way, completed with some fabulous guitar work! There is also some “Children Of The Sea” (BLACK SABBATH) to be found in this song maybe. And last but not least we have “The Star Of Beshaan”. I am glad that they added this song to this single, because fto me it’s one of the classics, which I was missing on the live album. People, who enjoyed the live album must definitely buy this four track single, because it’s a must have item to kill the time before the next studio album “Mind Creeper” will come out. And a damn good one as well!
(9/10- Toine van Poorten)
FLASHPOINT- Flashpoint (independent)
The Toomey brothers can be really proud, what theyve accomplished with this new self-titled album. We all know that this band is Ian's kid, and he raised it like a real father should. On "No Point Of Reference", they were still the NWOBHM youngsters, that continued after BITCHES SIN was put on hold. But by then, it was already clear that this band could easily grow into a well-talented band with a lot of potential. Now many years later, the band presents us their new album. You can still hear, that this album was made by old school NWOBHM parents, but like I mentioned already, kids grow up and show a face of their own. Okay, you may still renognize some of the old school NWOBHM sound here and there, but most of it has been masqued away and it sounds very mature. No wonder, when you realise that the musicians are twenty years older now, since the release of "No Point Of Reference". Let's take a look at the eleven songs now. Opener "Blown Away" simply does, what it promises you to do. It has already blown me away several times. The sound of vocalist Frank Quegan will probably remind you of Ian Astbury of THE CULT. Also pay special attention to the crystal clear production of Chris Tsangarides (TYGERS OF PAN TANG), who makes these songs to an ever bigger joy to your ears. After a scream, we know that it's time for a mindblowing guitar solo of the Toomey boys. Later on, they will return for more fabulous axework in this song. The aggressiveness - this is absolutely f*cking crazy! The song ends with a chorus, which reminded me of ALICE COOPER's "Hey Stoopid" a bit. Great opener! "Metal Sun" is as close to BITCHES SIN as it can get. It's definitely one of the highlights on this CD, after a couple of hundred turns. Yep, you got that right! This band is very special to me, and there isn't anything more difficult than writing a proper review about a band that you love so much. It must be really special and all the words must be right. When I listen to the album and write a review, it will be good most of the time. It's different with FLASHPOINT. And this second song has grown a lot, since I've heard it for the very first time. Vocalwise, Frank sounds like in his BITCHES SIN days and the guitarwork sounds excellent again. Both thumbs up for this one. "Don't" starts off with a great riff - the one that I've heard a zillion times in the eighties. Another song that will get stuck in your mind quite easily, and is almost impossible to get rid of, once it's captured on your harddisc capacity in your brains. The solo spot at the end of the song really amazing. You may not like these songs at all, that's true. Not everybody has the same good taste, but you simply can't deny the great guitarwork that is in almost every song on the album. "Blood Over Sand" starts acoustic, and when you think you're listening to a soppy ballad here, the drums start to thunder and give it a beat, that will wipe off your first thoughts right away. I must confess, when I first listened to this song, I wasn't too impressed, but then it started to grow on me. The fact, this song does not contain a guitar solo does not bother me at all. First of all, there is some strong, exciting riffing of the guitarplayers in the middle of the song, and a surprisingly ending with again some acoustics. "Plastic" has this particular kind of catchiness, that doesn't make it commercial sounding, but just a song that you'll start to sing along to once you've heard it. "You Are Going Nowhere" is on next. Another spectacular grower in my mind. Listen to the almost desperate sounding vocalist, who tells his story. A story about long lost memories. The musical background is modest and threatening at the same time. The boys are giving the singer a chance to tell his story, but when the story is over, the wild beasts unleash and the guitars start crying like wild hyenas on the prowl. At the end of the song, I hear again some resemblance with Ian Astburys vocals. And bang, we have got ourselves another highlight! "Rivers" is a short piece of rest. A river is sometimes a border between two countries or cities. Here it divides the CD into two parts. "Hostage" is another real highlight on the CD. And again I would like to refer to ALICE COOPER in this song, but then the older material of this king of shock rock. The song has a creepy, horror-like sound. From the sadistic little laugh in the very beginning of the song to the uncommon rhythm and the whole feeling this song breathes. The song tells you, that the hostage does not have a bright future ahead of him. It starts with the Hitchcock-like sound in the middle, where the acoustic guitars play. You know, that something really horrible is about to happen. The song itself plays like a five minute horror movie in my mind with lots of blood and horrible scenes, that are not suitable for people under the age of sixteen, and therefore not suitable to write about uncensored. And the guitar solos prove, that I'm right here. This is not suitable for young kids. It will give them nightmares night after night. Better remember this title, if you listen to the album and for the weak-hearted, better skip number eight (just kidding, just have a listen to it and pleasant dreams - hahahaha!!!). "One More Love" also has the same kind of threatening sound. It's not easy to describe, but these songs sound like they want to warn you for a giant explosion of highly skilled musical outings somewhere later on in the song. And the predicition is right again on this one. From the very first moment on, "Very Soon Everyones Leaving" has been my ultimate favorite on this new album. Why? You just wait for the guitar solo and you will get the clue. It's simply monstrous! It's incredible and it has got the meanest axework, that I've heard in years! The song slowly crawls forward to the magic moment, where the guitars explode. AWESOME! I've got no other words for this. After that, it's time for some clean, dry pants again. "Sun Dogs" is a perfect closer of this album, which shows me that FLASHPOINT has climbed up to a much higher level. Their album has grabbed me by the balls from the beginning until the very last note, and it didnt let go on me yet. The artwork of Mark Biddiscombe is more than excellent. Not only the front cover, that has a nice creation around the name of the band, but also the pictures inside the booklet match very well with the song titles. A brilliant album, that I can highly recommend to every self respecting rock fan out there, and of course to every NWOBHM adept that reads these lines. It will astonish you for the full fifty minutes, and that's a promise! The songs, you will hear are all written in the new millennium, and therefore they will probably sound a little bit different than the ones you've heard on "No Point Of Reference", or any BITCHES SIN album, that the Toomey brothers have released so far. But when you put this album in the right perspective, it's definitely one of the very best NWOBHM albums of today and a very diverse rock album, that will blow your mind, especially when dirty, mean and ultrafast guitarwork is high on your list of expectations for a good album. "Flashpoint" can be bought online from the BITCHES SIN website at http://www.bitchessin.co.uk. Don't miss it or don't call yourself a rock fan!
(10/10- Toine van Poorten)
GIRLSCHOOL- Legacy (Wacken Records)
Let’s have a party to celebrate GIRLSCHOOL’s 13th anniversary! And what’s the best way to do this? I would say with a splendid brand new album. Fifteen new tracks, covering fifty loud minutes of the well-known GIRLSCHOOL metal heavy sound. Things have been rather tough lately for these ladies and the death of Kelly Johnson hit them really hard. But these ladies are true survivors and they return with a strong and very solid new album, which proves that they are not ready yet to lay down their swords. Just listen to the fantastic openers “Everything’s The Same” and “Other Side” to get my point. “I-Spy” is a strange, yet phenomenal song, which brings DIO and the darker sound of MOTÖRHEAD together (I think about a song like “Orgasmatron” here). Maybe there are even some PINK FLOYD influences here and there in this song. Later on the album, you’ll hear the same song with Ronnie James DIO on vocals. The lead guitar solo of Phil Campbell of MOTÖRHEAD makes the circle round again. There are more guest appearances on this album. We will also hear Jay Jay French, Fast Eddie Clarke, Tony Iommi, Neil Murray and Eddie Ojeda. Wow, quite an impressive list, if I may say so! Next track is “Spend, Spend, Spend”, which has got that dirty rock and roll atmosphere going on. The drive, that GIRLSCHOOL is very well-known for. The urge to have a rock and roll party all night long, after you’ve heard this song only once. TWISTED SISTER’s Eddie Ojeda must’ve burned his fingers during the guitar solo in this one! While in “Whole New World”, we will hear Phil Campbell again. Neil Murray plays bass in this particular song. He also returns in “Just Another Day”. “Legend” has become the perfect tribute to Kelly Johnson. It’s the way, that the girls remember her. And you can hear that the lyrics come straight from their hearts. “Still Waters” is a nice uptempo song. Next on, you’ll be able to enjoy the girls’ version of the MOTÖRHEAD classic “Metropolis”, including a lead guitar solo of Fast Eddie Clarke. Who else could play the leads on that one, I would almost say?! In “Don’t Mess Around”, the ladies called in the help of TWISTED SISTER’s axeman Jay Jay French and I can tell you, that he isn’t messing around here! That’s for sure. “Zeitgeist” captures another Phil Campbel lead solo. That male voice in “Don’t Talk To Me” sounded very familiar to me. It’s a guest appearance by Lemmy of MOTÖRHEAD on vocals, bass and ….the not to be missed instrument in heavy metal, namely the triangle (lol). It’s definitely one of the heaviest and fastest songs on this album. Then, a set of three bonus tracks round this CD off. Starting with the Ronnie James DIO version of “I-Spy”, which is a great song! Tony Iommi laid down the guitar solo on this one. “London” is a song co-written by Kelly Johnson, which has got a nice catchy sound and the well-known GIRLSCHOOL vibe coming along with it. We all know “Emergency” of course. The ladies have re-recorded the song and this new version closes the album. So don’t get confused here, because the CD mentions “London” as the last track on this brilliant album. In 2008, GIRLSCHOOL consists of Denise Dufort on drums, Jackie Chambers on guitar and vocals, Enid Williams on bass and vocals and Kim McAuliffe on guitar and vocals. This album can only receive full score! And not just because of all those great names, that cooperated on here. It’s the high quality of the songs that I’ve heard, which made me decide to pull five fire cracking bombs out of my magic hat for these four girls. Here’s to the next thirty years, ladies!! Cheers you lot! Website: http://www.girlschool.co.uk.
