Soldier, Spartan Warrior, Buffalo, Sacrilege, Quartz, Chariot, Troyen, Battleaxe, Tygers Of Pan Tang, Dealer, Praying Mantis, Grim Reaper, Snatch-Back, Salem, Demon, Saracen, The Deep, Mythra, Blitzkrieg, Paralex, Raven, Iron Maiden, Sparta, Chaser, Seventh Son, Girlschool, Saxon (both incarnations), Venom (both INCarnations), Cloven Hoof, Avenger, Satan, Tytan, Fist, Hollow Ground, Samurai, Diamond Head, Millenium, Bitches Sin, Hell, Satan’s Empire, Sister Rose, Chateaux, Tysondog, Angel Witch, Geddes Axe, Trespass, High Treason, Rock Goddess, Tokyo Blade, Black Rose, Persian Risk, Oxym, Jaguar….
No, I’m not trying to see how many NWOBHM bands I can name. These are bands that this year (2016) will have released a new album, or, at the very least, are gigging in the UK and beyond. An impressive list that is far from complete and that might surprise many Metal fans, especially those living beyond the British countries. Until about a decade ago few would have predicted such a manifest resurgence of the bands that collectively defined an era and influenced the course of Metal history. While all these bands will forever be linked with the NWOBHM, all seem to have adapted to the traits of our contemporary scene while, from what I have seen and heard, delivering their goods with the same glimmer of passion as yesteryear.
Of course this is not to say that nothing ever existed apart from the NWOBHM bands. Quite the contrary. Fresh blood always kept the scene relevant and contemporary. During the last decade the British countries served as breeding grounds for bands plying their art in a myriad of genres and cross-genres. Synaptik, Gabriel and Aeon Zen kept the flag of Prog Metal flying high, Thrash aficionados turned to bands such as Divine Chaos, Nightlord and Black Talon. With regards to Doom Metal, in all its variegated styles, Serpent Venom, Sumer and Iron Void are but a few of the genre’s English bands that nowadays attract a loyal and passionate following.
Going back to the NWOBHM…there are also younger bands such as Ascalon, Seven Sisters and Amulet who openly attempt to rekindle the spirit and music of their idols from the early 1980s. You also have members of now-defunct NWOBHM bands making a name for themselves with other bands. For instance ex-Elixir Paul Taylor now sings with Desolation Angels, guitarist Craig McDonald of defunct NWOBHM band Sinner today plays with The Clan and Dervish drummer Neil Turnbull is currently hitting the skins with Sacrilege. Old guard and new are adding fuel to the fire. Even ex-Iron Maiden/ex-Praying Mantis guitarist Dennis Stratton is preparing to enter a recording studio for the first time in many years: with Lionheart, yet another resurrected band from the British scene.
Before any of you readers start protesting any omission, I’m aware I’ve probably omitted several names but that’s beyond the point. What I’m really trying to illustrate here is that, against the dominant negative outlook of a decade or more ago, Metal in the British countries is alive and kicking.
And, to drive this point home, below are 3 gigs I recently attended where 3 English bands with obvious NWOBHM affiliations each launched a brand new album……
GRIM REAPER “Walking in The Shadows”
On the 23rd September, Grim Reaper celebrated their new studio album through a live performance at London’s ‘Underworld’. Band vocalist Steve Grimmet sang in some great albums in the past but his appearances on the scene, live or otherwise, had been rather sparse for a number of years. Doubtlessly a Grim Reaper set was on the bucket-list of many, including of yours truly, and the audience’s enthusiasm was a testament to this. Giving a thrillingly-tight performance, Grim Reaper revisited a few classic numbers, besides obviously showcasing songs from new album “Walking In The Shadows”. With Grimmet were guitarist Ian Nash (whose collaborations with Grimmett go back to the days of Lionsheart), bassist Martin Trail (who also plays with Fury) and on the drums was Paul White (whose previous musical activities included a brief stint with Blitzkrieg).
Supporting Grim Reaper were Neuronspoiler and The Darker My Horizon. Both were great in their own way. Neuronspoiler, a London-based band, play a genre that hovers between Power Metal and Thrash. Their set had a high-octane, in-your-face brashness to it and I quite enjoyed their music. The Darker My Horizon were rooted in the Classic Rock genre and they too gave a good performance.
SEVEN SISTERS “Seven Sisters”
Two weeks later, Seven Sisters launched their self-titled album at the diminutive ‘Devonshire Arms’ (or ‘The Dev’ as it is more affectionately known). Although this was their debut album, the Londoners had already built a loyal following thanks to an earlier demo and a series of performances across the country and in Germany. Perhaps their stage-act could be more polished but the quintet has some good material and a corresponding zeal to deliver it. After a couple of older songs the band proceeded to perform their debut album from start to end.
Portsmouth-based Sahara Snow opened that evening with an entertaining set consisting of catchy mid-paced Metal tunes which were ok really, even if not yet whiplash-inducing stuff.
TYGERS OF PAN TANG “Tygers Of Pan Tang”
I had seen the Tygers Of Pan Tang a few times before but when they launched their new eponymous album at London’s ‘Black Heart’ on the 24th of October, the band really felt invigorated and invigorating. The venue allowed for an intimate band/crowd rapport and was packed with enthusiastic fans. The Tygers delivered some numbers from their back catalogue, numbers such as ‘Only The Brave’, ‘Hellbound’ and ‘Devil You Know’. But the songs from this new album fit it very well with the band’s classic repertoire and perhaps that was exactly what the band was trying to say.
Main support came from Toledo Steel – this was their first gig in many years and although I missed out on the band until now, I must say I really enjoyed what I heard and saw. Toledo Steel play a technically competent traditional Metal that often veers close to Thrash.
The evening had started off in the most suitable way possible via a brief set from Seven Sisters. Yes, them again! Of course this was another opportunity for the band to showcase their new album, one which the Londoners undertook with much gusto.
When announcing their return to the fold, Nottingham-based Paralex recently declared: “It’s official, Paralex are out of hibernation.” Now just replace the band name in that phrase with one from a long list of NWOBHM bands.