A celebration of NWOBHM is long-overdue.
Most know the historical wave of resurgence of heavy metal music (late 1970’s – early 1980s) from the famous acts that the period generated and especially Iron Maiden and Def Leppard, Motörhead and Saxon. There were also less well-known but no less loved groups such as Diamond Head, Venom , Angelwitch, Girlschool and others…
When the fine-folk at Hard Rock Hell announced their first NWOBHM festival we were as excited as anyone. For us, the movement in the 1980’s aroused a powerful urge to push rock back to its almighty position. We had gone through the ‘disco days’ and reggae. Now was the time to bring back mighty British talent, those strong-armed axe-weilding warriors who possessed an unbridled passion for music making… We also experienced the kind of crowd solidarity that — we think — is sometimes missing in modern metal crowds.
At SHEFFIELD this weekend HRH paid tribute to The NWOBHM Movement with a special “Xmas Rocka” party that boasted some familiar names amongst those rarities. Of course, some of the musicians don’t play much together now, others have retired or gone their seperate ways. And, in this regard, this festival was considered vital — not only to consolidate the sounds, and also the memories of the artists of the 1980s before they completely fade — but also to bring US the fans back together.
During the summer of 2016 word went out and twenty-five of the best NWOBHM acts were brought back together. This was to be, perhaps, one last hurrah . Held at the excellent 02 Academy in Sheffield on the 2nd and 3rd of December 2017 for a sold-out 2 arena weekend event.
Stand-out moments, for us, were Staffordshire’s proggy “Demon” who have been working recently on their “Cemetery Junction” album. They were strong and stalwart.
We also loved the amazing Stampede — still with Reuben Archer [ who doesn’t love Send Me Down An Angel ?]
The melodic meanderings from Droitwich sons “Grim Reaper” was not wanted in the speed-metal days of the mid-late eighties — thus the group quietly disbanded in 1988. But Steve Grimmett’s Grim Reaper recorded a fresh album in 2013 and started to gig again. Their show at Sheffield was the perfect marriage of hard power and dulcet lyricism.
Unlike some, Tokyo Blade has continued to function as a band since formation in 1982. Their well-received “Thousand Men Strong” album was recorded in March 2011 with vocalist Alan Marsh still making appearances.
Quartz probably have the oldest pedigree. They can trace their history back to 1974 and toured with the likes of Iron Maiden, Saxon, UFO and Rush. Vocalist Mike ‘Taffy’ Taylor died this year.
Wakefield’s boogie-metal band Vardis with guitarist/vocalist Steve Zodiac played some new tracks along with a whole bunch of familiar oldies.
The speed and sheer brute force of Newcastle’s Venom still brought out the “same old, lame old” naysayers. Some thought their set the brightest part of the weekend, others said it was lousy.
While 1980’s music lovers may argue over their artistry, a whole generation of death-metal fast tempo hard-core cognoscente proclaim Venom as progenitors of their favourite sounds. In fact, many sympathizers from Norway and Sweden came over to Sheffield especially to see this band
This proved to be an absolutely cracking weekend and we owe a debt of gratitude to the HRH team for having the perception, insight and courage [as well as the exceptional organisational skills] required to put this party together. We also want to thank our heavy-metal companions from far-and-wide for making this a feast to remember …
It meant so much to so many.
Heavy Metal was defined in Britain in the 1980s – and this festival was a magnificent and enthusiastic jubilation of those wonderful times…
Let’s share some more. Soon.
As we write this report: THE OVERWORKED HRH STAFF have announced that HRH NWOBHM will make its thunderous, triumphant return in 2017.
ALREADY ANNOUNCED: RAVEN, DIAMOND HEAD, PRAYING MANTIS …Avenger; Lionheart; Airrace; Mick Underwood’s Glory Road; Holocaust; Gaskin; Salem; Traitors Gate; Blackmayne; Toledo Steel; Tysondog and Seventh Son Again: A two-day event at the O2 Academy Sheffield (2nd and 3rd December 2017)
Report & Pictures: Neil Mach