(10/10- Toine van Poorten)
HAMMERHEAD- Will To Survive (Cult Metal Classics)
Greek metalheads are real professionals in releasing interesting CDs of bands from which we only knew one single or demo so far. Take for example this “Will To Survive” CD by NWOBHM band HAMMERHEAD. The fans will only know about this band (which has got nothing to do with the Dutch band under the same name, led by Schmoulik Avigal and Wilco van Beek!!) from their single release “Time Will Tell”. Now they released a nine tracker with forty minutes of HAMMERHEAD music, including a video of their 1984 song “Lochinvar”. That’s what I call interesting! For years you think, this band has only written two songs, but slowly the vaults of some bands are going wide open. Which is good for the NWOBHM omnivores like me. The music of HAMMERHEAD is based upon the success of big British acts like LED ZEPPELIN, STATUS QUO and BLACK SABBATH, but we also hear the more melancholic side of the band in a song called “BJ Special”, which was recorded live. Their single is one of the highlights on the CD, and without noticing you start to bang your head right away, when you hear the sound of this NWOBHM classic. Title track “Will To Survive” opens a bit mellow, but we hear the influences that a band like SABBATH had on this band. I am really glad, this band has released all these great recordings now. The boolet contains some excellent liner notes and nice pics, and together with the video for “Lochinvar”, this has become a good, complete overview of another NWOBHM band, who has finally released their long lost memories in NWOBHM music.
(8/10- Toine van Poorten)
THE HANDSOME BEASTS- 04 (Heavy Rock Records)
This is an awesome new release of one of the most underrated NWOBHM bands HANDSOME BEASTS. And I really mean this, especially when I listened back the two albums that this band made, before I started to listen to this new CD. I wanted to have a good overview of what they sounded like in the old days, and what they sound like right now in 2005. The line up of the band has completely changed. I saw the name of Ray Richman on drums however, who also played on “The Beast Within”, but if my information is right they have changed drummers again. Who remained was the excellent vocalist Gary Dalloway, who made himself immortal for me with his photo session with a pig named Edna on their debut album “Beastiality”. His voice sounds a bit like Nicky Moore of SAMSON….oh and MAMMOTH of course. The eleven tracks have a total playing time of almost fifty minutes. And if I interpertate the signs, that indicate the song credits on the inner sleeve of “04”, we get to hear all songs that were written by the old line up of THE BEAST. And I recognise song titles like “Sweeties” and “Local Heroes” (one of my personal faves from the old days) already. So there is a good old time feeling on this one. Which starts already when you have a look at the CD sleeve very carefully. There is a pig (refering to Edna on “Beastiality”), a Dobberman Pincher (refering to the dog named Hans, if I am right, on the front sleeve of “The Beast Within”) and we see a lolita-like girl sitting in a giant 4 of the CD title, which refers to the “Sweeties” 7”. And Gary is on the pic as well of course. After all, he is the big point of recognition on every HANDSOME BEASTS product. The rest of the band consists of Alan Nyland on guitars, Mark Boreland on guitars, Sean Brennan on bass, Ray Richman on drums and Wardi (John Ward) on backing vocals. This is good old NWOBHM, with lots of power, melody and for me it puts back time for about twenty-five years. If you can do this in 2005, it must be good. Listening to the new version of “Local Heroes” for example, I hear that the band recorded it a fraction slower, but it still captures this great NWOBHM sound and it remained an excellent song. This is an excellent album for the long term NWOBHM adepts out there. I really hope, this release will finally bring the band over to the continent, which they didn’t do in the eighties. I am also hoping that they will make some time to do an interview with me about their rich past, present and future. So Gary you’d better prepare yourself, and congatulations with this great ‘new’ album. HANDSOME BEASTS may consist of some ‘Sickies’, but I do hope that they will become more than just ‘Local Heroes’. www.handsomebeasts.com.
(8,5/10- Toine van Poorten)
HIGH TREASON- Radio Will Find Me (High Roller Records)
This album contains ten songs, and quick deciders will get a bonus seven inch for free with two songs. HIGH TREASON is another band from the NWOBHM scene. Another unwritten page in metal history, which gets slowly introduced to a bigger audience by means of this release. The band started its career in the late seventies, and recently got back together again, and completed the line up with two new members. They now consist of Barry Fearon on vocals, Malcolm Scott on guitar, Mark Taylor on guitar, Larry Barbato on bass, Gary Scarbrow on drums and Sallyanne Eckett on vocals. Some of the songs here are quite radio friendly, like the title track “Radio Will Find Me”. The guitarwork is too mean though to get this stuff played on the national radio. The song represents a good mix of old fashioned NWOBHM, mixed some new influences. The melodic vocal input of Sallyanne give you the right to think that this is suitable for radio airplay. Although the power of the musicians will protect the band from profiling themselves too commercial. Songs like “Boogie Man” and “Streets Tonight” sound a bit more metal, in that respect. For me, the most interesting songs were on the bonus 7”. They include the songs “Saturday Night Special” and “The Siren Song”, which both have that catchy feeling and contain touches of THIN LIZZY and MAGNUM old style. This LP really shows, what HIGH TREASON stands for nowadays.
(7,5/10- Toine van Poorten)
HOLLOW GROUND- Raw Tapes ‘79 (independent)
This eleven track compilation CD was released exclusively during the live gig of HOLLOW GROUND at Headbangers Open Air (Germany) in July. The title of the album explains it all. The eleven songs, worthy of about forty minutes of some of the finest NWOBHM, are recorded and laid down in its most elementary form. Raw, and without plishing up the mix first. This is right in your face, and what you see is what you get. No tricks were pulled out on this one. And I think, that the fans see it as a nice legacy of a band, that recorded one of the most sought-after singles from the NWOBHM years. The line up of HOLLOW GROUND consisted of John Lockney on drums, Brian Rickman on bass, Martin Metcalf on guitar and Glen Coates on vocals, when these songs were recorded. The rehearsal recordings reflect what HOLLOW GROUND stood for back in these days. Remarkable strong riffs and high octane fueled songs. “Warlord”, “Breaking Out” and “Easy Action” are good examples of some of the powerful tracks on here. Topped with the mighty voice of Glen Coates (who later joined the ranks of FIST), these songs can be categorised as true classics. I don’t know, if the band still puts the same amount of power in their music nowadays, because to everyone’s surprise HOLLOW GROUND seem to exist again. After this given fact, I am not asking for more miracles to happen, this will do, thank you. After hearing ‘new songs’ like “Poltergeist” and “Don’t Chase The Dragon”, I am dying to hear some real new material by this band. The fact, that I am reviewing two independent releases of HOLLOW GROUND back to back, make you realise that there was something more about them than just originality and high quality. For me, it was a pleasant surprise to finally be able to listen to these songs, almost thirty years after they were recorded. The sound quality may not be the best that you could wish for, but the exclusivity of these songs easily make up for this. There were only eighty copies pressed of this CD, and thanks to our good friend Gerrie Lemmens, we were able to review our copy here for you. Hopefully, there’s much more to come from this band in the near future, but then in better quality.
(9/10- Toine van Poorten)
HOLLOW GROUND- Warlord (Phoenix Records)
If metal fans would have to mention one of the most valuable releases in the history of NWOBHM, you could possibly end up with answers like “Flying High” of HOLLOW GROUND. Glen Coates on vocals, Martin Metcalf on guitars, Brian Rickman on bass and John Lockney on drums. Never did they even suspect that their single, released in 1981, would become so obscure many years later . People, who want to hear their music and are not able to put a giant bag of money on the counter, can now check out the LP “Warlord”. It contains the four songs of the 7”, two cuts from the Roksnax compilation and four songs taken from their demo, recorded and released in 1981. Especially the Roksnax songs are highly recommended, but if you’re reading this website, I won’t have to explain this to you, I guess. The demo material already shows a more commercial approach from the band. Not long after the release of this demo, Glen Coates would pack his bags and join FIST, where he replaced Keith Satchfield. Original copies of the single with the picture sleeve could sell for over three hundred dollar. You can question yourself, if you want to pay such a huge amount of money for the original release in these days of internet downloads and releases like this. For a couple of dollars, you’ll have the EP with the additional demo material. It may not be as exclusive as the single, but it’s the music that counts for me. HOLLOW GROUND recently played at Headbangers Open Air in Germany. Old times relive big time these days, and I’m really glad they do!
(8,5/10- Toine van Poorten)
IRON MAIDEN- Death On The Road (EMI)
The new double live CD of IRON MAIDEN is a killer release again. The band has released many live albums already, but they never seem to disappoint me. Capture the band in its live form and you’ll create good releases. IRON MAIDEN is at their very best on stage, whereas the newer studio albums are sometimes a bit disappointing. Let’s face reality. How can you disappoint with three solo guitarplayers up in the front ranks? And with ex-SAMSON vocalist Bruce Dickinson taking over the stirring wheel from Blaze Bayley? Have a look at the great color pics inside the booklet. The fantastic backdrops they use. And the marvellous setlist, containing sixteen great song ranging from the early days to the present. All together worthy of about one hour and a half of IRON MAIDEN mayhem. Where is the point, that you can go wrong then. You could discuss the songs that they choose to play maybe. Okay, I’d also vote for “Women In Uniform” or “Prowler”, instead of “Can I Play With Madness”, but hey, who am I to decide? The CD was recorded in Germany at the Westfalenhalle in Dortmund, on November 24th, 2003. That’s over two years ago already. It’s good to hear that long anthems like “Paschendale” and “Dance Of Death” made their way into the set. Remember a long anthem like “Rime Of The Ancient Mariner”? I always found it very fascinating, when they started a tour de force like that, during their live shows. But to be honest with you, this old anthem had more content than a rather weak song like “Brave New World”. This whole gig will also be released on DVD soon, which I am very much looking forward to see. The worlds most famous NWOBHM band did it again. I wonder what the new studio album will sound like. After listening to this beautiful live registration, I can only hope that they will find their old shape again, ‘cause there is still metal in ‘the old Maiden’. Up the irons! www.ironmaiden.com.
(8,5/10- Toine van Poorten)
JAMESON RAID- Jameson Raid (Phoenix Records)
JAMESON RAID is another obscure name in the NWOBHM scene. This album contains ten songs. The band JAMESON RAID was founded in the seventies as NOTRE DAME, and the music has its roots in the seventies, rather than the early eighties. NOTRE DAME was more a punk outfit in a way, which later evolved into a NWOBHM band, changing their name into JAMESON RAID. It sounds less metal and a bit more progressive maybe. The first four songs are taken from an EP, released in 1980, as a sort of goodbye to their fans. John Ace and Ian Smith left the band, but the band moved foreward with other people and landed on “Metal For Muthas” with “Hard Lines”, which is also captured on this compilation album. In 1982 and 1983 the band released some demos under the name of THE RAID. Five songs of these demos are captured here as well. Although it would have been nice to release the “Seven Days Of Splendour” songs here as well. The musical evolution of the band could have been heard even better this way. The demo songs are of a fairly good quality and the music shows the more heavy side of this NWOBHM band from the Midlands. Just listen to “Getting Hotter” for some real flashing guitar explosions. In “Running Blind”, vocalist Terry Dark sounds like Biff’s twin-brother. This compilation of ten NWOBHM recordings comes on green vinyl, and with the original cover of the second single. Another rough diamond for your collection.
