Monday, August 7, 2017

Монумент Страха - "Весна" [1991]

Artist: Монумент Страха
Title: Весна
Genre: Post-Punk, Industrial Rock
Country: USSR
Release date: 1991

Track List:
  1. Ещё Есть Время
  2. Новогодняя Песня
  3. Jazz Как Ты
  4. Ино-о
  5. Я Скучаю
  6. О Дитя, Спи Спокойно
  7. Весна
  8. Эпилог
Here's a quite curious discovery I made just yesterday. I've never heard of this band before, but their sound is surprisingly close to that of the much better known industrial rock and no-wave bands of the 80s, to the point of being hard to believe it was recorded in Saint Petersburg (which was still called Leningrad back then).

According to Discogs, it was "recorded in February 1991 by Andrei 'Teacher' Nikolaev at Y.K.Home, Saint Petersburg. Edition of 30 copies". Apparently there were at least two more band members, one of which played such unconventional instruments as an electric saw and various metal objects. The end result is slow and repetitive post-punk/noise rock with distorted vocals. There's at least one more release from them, recorded in 1989-90, which I definitely will search for.

Мёртвые Уши - "Большое железо" [1978]

Artist: Мёртвые Уши
Title: Большое железо
Genre: Garage Rock, Proto-Punk
Country: USSR
Release date: 1978

Track List:
  1. Интро
  2. Амазонка
  3. Ковбой
  4. Дикий Jazz & Rock-n-Roll
  5. Solo 1
  6. Большое путешествие (фрагмент)
  7. Solo 2
  8. Большое путешествие
  9. Приезжайте к нам
  10. В дебрях
  11. Политинформация
  12. Верхом на осле
  13. Deutsches Lied
  14. Песня о неврастенике
  15. Дитя в раздумье
  16. Песня против нейтронной бомбы
  17. Бешеная овца
  18. Баллада о старом Джоне
  19. С одесского кичмана...
  20. Песня о пионерском галстуке
  21. Экспромт
  22. Всё!
Yes, that's a school band that would later (around 1981) become Облачный Край. It was recorded by S.Bogaev, O.Rautkin and the Lyskovski brothers when they all were in their teens. The only instruments they had back then were an acoustic guitar, a homemade 3-string bass, and a toy keyboard called "Mickey" (not counting various so-called "percussion" such as saucers and garbage cans). Strangely enough, the end result turned out to be much more listenable that you'd expect (at least listening to it isn't going to cause ear death, contrary to what the band's name would suggest). However, these tracks were never properly released until 2009, when this album (more like a collection of rehearsal demos) was included in the band's anthology.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Цыганята И Я С Ильича - "Гаубицы Лейтенанта Гурубы" [1989]

Artist: Цыганята И Я С Ильича
Title: Гаубицы Лейтенанта Гурубы
Genre: Noise Rock
Country: USSR
Release date: 1989

Track List:
  1. Гаубицы Лейтенанта Гурубы
  2. На Блаженном Острове Коммунизма
  3. Митрополит Ипполит
  4. Парики, Шиньоны, Косы
  5. Не Трожь!
  6. Импровизация На Тему Слов
  7. Песня Гвоздя
  8. Опоздавшая Молодёжь
  9. Хожу, Хожу
  10. Спать
  11. Русские
  12. Новый Год
  13. Ева, Адам
  14. Быстротечные Синьоры
  15. Письмо
  16. Гусар И Верка Зозуля
  17. Непобедимый
  18. На Острове Пасхи
  19. Кума
  20. Урбанизм-Детерминизм
  21. От Реальной Жизни К Мелодичному Мышлению
  22. Стачка Шахтеров В Кузбассе
This is a "supergroup" formed by some of the biggest figures in the Siberian punk scene (namely Egor Letov, Oleg "Manager" Sudakov and Konstantin "Kuzya UO" Ryabinin) in 1988. By that time, all kind of Russian rock already have broke into the mainstream, but Letov and his friends weren't happy about their sudden popularity at all. That was the main reason as to why their sound became more and more experimental by the end of 1980s, culminating in this project, which is considered by many people to be one of the first industrial rock bands in USSR/Russia.

They have recorded two albums in 1989 and 1990, the first of which has gained a cult status in the underground music circles. Well, here it is, and  it is definitely not the stuff for everyone. It's full of absurd lyrics sang in many different styles, from spoken word samples to aggressive schrieking, combined with the noisy wall of guitar sound. Truly something that only could be conceived and recorded in the atmosphere of late perestroika in the USSR. Not an easy listen for sure - but it wasn't intended to please the listener, after all.

БМ - "Конструкции Звуков" [1985]

Artist: БМ
Title: Конструкции Звуков
Genre: Minimal Electro, Synthpop, Experimental
Country: USSR
Release date: 1985 (2009 re-release)

Track List:
  1. В Машинный Мир
  2. Машинистка
  3. Постамент
  4. Деталь
  5. Завтра
  6. Автокоммутатор
  7. Звуковые Конструкции
БМ/BM was a moniker of Alexander Somov, the pioneer of Izhevsk electronic music scene (which was an unique cultural phenomenon, quite strong during the 1990s but unfortunately dead by now). He never received any sort of musical education, but it didn't stop him from recording 3 tape albums with the help of his friends at the discotheque he worked in. His traces were lost in the chaos of the post-Soviet 90s (there are rumors that he was murdered), but one of his tapes was unearthed and re-released on CD in 2009.

