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BERLYN---This one bites --( LP 2006 High Roller Records,limited edition 500 copies with poster)

Recorded live in London in 1983, before the band split, "This one bites" differs from the numerous (unreleased or so) Lps coming from the metal golden-era, the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal, which invaded the music market in the latest years. Unlike many products, usually appealing only to collectors of that particular musical style and proving uninteresting for others, this album can attract a larger public, not only for "historical" reasons. The unusual name of this English band was an idea of their guitarist, Trevor Walker, who formed the group in 1979. Actually the guitarist is a German guy, his name is Tony Shaeffer, and he probably played with Scorpions..... the other guitarist, Maurice Coyne, played in the Urchin with Adrian Smith of Iron Maiden fame, before joining Berlyn. From semi-legendary Urchin also came the bass player Alan Levett, to complete a line up including the singer Tony Turlow e drummer Cliff Massey. Berlyn could rely on four song-writers, providing a varied musical compositions; the roots of late Seventies heavy sound are clearly recognizable in the whole album, as well as some not so hidden references to groups, such Scorpions,Thin Lizzy,etc., whose roads sometimes crossed with Berlyn's. The sound is tight, and some songs show the influences of the N.W.O.B.H.M. most aggressive groups (in particular, Streetfights", which opens the album, has vocals parts similar to Steve Grimmet's of Grim Reaper). What is most striking is the rare capability of Berlyn to write hot tracks with a melodic, very catchy( but absolutely not pimp) sound. This combination shows up especially in the last two tracks, two "heavy-boogie" proving Berlyn not only a good bunch of "performers", but above all excellent musicians able to mix the British(but not all...) hard rock traditions of the previous decade with their contemporary expressive styles. (STEFANO CODERONI)






BUFFALO--Bones of the beast--(LP 2006 High Roller Records,limited edition 500 copies.)

Coming from Lancashire, the English Buffalo formed in 1978 becoming one of the most active groups of N.W.O.B.H.M., playing live with prestigious names such as Mothoread, Gillan, Demon, Y&T etc. They released two singles for the label Heavy Metal Records in 1981 and 1982, but, although dealing with several metal labels of that period (including Carrere), they've never been able to record a full-lenght album. Only in 1999 they released the Cd "The best of Buffalo", but the first true complete album in their career is the recent "Bones of the beast". With such a name, Buffalo could only play a very powerful Heavy Metal, raw and with no-frills, clearly influenced by the late Seventies hard rock, revisited according to the new and more aggressive sounds of early Eighties British Metal. The superb cover of "Gimme some lovin" by Spencer Davis Group is played with great skill and most of the original tracks show a direct and sincere attitude, with no trace of the passing of years and styles. In the music of Buffalo there's no hint to occultism, and, according to its members' opinions, it was because of their reluctance towards a pseudo-occultist trend (very common in that period, although not in such an extreme way as it was in the Nineties, and still is today), that they weren't able to grab the attention of a market often too interested in groups with such style and look. Buffalo were, and still are, a genuine group of heavy rock musicians, more than able to go straight to the hearts of those who ask toRock only fun, sweat and some beer.
Buffalo aim to the purest roots of rock, to the most sincere way of living it. They'll never be remembered as a very skilled or creative group, but they were, and are, a "true" and genuine band, capable of rushes of adrenaline as they please ....The sleeve of their LP "Bones of the beast" is totally black and white.....Their music is not.
(STEFANO CODERONI)





DEMON PACT--Same (LP Hades Paradise, limited edition 500 copies.2006)

Another "re-discovered" group of N.W.O.B.H.M., and another great graphic work by the authors of the sleeves of Hades ParadiseRecords, once again very skilled in delivering such a graphic style so common in the early Eighties, halfway between kitsch and the excessive and ironic approach of B comics. If the sleeve of the self-titled album by Demon Pact maintains such peculiarities, the 6 tracks of the records - the two tracks of their only single released in 1981 and the four tracks of the following year demo (one of those tracks, "Escape", was released for the compilation "Kent Rocks") are a bit less attractive. I don't think that Demon Pact, which split in 1982, excelled, for technical or compositive skills, amongst the many groups following the occultist trend of the period,( before the more original Venom, thanks to their excesses, were consecrated. )
Demon Pact were clearly part of the movement lead by Angel Witch, Witchfynde, early Demon, Cloven Hoof, but, unlikely some groups strongly Sabbath-influenced (such as Witchfinder General) they preferred a more modern style, dynamic and rough, with bass and guitar equally mixed and direct and (not so) menacing vocals. The track "Demon Pact", taken from their demo, reminds of the Maiden riffing in "Phantom of the Opera", but not in the structure; the track seems like a strange mix between early Iron Maiden e the little-know american Demon Fight. Probably the very rough production of the demo tape doesn't pay justice to the group, and the release of an official record could have allowed the group to reach better results, with more macabre and evil arrangements, absolutely needed in such a musical contest. Although those (justified) limits, this album contains all the peculiar elements of N.W.O.B.H.M., and from this perspective I can recommend it. In conclusion, I point out that the drummer of Demon Pact, Ian Finlay, after his group split, played with the much more famous german Running Wild, recording the famous album "Death or glory"....(STEFANO CODERONI)





HAMMERHEAD--Headonizm --(LP 2006 High Roller Records,limited edition 500 copies)

