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The New Wave of British Heavy
Metal, or NWOBHM for the rest of this review, was a magical era of heavy music.
I'm sure I was like many who found the gateway to metal through these bands. I
was a pimply faced dork who thought Journey and REO Speedwagon were
the shit until I discovered the first two Iron Maiden albums, along with
Saxon and Motorhead. Now I listen to death metal and black metal
that makes the average person quake in fear of their lives, and it all started
with some NWOBHM.
BAT have that NWOBHM vibe
down pat. Consisting of Ryan Waste of Municipal Waste, among others,
Nick Poulos of Volture, and Felix Griffin of D.R.I., these guys
pull no punches. They drop the pedal and you better hang on because you're in
for about 25 minutes of the good stuff. There are 12 songs here, all short and
heavy and to the point. They are all good enough that you want to hear them
again, and again, and again. This isn't merely worship of the past, but more
using it as a jumping off point to put their own touch on things. I am by no
means an expert on all things NWOBHM, but if I had to tell you which band they
sound like, I'd go with Tank.
This is the kind of music that
if you just give it a casual listen, seems very simplistic. It is far from
that. Poulos is a master of those short, ripping guitar leads that just
devastate you in a matter of seconds, and there are all sorts of cool little
riffs and rhythm patterns that he comes up with. The drumming is rock steady
and gives a solid foundation to everything that is going on, and although not
super flashy, there is more going on than you think if you pay attention. Mr.
Waste on bass and vocals lays down quality performances on both and provides
some tasty things for you ears. The true mark of a good band is to make it seem
simple even when it isn't.
My favorite tracks, in no
particular order, start with “Primitive Age”. This one is a ripper with a
couple of cool riffs going on, and I just really dig the vibe. “Ritual Fool”
seems very apropos to this political season in the US. At first glance it seems to be
about a particular candidate, but if you pay any attention to politics aren't
they all fools? I also really like “You Die”. The lyrics are great and there is
a phenomenal tempo change that I don't think I've ever heard handled like this,
so its very nice to hear a little innovation at work.
All in all this another
fantastic release from Hells Headbangers. They have really been on point for a
while now, between bringing new releases like this and combing the vaults for
some killer re-issues, so check them out. And check out BAT, they have some
cool stuff going on with this release and a couple other previous releases.
This is meat and potatoes kind of stuff, if you like your meat and potatoes heavy
enough to cause brain damage.