Musically, it strongly reminds me of some works by Kraftwerk, and I'd say that the title of this release is quite appropriate - it's indeed "sound design" or 'sound constructions" rather than music in the traditional meaning of this word. Of course you shouldn't expect much from a guy that was recording it at his home in 1985, using only two cheap tape recorders, yet it still is a very interesting artifact from the early days of Izhevsk scene.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

V/A - "Russische Hometapers (De Fabriek Records & Tapes)" [1985]

"Quite a curious compilation this one, released by De Fabriek on some trip to Russia in 1985. Not really indexed, so its hard to say who does what here..."
Yeah, that's the problem - it's very hard to say which parts of this (indeed very curious) tape were produced by Soviet experimental musicians, and which - by their Dutch colleagues. From what I could find on the net, those Soviet musicians seem to be S.L. Krutikov (an Ukrainian musician and avant-garde artist), G. Feigin (a well-known violinist now living in Tokyo) and A. Tselikovski (not much info on him). They porbably should be credited for all the samples of Soviet music and radio broadcasts, while the Dutch staff of De Fabriek is most likely responsible for the noise parts and the cut-up technique.

The material on this 40 minutes long tape is quite diverse, ranging from the samples of classical music and military marches (often very martial industrial-like) to the samples of radio & TV broadcasts in various languages, harsh noise, and minimal synth parts. The download link is available in a blog linked above (which is a great resourse for every fan of obscure early industrial music, I must say).

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Linija Mass - "1987" [2007]

Artist: Linija Mass
Title: 1987
Genre: Percussion Industrial, Noise
Country: Russia
Release date: 2007

Linija Mass is one of the earliest Soviet industrial/noise projects that already was mentioned on my blog several times. This 3'' CD, released in 2007 as a part of the Linija Mass boxset, contains two untitled tracks slightly less than 5 minutes in total length. If I understand correctly, these are the earliest known recordings by LM from 1987, which would make them one of the earliest examples of Soviet industrial, along with the early demos by StereoZoldat and ZGA. Just like all other releases by LM, this one consists mostly of percussion noise inspired mostly by the history and aesthetics of the Soviet industrialization era (1920-30s).

Alexander Lebedev-Frontov, the mastermind of LM, claims to become interested in such music as early as in 1973, when he bought a bootleg 7'' expecting to hear a new song by The Beatles, and getting several minutes of pure noise instead. Later on, he found out about the "musique concrete" movement and the Italian futurism, and started his own musical experiments in 1979. No recordings survived from these times, however.

Malhavoc - "The Release" [1990]

Artist: Malhavoc
Title: The Release
Genre: Thrash Metal, Industrial Metal
Country: Canada
Release date: 1990

Track List:
  1. Release
  2. S.C.E.X.
  3. Second Image
  4. Cruciform
  5. A Portrait Of (William Wilson)
  6. Age of Desire
  7. Released
  8. S.C.E.X. (XXX-Rated)
One of the earliest industrial metal bands, Malhavoc started in 1983 as a thrash metal project, but switched to more electronic/industrial kind of sound on their debut full-length album, named simply "The Release". Prior to that I've heard only their 1986 demo "Age of the Dark Renaissance" which I disliked, but this album is quite good (maybe not 100 points out of 100, as it was rated on, but still good).

Thunder Rider - "Tales of Darkness and Light" [1989]

Artist: Thunder Rider
Title: Tales of Darkness and Light
Genre: Epic Heavy Metal
Country: Canada
Release date: 1989

Track List:
  1. Death To Death
  2. Electric Chair
  3. Executioner
  4. For Christ's Sake
  5. Rain Dance
  6. Blackwing
  7. Galaxy
  8. Preacher
This is a fairly unique release from the late 80s' Canadian metal scene which I discovered thanks to the Vibrations of Doom archive of classic albums. A pretty detailed description of this album is given here, and I fully agree that it's quite strange to say the least. Most people indeed associate the term "epic heavy metal" with Manilla Road or Manowar -inspired stuff, but that's definitely not the case here. Perhaps the "atmospheric heavy metal" label would fit it much better, although I haven't seen it being used by anyone else. Anyway, it's a weird but great and undeservedly forgotten album. Enjoy!

Solar Eagle - s/t [1988]

Artist: Solar Eagle
Title: Solar Eagle
Genre: Heavy/Power Metal
Country: Canada
Release date: 1988

Track List:
  1. See
  2. Dimensional Charter
  3. Tree Of Snakes
  4. Lost Season
This very obscure Canadian band released only one 12'' EP and one more cassette demo in the late 1980s. Two of their members later went on to form a band called Candle Opera, which likewise didn't get much publicity. Pretty much everything else that's known about Solar Eagle (not very much) can be found on this page.

What can be said about this release? Simplistic but nice cover art with a pleasant color scheme, well played music in the typical 80s' USPM style. Recommended to everyone who's into obscure early speed/power metal:

Saturday, July 15, 2017

D.D.T. - "Let The Screw..." [1984]

Artist: D.D.T.
Title: Let The Screw...
Genre: Heavy Metal
Country: Canada (Quebec)
Release date: 1984

Track List:
  1. Let The Screw... (Turn You On!)
  2. Bitches
  3. Metal On Ashes
  4. Wasted
  5. Where Were You?
 ...No, it isn't the much better known Russian rock band with the same name. This D.D.T. was active in Canada during the 1980s, having released one EP and many more demos. Like in case with many other obscure 80s' metal releases, I found out about "Let the Screw..." via the Vibrations of Doom archive of classic albums, where it was uploaded with a comment about its strange title: "Let the screw... what?" (Turn you on, of course!) While it isn't some essential release, I still find it to be pretty good and would recommend it if you're interested in forgotten metal releases from the 80s.

Brainfever - "Capture the Night" [1984]

Artist: Brainfever
Title: Capture the Night
Genre: Heavy Metal
Country: Germany
Release date: 1984

Track List
  1. Into The Sky
  2. Hangman
  3. Danger In The Night
  4. Thunder And Lightning
  5. Dirty Streets
  6. Brainfever
  7. Capture The Night
  8. Midnight Train
  9. Tool For The Show
  10. Suicide
This album is my favourite among the now-forgotten releases from the 80s German metal scene, despite its rather poor quality of production (which was okay for its time, though). Not all songs on "Capture the Night" are equally good, yet it does contain some really awesome tracks, such as "Into the Sky", "Midnight Train", and the title track. What should be also noted is the outstanding vocal performance. While there's apparently something wrong with the anatomy of the person on the cover picture, this cover art reflects the overall atmosphere of the album very well.

