Classic Rock’s New Releases Round-Up
For this week’s batch of new releases we enter the world of the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal with albums both new and old. And we also have the latest from The Boss, The Loaf, Wolfsbane and more.
Words: Malcolm Dome
Praying Mantis were once regarded as one of the pre-eminent of all the NWOBM bands. Their 1981 debut album Time Tells No Lies (Rock Candy) was supposed to launch a glittering career. That it failed to do so had nothing to do with the quality of the music and songwriting, as is proven by this re-release. It still stands as one of the best albums of the era, and makes their inability to become major stars both inexplicable and disappointing.
In a similar vein, Britain’s Grand Prix had all it took to make their mark on the international AOR scene. Their 1983 album Samurai (Rock Candy) was a sumptuous and lavish affair, full of smoothly coruscating melodies and tight performances. A tour de force back then – and it still is now.
In a similar vein Lostalone are a contemporary young band who offer some breathtaking Queen-style harmonies and classic metal bite in the Machine Head vein on I’m A UFO In This City (Graphite). This appeals to both those who like their music with a grandiose sweep, yet also with a darker alt. rock sensibility. A band who could easily be a major success this year.
Meat Loaf will forever be tied to the Bat Out Of Hell canon – and Hell In A Handbasket (Sony) does little to change that view. It’s a decent enough, albeit low-key, album. But what it lacks is the sparkle, range and audacity that made the original Bat… album indispensible. It’s all so… well, middle-aged. Sure, that suits the man today, but the joie de vivre appears to have been dissipated. In favour of a comfortable sweater and sofa.
The Boss – that’s Bruce Springsteen in case you’re wondering – returns with Wrecking Ball (Sony). Maybe a little understated compared to some of his best albums, but it still has those trademarks which have always been associated with him. This has vibrancy, passion, power and considerable depth. No shock there.
Going back to NWOBHM – do we ever really get away from it? – there’s no doubt that the self-titled, 1980 debut from Angel Witch is one of the most important albums of that time. Its influence has been incalculable. The question is, could the current band – only featuring vocalist/guitarist Kevin Heybourne from those glory times – come close to matching that album with As Above, So Below (Rise Above)? Sadly, not quite. This is not a bad album, but it simply doesn’t have the potency or charismas of what went before. It’s decent… but that’s not enough, given this band’s pedigree and credibility.
If you know Wolfsbane, then you’ll know what to expect of Save The World (Cargo). It’s feisty, furry, frantically funny fare. Honest, straightforward British hard rock with no frills and plenty of thrills. Perhaps a little more mature than anything they’ve previously done, but that’s a reflection of their age… and they still have energy to burn.
When Canadians Sheriff released their self-titled debut in 1982, it got somewhat overlooked. Now reissued by Rock Candy, the class shines through – especially on power ballad When I’m With You. This album is strident, over the top, pompous and utterly compelling. At times it sounds like Queen meets Loverboy – a heady brew for anyone who enjoys the genre. As a bonus, eight live tracks have been added to the original album – and it’s not just filler, either. This band really could deliver live. Oh, and good to see one dodgy moustache on show in the band, as well as a few poodle perms. Almost de rigueur in those days!