(8/10- Toine van Poorten)
JJ’S POWERHOUSE- In More Rock (High Roller Records)
If I talk about a band called QUAD, nobody would know what I am talking about. QUAD later evolved into JJ’S POWERHOUSE and this is where it’s starting to sound interesting for the real NWOBHM connoisseurs. “In More Rock” is a collection of eight tracks by JJ’S POWERHOUSE, and I would like to advise to turn up the volume just a little bit. This is just a precaution, because this fabulous piece of music just asks for the right adjustments on your stereo set. JJ’S POWERHOUSE’s music explodes right in your face. And yet there is a lot of variation in the different songs. The LP starts with “Outcast”, from their QUAD days. Followed by “Starsoldiers”, which is some kind of soundtrack for Star Wars. “Shout It Out Loud” could well be taken from any of the first four SAXON albums. Fast drumbeats, an extraordinairy guitar explosion coming from out of nowhere, and a band playing at full speed. Yes, this is the real deal! “The Overlorde” sounds more like JUDAS PRIEST mixed with CIRITH UNGOL’s Tim Baker on vocals. Looking like a weird combination maybe, but it sounds magnificent. “Remember, Remember” is played with the guitar volume on eleven, instead of ten, so the website tells me. Judging the guitar solo, because that’s what this song actually is, it could also have been that JJ played it at twelve, instead of eleven. Remember “Eruption” of Eddie van Halen? This is JJ’s version of this guitarmasturbation pur sang. JJ Cox later became the guitarplayer of WHITE HEAT, who played in Holland several times. JJ’s POWERHOUSE is a diamond in the rough. People, who have heard their single “Running For The Line”, know about the exceptional quality of this band to write memorable NWOBHM classics, still unheard by too many fans. This has got to change, and with “In More Rock” we finally get the opportunity to hear more of the magnificent songs that the band penned down. JJ’S POWERHOUSE consists of JJ Cox on guitar, synths and backing vocals, Dunc Fergusson on bass, Oz Davies on lead vocals and Ted Barlow on drums and the mighty triangle. Check out http://www.jjspowerhouse.com. for the latest news on this band, that reformed again.
(9,5/10- Toine van Poorten)
LYADRIVE- THE SANDS OF TIME Sessions 1982-1983
(High Roller Records)
My interest in LYADRIVE increased enormously, after seeing them playing live at the British Steel Festival in London 2009. This album contains a nice compilation of recordings from the heydays of this band from Sheffield and surroundings. It gives you a good idea of what LYADRIVE is all about. “Another Time, Another Place” opens the album on side A. The song was recorded for a compilation, called “The Bridge Album”. The style is undoubtedly NWOBHM with a slight touch of for example UFO. Easy on the ears, but very nice to listen to. The opening riff of “We’ve Got The Rock (You’re Gonna Roll), comes from the mighty book of essential metal riffs. That’s the way I like it!! The song ended up on the “Metal Warriors” compilation. “Anytime” contains some keyboard sounds. Touches of SARACEN can be heard here and there. It was released on a seven incher. “White Dress” - a melodic rock song with ditto solo - was released on the same seven incher. “Rock Tonight” and “Write Me A Letter” was taken from a four track studio demo. Listen to the guitar solo in “Write Me A Letter” to get an idea of the high quality NWOBHM, that this band was playing at the time. The B-side starts with “Steal Away The Night” and more vicious axework by Steve Jones. While “Young Lover” was also taken from the aforementioned four track studio demo. The guitars sound very PRIEST-ish in a way, but my mind keeps going back to “You’re In Love” by RATT, when the refrain starts. Did I mention, that the guitars are really awesome here?!?? “Brave Young Man” shows that the band is also capable of composing songs, that go much deeper than the average metal tune. Touches of early RUSH mark this song, which has some definite progrock influences. The speed change, when the guitar solo starts, is very nice as well. How underrated can one band be?? “Spinning The Wheel” was recorded for the Ebony sessions. It’s a raw version, but I like that authenticity and it’s the music that counts and the exclusivity of the song. “Fortunes Of War” has also been recorded for Bridge Records and closes this amazing album by a band, that was never really understood by a bigger audience. However, I feel that they are very much underrated. On the back of the four page insert, you can see the photograph that should have represented the sleeve of their seven inch “Anytime”. Hopefully many more old school metal fans will take the time to have a listen to these true metal heroes. Thank you guys for a wonderful show at British Steel in 2009 and hopefully our paths will cross again soon in the very near future!
(9,1/10- Toine van Poorten)
LYADRIVE- One Night In London… (The Denmark Street Sessions & ‘Live Alive’ Bootleg)(High Roller Records)
After seeing LYADRIVE in London, they really took me by surprise. What a great band, playing some catchy NWOBHM tunes and some very well-chosen covers. Buying this album I really hoped, that it would contain the live recordings of this live show. But this album might even be better than what I’d thought it would be. It contains some very old material from the very early days of LYADRIVE. One side of the LP consists of demo material and the other side was recorded live in London 1984. The Denmark Street sessions open with “Give Me Wings”, a catchy NWOBHM tune with some flabbergasting, mind blowing guitar riffs and solos. “We’ve Got The Rock (You’re Gonna Roll)” has got a more underground feel to it, but the fantastic guitar work remains, which is obviously the main ingredient for a good song. “Here Comes The Night” opens as a ballad, but gains more speed later on. I like the sound of LYADRIVE a lot. Influences come from bands like UFO, THIN LIZZY, MAGNUM and RIOT maybe. There is room for melody either, but sometimes they just have to let off steam and go for a more straight forward headbanging rhythm. “Berlin” is recorded with a slightly different line-up. This is one of the most early recordings, recorded in a studio in High Wycombe in 1981. Only vocalist Nick John was a member of the band back then. The last song “On A Clear Day” already has Steve Jones and Lee Burrows in the band. This song was recorded half a year later in 1982 at the JWT Studios in London. “Berlin” sounds more poppy than the other songs and the band didn’t have the power yet, that they developed over the years. Just listen to “On A Clear Day” and you’ll hear the difference. The bootleg B-side was recorded in 1984 at the Brunel University in London. LYADRIVE then consisted of Nick John on vocals, Steve Jones on guitar, Dennis O’Leary on bass and vocals and Lee Burrows on drums. The setlist is almost the same as the songs that are on the other High Roller Record, “The Sands Of Time Sessions 1982-83”, except one track, called “Lazerwind”. The quality of the material is like the title suggests. It’s a live bootleg, and many of my tapes from those days sound like that. Sometimes they are just perfect, while at other times it’s hard to hear which band is playing. But it definitely is nice to hear the band in the heat of the moment, captured live. Especially considering the fact, that when I collected tapes, demos and live recordings, I would have sold my right leg for a bootleg recording like that. So I’m glad to be able to listen to these bootleg recordings and still having two legs. “We’ve Got The Rock” is the opener, and “Another Time, Another Place” is definitely one of the highlights here. “Lazerwind” is the ballad of tonight, while the speed goes up with “Young Lover”. The power, that the band still has today, can be found back in this particular song. The live side closes with “Steal Away The Night”. No, this is not the OZZY song!! But it contains some marvellous guitar work, and that’s what it’s all about. This record certainly gives you a nice overview of what the band was capable of back in those days. Definately a great addition to your NWOBHM collection.
(8,7/10- Toine van Poorten)
MARQUIS DE SADE- Marquis De Sade (High Roller Records)
Another name, that gets my adrenaline running at maximum speed. Another bunch of legends that never received the attention they deserved. Things can change pretty quickly though over the years. Now we’re able to hear more of their music, rather than in the roaring eighties, when it was extremely difficult to obtain music from a band like this, unless you had any reliable contacts in the tape trading circuit. Six songs are on this LP. The first two songs were on the only single, that the band ever released; “Somewhere Up In The Mountains” with on the flipside “Black Angel”. Then we get to hear the demo from 1980 with songs like “Living In The Ice Age”, “Welcome To The Graveyard” and “London Air”. Three songs, many people really wondered what they would sound like. When you listen to “Living In The Ice Age”, you get the shivers all over. Starting like a rip-off of “Am I Evil” (Pardon me for putting it this way!!), but then it drifts away very quickly. The keyboards are starting to play a bigger role, and before you know it, the band sounds like a good sympho rock band. Think about MAGNUM’s first albums maybe, with long stretched compositions full of exciting instrumental escapades build upon thick layers of keyboards. Really magnificent! The same goes for “Welcome To The Graveyard”. Listen to it and feel astonished this wasn’t a big cult hit in the rich NWOBHM scene. The LP ends with a second version of “Somewhere Up In The Mountains” recorded in 1979, when the band was still called MIX STIX. MARQUIS DE SADE consists of Chris Gordelier on vocals, San Remo on guitar and keyboards, Kevin Pope on guitars, Gary Pope on drums and Pete Gordelier on bass. Pete is the same Pete you might remember from the early BLIND FURY days with Kevin Heybourne. He also shows his face in one of the latter line ups of ANGELWITCH itself. The front cover almost looks as nice as the music of the band. Misunderstood, or overrun by the extraordinairy amount of bands, that were active in the same scene at that given time. It’s something we will never know. Fact is, they were capable of playing some well thought of compositions. Prove is given on this six tracker, which will make some more turns on my record player in the future, I think.