The Hand Of Doom - "Poisonoise" [1979]

Artist: The Hand Of Doom
Title: Poisonoise
Genre: Heavy Metal, Hard Rock
Country: Germany
Release date: 1979

Track List:
  1. There Ain't No Running Away
  2. They Who'll Creep At Night
  3. Rock 'N' Roll Close To The End Of The World
  4. Heavy Mad Head
  5. Deadman's Dream
  6. The Meanest Man
  7. Doom Power
  8. Poisonoise
  9. The Hound
  10. The Lights Of The Blind
What to expect from a release with the name "The Hand of Doom - Poisonoise" on its cover? Doom metal? Noise? Not really, yet it's surprisingly heavy for the time it was released. A reviewer on compares this band to Deep Purple, Black Rose, Mercy and some obscure NWOBHM band, and it'd add Motorhead to this list. This very obscure album was first unearthed by the Vibrations of Doom zine, and later re-released by Shadow Kingdom records with a lot of bonus tracks:

"Who in the hell on Earth is THE HAND OF DOOM you ask? Sorry Doom Metal nuts, they're not Doom at all. BUT... good news, they're an incredible heavy band from Germany that originally had a limited press album from 1979. You might be surprised when I tell you they're really a Heavy Rock N' Roll Punk / (proto/early) Metal band, and very similar to the early bands that started the N.W.O.B.H.M. that combine early Punk Rock and fused it with Heavy Rock. I think this band will appeal to fans of (of course) 70's era MOTORHEAD, DISCHARGE, BRATS (pre-MERCYFUL FATE band), MC5, THE STOOGES, THE CLASH, SEX PISTOLS, SARCOFAGUS, ACCEPT, 70's era JUDAS PRIEST, DIAMOND HEAD, and all fans of the N.W.O.B.H.M..."

Flight Charm - "Waiting White Lady" [1988]

Artist: Flight Charm
Title: Waiting White Lady
Genre: Heavy Metal
Country: Italy
Release date: 1988

Track List:
  1. Hard Magic Rock
  2. Flight Charm
  3. Waiting White Lady
  4. Flash Light
  5. Nuclear Trap
Flight Charm were a very obscure heavy metal band from Venice formed in 1983 or 1984, and broke up in 1989. Here's the only info about them I could find:

"Formed in 1984 "Flight Charm" released a very good
demo tape(Magician's Nightmare)in 1987,a rare EP
(Waiting White Lady - for LM Records)followed in 1988
(this rare vinyl was bootlegged some years ago on cd together
with the albums by "Buster Brown" and "Rychus Syn" on the
'Hard'n'Heavy Rarities' vol. 11 " by Racer Records).

In 1989 took part to the "Surgery of The Power" compilation
with the song "Come Out of Your Shell",a new singer and
bass player joined the band,this new line up recorded the
songs for a full lenght album that stayed unreleased because
the label LM Records went bankrupt,Flight Charm did not find
another deal and disbanded while the mastermind Eros Mazzon
moved to London(UK)where he is still based pursuing his solo
career(he recorded several demos and released a cd entitled
"Headshrinker" in 2012)"

All their recordings are nearly impossible to find, except for this EP. While the last two songs on there are rather generic and forgettable, the first three ones are quite good, especially the title track:

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Destiny - "Atomic Winter" [1988]

Artist: Destiny
Title: Atomic Winter
Genre: Heavy/Thrash Metal
Country: Sweden
Release date: 1988

Track List:
  1. Bermuda
  2. Who Am I
  3. Spellbreaker
  4. Beware
  5. Religion
  6. The Extreme Unction
  7. Dark Heroes
  8. Living Dead
  9. Atomic Winter
This one is significantly heavier than the rest of Swedish metal releases from the 80s I've posted here so far, even with hints of early doom metal (especially in the title track) - but overall, it's still heavy/power/thrash metal. However, this album is pretty different from most other classic metal albums of the 80s, as there weren't many bands mixing all thesse genres in this exact proportion. As you could expect from the band of that era, the main lyrical theme of this album is the fear of a nuclear war, but they also touch a lot of fantasy/occult/mystery topics, as well as religion (or lack thereof). The band still exists up to this day, and Steven Cannon of Vibrations of Doom has made an interview with their bassist not so long ago.

Proud - "Fire Breaks The Dawn" [1984]

Artist: Proud
Title: Fire Breaks the Dawn
Genre: Melodic Heavy Metal
Country: Sweden
Release date: 1984

Track List:
  1. Star Fighter
  2. Echoes From the Past
  3. United World
  4. No Losers
  5. Fire Breaks the Dawn
  6. Dark Lady Forest
  7. Crucified
  8. Star of the Masquerade
Another fine example of a mid-80s Swedish melodic metal band that released only one very good LP (and a cople of demos) and then vanished. Compared to Universe, they're definitely heavier (but not too much), and their sound is unquestionably in the traditional heavy metal territory. Despite being released by a major label (EMI), this album is quite rare and unknown to the majority of metal fans nowadays, which is a pity. My personal favourites: "Star Fighter", "Dark Lady Forest", "Star Of The Masquerade", and the title track.

Universe - s/t [1985]

Artist: Universe
Title: Universe
Genre: Melodic Heavy Metal
Country: Sweden
Release date: 1985

Track List:
  1. Rollin' On
  2. Stories from the Old Days
  3. Weekend Warrior
  4. Lonely Child
  5. Looking for an Answer
  6. Angel
  7. Woman
  8. Strong Vibration
  9. Burning Machine
  10. Question of Time
"...Universe is about as 80's as you can get. Take the band logo that looks more like a company that makes blank VHS tapes, for instance"

A pretty fitting description for one of the best Swedish metal bands from the 80s... wait, is it really metal or just melodic hard rock? Well, they're definitely heavier than their much more famous compatriots, Europe, that the other reviewer on has compared them too. While not all tracks on this LP are equally great, the ones like "Rollin' On", "Looking for an Answer" and "Burning Machine" are extremely catchy, and the whole album can definitely be recommeded if you like that melodic post-NWOBHM sound.

