Published on August 6th, 2020 | by Justin G.
Various Artists: NWOBHM Thunder – New Wave Of British Heavy Metal: 1978-1986 (Hear No Evil, 2020)
I’m a sucker for a good NWOBHM compilation. Even though I own tons of albums and collections from that scene already, there’s just something about a well-curated set of NWOBHM gems that lets you get lost in that classic sound and really appreciate the infectious energy that pushed heavy metal to the next level in the early 1980s. The Castle label was the last to really do deep dives into the NWOBHM material, with now-classic collections like Lightnin’ To The Nations and their Neat Records sets, but lately the Hear No Evil label has put out some cool sets. Their latest is titled NWOBHM Thunder – New Wave Of British Heavy Metal: 1978-1986, and it’s packed with 44 vintage gems across three CDs.
NWOBHM Thunder skips most of the “A-list” regulars, so you’re not going to find Iron Maiden, Motorhead or Def Leppard here. We do get singles from mainstays like Saxon, Diamond Head, Tygers Of Pan Tang and Raven though, plus a lot of “mid-tier” names like Jaguar, Cloven Hoof, Praying Mantis and Dark Star. Where the set really shines are the deep cuts. Think b-sides and old compilation tracks from the likes of Satan’s Empire, Black Rose, Hammerhead, Metal Mirror and Streetfighter. And I’ve gone out of my way to collect NWOBHM releases on CD, but this is the first time I’ve seen material from The Pauline Gillan Band, Siege, Midas, War Machine, and Liaison on disc.
The track listing does a good job interspersing the known classics with the newly unearthed tracks, and all of the songs have been newly remastered, which is much needed for some of the more obscure material. Sound quality is fantastic, which is about what you expect from a HNE release. Packaging is kind of a letdown though. Sure there’s a great booklet with cover art and brief notes on each band and song, but the simple cardboard sleeves and thin cardboard box is a step down from the thick clamshell boxes I’m used to from this label.
Packaging issues aside, NWOBHM Thunder is a fantastic collection of vintage NWOBHM material. There are enough deep cuts to make it worthwhile to serious NWOBHM collectors, and it has enough familiar names that it makes a great introduction to the scene for fans who like Saxon and Raven and are ready to dig a little deeper.
Summary: Fantastic collection that goes well beyond the surface of this legendary era