(8,5/10- Toine van Poorten)
MEDUSA- Clash Of The Titans (Majestic Rock)
NWOBHM fans out there, this is the real thing. This is Steve Grimmett’s band MEDUSA before he formed GRIM REAPER with his partner-in-crime Nick Bowcott, and before he spend his days in ONSLAUGHT and LIONSHEART. The sound quality of this CD is not perfect. It’s directly dubbed from old tapes. But a purist like me goes for the songs and not for the sound. It’s the exclusivity that counts. And if I have to judge this album by it’s exclusivity, then it will easily receive the full score. The material on this album is even better than the average GRIM REAPER song. Just listen to a long epic ballad, like “Conquest Of The Skies” with its everlasting guitarwork. It’s so pure, that it easily takes me away to the early eighties. For the next fourty-five minutes, I’m in absolute metal heaven. It’s 1980 and MEDUSA consists of Lance Perkins on guitar, Eddy Smith on drums, Nick Beard on drums and Steve Grimmett on vocals. They are recording their demos. Not knowing that only twenty-five years later, they will astonish NWOBHM fans over the world. “Turn To Stone” was on one of the demos, the biting guitar solos are crying constantly. “Getting Faster” is the MEDUSA version of the PRIEST classic “Steeler”. It’s raw, it’s underground and I am so glad to lay my hands on these recordings…finally after so many years. Steve continued his singing in various well-known metal bands. But that’s not the only thing that happened, after MEDUSA called it quits. Lance and Eddie became WRATCHILD’s new members and shocked England with their “Stakk Attakk”. Back to this CD now. The last four songs are taken from a live rehearsal tape. It’s even more cult than a lot of people can bear. Again it’s a shame for some people that the sound is so bad, but what we hear is a band that could have become another great NWOBHM monster. The value of these recordings is very high for all the real fans out there, but if you ensist that a CD should have a perfect sound quality nowadays, then you have to leave this for what it is. I can really recommend this to all the people, who are reading these lines though, because they all know that I like it this way.
(9,5/10- Toine van Poorten)
METAL MIRROR- Metal Mirror I (High Roller Records)
Don’t let the monsters on these releases hold you back to listen to the powerful sound by this great NWOBHM band. The band hailed from London and already surprised me on the “Heavy Metal Heroes” compilation with their song “Hard Life”. Their legacy has been released on two albums, which contain a lot of beautiful stuff. If I listen to “Tigers Of The Street”, I feel shivers running down my spine. What great guitarwork of Chris Haggerty, who sadly died in 2004. The music of METAL MIRROR is raw and unpolished and shows some resemblance to TYGERS OF PAN TANG. The live recordings on these two albums were recorded at Dingwalls Club in Camden in 1981. Great recordings, that easily stood the test of time. And what about the music? Just listen to the guitarwork in “Getting Higher” and you’ll know the answer. This is for me the best NWOBHM stuff available. It will rip the plaster from your bedroom walls. And part one is only just the beginning of the whole party. If you like it mean, raw and heavy, then you must check out these METAL MIRROR releases. You can’t stop banging your head with songs like “Rock An’ Roll Aint Never Gonna Leave Us”. A live version of the aforementioned track “Hard Life” closes the first album, but more great live recordings are to be found on the second release by this brilliant British band.
(10/10- Toine van Poorten)
METAL MIRROR- Metal Mirror II (High Roller Records)
If you already liked the stuff on the first METAL MIRROR release, than this monster will please you just the same. In fact, it contains the remaining live songs from their gig at Dingwalls Club in Camden, Londen 1981. The songs, that were released on a seven inch single, complete this album. And also “Hard Life”, taken from the “Heavy Metal Heroes” album was added to this beautiful compilation. Already by “Razor Back Killers”, we can hear the strength of a second guitarplayer. It contains some great guitar fights between Chris Haggerty and Paul Butterworth. While in “Crazy”, we’ll hear Paul’s solo spot. But the biggest orgasm in guitar solos is on “Midnight Eyes”. “One Night” is a speed metal version of the well-known ELVIS PRESLEY classic. After the fall of METAL MIRROR, vocalist Cameron Vegas created his own band called CAMERON VEGAS, who released two albums. Paul Butterworth was their guitarplayer for a while. Their sleazy rock doesn’t come close to METAL MIRROR and they sounded so very different. What we hear here is NWOBHM in optimal form. METAL MIRROR consisted of Cameron Vegas on vocals, Paul Butterworth on guitar, Chris Haggerty on guitar, Ian Thompson on bass and Gary Hitchens on drums. Killer stuff!
(10/10- Toine van Poorten)
OVERDRIVE- On Wizard Ridge (Obscure NWOBHM Releases)
This is not the OVERDRIVE from Sweden, Italy or America, but this is the NWOBHM outfit with the same name. Another band, whose attic got emptied. Meaning that the original songs were played and recorded by the line up of OVERDRIVE in 2004. And we’re glad they did, because the music on this CD is timeless. The spoken word intro “In The Presence Of Heroes” already predicts, that we’re dealing with a special band here. Not too many bands did this, and OVERDRIVE obviously choose to do things differently. The song “Nightmare”, attached to the spoken intro, may not be that specatacular yet. Things really get loose, when “Nuclear Bomb” starts, which has some nice guitarwork and fantastic keyboard parts (by former member Lee Sculthorpe). “Once In A Dream” is perhaps even better. It’s one of those songs with more in it than just a refrain and a chorus. The keyboards ask for some special attention in the music of OVERDRIVE, in that respect you could make a comparision to WHITE SPIRIT maybe. “On The Run”, the original first single by the band, has got an opening riff that you can listen to countless times. It will never bore you, because it’s a sort of standard riff to open a good metal song with, in my opinion. I must also say, that I heard some resemblance with many Dutch bands from the eighties in the sound of OVERDRIVE, without the keyboard parts. This is mainly because of the sound of the vocals, I think. “Stonehenge” was also on the ‘obscure and much searched for’ EP. The CD closes with “On Wizard Ridge”, the title track of the CD by this great NWOBHM outfit. When you visit the website of the band, you will find out that they have an amazing amount of interesting stuff available, and you can also read that there is a new album on its way. Last but not least, OVERDRIVE will also be part of ‘The British Steel Festival’ in Milton Keys on October 14th, together with CLOVEN HOOF, HAMMERHEAD, ELIXIR and DEMON. Don’t miss them, because this will be a very spectacular show! Website: http://www.overdriverockband.co.uk.
(8/10- Toine van Poorten)
OVERDRIVE- Three Corners To Nowhere (High Roller Records)
The basis of the songs on this album were already laid in the eighties, but it was not recorded before early 2006. OVERDRIVE is another band, who uses the keyboards very much upfront in their sound. Please don’t think of them as some kind of NWOBHM sympho band, because their music contains a lot of heavy guitar riffs as well. The keyboards beef up the sound a bit, whereas they lack a second guitar player. Already from the first notes on of instrumental opener “Continuum”, you may notice the melodic influences of this band though. The album contains nine tracks, showing us a band, who dares to go further than most well-known straight forward pounders. “Blaze Of Bronze” may prove different, but when listening to a ballad like “Lost Song Of A Lonely Man”, you will get the idea of what I am trying to say here. “Trapped In Time” is one of the highlights for me, next to “Blaze Of Bronze”. The band is steaming at high speed, and especially the instrumental parts in these songs sound very exciting. Keyboards do fit in heavy metal, in case you still had your doubts. The refrain of “I Can Feel It” sounds very much like DEF LEPPARD’s “Foolin’”, with the stuttering F in the beginning of the word ‘feel’. The album comes with a very nice patch with the two griffins in the band logo.
(8,5/10- Toine van Poorten)
PAGAN ALTAR- Judgement Of The Dead (Black Widow Records)
Tombstones, graveyards, black magic, rituals, crucifixes, PAGAN ALTAR. This band from London came as close to BLACK SABBATH in their doom days as WITCHFYNDER GENERAL did. The first shoot on the today overcrowded black metal tree. This LP is in fact the first album “Pagan Altar”, manufactured on black as night vinyl. I actually bought the album, because it came with a booklet containing more than forty pages of information and many rare pics of this doomy NWOBHM outfit. The music of PAGAN ALTAR can easily be described as early BLACK SABBATH, but I think this would be too easy and it wouldn’t do justice to the high quality of this band. They were definitely no SABBATH copy cats, but they used the early work of the doom masters as a basis for their wayward sound. They also added some JETHRO TULL-like vocals to their sound for example. Just listen to “March Of The Dead” and you’ll have to agree with me. Today, the legend lives on and their music still sounds like magic to me. PAGAN ALTAR is a band, that would look great on the bill of the many festivals over here on the continent. And I still keep asking myself, why no one ever tried to get these people on stage for a live show. Maybe they think, it’s a much nicer idea to play on someones funeral. They wouldn’t look bad on both ocassions. However, until people start to wake up and find out what this magnificent band is all about, I keep on playing these records. CULT!!! (in capitals, as you can see!!). Website: http://www.paganaltar.com.
(9/10- Toine van Poorten)
REKUIEM- Time Will tell
I just needed to add this CD to the review section. Maybe it’s not the best metal available, but REKUIEM plays ten songs, that can easily be classified as good old traditional hard rock. Names like IRON MAIDEN, THUNDER and SAXON come to mind, when listening to this album. All songs have a catchy vibe and contain some good guitarwork. The cover “Paranoid” of BLACK SABBATH gets a different arrangement. Let’s say, that it received a sort of REKUIEM make over, which makes it less metal but still very heavy. Highlight for me on this ten song and a full hour album is a song called “Black Death”. “Angel Of Sin” is a good example of the mix between AC/DC riffs and IRON MAIDEN-like song structures. It may sound simple, but REKUIEM really knows to impress me with their power. I really liked what I heard on this CD. Even the obligatory ballad, “Sacrificial Wanderer”, impressed me very much. Mainly because of the great speed change towards to the end, which really adds up to the song. Perhaps “Time Will Tell” is not the cult metal album of all-time, but it’s definitely worth checking out! It has got some great musical ideas, that are very well performed on these ten songs here.
(8/10- Toine van Poorten)
THE RESTLESS BREED- Hiding In Plain Sight
"Hiding In Plain Sight" is definitely the real deal. This is the debut album of a band from Scotland, called THE RESTLESS BREED. Classic rock, which has its roots firmly in the NWOBHM, is what you’ll get to hear in the twelve songs captured on this CD. Almost seventy minutes of powerful metal, which contains some good melody as well. The band sounds fresh and shows some similarity to DEMON or SAXON in the more heavy parts. You may also hear some RIOT influences for more than one reason of course. "Restless Breed" was one of the better albums by this band, but this band from Scotland sounds a bit more melodic. Strong guitarwork and ‘easy on the ear’ rock songs, that have a lot of balls. And THE RESTLESS BREED is another band, that uses keyboards to give their sound the melodic touch it needs. Already in 1984, the band supported DIAMOND HEAD in Scotland. It's a shame, they never got to release this album back then, which might have given them a far better chance to become a well-known band. Today, this release will surely drown in the puddle of thousands of no-hopers and wannabees. Whereas many talented musicians won't be recognised for their contribution to the rock scene, except for a couple of diehards of course. Therefore, I am really happy, I can give this band the attention that they deserve. Highlights for me are: "Saracen" (and not just the title!!), "Aces High" (not the IRON MAIDEN classic!) and "Nostradamus". The hidden scream could have been left out, as far as I am concerned. Website: http://www.therestlessbreed.com.