Behemoth - "Deathwings" [1982]

Artist: Behemoth
Title: Deathwings
Genre: Heavy Metal
Country: Sweden
Release date: 1982

Track List:
  1. Deathwings
  2. Vengeance
...No, it isn't that commercial black metal band from Poland with most people associate the name "Behemoth" with. This band was formed in Sweden (Sundsvall) in 1982 and disbanded shortly thereafter, having released only a cassette demo and one 7'' single. They have reformed in 2009, but had to change their name to Deathwings for an obvious reason. Many sources list them as an NWOBHM band, but they aren't from Britain, even if their sound is indeed quite similar to many good but obscure NWOBHM bands that have released only one or two 7''s and then disappeared.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Marquis de Sade - "Somewhere up in the Mountains" [1981]

Artist: Marquis de Sade
Title: Somewhere Up In The Mountains
Country: UK
Release date: 1981

Track List:
  1. Somewhere Up In The Mountains
  2. Black Angel 
And finally, a true gem of the NWOBHM scene that, like many other obscure singles from that era, I've discovered via the Vibrations of Doom archive. Marquis de Sade, a band with awesome name featuring members of Angel Witch and Sanctus in their lineup, existed from 1979 to 1981 and never got much publicity, but managed to release one of my favourite melodic metal/hard rock 7''s.

AFAIK it was re-released in 2012 along with their earlier demo, but I haven't listened to it yet. Anyway, here's the original 1981 version. Enjoy:

Monday, July 10, 2017

Triarchy - "Save the Khan" [1979]

Artist: Triarchy
Title: Save The Khan
Country: UK
Release date: 1979

Track List:
  1. Save The Khan
  2. Juliet's Tomb 
Another underservedly forgotten NWOBHM band, Triarchy were formed in 1972 but released their debut single only in 1979. As you can guess from their name, they were a trio (but not a so-called "power trio", because they actively used synthesizers in addition to the standard lineup of guitar, bass and drums).

The "Save The Khan" 7'' got a quite disparaging review on, whose author found it boring, but that's not my impression at all. Maybe Triarchy indeed weren't the most skilled musicians in the NWOBHM scene, but this single is pretty catchy and definitely not boring, unlike many other obscure metal releases from the 80s:

Sunday, July 9, 2017

ARC - "War of the Ring" [1981]

Artist: ARC
Title: War Of The Ring
Country: UK
Release date: 1981

Track List:
  1. War Of The Ring
  2. Ice Cream Theme
Just like Aragorn, ARC apparently were heavily inspired by LotR (thus being one of the first Tolkien-inspired bands in existence), and they also are primarily known for just one very interesting 7'' single released in 1981. Looks like I don't need to write a review for it, because there already is a pretty good one here:

"I would officially declare this single The Greatest NWOBHM 7” Ever and promtly give sceptics, besserwissers and naysayers the boot, if it weren’t for the fact that ARC, at least on this EP, is very far from traditional NWOBHM (so I guess REINCARNATE still reigns). If you thought you’d already heard the best of early 80’s Epic Metal, think again! “War of the ring” is one of those rare Perfect Metal Anthems, a 10-out-of-10 masterpiece with both a brillant, heavy, crunchy lead riff and a mindblowing, spinechilling, epic chorus that gives BLIND GUARDIAN a run for their Deutschmarks – sorry, €uros...

The flipside, oddly entitled “Ice Cream Theme” deserves a mention, but is nowhere near the A-side hit in excellence. It also draws towards the epic, but in a more 70’s inspired manner. While the lyrix to “War..” is the most classic imaginable (the JRR Tolkien mythology), the lyrix to the flip is original to say the least. A depressing story about a strange man (no, he’s not carrying a crystal sword) living in an ice cream van (no, it’s not equipped with dragon’s wings)... Do not confuse this band with The A.R.C. Rock Band. who released a single in 1979 called "The Chase/Homemade Wine". It's a completely different band, although still NWOBHM and almost as rare"

Friday, July 7, 2017

Aragorn - "Black Ice" [1981]

Artist: Aragorn
Title: Black Ice
Country: UK
Release date: 1981

Track List:
  1. Black Ice
  2. Noonday
Sometimes called "a band that has built their reputation on one single", Aragorn indeed have released only one single and a couple of demos in early 1980s, and then disbanded. A full-length album called "Night Is Burning" was about to be released in 1982, but it finally saw the light of day only in 2014. Anyway, "Black Ice" is widely considered to be an NWOBHM classic, mainly because of the very catchy title track which features a quite pecular vocal style.

Voltz - "Knight's Fall" [1982]

Artist: Voltz
Title: Knight's Fall
Genre: NWOBHM, Hard Rock
Country: UK
Release date: 1982

Track List:
  1. After Armageddon
  2. In a Dream
  3. Dorian Grey
  4. Badon Hill
  5. The Rose
  6. Red Eyes
  7. Years
  8. Knight's Fall
"An album which represented the "screw you, we'll do it ourselves" philosophy of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal - if not its customary sonic blueprint - Voltz' Knight's Fall was a largely independently financed and produced affair, complete with bottom-dollar recording conditions and a charmingly amateurish, hand-drawn cover featuring an armored knight with a swooning damsel in one arm, a sword hoisted high in the other, and a castle looming in the background. But metal fans of the day were in for quite a surprise once they dropped needle onto the vinyl album's grooves; for, as well as generous helpings of hard rock and metal found in the Quartz-like "Badon Hill" and the no-frills "Red Eyes," Knight's Fall was actually dominated by astonishingly mellow and melodious elements. And when combined with the band's template-free songwriting approach for ambitious material such as "After Armageddon" and "Years," these elements produced truly unusual results, arguably closer to progressive rock than metal - although stylistic parallels can be found in fellow Brits Witchfynde and, a little further away and a few years earlier, Wichita, KS originals Manilla Road. Moreover, Voltz didn't even bother to juice up their amps during lengthy, almost gothic-folk ballads like "In a Dream" and the title cut, but struck the perfect balance between their dark and light extremities on the standouts "Dorian Gray" and "The Rose." In the end, Knight's Fall was the sort of idiosyncratic work that had a few wide-eyed supporters embracing Voltz as the second coming, while the vast majority of metal and prog fans were simply left confused..."

