Why was NWOBHM so important? + 5 must-listen albums

NWOBHM, also known as New Wave of British Heavy Metal, is an important part of rock history, but not talked about as much as it should be.

Lasting only a few years, it marked a change of mood on the heavy rock scene. Not only that, he also shaped the destiny of rock for the next 40 years, influencing many of the modern bands we know and love.

This article covers the rise of NWOBHM and why their most important albums are worth listening to over and over again.

The rise of NWOBHM

The late 1970s was a turning point for heavy metal. After the huge commercial success of Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath – which we still see reflected in everything from embarrassing TV commercials to popular rockstar imagery in online casino games – there was a need for more underground acts. to satisfy the appetite of rock fans. .

On top of that, a period of social unrest in the UK, including the Winter of Discontent and the government’s ongoing war on the mining industry, has resulted in many new angry voices from the working class of the country.

The new wave of British heavy metal was a term first used by journalist Geoff Barton to describe this stream of new acts that began to take the country by storm. Taking inspiration from 70s rock and infusing it with elements of the waning punk movements, NWOBHM encapsulated the raw emotion of the era.

The songs typically involved escapist themes, such as fantasy, horror, and mythology. Iron Maiden grew out of this movement, as did many other bands that were to shape the rock scene for years to come.

Still, while Maiden’s songs are familiar to every rock fan, here are five NWOBHM albums that may have escaped your notice.

Diamond Head – Lightning to the Nations (1980)

It may seem hard to believe, but one of Lars Ulrich’s main inspirations came from a small West Midlands town, Stourbridge. Just down the street from where rock greats Robert Plant and Ozzy Osbourne were born, a quartet by the name of Diamond Head released their debut album in 1980 – and the effect on the rock scene was huge.

In fact, Ulrich even said that It’s electric, a song on the record, made him want to be in a band. He described himself as “hooked” the moment the needle hit the record: “It felt so right, so fresh,” he said.

All seven tracks on the album sound crisp even today. This is especially true for the opening track, which combines a Plant-esque howl with riffs from the Sabbath playbook to create a new sound that still resonates today.

Angel Witch – Angel Witch (1980)

Angel Witch is often overlooked when it comes to 80s metal, but there’s no denying their enormous legacy.

Their self-titled debut album, released around the same time as Lightning to the Nationsfeatures several characteristics of the NWOBHM sound with its infectious riffs and doom atmosphere.

Despite the cult following the band garnered from this record, the trio sadly fell into oblivion a few years later as their London-based peers Iron Maiden dominated the world.

Venom – Welcome to Hell (1981)

When it comes to groundbreaking metal albums, welcome to Hell is right up there. Early Venom had the heavy industrial sound and fire that paved the way for later thrash metal sound.

The band’s mighty trio of Cronos, Mantas and Abaddon initially saw their extreme creation shunned by stunned critics, who struggled to fathom what was going on. However, the record inspired a new generation of younger bands, including the legendary Slayer, to pick up the slack.

Venom is recognized as one of NWOBHM’s legends today: heck, their follow-up album even had a metal subgenre named after him – his name? black metal.

Raven – Rock Until You Drop (1981)

For metal fans, there is only one band of legendary Gallagher brothers in British music. Mark and John may not be as famous as Liam and Noel, but their metal legacy is still huge.

From the same town as Venom, Newcastle, the band released Rock till you drop in 1981, and showcased the band’s frantic style, powerful lyrics and tight playing. The record has stood the test of time impressively, with songs such as Lambs at the slaughterhouse and Hell Patrol still exuding that pulsating live sound the band is famous for.

Def Leppard – High ‘n’ Dry (1981)

Although the 1981s Raised and dry may be a bit of an afterthought for some rock critics, his impact on the NWOBHM scene was huge.

Filled with awesome tracks, riff filled Another hit and run powerful ballad Bring the heartache, this disc has just about everything. It speaks to us of a time when Leppard had more than just airbrushed sound tailor-made for the general public, a band that had just emerged from their native Sheffield – the Steel City – and had something to shout about. .