(8/10- Toine van Poorten)
SABRE- Roar To The Core (Majestic Rock)
At the same time the MEDUSA CD was released, Majestic Rock also released this album of NWOBHM band SABRE. SABRE’s star was rising real fast with the release of a three track demo. But they never released any album. They got stuck with only one single in 1983, and then the band called it quits. That the band was really talented has been proven on this compilation CD, where we finally hear other material than the already well-known demo tape from the tape traders circuit. We hear four songs from a rehearsal tape from 1982. Okay, the sound quality is really embarassing, just as on the MEDUSA album. But it’s the exclusivity that counts here, for all the NWOBHM adepts. It shows us the musical ideas of a young NWOBHM band in its purest form. Then there is a three track Neat session from 1982, where the band laid down new versions of “Miracle Man” and “On The Loose” for a single release and “Cry To The Wind” for the “60 Minutes Plus Metal” tape from Sounds music magazine. They did this with the help of one person named Conrad Lant, who most of you will know as Cronos of VENOM. The pearl on the crown is a pre-SABRE recording of a band, called SWITCHBACK from 1978, where we can hear the first musical escapades of Geoff Gillespie on bass and Alan Angold on drums from this punk metal like outfit. SABRE’s music was some kind of a melodic version of the early TYGERS OF PAN TANG. But their melodic input sometimes also went a bit too far for me, like in the ballad like “Sunken Ships”. Despite this minor complaint, it’s nice to hear some of these magic songs on a fifty-five minute CD. In 2004, three out of five band members get in touch with each other again and they also were in contact with a fourth member, but it never got to a reunion of SABRE……so far. What more can we expect from Majestic Rock Records in the future? MEDUSA and SABRE sure were certainly a good start.
(7,5/10- Toine van Poorten)
SARACEN- Vox In Excelso (Escape Music)
“Heroes, Saints And Fools”. Do I need to say more? I guess not. Needless to say, that I have been really looking forward to hearing “Vox In Excelso”, especially having their very first album in mind. Big was the deception hearing the ‘newer fashioned’ sound of the band. Pimped with orchestration and bombastic sound parts, “Vox In Excelso” profiles itself as a concept album, including a female storyteller. Is this a bad album then? No, it isn’t, but I’d like to call it different. The band still knows to impress me with their musical abilities. Right now, the band consists of Paul Bradder on keyboards, Steve Bettney on vocals, Rob Bendelow on guitar and Richard bendelow on bass and vocals. Mark Cross is the guest drummer on this album. Narrations were done by Meg Fairlie Maunder. Regularly, the good old sound returns, but it’s rooted in a bigger sound, that coordinates the whole. Like QUEENSRYCHE does for many years already. They create a sound, that everybody loves. Sometimes it’s not even heavy at all, but it’s adventurous, innovative and ground breaking. The concept deals with the power of the knights templar. Their story is put into music here, in a way that only musicians with a lot of experience could do. The band members of SARACEN have the experience to make this CD a very special one. No, this is definitely not “Heroes, Saints And Fools” part II. I wish it was. But I am very pleased with the final result of “Vox In Excelso”. I know, that it’s not fair to compare these two albums. But also a comparison with “Change Of Heart” and the magnificent “Red Sky” would be misplaced, because you must see this album as a sidestep, that shows the many talents of SARACEN. However, I don’t see this album as the new direction of SARACEN. Although I wouldn’t mind, if they would make more songs like “The Power And The Glory” for example. A good CD, especially when you don’t know the band yet. For the ‘real’ SARACEN fans, it’s also a must of course.
(8/10- Toine van Poorten)
SCARAB- A Soul For A Soul (Miskatonic)
The second ten incher in this lot of reviews is for SCARAB. SCARAB takes back to the early years of SAVATAGE, which was the first thing that came to mind, when listening to the song on the A-side; title track “A Soul For A Soul”. Great thundering distorted vocals, fast riffs, awesome guitars and a true killer song, that SCARAB has laid down here. SCARAB is NWOBHM and consists of Paul Britton on guitar and vocals and Dave Parrish on guitars. Influences of the good old days of PRIEST and MAIDEN are also to be found there. What a killer! The two songs on the B-side gave me the thrills, too. “The Plague” shows up well, after turning the lights down low. Once again I hear some resemblance in the vocals of Britton with Jon Oliva in his early days. Finger lickin’ good! Anyway, let the bells toll in the rather spooky intro of this fast headbanger and enjoy this wonderful plague. “For Whom The Bells Toll” has got nothing at all to do with this metal band from the USA, whose name slipped my mind here for a second. On the contrary, this is the British bells tolling here. At the end of the song, the band ask themselves if the bells toll for you as well. I can answer that with a big ‘YES’! The latest update is, that SCARAB will release a full-length album later this year, which will be called “Requiem Of War”. I can’t wait to lay my hands on that one, after hearing this fantastic ten incher!
(8,3/10- Toine van Poorten)
SEVENTH SON- Spirit World (High Roller Records)
SEVENTH SON is still alive and kicking. Prove is given on this brand new album, called ”Spirit World”. The lyrics are focussed on the dark side of life: the spirit world, witches, ouija boards and haunted houses and that’s a great topic to write about. My major interest though goes out to the music by these NWOBHM icons. Opener “Spirit World” sounds a bit like THE SWEET newer style, but in a much heavier version. The guitar solo sounds flashing and it’s the perfect opener for a SEVENTH SON live show. “Unfinished Business” starts off with a great old school SAXON-like riff. I’ve mentioned it before, when reviewing “Dangerous Kiss”. You can hear, that the magic is still there. “The Last Witch In England” opens with a short spoken word part and sounds much darker than the rest so far. I also hear a short part with some distorted vocals, that don’t really belong on an album with an old school sound like this. That doesn’t make it a bad song after all, because it easily became one of the highlights on this album for me. I also hear a touch of MAGNUM’s Bob Catley in the voice of Bri O’ Shaughnessy here. “Dangerous Kiss” is well-known to all the die hard fans of the band and a …revisited (or renewed) version is on next. The A-side of this LP (Yep, I still buy the vinyl version of items like this) closes with a song, called “Kiss The Dead”. The guitar riffs sound rather new to me, but the spooky rhythm fits the song well. Slowly, it develops into a catchy pounder. Time to listen to side B, where the band starts off with “Estranged”. Another definite highlight, because of the great crying guitar in the middle of this up tempo track. Rick Gregory attacks his bass guitar in the beginning of “House In Darkness”. The creepy sound fits very well to the ‘spirit world’ concept. And of course there’s another guitar solo coming up in this mid-tempo melodic shock rocker! “One Strange Summer” opens with some acoustic guitars, sounding like URIAH HEEP in their early days. I would like to refer to a song like “Lady In Black” here. It’s balladesque in a way, but it also sounds very much old school (or should I say ‘retro’ here?) to me. “The Burning Of Autumns Splendour” is a splendid rocker with some good riffs and a dark character. Another highlight, that’s for sure. Just listen to the great twin guitar duel that rounds off the song! And before you know it, the end is near, when “Haunted By The Past” announces itself. Thunder and lightning in the background, acoustic guitars in front of the mix, turn this song into a nice ballad. And I don’t mean just another ballad, like I’ve heard so many times before, but a true ballad you can cherish, my friends. A very emotional one as well. Just listen to the vocals in this song. I must say, that the SEVENTH SON has become very mature, showing they are still kicking ass with this marvellous new release. For the record, here’s the line up of this wonderful (NWOBHM) band. SEVENTH SON consists of Bri O’ Shaughnessy on vocals, Dave Fox on guitars and backing vocals, Bob Elliot on guitars and backing vocals, Rick Gregory on bass and Alan Bark on drums. Sheffield can be proud of their seventh son. The album comes with a full coloured poster and a four page inlay with the lyrics and some nice pix. Website: http://www.seventhson.co.uk.
(8,3/10- Toine van Poorten)
SPARTA- Sparta (High Roller Records)
Football team from Rotterdam, Greek superhero or the NWOBHM outfit. In my world, when I hear the name SPARTA, I always think of the NWOBHM band, that goes by that name. Their 1981 demo is to be found on this full-length album, together with “Fight To Be Free”, which was the B-side of the single “Fast Lane”, which is on this very demo of 1981. We also hear “Lords Of Time”, that comes from the “Scene Of The Crime” compilation album. The demo opens with “Rock Don’t Roll” and continues with “Boy King”, which includes an extraordinairy guitarsolo of Tony Foster and Steve Reders. However, it will get even better in a song, called “Fast Lane”. Yep, the single of the band. I wonder, why they never had a radio hit with this one. It’s mainly one loooooong guitarsolo from the beginning until the end. AAAAARRRGGGGGHHHHH!! What a monster! This makes you long for more, I can tell you that much. Those guitarsolos were the trademark of the band. Biting like BITCHES SIN and with a touch of boogie at times. (F.e.“Tonight”). The best memory I have about this band, besides their music, was that they posed on a giant tank on one of their most well-known promo pictures. When frontman Karl Reders left the band, the first cracks in the solid SPARTA line up started to show, and it wouldn’t take too long before another great NWOBHM exponent would disappear without getting the credits they deserved. Karl returned to the band years and years later and as a trio, they tried to relive the old days, but didn’t succeed. Nowadays, it’s utterly cool to hear these great songs on vinyl again. SPARTA consisted of Karl Reders on vocals, Steve Reders on guitar, Tony Foster on guitars, Tony Warren on bass and Paul Reders on drums. And I believe, there is still a lot of material left from this band to fill another album or two. Just think about songs like “Rock For You”, “Dogs Of War”, “Streetwalkin’”, “Shady Lady”, “Lady Evil” and “Hot Rock”. Well, who knows? The night is still young!