...Well, the review quoted above is pretty much spot on, and I too was quite surprised to find this on the Vibrations of Doom archive of classic metal albums. Voltz (initially called Airline) are considered to be an NWOBHM band - however, there's not much metal in their music, even if I'm not saying it as a bad thing. Anyway, this is a very interesting obscure album, just don't expect something really "heavy" from it (although its cover art might suggest so).

Chasar - s/t [1983]

Artist: Chasar
Title: Chasar
Country: UK (Scotland)
Release date: 1983

Track List:
  1. Destiny
  2. Visions of Time
  3. Deceiver
  4. Kings
  5. Lights
  6. Gypsy Roller
  7. Underground
Another "atypical" NWOBHM band heavily influenced by 1970's progressive rock and dirty-sounding hard rock. Maybe not as good as Dawnwatcher, but still deserves attention if you like obscure bands of this kind.

Dawnwatcher - studio recordings [1977-83]

Here's a video compilation dedicated to a quite unique NWOBHM band called Dawnwatcher, featuring their tracks "Hall of Mirrors", "Attitudes", "Spellbound", "Firing On All Eight", "Salvador's Dream", "Children of the Night" and "Backlash", all of which were recorded during 1977-83.

Their 1979 demo got a quite negative review on, whose author has called them a poor clone of Deep Purple - but regardless of that, I can safely say that their later releases are awesome. Their sound isn't typical of NWOBHM, being full of 1970s progressive rock elements (especially the keyboard improvisations). My favourite songs of theirs are "Backlash" and "Hall of Mirrors".

V/A - "New Electric Warriors" [1980]

Artist: (various)
Title: New Electric Warriors
Country: UK
Release date: 1980

Track List:
  1. Turbo - Running
  2. Buffalo - Battle Torn Heroes
  3. Streetfighter - She's No Angel
  4. Stormtrooper - Grind 'n Heat
  5. Tarot - Feel the Power
  6. Bastille - Hard Man
  7. Oxym - Hor Rain
  8. Dawnwatcher - Firing on All Eight
  9. Vardis - If I Were King
  10. Silverwing - Rock & Roll are Four Letter Words
  11. Rhabstallion - Chain Reaction
  12. Colossus - Holding Back Your Love
  13. Jedediah Strut - Workin' Nights
  14. Warrior - Still on the Outside
  15. Kosh - The Hit
  16. Race Against Time - Bedtime
A legendary compilation of obscure NWOBHM bands released in 1980 - the year NWOBHM broke into mainstream in Britain. To be honest, quite a lot of bands on N.E.W. are mediocre - but if you, just like me, love to dig into lesser known NWOBHM releases in search of forgotten gems (and that scene had quite a few of them!), and you aren't afraid of lo-fi sound, this compilation might be of interest for you. My personal favourites on N.E.W. are Oxym and Dawnwatcher, although the songs featured on this disc aren't their best.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Shocksplit - "Under Wraps" [1989]

Artist: Shocksplit
Title: Under Wraps
Genre: Melodic Heavy Metal
Country: UK
Release date: 1989

Track List:
  1. Undo the Chains
  2. Take Me in Heat
  3. Running Away
  4. The End Is Nigh
The NWOBHM movement ended in 1984-85, but some British metal bands appeared in the second half of 1980s can be regarded as "post-NWOBHM". One of such bands is Shocksplit, formed originally under the name Vengeance. They've released an EP and a couple of demos during 1987-90, and then disappeared without a trace along with many other lesser known metal bands around that time.

All 4 songs on this EP are very melodic and catchy, especially the opening track "Undo The Chains". Other notable tracks are "Take Me In Heat" (a fairly typical love ballad, but quite catchy as well), and "The End Is Nigh" (as you can guess from the name, this track is about the fears of a nuclear war, a quite common lyrical theme in the 80s' metal). Very recommended to check out if you like obscure melodic metal from the 1980s.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Charger - "Desperadoes / Are You Out There?" [1984]

Artist: Charger
Title: Desperadoes / Are You Out There? 7''
Country: UK
Release date: 1984

Track List:
  1. Desperadoes 
  2. Are You Out There?
In the next few days, I'm going to review quite a lot of obscure NWOBHM bands (most of which I've discovered thanks to Vibrations of Doom), many of which have released just one 7'' single and then vanished. Let's start from a band that shares name with their much better known compatriots who have played sludge. Honestly the only thing I find interesting about the sludge Charger is the name of their second album, "Confessions of a Man (Mad Enough to Live Among Beasts)". This Charger, however, managed to release a very good 7'' with two simplistic but catchy songs. Enjoy:

Friday, June 30, 2017

Tygers of Pan Tang - "Spellbound" [1981]

Artist: Tygers of Pan Tang
Title: Spellbound
Country: UK
Release date: 1981

Track List:
  1. Gangland
  2. Take It
  3. Minotaur
  4. Hellbound
  5. Mirror
  6. Silver and Gold
  7. Blackjack
  8. The Story So Far
  9. Tyger Bay
  10. Don't Stop By
Tygers of Pan Tang, while nowhere near as successful as such their compatriots as Iron Maiden or Judas Priests, were and still are one of the most important NWOBHM bands. Not all their albums are equally good, but at least the first two ones can the safely considered to be classics of NWOBHM.

