Jaguar – Power Games (1983)
Charging head-first into speed metal territory, Jaguar‘s debut album is another example of NWOBHM bands establishing a new order and influencing the thrash revolution which was unknowingly around the corner.
Howling feedback, distorted riffs and head-down blasting was the order of the day and Power Games shreds just as hard as any of thrash’s first wave of releases. “Prisoner”, “Coldheart” and “Dutch Connection” are pure aggression and things only settle down when Jaguar attempt an ill-advised power-ballad in the shape of “Master Game”.
Any fans of Accept, Exciter and Motörhead‘s early 80’s material will get a kick out of Power Games and overall Jaguar‘s debut is an astonishingly aggressive piece of NWOBHM history which deserves to be held in much higher regard.
Satan – Court In The Act (1983)
In the days when bands were able to construct songs with melody, crunch, intensity and originality, Satan‘s debut, Court In the Act, stands out as a high-water mark and a NWOBHM album that can rival Iron Maiden‘s debut for speed, attitude and technical prowess.
At it’s core, Court In The Act rattles along at a furious pace courtesy of Steve Ramsey’s chaotic and endlessly inventive riffs and an assured performance by vocalist Brian Ross; never strained but capable of unleashing demonic screams amidst ingenious vocal hooks.
The highly influential proto-thrash conjured by these Geordie mavericks is as thrilling today as it was nearly 4 decades ago. In fact, it’s not just thrash that Court In The Act predates; speed metal and power metal both owe this album a monumental debt of gratitude and fans of early Helloween and Blind Guardian will be experiencing a severe case of deja vu.
Just remember, Satan were first!
Savage – Loose n’ Lethal (1983)
As soon as first track “Let It Loose” kicks you hard in the danglies, Loose N’ Lethal‘s purist speed/thrash credentials are authenticated; this album should have been as big as Metallica’s Kill ‘Em All, it’s that good and frankly it’s that similar.
There is no doubt that the likes of Exodus, Metallica and Metal Church were taking extensive notes when Loose N’ Lethal‘s buzzsaw guitars, palm-muted chugging and vicious way with melody galvanised the scene. Make no mistake, all the early-era thrash bands borrowed extensively from the 8 white-hot tracks found here and Loose N’ Lethal should be held in higher esteem for this reason alone.
The vocals are strong, the solo’s are varied and intricate and the riffs hit hard. In all fairness, Savage were an extremely talented band who should have found themselves nestled alongside the big guns of the genre because in 1983 few bands were performing metal this fast, this thrilling and this….SAVAGE!
Loose N’ Lethal is a bone-fide classic….and you should add it to your collection quick-fuckin’-smart!
Diamond Head – Canterbury (1983)
Diamond Head loved to experiment and their progression from Lightning To The Nations revolutionary raw noise, to the commercialised rock monster of Borrowed Time indicated they were never going to be a band to rest on their laurels.
When the time came to release their 3rd opus, Canterbury, Diamond Head fans could be forgiven for expecting more of the mainstream metal found on Borrowed Time but they were in for another shock.
Diamond Head had decided another change in tact would serve them well and although Canterbury is undeniably accomplished, fiercely intelligent and utterly fearless it unfortunately sent their career careening downhill fast.
So, what went wrong?
Perhaps NWOBHM fans weren’t ready for Freddie Mercury-esque, piano-driven odes to Tudor life (the title track), perhaps they balked at the middle-eastern tinged melodic AOR of “Ishmael” and the Led Zeppelin-isms of “The Kingmaker”, perhaps Diamond Head were simply too desperate to prove their worth and altered their sound too often without first establishing a loyal fan-base.
Whatever the reason for this album not being a massive success it’s high time NWOBHM fans gave it’s undeniable riches another chance to shine; forget the naysayers and give this underrated British classic another spin.
Tysondog – Crimes Of Insanity (1986)
Thrash metal was in full swing in 1986 and while the UK had a few bands attempting to keep up with their American cousins (Onslaught, mainly) one band in particular had all the necessary ingredients to make the leap from NWOBHM also-rans to UK thrash giants; and that band was Tysondog.
Effortlessly bridging the gap between the NWOBHM and British thrash metal, Crimes Of Insanity was a fast-paced thrill-ride through 10 tracks of glorious heavy fuckin’ metal. “Don’t Let The Bastards Grind You Down” was a quintessential anthem and “Blood Money” recalled the likes of early Overkill and Flotsam and Jetsam, blending furious riffs and galloping pace with choruses so catchy your immune system will surrender on the spot. Even Tysondog‘s decidedly risky cover of the Alice Cooper classic, “School’s Out”, paid dividends; the amped-up, added pace adding grit to an already classic tune.
Crimes Of Insanity should have elevated Tysondog to next level contenders but it wasn’t to be. Get ready for the bad pun….the only insane crime committed here is that Crimes Of Insanity wasn’t a massive success!
A tip of the hat to the following: Chateaux – Firepower/ Legend – Death In The Nursery / Gaskin – No Way Out / Elixir – Son of Odin / Hammer – Contract With Hell….and so many more!