(9/10- Toine van Poorten)
STORMQUEEN- Come Silent The World
This album probably contains one of the most best kept secrets in the NWOBHM scene. Well, at least that is my first opinion after browsing through the sixteen page booklet that comes with this release. A band that looked like VAN HALEN in their early days, and sounds like the early TYGERS OF PAN TANG. The eight songs on this great release are in fact songs from three different demos, that saw the light of day in 1980,1982 and 1983. The sirens, that you hear, mark the beginning of “Battle Of Britain”, on which we first hear the influences of the TYGERS. In “Lady Night”, I would like to mention JUDAS PRIEST as an influence as well. Just listen to the PRIEST-like riffs in the beginning. “Raising The Roof” is a fast rocker. On the B-side, that starts with a song off the ‘82 demo, we hear that the band sounds remarkably tighter. They have a more solid sound, yet you still hear the raw edged guitar explosions. On the other hand, we also hear some harmony vocals, that gives away a possible need for commercial success. “Cake/The Walls Have Eyes”, from the 1983 demo, however invalidates my statement, because this song is far away from any hang to commercial success. “The Fire And The Rose” is with its running time of over six minutes, another great piece of music. Especially the high vocal pinches of Paul Burnett are superb! Add to this the guitar explosions of Neil Baker and Dave Morse, and another great NWOBHM anthem is a fact. However, the band’s name was almost never mentioned, and when O.P.M. had not released this album, only a handful of people would have known about the beautiful music these guys made. “Just For A Day” closes the album, that comes in a colourful gatefold sleeve. It reminded me of the IRON MAIDEN classic “Strange World”, one of the best ballads ever, in my opinion. I am glad, this release saw the light of day, because this really sounds good. The album was very well taken care of and besides the booklet, you will also get a sticker and a patch. That’s what I call value for money. An essential buy for NWOBHM adepts, that are looking for rare high class NWOBHM stuff.
(10/10- Toine van Poorten)
TANK- War Of Attrition Live 1981-Expanded Version
Let’s start with a clichee here. TANK were the younger brothers of MOTÖRHEAD. I hope, that Algy Ward won’t kill me for this, because TANK was more, much more than that. They had the same attitude as MOTÖRHEAD, they also consisted of three members, and they played loud as f*cking hell. And I am so glad, they used some recordings of their live show at Parkpop here too, because this live show will remain in my memory for ever, simply because it was always good fun to see these guys blasting their crowd away with tonz of watts. But the seventy-five minutes compilation starts with live recordings from Dortmund 1981, in perfect quality. It contains all their well-known songs, which I don’t dare to call hitsingles, because there is no room for commercial shit with a band like TANK. But I think that the average metal fan, older than a certain age, knows the thundering sound of songs like “Shellshock”, “Don’t Walk Away”, “Filth Hounds Of Hades” and “Stormtrooper”. And if you don’t, you must have been living under a giant stone or something. TANK consisted of Algy Ward on bass and vocals, and the Brabbs bro’s, Pete on guitar and vocals and Mark on drums and vocals (he looks a bit like the drummer of DUMPY’S RUSTY NUTS…..freaking hell, he was the drummer of this marvellous bikerband!). Besides live songs, we also hear demo versions of “Shellshock”, “Blood, Guts And Beer” and “Hammer On” and radio sessions of “Don’t Walk Away” and “Heavy Artillery”. The CD closes with more demo sessions, in case you haven’t heard enough yet, of “Too Tired To Wait For Love” and “Man Who Never Was”. TANK are still kicking serious ass, and this is a true tribute to the ultimate heroes of dirty, ‘no- nonsense’ rock and metal. I hope, they will ‘hammer on’ for a very long time to come. To me, they were one of the many uncrowned kings from the NWOBHM scene. And they were one of the very few bands, that showed up at a big NWOBHM anniversary in Japan in 1999, together with PRAYING MANTIS, SAMSON and TRESSPASS. People, who still see TANK as some dumb MOTÖRHEAD clones after hearing this CD, will be hung upon a giant tree with a big board around their neck, that has written ‘asshole’ on it. Or even better, they get the barrel of Algy’s TANK shoved down their ass. Not for idiots or stupid twatts, only for diehard metalheads!! You have been warned, suckers!!!
(9/10- Toine van Poorten)
IAN TOOMEY- Very Soon Everyone's Leaving (independent)
Ian Toomey is the guitar maestro extravaganza of BITCHES SIN and FLASHPOINT. And to me, he is one of the nicest persons, I’ve ever met. If there is someone, who doesn’t have a slight glimpse of a rock star attitude, it must be Ian. He is a very down-to-earth guy, who also happens to be an extremely gifted guitar player. Prove is given on this brand new solo single. We are dealing here with a re-recording of two FLASHPOINT classics, which were originally recorded in 2006. Ian continued his solo journey in FLASHPOINT, when BITCHES SIN pulled the well-known plug. These songs present the very best of ‘Mr. Goldfinger’. You will understand why I give him this name, when listening to his guitar solos. The total playing time of this single is almost ten minutes and the longest track is called “Very Soon Everyone’s Leaving”. The artwork might be connected to this particular song. You see the man and his Flying V guitar walking away on an old and forgotten railroad track. My wife reminded me, that a similar concept has been used in the “Crazy Train” video clip of OZZY OSBOURNE, featuring the late Randy Rhoads. People, who have met me, know that I’m a huge Randy Rhoads fan and these two guitar players are my all-time heroes. The guitarist on this picture seems to be leaving as well. He’s walking away from civilization and I really hope that this doesn’t have a deeper meaning. On the other hand, I’ve also seen another picture of Ian walking back, so this could be the beginning of something new as well. Anyway, let’s talk about the music now. The lyrics are quite personal and very well sung by David Mills, who has put his heart and soul into his song. You can literally feel the emotion in his voice. He doesn’t just sing it, he lives the lyrics right from the moment that the words leave his throat. There is a huge difference between singing lyrics and living them and this guy certainly did a splendid job here. Drummer Steve Turton presents so much more than just a steady beat on this one. Just listen to all the fills he plays. The fast hi-hat beats, before Ian’s guitar solo explodes, are very innovative and this is only the beginning. Steve is Ian’s ‘partner-in-crime’ and he also played on the original songs. Well folks, I have to warn you upfront, because there is definitely more where this came from. If you listen very carefully, you’ll hear someone counting: one, two, three, four and it’s not Johnny Ramone counting off to start another song. Just listen to the incredible guitar force, that is about to happen. There are stories of people trying to imitate this at home, on their guitar. What happened to them? They ended up spending the rest of their miserable lives in a mental hospital. Some of them even ended up in an isolation room. They even refused to ever touch a guitar again. This is only for the top of the crop and Ian is one of them, in my book. You won’t expect a two and a half minute solo after a dark, sober intro, like on this track. If you think that things won’t get any faster than this, the unexpected will happen and the speed goes up once more in this amazing solo. It’s beyond all human comprehension. Amnesty International should have a listen to this. I suspect this is against humanity as well, although Ian is a human being, like anyone else reading these lines. But he sounds faster like a laser bullet and louder than an atom bomb, chromium plated boiling metal, brighter than a thousand suns……. Oops sorry, I think I got a bit carried away here. This simply sums up the strength of Ian, FLASHPOINT and BITCHES SIN. Always expect the unexpected. The speed, the anger, the flashing sound of fingers touching the strings, brings me into a trance and to a world, where I can feel good and be myself. That’s what’s happening to me, when I am hearing the flaming axe work of this guitar hero. I’ve never told this to him in so many words maybe, but it’s this uncompromised heaviness, that touches the speed of sound that I’ve always liked so well and made me devoted to the sound of this man and his guitar. And I guess that when you have a listen to this first song you will get the same feeling. The second track is called “Metal Sun” and as the title already suggests, it sounds a bit lighter and is a lot more compact than the first track. It’s got a great rocking feeling and also in this song, the best is saved for last. Once again, Ian pulls the strings and bends them like no one else can. It sounds amazing and soon they will most likely have to carry me away in a strait-jacket, but not before I’ve finished this review, I hope. The solo starts like you would expect, but it goes on and on and there is totally madness at the end. The single is over and I guess that everybody is leaving soon now. But I won’t. I simply refuse to leave. I give it another spin and then another until the neighbors get sick and tired of it and ask me, if I don’t have any other CD’s in my collection than this one. I will answer that this is the real deal and that the other 5,000 CD’s I have in my collection are just a nice way to fill up some space in my living room. I reward this single with the full score. What else did you have in mind for this excellent piece of art?! The single will be available on September 9th via download and there will be a hardcopy in a cardboard box available as well. I will never turn my back on Ian, because he has just proved that he will be back to get you and you don’t want that to happen, do you? Staring at the clear blue sky, I see a flash of light at the horizon. Is it a spark of the metal sun? I think it is a sign. It’s about to happen! Very soon everyone’s leaving. But I will stay. I know that what will happen now will be my destiny. Ain’t life a bitch? (10/10- Toine van Poorten)
IAN TOOMEY- Never Alone (independent)
When my good friend Ian Toomey told me, that he would release a new single, I was very excited. I’m always happy to hear new work of this master guitar player of BITCHES SIN and FLASHPOINT. “Never Alone” is the title of a new track, recorded in 2013 and therefore the first new music that I heard in this brand new year. What a treat for yours truly! Mainly because I actually L-O-V-E the sound of it. The first bashes on the cymbals might very well be from any older SAXON album, but the riffs are more in the MICHAEL SCHENKER kind of style. The firm beats of Steve Turton may remind you of “Denim & Leather” in a way, if you would be searching for any kind of reference. Dave Mills adds his voice to this and the song becomes a real BITCHES SIN track to me. This is because the vocals are very recognizable and it matches very well with the music, that follows next. A great foot stomper with a steady beat and a constant repeating riff from the master himself. The biggest surprise comes at the end in an instrumental finale. First there’s a spooky kind of instrumental mid piece, that returns to the chorus of the song, but when you think that the exciting surprise is over, you are ever so wrong. The grand finale comes, when the rhythm changes to a segment that you will remember from “Black Sabbath”. I am already starting to sing “Is it the end, my friend? Satan’s coming ‘round the bend”, when the guitars slowly fade away into the darkness of the night, in a way Tony Iommi himself would have wanted it to be. There you have it. Almost four minutes top-notch classic rock. This is a real must for every devoted rocker out there. What more can you ask for? Full score, as far as I’m concerned. (10/10- Toine van Poorten)
IAN TOOMEY- Renegade Soul (independent)