Here's their sophomore release "Spellbound" that's rightfully viewed as the best in their discography by many critics. Like most their other albums, it's more on the "glam" side of things than many other NWOBHM classics, but it isn't a bad thing in this particular case. My personal favourite track on this album, however, is the ballad "Mirror" that stands out of the whole album. I also absolutely should mention the cover art. While most ToPT albums feature cats and tigers on their covers, this one is particularly cool, and I really would like to see a cartoon movie drawn in this style :)

Black Sabbath - "Heaven and Hell" [1980]

Artist: Black Sabbath
Title: Heaven and Hell
Genre: Heavy Metal
Country: UK
Release date: 1980

Track List:
  1. Neon Knights
  2. Children of the Sea
  3. Lady Evil
  4. Heaven and Hell
  5. Wishing Well
  6. Die Young
  7. Walk Away
  8. Lonely is the Word
This album is very well-known and already was reviewed multiple times before by much better reviewers than me, so I can only say that I consider it a masterpiece and by far the best release in the whole Black Sabbath discography (especially in contrast with several rather weak albums from the second half of 1970s). While the side B is slightly weaker than the side A, I still like nearly everything about this album, apart from its rather stupid cover art. Just like the subsequent release "Mob Rules", this album features Dio (R.I.P.) on vocals, but that's not the only thing that makes it quite different from all early Black Sabbath albums.

There was much debate if "Heaven and Hell" can be considered NWOBHM. While Black Sabbath formally are one of the founders of the "old" wave of British heavy metal, I personally think this album in particular very much fits the overall NWOBHM sound, and can be safely recommended as a great example of the genre:

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Pegasos - "A Night in the Cold World" [1991]

Artist: Pegasos
Title: A Night in the Cold World
Genre: Heavy Metal
Country: Finland
Release date: 1991

Track List:
  1. A Night In The Cold World
  2. Angel
I discovered this very obscure Finnish band via the now-defunct Servile Insurrection blog, whose owner described their one and only EP as one of his all-time favourites. While I was initially surprised to see an EP described as "traditional melodic heavy metal" on a blog dedicated mostly to much more brutal stuff, it turned out as good as the author on SI made it out to be. Feels like I'm listening to some really nice EP from the NWOBHM era, but released a decade later than it's supposed to be...

Oz - "Fire in the Brain" [1983]

Artist: Oz
Title: Fire in the Brain
Genre: Heavy Metal
Country: Finland
Release date: 1983

Track List:
  1. Search Lights
  2. Fortune
  3. Megalomaniac
  4. Black Candles
  5. Gambler
  6. Stop Believin'
  7. Free Me, Leave Me
  8. Fire in the Brain
Well before Finland became a country with the highest percentage of metal bands per capita in the world, Oz were a very important band in the early Finnish metal scene. Nowadays they're largely forgotten, even though they have reunited and recorded a new album in Sweden a few years ago. Anyway, here's their second (and the best) LP, released in 1983.

Unlike their pretty boring debut album, this one is very energetic and recommended to everyone who likes fast and catchy songs in the early 80's traditional metal style. The opeing track is especially good, as well as the closing one. And a little fun fact: like many other metal bands, Oz have "flirted" with the occult lyrical themes in the beginning of their career, but stopped doing that after they received a 666 SEK royalty check for their EP "Turn the Cross Upside Down" in 1984.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Stormtrooper - "Armies of the Night" [1985]

Artist: Stormtrooper
Title: Armies of the Night
Genre: Heavy/Thrash Metal
Country: USA
Release date: 1985

Track List:
  1. The Reaper (intro)
  2. Armies of the Night
  3. Steamroller
  4. Search and Destroy
  5. The Beast Within
Again, a very obscure band that I discovered thanks to Vibrations of Doom, which released only one short EP more than 30 years ago and then disappeared. The only info I could find about them is that their vocalist was the narrator for the shockumentary series "Traces of Death" for volumes I and II. Their one and only EP, however, is a killer release that certainly shouldn't be missed. The title track in particular is one of the catchiest songs I've heard in 80's metal (and it strongly reminds me of the track "Tyrant's Reign" by the eponymous band, which is also one of my biggest favourites).

Coven 13 - "Worship New Gods" [1987]

Artist: Coven (13)
Title: Worship New Gods
Genre: Heavy Metal (with Doom & Gothic overtones)
Country: USA
Release date: 1987

Track List:
  1. Riddle of Steel
  2. Wicked Day
  3. Ruler
  4. Kiss Me with Blood
  5. Burial Ground
  6. General's Eye
  7. Jail House
  8. Threshold of the New
  9. Loki
Another obscure yet great classic metal album which I discovered via Vibrations of Doom. It was highly recommended by the editor of VoD, but he wasn't sure about the year it came out. Well, turns out it was released in 1987 when the band was known simply as Coven (later they changed it to Coven 13 to avoid confusion with a couple of other bands under the same name). While the band (which has reformed in 2011 after 20 years of inactivity) has never received much publicity, their debut release "Worship New Gods", with a concept largely inspired by Nordic mythology, is indeed awesome. I especially liked the apparent doom metal influence that can be heard on tracks like "Wicked Day".

Fifth Angel - "Time Will Tell" [1989]

Artist: Fifth Angel
Title: Time Will Tell
Genre: Heavy/Power Metal
Country: USA
Release date: 1989

Track List:
  1. Cathedral
  2. Midnight Love
  3. Seven Hours
  4. Broken Dreams
  5. Time Will Tell
  6. Lights Out (UFO cover)
  7. Wait for Me
  8. Angel of Mercy
  9. We Rule
  10. So Long
  11. Feel the Heat
This band was already mentioned on here a couple of times when the topic of the 1980's US melodic metal scene was brought up, but I haven't posted any of their two albums yet. "Time Will Tell" is their second album, released in 1989 shortly before many 80s metal bands (including Fifth Angel) have split up and faded into obscurity. While it's more on the "pop" side of things than their debut self-titled album, I'd still definitely recommend it to the fans of other bands of this kind (i.e. early Queensryche, Hittman, Shok Paris). Like in case with "Steel & Starlight" by Shok Paris, some people might find the second half of this album boring, but the two opening tracks are undoubtedly awesome.

