December 17, 2003 6:50 PM   Subscribe

The New Wave Of British Heavy Metal (NWOBHM to cognoscenti) one of the lesser known but most influential movements of the past quarter century. After the innovators of Metal ran out of steam in the late 70's and were stampeded in the maelstrom of punk, heavy metal (and testosterone-soaked delindquents everywhere) found itself in a quandary). A number of UK acts took some cues from the punks, shortened the songs, reigned in the self-indulgence and speeded up the tempo, and upped the relevance and intelligence of the lyrical content, while still retaining the vocal prowess, instrumental pyrotechnics and young warrior energy that makes it Metal in the first place. Some groups became world famous. Others only big in Europe. Some great ones missed stardom by just a notch. Many of these acts have been cited as inspirations by Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer, Napalm Death and the thrash/death metal hordes, and even many post-punks. An interesting summary for fans, and a good introduction for non-mans who may have to recalibrate their opinion of the genre after checking some of these bands out.
posted by jonmc (17 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Heyyy, what about The Darkness???
posted by cinderful at 7:08 PM on December 17, 2003

great post, but i searched for judas priest and got nada. i have very little knowledge of music but i always thought they were british. please hope me!
posted by poopy at 7:17 PM on December 17, 2003

poopy, the mighty Priest are indeed British, and to tell you the truth I was mite stunned by the omission myself, as they are perhaps the prime exemplar of NWOBHM or "post-punk metal" as I've called it at times.

But I'm sure some metalhead mefites can point out some other omitted acts.


Let me see your lighters, Metafilter!!!!

posted by jonmc at 7:21 PM on December 17, 2003

Reading that old article about Def Leppard, it's funny to see them in a similar position with the record company today. They really do give in to their record company way more than say an act like Bon Jovi does to the very same company.
posted by riffola at 7:23 PM on December 17, 2003

[this is good]
posted by dg at 7:26 PM on December 17, 2003

Agreed, riffy. If you ask me Def Leppard especially in the High 'n' Dry/Pyromanis period were the best "pop/metal" act. Actually you could make the case that they were the only true pop metal act since they satified both sides of the equation, with riffs as hard as AC/DC and Thin Lizzy* and choruses as catchy as any top 40 number. Bands like Poison and Bon Jovi were basically watered down Sweet/Slade/Kiss clones with out the wit or the big beat.

*who are both "hard rock" bands, not metal (you could make a case that Zeppelin is too, but they're so influential I included them in the post). The eytomology is complicated and longwinded but put it this way: Humble Pie, Uriah Heep, Thin Lizzy=hard rock, Deep Purple, Metallica, Iron Maide=heavy metal. make sense? hope so.
posted by jonmc at 7:30 PM on December 17, 2003

led zep is heavy rock
and black sabbath are heavy metal .

no motorhead ? shame on you all ! the one band who have stood the test of time imho.
posted by sgt.serenity at 7:39 PM on December 17, 2003

from Kim McAuliffe on the Girlschool page: "They [Motorhead] probably have the same problems as us with people saying that we're both too heavy to be New Wave and too punk to be a heavy metal band. There's a tremendous crossover between the two sorts of music; I don't know why they attract such opposite audiences."

Couldn'ta said it any better myself.
posted by jonmc at 7:53 PM on December 17, 2003

im not getting back in the van until you say we're heavy metal.
posted by sgt.serenity at 8:10 PM on December 17, 2003

motorhead is so not heavy metal. they told me. they also said that primus sucks. go figure.

oh, and AC/DC's '74 Jailbreak is one of the best metal/hard rock albums of yesteryear, IMO.
posted by poopy at 8:56 PM on December 17, 2003

Toad the Wet Sprocket?

I'm very confused.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 9:18 PM on December 17, 2003

The Fucking Champs (an American [mostly] instrumental guitar band), have a song called NWOBHM 2 on their excellent album, IV. If guitar harmonies give your inner 14 year old boy a boner the way they do mine, give them a listen.

That album also features some of my favorite song titles of all time, including "Thor Is Like Immortal" and "These Glyphs are Dusty."
posted by sklero at 11:19 PM on December 17, 2003

Who's afraid of ...oh never mind
posted by freebird at 12:22 AM on December 18, 2003

Wow, a lot of these band names would make great Metafilter screen names. Can I change from Boltman to Skitzofrenik?

Crash: it a different Toad the Wet Sprocket apparantly. I guess they like Monty Python too.
posted by boltman at 4:09 AM on December 18, 2003

Anyone into metal should definitely check out the Swedish bands In Flames and Soilwork...

They've rekindled my love for metal, and also converted me from someone who HATES the whole "growling/screaming" vocalist style to someone who has grown to like it. (Hint: Try reading along with a lyric sheet when you listen to either of these two bands.. being able to understand really helps you be more OK with the growly stuff)...

In Flames, in particular, has great lyrics especially considering english is their second language.
posted by twiggy at 9:02 AM on December 18, 2003

sklero: Josh Smith, a guitarist from The Fucking Champs, did a black metal album under the band name "Weakling": Weakling - Dead as Dreams. It's a totally essential album, swiftly becoming regarded as a black metal classic. If you like the Champs, check it out.
posted by vorfeed at 2:06 PM on December 18, 2003

Pooper, Jonmc: I think the exclusion of Priest is quite reasonable. Priest were old guard. They did manage to survive and even thrive during the NWOBHM(in contrast to most of the big 70's acts), but they were most certainly around in the early '70s; their first release was Rocka Rolla in 1974. One of my alltime Priest favs is Stained Class, with a 1978 release, and their 4th album. By the time of the rise of Punk, Priest were an established act along with Sabbath, Zep, Kiss, Rush, et. al. In fact, I rather expect that Priest had a significant influence on the NWOBHM; they certainly had a huge effect on the Metallica/Megadeth/Slayer thrash/death crowd. Halford has been known to argue that Priest was the first speed/thrash metal band, and I think that's a reasonable claim. Though I'd certainly say that Metallica et.al. refined it considerably further than Priest did. Priest were like the Wright Bros., Metallica et. al. were like the Douglas Aircraft co.

The fact that I know all of this history is somewhat amusing to me, given that I drifted away from Metal in the 90's, and if anything would likely be described as a deadhead these days...
posted by ehintz at 2:48 PM on December 18, 2003

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