IAN TOOMEY is known for his outrageous guitar licks in BITCHES SIN and FLASHPOINT. Recently, he released a couple of CD singles and this two tracker is the third in line. Many questions may occur even before putting this CD in your stereo. Questions like: Is BITCHES SIN still alive? Or why not release this single under the name BITCHES SIN, while the whole band plays on these two tracks. I think, that these questions will be answered in the near future for sure. This is the here and now and I’m very glad to hear the wonderful notes coming out of the guitar of Mr. Toomey again. As mentioned before, the band behind Ian consists of his BITCHES SIN mates Steve ‘Stixslayer’ Turton on drums, The Dark Lord on bass (was he in the Lord Of The Rings trilogy cast as well? His name predicts that he was), David A. Mills on vocals and Chris Tsangarides (MORE 2012) on guitar. Two songs, which are worthy of almost nine minutes of melodic hard rock, are about to enter your head and they will probably cling to your mind right away. Both songs have been written in the late eighties and hold the spirit and the musical heritage of that blooming time. They were originally written for Ian’s solo band FLASHPOINT, but they were sadly enough never released, until now. The first track is called “Renegade Soul”, which opens with the big drum sound by Steve, destroying another stick or two. The soulful voice of David tells you the story. This is indeed some marvelous FLASHPOINT material released under the moniker of IAN TOOMEY. It sounds darker and probably a bit more intense. The guitar solo sounds truly awesome and goosebumps appear, when it continues to cry. It sounds like a spark of light in the dark night to me. Later on in the song there is another guitar solo, which leads this FLASHPOINT classic, in its reworked version, to an ending. My mind goes out to the mighty ZEP, who also recorded some of these mysterious sounding dark songs, including a steady beat, harsh soulful vocals and some breathtaking guitar work. The song closes with a surprisingly big bang at the very end. Ian always goes for the unexpected. The second track, called “Above The Noise”, derives from the same FLASHPOINT days and it’s a bit more up tempo. The guitar solo sounds absolutely mind-blowing and remembers me of the crazy moves by former OZZYOSBOURNE and now NIGHTRANGER guitarist Brad Gillis. A dazzling start, being followed by some tremolo craziness (or something like that) ending up with some of the fastest finger moves you’ve ever heard, slowly working to a climax and ending with a last fade out solo spot. To me, this sounds like some of the best melodic rock there is and I’m glad that these two diamonds in the rough have finally seen the light of day. Two final remarks towards this release. On the CD version of this single there’s a statement that says: ‘Your Dreams Are There To Be Told’. I guess, that these two unreleased songs are the dreams, that finally have been told now. At least that’s my idea about this statement. If you look very carefully on the inside cover of the CD, you will see the picture of an old ‘ghost house’. Well, at least that’s what it looks like. The meaning of this dark picture is still a mystery to me. Maybe the answer will appear in one of my dreams in the near future. Back to reality now and until then, I’d better push the ‘repeat’ button again and have another listen to this nice release. The single is available at CD Baby.com, Amazon.com and iTunes. Do yourself a favor and give it a go, you won’t believe your ears. Website: http://www.iantoomey.com. (10/10- Toine van Poorten)
TRIARCHY- Live To Fight Again (High Roller Records)
How nice to finally get the opportunity to check out bands, that you only knew by name before record companies like High Roller existed. Here and there, you know the band from a demo or a song on a compilation album, but this time you can check out ten songs from the band TRIARCHY for example. And if you don’t have a clue, you will hear how much variation there really is between all those NWOBHM bands. TRIARCHY is a more hard rock based outfit, including some keyboards. They grab back to the seventies. “Hiroshima” is already a good opener, which becomes musically very interesting at the end of the song. Now “Metal Messiah” sounds like a great title… It has a good pumping rhythm and the presence of that keyboard sound gives it all a bit of a seventies twist. Next on is “Hellhound On My Trail”. Never knew this particular song is a cover of Robert Johnson, originally recorded in the thirties already. Then you start to listen to it with different ears. And you wonder, if they might have hidden more blues influences in their music. And bingo: it’s there in the next song already. Just wait for the guitar solo in “Sweet Alcohol”. If that doesn’t sound like swampy blues guitar notes, then I’ll eat my hat (with salt and pepper and a nice hot sauce over it!). “Before Your Very Eyes” is the title of a compilation CD, that the band released in 1995 on Vinyl Tap records. Another company, that sometimes releases some very interesting stuff by the lesser well-known NWOBHM bands. The drums sound very computerized and static. However, even in this particular style of music, there’s a lot of variation. To me (and I’m sorry to say so), this is the kind of odd one out here. “Save The Khan” opens side B, taken off the band’s first seven incher and limited edition picture sleeve. It sounds slightly commercial and almost invites you to sing along to the chorus. How different comparing to the flipside of the same seven incher, called “Juliet’s Tomb”, that sounds much more progressive and even leaves room for a keyboard part in the middle. Great music! Just wait for the guitar solo and dream away to the late seventies/early eighties, when bands weren’t punished for playing a long and decent guitar solo. Which is ‘not done’ anymore in 2010, according to music reviewers of the new millennium. “Wheel Of Samsara” opens with keyboards. It reminds me of “Heroes, Saints And Fools” by SARACEN and has that same progressive feel, that wanders around on the album. “Ghost Of An Emotion” being another good example here. In contrary to LP closer “Rockchild”, which is (like the title already suggests) a fast rock song. TRIARCHY shows many different faces on this album, that comes in a gatefold sleeve, including many b/w pictures and all the lyrics. Surprisingly enough, my copy came on transparent vinyl. The band consists of Mike Wheeler on vocals, keyboards and bass, Graham Legg on guitars, Brian Galibrardy on guitars and Mark Newbold on drums.
(7,8/10- Toine van Poorten)
TYGERS OF PAN TANG- Leg Of The Boot-Live In Holland
TYGERS OF PAN TANG are another legendary band from the NWOBHM scene. Their first album is a real classic. And the band still exists after many, many years of struggling against death, black, gothic and nu-metal. But only the strong survive, and a tiger is a strong animal. Not every album of the Tygers is a classic though, but almost every album captures some great songs, that became metal anthems in my dictionairy. This live album was recorded in Holland and what we hear here is a good mix of old and new stuff. And I must say, that I like this live album better than the previous one “Live In The Roar”. Maybe because it contains much more old stuff, and it rocks a bit louder than the previous one. Robb Weir is the remaining band member, the one who keeps this legendary pussy alive. As long as there is a Robb Weir, the tiger will roar. The album contains sixteen tracks, of which thirteen are recorded live. The bonus tracks are studio versions of “Highspeed Highway Superman”, “Slave To Freedom” and “Don’t Touch Me There”. Besides Robb, the band consists of Craig Ellis on drums, Dean Robertson on guitar, Brian West on bass and Richie Wicks on vocals. The dynamic show makes us realise these Tygers ain’t dead yet and if they keep on playing like this, they will not be forgotten by all their fans. For more information about this band, you can have a look at their website at www.tygersofpantang.co.uk.
(8,5/10- Toine van Poorten)
TYRANT- Days At The Farm – The TYRANT Anthology
(Steel Legacy Records)
TYRANT was one of the very few epic power metal bands from the NWOBHM scene. While a lot of bands were singing about castles, knights, swords and dragons, almost none of the hundreds of NWOBHM bands burned their hands on this particular music style. TYRANT is the exception to this rule. And the Greek Street Legacy Records has compiled nine songs of this fantastic epic power metal band on LP now. An LP, that opens with the B-side of their only single “Hold Back The Lightning”, which is called “Eyes Of A Stranger”. The A-side is on next, which starts with a riff, that is really perfect. When a song starts like this, you know that the rest of the song will be brilliant as well. It’s a typical eighties metal riff. The vocalist of TYRANT, Mark Kelser, sounds a bit like Dee ‘F*cking’ Snider sometimes, especially in the higher, more screaming parts. “Take It To The Dragon” is a slow power ballad. Touches of IRON MAIDEN can be heard in the guitarsound of “Captured”. On the B-side of this album, we find back three other songs, and the album closes with a live recording of “Lost And Lonely”. “Clash of The Titans” has a more SAVATAGE like sound, in my opinion. The fact, that these recordings show up more than twenty years after they were originally recorded, are a blessing to all the metal fans of course. Showing that there was much more talent around than we knew of. And TYRANT was one of these talented bands in the scene, that never really had a major breakthrough. Mark auditioned to become the new singer of ACCEPT. And when both guitarplayers Jim Merritt and Gary Atkins left the band, to go into another musical direction, there was no other option than disbanding the band completely. They tried to continue with Danny Gwlym (CHINATOWN) and Phil Vokins (WRATCHILD), but this didn’t succeed either. The musical legacy remains though, and it is documented in nine tracks on this album. A good overview of what this rare epic power metal band from the NWOBHM scene was all about, and a ‘must have’ for all the NWOBHM fans out there!
(8/10- Toine van Poorten)
VENOM- Metal Black (Sanctuary Records)
Every time VENOM returns, they sound like a copy of themselves or it is even more spectacular than ever before. No, I don’t think they will ever reach the heights of “Welcome To Hell” or “Black Metal” again, but man did I have a good time listening to the “Metal Black” album. Fourteen new songs with a total length of a full hour will rock your world again. The first notes of “Antichrist” hit the target right away. And they repeat that with a song, called “House Of Pain”. Actually, they might repeat the song title too much in a way, but there is such an immense power unleashed in this song, that you simply need to like it, if you want to or not. In “Death & Dying”, they gain speed, and you can feel the pounding drum sound beating around in your stomach. Yes, this is the come-back of VENOM and it all sounds like magic again. It’s the powerful, thundering bass sound, and the ultimate pounding drum sound, that makes me to fully enjoy these songs. “Darkest Realm” is a good example here. Together with the growling vocal sound of Cronos, it just sounds like in the early days. In fact, I even didn’t find any weak songs at all. Some are stronger than the others, but they all capture this well-known VENOM power, and sound like they’ve never been away from the scene. The first line up, the first album and they received the cult status. This album is not far away from this status though, because it really pulls out the best material of the band in years.
(9/10- Toine van Poorten)
WARRIOR- Warrior (Obscure NWOBHM releases)
I believe, there were four bands called WARRIOR in the history of NWOBHM. This three piece came from Essex and released one ten incher. From there on, they slowly disappeared from the scene, at least that’s what we have to believe, because nobody ever wrote a word about this band. They seemed to have played several remarkable good shows in their neighbourhood, and when I have a good listen to the recordings on this CD, they really had the talent of a good hard rock band. I hear a lot of RORY GALLAGHER on CD opener “Don’t Let it Show”, which originally appeared on the aforementioned ten incher. People, who know me, will also know that I am a devoted fan of this Irish blues rock guitar player. So I really like all the stuff that is presented here on this silver disc. Thirteen tracks in total with a running time of about fifty minutes. Although the name of the band may suggest, you’re dealing with some blood thirsty knights, dressed in their best armor suit, you’re dealing with some hard working hardrockers, who have their musical heart at the right place. You may doubt about the metal level of this release maybe, but the musical level is far above average for every diehard NWOBHM adept out there. The last song is a cover of the BEATLES classic “Eleanor Rigby”. More information about this great band can be obtained from the web page from the vocalist, guitarplayer of the band at: http:// www.roymette.co.uk.