Shok Paris - "Steel & Starlight" [1987]

Artist: Shok Paris
Title: Steel & Starlight
Genre: Heavy/Power Metal
Country: USA
Release date: 1987

Track List:
  1. Go Down Fighting
  2. Steel and Starlight
  3. Tokyo Rose
  4. Rocked Outta Love
  5. Castle Walls
  6. On Your Feet
  7. Fallin' for You
  8. Exhibit A
  9. Lost Queen
  10. Hot on Your Heels
Regardless of what you might have thought after looking at the cover art and the track list, this is not glam/hair metal, but a very good example of American melodic heavy/power metal from the 1980's. Shok Paris, formed in Cleveland in 1982, have released three full-length albums over that period. "Steel & Starlight" is their sophomore LP which is widely considered to be their best. While the second half of this album may seem to be a bit boring, at least the first three tracks are great:

Queensrÿche - s/t EP [1983]

Artist: Queensrÿche
Title: Queensrÿche EP
Genre: Heavy Metal, Progressive Metal
Country: USA
Release date: 1983

Track List:
  1. Queen of the Reich
  2. Nightrider
  3. Blinded
  4. The Lady Wore Black
To be honest, my knowledge of Queensryche discography isn't much better than this: "Outside of great albums like Operation: Mindcrime and Rage for Order, I never really paid much attention to their albums into the 1990s and 2000s, though I did hear that there was a huge drop in quality on those albums, especially the ones released into the 2000s".

The two aforementioned albums are, however, some of my all-time favourites in the 80's US melodic metal as well. Their debut EP may be not as interesting as these two ones, being more traditional heavy metal from the early 80s rather than progressive metal, yet it definitely shouldn't be missed if you like their later releases from the same decade. My personal favourite is the closing track - which, I think, is one of the best metal ballads from the 80s - and it looks like I'm not the only one thinking so:

"The. Lady. Wore. Black. Who the hell wrote this. Clearly not Geoff Tate, the asshole responsible for American Soldier could never write this. DeGarmo? If so, why the hell has he resigned himself to flying planes in Seattle. Possibly one of my favorite Power Metal ballads..."

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Upper Echelon - "Surface Tension" [1984]

Artist: Upper Echelon
Title: Surface Tension
Genre: Heavy Metal
Country: USA
Release date: 1984

Track List:
  1. Drivin' Mean
  2. Evil (Songs)
  3. Teaser
  4. Winter
Upper Echelon were a very obscure band from Seattle who released only one EP in 1984 (and one more demo the next year), and then disappeared without a trace. Long time ago, when I discovered this album via the classic metal archive of the Vibrations of Doom zine, I managed to find the personal site of one of their former members who didn't play in any bands anymore, but I can't remember its address now. Either way, they were awesome, even if they couldn't get much publicity back in the time. The acoustic ballad part in the closing track ("Winter") is especially great:

Omen - "Warning of Danger" [1985]

Artist: Omen
Title: Warning of Danger
Genre: Heavy Metal
Country: USA
Release date: 1985

Track List:
  1. Warning of Danger
  2. March On
  3. Ruby Eyes (of the Serpent)
  4. Don't Fear the Night
  5. V.B.P
  6. Premonition
  7. Termination
  8. Make Me Your King
  9. Red Horizon
  10. Hell's Gates
The sophomore release by Omen isn't as interesting as their debut "Battle Cry", yet it still contain some pretty good music. The first three tracks, for instance, sound quite nice, although the album overall is more boring than "Battle Cry" despite better quality of production. The lyrics have become much more simplistic, even to the level of being primitive at times, although sometimes this "primitivism" is working quite well:

"March on metal warrior
March to battle
To battle with all your might
March on metal warrior
You can't lose
You can't win without a fight..."

...Well, some other lyrics on this album aren't as simplistic, but still lacking in quality - i.e. "Red Horizon" (Cold War era propaganda, unfortunately) or "Termination" (re-telling the plot of the first Terminator movie wasn't a very good idea), but, all these flaws considering, "Warning of Danger" is still an album worth listening to.

Omen - "Battle Cry" [1984]

Artist: Omen
Title: Battle Cry
Genre: Heavy Metal
Country: USA
Release date: 1984

Track List:
  1. Death Rider
  2. The Axeman
  3. Last Rites
  4. Dragon's Breath
  5. Be My Wench
  6. Battle Cry
  7. Die by the Blade
  8. Prince of Darkness
  9. Bring Out the Beast
  10. In the Arena
A true classic of the 80's US melodic metal scene, "Battle Cry" is the first (and the best) release by Omen. The sound on this album is a direct continuation of the early 80's NWOBHM scene, yet Omen did it in their own unique and easily distinguishable way. Nearly all songs on this album are extremely catchy, but my personal favourites are "Death Rider", "Battle Cry", "Prince of Darkness" and "In the Arena".

The lyrics are very stereotypical for a traditional heavy metal band at a first glance, with its heavy use of words like "fight", "warrior", "sword", "dragon", etc., etc., yet they are nowhere near as ridiculous as the lyrics for many songs by Manowar, for example, and they actually portray a quite historically accurate picture of life during the medieval times, without glamourizing it too much as many heavy/power metal bands do in their lyrics. Overall, this is an awesome release which is undoubtely a classic of early US heavy metal scene, and it definitely shouldn't be missed. Enjoy:

Cities - "Annihilation Absolute" [1986]

Artist: Cities
Title: Annihilation Absolute
Genre: Heavy Metal
Country: USA
Release date: 1986

Track List:
  1. Stop the Race
  2. Fight for Your Life
  3. Burn Forever
  4. Not Alone in the Dark
  5. Cruel Sea
  6. In the Still of the Night
  7. Innocent Victim
  8. Shades of Black
  9. Deceiver
This is the one and only full-length album from Cities (not the best name choice for a metal band, to be honest), a side project of Twisted Sister drummer A.J.Pero (R.I.P 2015). Despite the ridiculous cover art, the music is pretty good - maybe not the best of what I heard on the Vibrations of Doom archive of classic metal albums, but still not to be missed if you like 80's melodic metal. My personal favourite is "Fight For Your Life", a quite inspiring song for all sorts of diffucult life situations. A more detailed review of "Annihilation Absolute" can be found here, and the whole album is available for a listen on Youtube:

Monday, June 5, 2017

Tyrant's Reign - "Year of the Tyrants" [1987]

Artist: Tyrant's Reign
Title: Year of the Tyrants
Genre: Thrash/Speed Metal
Country: USA
Release date: 1987

Track List:
  1. Tyrant's Reign
  2. Jack the Ripper
  3. Untamed
  4. Deadly Eyes
  5. Reign of Terror
  6. Fadeaway
There were many obscure American thrash metal bands during the second half of 1980s, but, in my opinion, very few of them are worth attention. This one, however, is an exception. Like many other early thrash metal bands, Tyrant's Reign never received much publicity, and they had to disband in the early 1990s when thrash metal fell out of style, after releasing only a couple of demos and one EP.

This EP, however, is one of the best thrash metal releases I've heard, even despite its poor quality of production. Like in case with many other obscure gems from that era, I discovered it via the Vibrations of Doom classic metal collection. My personal favourite is the opening track, which is extremely catchy (and I love this vocal style), yet the rest of the release is pretty good too. First two songs from it also appeared on the 2004 compilation of Tyrant's Reign early tracks re-recorded in much better quality - yet I think the re-recording killed quite a lot of charm that was present on the original release.

Surprise - "Assault on Merryland" [1977]

Artist: Surprise
Title: Assault on Merryland
Genre: Symphonic Prog Rock
Country: USA
Release date: 1977

Track List:
  1. Eve Of The Assault / Merryland
  2. The Acrobat Between The Stars
  3. Palace Of King Ferris
  4. Tyrangatang
  5. Dance Of The Tarantella
  6. Tournament Of Love
  7. March Of The Squatamaudars
  8. A Day Without Light
  9. The Wonderful Sunshiner / Grand Finale
Rick Bess - acoustic 12 string & electric guitars, bass
Blair Blake - hammond organ, grand piano, mini moog synthesizer, moog taurus bass pedals, arp string ensemble, celeste
Dave Kelly - drums, typani, orchestra bells, gongs, triangles, gyro
Mark Biehl - vocals, flute, trumpet, piccolo

Recorded at Technisonic Studios, St.Louis, Missouri.

Another interesting yet very obscure American prog rock band from the second half of 1970s that released only one full-length album and then disappeared. While it definitely isn't metal, it sounds quite heavy for its time, and the range of instruments used on this album is quite impressive. Some people who reviewed this album on Prog Archives have complained about the lyrics on this album and its overall concept, which they found ridiculous; however, I haven't read the lyrics, so I don't know much about its concept except that it's based on a fantasy story of some sort. Anyway, the music is pretty good. Enjoy:

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Legend (US) - "Fröm the Fjörds" [1979]

Artist: Legend
Title: Fröm the Fjörds
Genre: Heavy Metal, Folk/Prog Rock
Country: USA
Release date: 1979

Track List:
  1. The Destroyer
  2. The Wizard's Vengeance
  3. The Golden Bell
  4. The Confrontation
  5. R.A.R.Z.
  6. Against the Gods
  7. The Iron Horse
  8. From the Fjords
Another extremely overlooked release from the late 1970s that's a direct precursor to the viking metal scene of today. Like in case with many obscure early metal albums, I found out about Legend through the awesome Vibrations of Doom zine, which was one of my main sources of info about metal and industrial music back in the mid-2000s. They managed to do an interview with the former bassist of Legend, and I couldn't agree more with their desciption of this album:

"What can I say about one of THE best albums in the classic albums section! If this doesn't get number one of all 1,000 albums in my classic albums section, it's EASILY in the top three. Legend (U.S.) made a fantastic album entitled "From The Fjords," a piece of vinyl which is not only vastly superior to nearly ANYTHING else that came out that year, but also is one of the rarest and most expensive pieces of vinyl you will ever find. Despite a CD reissue which STILL has yet to see the light of day ANYWHERE, and almost NO information about ANY of the band members, somehow we were contacted from the original bass player to obtain a good copy of his one and only record. This masterpiece was recorded in 1979 and was light years, fuck, seemingly hundreds of years ahead of it's time, especially when you consider it's a U.S. band playing up the Viking and mythological imagery in the lyrics; something that the Scandinavian folk and viking metal community wouldn't fully embrace AT LEAST until 1988/1990 when Bathory's "Blood, Fire Death" and two years later "Hammerheart" would mold into recognition..."

...Well, I can certainly agree that at least the side A of this LP is indeed a masterpiece. Surely it isn't quite "metal" yet, more like heavier-than-average 70s prog rock with strong Scandinavian folk influences, but it doesn't make any of these 4 songs (especially the opening one, "Destroyer") any less great. The side B is slightly less interesting (and this album as a whole would be better without a song like "R.A.R.Z." or too lengthy drum solos in "The Iron Horse"), yet it's still quite enjoyable.

Unfortunately, the band, which was way ahead of its time, released only this one album and then disappeared competely. Their frontman Kevin Nugent started another metal band called Mercenary in 1981, yet they also have released only one 7'' single before Nugent died in 1983 due to an accidental overdose on back pain medication (however, there was also a "Tribute" cassette released in 1989, featuring 4 songs from early Mercenary demos that were then re-worked to be finished after the death of Nugent as a tribute). I haven't listened to any of that stuff yet, but it looks as promising as this Legend album, as it was recorded by apparently very talented musicians. Returning to "From The Fjords", I can only repeat that it's an unique album which I'd recommend to everyone who is interested in the early history of metal. It isn't very similar to the other early attempts at playing "epic" heavy metal (i.e. "Invasion" by Manilla Road or "Full Speed at High Level" by Heavy Load), yet it's a killer release which shouldn't be missed.