Thursday, February 23, 2012

NWOBHM for Dummies

Jason Heller, one of the best writers at the AV Club, just put up a great primer for anyone who wants to delve into the New Wave of British Heavy Metal. Iron Maiden and Diamond Head top the list of essentials (natch) but Heller does win points for including Angel Witch - possibly the most under-rated band of that whole era.

Meanwile, Judas Priest and Motörhead are excluded for predating the movement, as are Venom and Witchfinder General (whom he classifies as black metal and doom metal, respectively). I sort of disagree, as I feel that Priest's twin guitar histrionics coupled with Motörhead's biker gallop were the defining aspects of the NWOBHM sound, copied endlessly by the bands who came later (cough cough, Maiden). Besides, Priest and Motörhead both had a much closer kinship with the NWOBHM than the increasingly more self-indulgent "dinosaur" bands like Sabbath, Zep, and Purple that epitomized metal's first wave.

Meanwhile, Venom may have coined the term "black metal" but what they recorded was much closer to NWOBHM's punk-via-Sabbath bluster. Chalk these minor disagreements up to the populist in me trying to be inclusive and the hesher in me always wanting to argue.

A couple important bands overlooked in the article (and metal fans in general) are Tank, Demon, and Raven - get these before wasting your money on Huntress or any other retro chic poser garbage. Minor quibbles aside, the article is still fantastic. For a self-defined punk rocker, Heller sure can hesh with the best of them.

The Requiem Podcast guys, still the last word on metal, have already aired some exhaustive shows on Witchfinder General, Angel Witch, Di'Anno era Maiden, and not one, not two, but three episodes on Priest. So get on it n00bs. Why you gotta be ignant all your life?