(8/10- Toine van Poorten)
WHITE SPIRIT- White Spirit (Neat Records)
WHITE SPIRIT’s self-titled debut album is certainly one of the highlights of the NWOBHM days. It had a sound that you would not find back on other albums, which will remind you of bands like MAGNUM, DEEP PURPLE, early RAINBOW and URIAH HEEP. The use of keyboards made their remarkable sound very different than all the other NWOBHM bands at that time. Another interesting thing about WITE SPIRIT is the fact that ‘prima donna’ Janick Gers (his father originated from Poland) is part of the line up of the band. Already in his WHITE SPIRIT days he was a wild animal, and in his GILLAN days he was constantly climbing his stack of amplifiers and showing off with his guitar. Now, people find this behaviour rather disturbing, maybe because he’s part of metal dinosaurs IRON MAIDEN. But hey, it’s the man’s trademark for ages and he’s just a gifted guitarplayer, who can play guitar under all circumstances. What we have here is a great collection of WHITE SPIRIT classics. The first CD is the original album, seven songs, with a running time of forty minutes. However, the second disc is a fifty-five minutes bonus CD, which contains demo material, that is slightly different from the original recordings on the debut album. And there are some songs that were taken from compilation albums like “Red Skies” (taken from the “Muthas Pride” sampler), and flipsides of singles like “Suffragettes” and “Cheetah”, that became real collectors items over the years. Gers continues his career with GILLAN for several years, and he recorded the “Magic” album with the DEEP PURPLE singer. But before he left the band, they recorded a second album that was actually never released. What a shame! The Mark II line up of WHITE SPIRIT consists of Mick Tucker on lead guitar, Toby Sadler on bass, Malcolm Pearson on keyboards, Graemme Crallan on drums and Bruce Howe on vocals (who joined one of the later reincarnations of BAD COMPANY). Unfortunately, this band never relased anything other than some renditions for compilation albums like “60 Minutes Plus” and “All Hell Let Loose”. A great compilation, which captures the original sound of a remarkable band, on two silver discs.
(8,5/10- Toine van Poorten)
WITCHFINDER GENERAL- Live '83 (Buried By Time And Dust Records)
It’s an art to create a good sludgy doom sound. Not too many bands have got the power, combined with the ultraslow massiveness of the dry riffs and long guitarsolos. The bulldozer bass has to move your stomach up to your neck. And it must sound like the band is about to fall asleep, because they really can’t play any slower. A few bands are really good in this art, and I am thinking about CANDLEMASS, BLACK SABBATH, PENTAGRAM and the old CATHEDRAL here. What we hear here is the only live gig, that WITCHFINDER GENERAL has ever played. Okay, there was one second gig, and some recordings of this black mass are on here as well. But WITCHFINDER GENERAL was, next to PAGAN ALTAR, one of the very few NWOBHM bands, who knew to create such an exciting doom sound. The live CD that we review here was recorded in 1983. Purists say, that the NWOBHM movement was over at that time, but if I listen to these twelve songs, I know for sure that this is NWOBHM as pure as it can get. The sound quality may not be a hundred percent perfect, but I think that none of the existing WITCHFINDER GENRAL fans will mourn about this minor detail. The music is so pure, that it will make up for that pretty easily. The set list provides you with about 66.6 minutes of the best doom metal available. “Burning A Sinner”, “Witchfinder General”, “Requiem For Youth”, “Friends Of Hell”, “Death Penalty”, “Quietus” and “Love On Smack”, it’s all there and it sounds ultraheavy. The only classic, you might miss here is “Rabies”, but you don’t hear me complain. The gig is absolutely fabulous, including a drumsolo (in “Last Chance”) and a guitarsolo (in “Quietus”). And it really sounds like you would expect from this doomsters from the West Midlands. A good copy of very early SABBATH material, but with a much higher cult value instead. There have been many rumours going on about a reformation of these cult legends, but I think that every fan should be glad with the release of “Live ‘83” instead. I am sure I’m gonna give it another turn or two now.
(10/10- Toine van Poorten)
WITCHFYNDE-Give ‘Em Hell (Cherry Red Records)
This re-release brings back good memories to one of the bands, that is still keeping the NWOBHM spirit alive. And to be honest with you, I can’t say that about all the reunions. “Give ‘Em Hell” is a true classic, and it captures the best moments of a band, that didn’t only become immortal by writing the title track of this album, but who also settled themselves between the other bands in the scene. They gathered a lot of fans because of their dark image and their occult lyrics. From opener “Ready To Roll” on, it all sounds magic to me. Highlights are opener “Ready To Roll”, “Leaving Nadir”, of course title track “Give ‘Em Hell” and I also would like to mention “Unto The Ages Of Ages”, mainly because the band name WITCHFYNDE is chanted many times in this epic song. WITCHFYNDE has a sound that mixes RUSH with BLACK SABBATH. Great musical skills with dark, maybe even black metal like lyrics. On this re-release we even find three bonus tracks, which sets the total amount of songs to ten and the total running time to forty-five minutes. First on, there is a short joke, called “The Devil’s Gallop”. But with “Tetelestai” we hear a real WITCHFYNDE classic, that never made it on one of their albums, but really had the magic of every WITCHFYNDE song. The third bonus track is “Wake up Screaming”, which is also on the “Stagefright” re-release. The combination of the great songs and the cult front cover makes this to a real NWOBHM classic, that every devoted metalhead must have in his (or her) collection. Let WITCHFYNDE give you hell with this mighty fine re-release!
(9,5/10- Toine van Poorten)
WITCHFYNDE-Stage Fright (Cherry Red Records)
Seeing the band on stage several times, I can assure you that they don’t have stage fright anymore. Their shows are excellent, made up with great musicianship and the right dose of mystery and darkness. Opener “Stage Fright” on this re-release is one of my favorite songs of WITCHFYNDE and it acts as opener of their live shows as well. Again we can hear that this band is a group of well-gifted musicians, who easily switch from a dark, doomy opener to a ballad-like “Doing The Right Thing”. Their songs cover a wide range of styles, mainly focussed on the metal stuff, with a dark underground. Just listen to the guitar work in the aformentioned ballad to get the idea. Another great example of the sound of WITCHFYNDE would be the song “Wake Up Screaming”, which followes after the rocking “Would Not Be Seen Dead In Heaven”. “Wake Up Screaming” contains a touch of darkness, metal riffs and a heavy doomy sound. After hearing this, do you dare to go to bed, without peaking under it first, before you go to sleep? I bet that children will have nightmares after hearing the icely screams of Steve Bridges. The spooky ending of this song, will make your stereo set collapse. And after that, there is a sudden change again to a lighter track, called “Big Deal”. “Moon Magic” is also on the setlist many times. I remember that “In The Stars” was the single taken from this album, with “Wake Up Screaming” on the B-side. It might sound a little more catchy than the average WITCHFYNDE song, but there are some elements here, which made it to the perfect choice to becoming the single. The CD, that runs for about forty minutes, closes with “Trick Or Treat” and “Madeleine”. Whereas the first one opens with some serious guitar wizard, madness of Montalo, “Madeleine” is a love song, you won’t expect from WITCHFYNDE. To be really honest with you, it’s a beautiful song, but not if you make a link to WITCHFYNDE, but that’s my own opinion. “Stagefright” is another great re-release, completed with a lyrics sheet, some nice pics and interesting liner notes. After hearing these old recordings again, I can’t wait to hear the new material of the band. I hope, they have the same magic as these nine rough diamonds.
(8,5/10- Toine van Poorten)
WITCHFYNDE-Play It To Death (Witchfynde Music)
The first Randy Rhoads-like riffs on this new WITCHFYNDE album make my flesh crawl. The song will exorcize you and take you to the deepest dark wells, where the members of WITCHFYNDE like to dwell. It’s there, where they play their songs to death, I guess. All the more reason to give this opener the very suitable title “Play It To Death”. The small breaks in the song slowly build up the tension. Not that it’s necessary, but it gives it an even more occult and dark feeling. The part, where the speed goes up, is reminiscent for the old WITCHFYNDE sound. Although nobody would expect it, the band decides to put it there. While the dark voice of Harry Harrison matches well with the dark sound of the band in “Holy Ground”. The spooky vocals at the beginning of “Elements” are also very surprising for the uptempo pace, that the band sets in this song. “Sticks And Stones” opens like a regular rock song, but like I predicted, you can wait for the surprise here. The dark mid piece, where Harry is in the spotlights is followed by a very exciting instrumental part. And so the song turns into a rather strange and dark sounding kind of rock song. Gra Scoresby plays the drums of doom in the beginning of “The Darkest Places”, a title that fits very well to the overall sound of WITCHFYNDE. The use of ‘children playing games’ sounds make this song even more horror-like, than it already was meant to be. Especially when the ultrablack voice of Harry comes over it. “Life’s A Killer” is another highlight to me. A real uptempo rock song with some great riffs by Montalo. And because of the great guitar solo in the middle, it easily becomes one of the best songs on the album for me. “Three Wise Monkeys” is fast and it’s about the ‘hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil’ wisdom. While “Shame The Devil” is a tribute to a higher God. Some of us will know him as ROBIN TROWER. Shame on you, if you don’t know him (if that’s possible). I think, the man can be proud of a tribute like this, because it’s nearly inconceivable that a dark NWOBHM outfit like WITCHFYNDE would chose a cover like this to record on one of their album. If I listen very careful to the first chords of “Love Like Sin”, I can’t help it that my thoughts go out to the older QUEENSRYCHE material. Simply because of the vocals of Harry, which show a lot of resemblance to the voice of Geoff Tate, when he would be singing a ballad like this. And yet, there is another innovative speed change at the end of this song, where Montalo pulls the strings again to show us that he’s still around. For the last song on this great album, we grab back to the year 1966 (when this was released as a single). “Paint It Black” by the ROLLING STONES is covered in a way, that only WITCHFYNDE ought to do it. I must admit, that the very first time that I heard this song on the MySpace site of the band, I thought it wasn’t really a good version. Now after a few more turns, it has become one of my favorite songs on this album. The CD cover is excellent and the music even better. Enough said, I’d better give it another turn and probably “Play It To Death”! Website: http://www.witchfynde.net.
(9/10- Toine van Poorten)