The N.W.O.B.H.M. was, and is, a musical movement necessary to understand a generational passage between the original, first era of hard rock and its performers, and its revisitation, sometimes truly innovative, by younger musicians influenced by the fresh air of Punk. Apart from some true "aliens" able to create, with a revolutionary style, the seams upon which a lot of groups built their careers, the N.W.O.B.H.M. could be divided into two main categories: the first one formed by groups which gravitated, unsuccessfully, around traditional hard rock and which tried (voluntarily or not) to follow the new trend; the second category included more recent or newly formed groups able to find a stylistic balance between punk and some technical and instrumental skills, and the roots of hard rock. Hammerhead are amongst the first category. They formed in the middle Seventies and their style, heavily influenced by blues and psychedelia didn't impress the greatest metal indies of that period, which were interested in probably less valid acts, but with an innovative approach. Hammerhead self produced a 7" in 1981 and recorded a track for a compilation in 1984; in the latter, was present as guest Billy Branch, former singer of legendary Necromandus, a dark/progressive group which toured with Black Sabbath and "under the wing" of Tony Iommy. Necromandus' drummer, Frank Hall, joined Hammerhead too, for a short time, in 1984. Recently, Hammerhead get back with Cd-r "Time will tell", later officially released by Sonic Age Records, with some additions and a new graphic work. Later on they recorded this excellent Headonizm, only in a limited edition of 500 vinyl copies. Hammered browse through their old repertory, with not common skills, to give us guitar hard rock treasures, very seventies and "old-fashioned", without losing heaviness and spontaneity. The tracks are remarkable, and although they won't impress those who live for Iron Maiden and co. only, it will be a surprise for those who love Bad Company, Whitesnake etc. revised in a rougher and less commercial way. The riffing in each track is well balanced, allowing the music of Hammerhead a new breath; a more expressive than technical voice and some wha wha guitar solos may let you include Hammerhead in the "stoner "category, or some nostalgic "deja-vu". Personally, I don't think so and I hope to listen to more "deja-vu" like "Headonizm" in the future. In my opinion, one of the best releases of High Roller records (and not only). (Stefano Coderoni)




HIGH TREASON-Radio will find me (LP limited edition 500 copies+ bonus 7",High Roller,2006)

It's true....you never stop learning! When you're too presumptuous, you're bound to deny the evidence. There are too many prejudiced "experts" who, because of their laziness, don't study, don't evolve and, mostly, don't listen to many so called "losers" of Rock, that's to say the tons of groups that never reached success because of extra musical reasons. To all those (including me) who since years have been compiling their own personal top lists about guitarists, drummers and so on, I can recommend to this LP (and to update the files under the voice "singers"). Personally, I think that the "not-so-famous" Barry Fearon is far more talented than most of the well known singers . Inspired and theatrical but never over the top, with an original pitch and great skills, aggressive and melodic at the same time, with great performing qualities. A sheer talent, able to compete with the "big names". With this great singer, play the other excellent members of High Treason, an English group formed at the end of the Seventies, authors, in 1980, of the wonderful (and, of course, rare) single "Saturday night special" (only the name is in common with the more famous hit), which, although very catchy and with a great impact, is not commercial or pimp. High Treason, which split soon after, were amongst the "prime-movers" of the N.W.O.B.H.M. scene, and their style was influenced by all those typical contaminations of the previous decade hard rock. Recently the group has re-formed, encouraged, emotionally and commercially, by the renewed interest about that semi-mythical era (one of their tracks has been "covered" by Gorgon, a Japanese metal band) and has recorded, about 25 years after their debut, the first LP.
"Radio will find me" has a title that can remind some radio-inclined tastes, but in truth it's a completely different kind of music; save from some heavy songs (especially "The fridge") enhanced by a voice too ductile to be restricted to Heavy Metal only, the tracks are well balanced between classic heavy metal and its clichés and commercial aims. High Treason play an aggressive Rock, melodically balanced, but with refined arrangements. Some listeners will be interested in the peculiar contrast between heavy, but not obsessive guitar riffs and some radio oriented atmospheres (but very far from the classic Pomp-rock), especially those who appreciate original and sometimes unpredictable groups, not slaves of clichés (or trends). With at least six well produced and very intriguing tracks (if you listen with no prejudice), and such an excellent singer,"Radio will find me" is an album not to be missed.
Only "Die hard metallers" better stay away.
(STEFANO CODERONI)





J.J'S POWERHOUSE-In more rock   (LP limited edition 500 copies) (High Roller Records) 2006

Authors of a rare single released in 1983, J.J's Powerhouse are the "creature" of guitarist J.J. (Jon) Cox, born in Southport. Only now, they finally are able to release their first official Lp, which includes tracks written mainly during the golden era of N.W.O.B.H.M. Revisiting their repertory, J.J'Powerhouse decided to maintain their direct, almost "live" approach of their style, and the album, sometimes, suffers from few imperfections (as reported in the innersleeve notes, the singer admitted that he sang a song in a drunken state...). Although this opinionable behaviour (or "attitude", as someone could naively think), singer Oz Davies delivers a great performance during almost the whole LP. The last three tracks of Side B alone are worth the money. The group style is direct and decidedly heavy by the genre standards, with an exuberant, almost virtuosistic guitar hystrionics and great "high-pitched" vocals. Many guitar licks, very common in that period, are found in "Remember, remember",instrumental track for electric guitar only, where Cox once again grabs the listeners attention. Finally (better late than ever) we're given back a group which surely deserved a better fate and perfectly able to be compared with other, more prolific, early Eighties acts,and better of many others.While I reiterate my opinionable thoughts about the production, I can recommend this record for those who like groups such as Raven, Jaguar and the aggressive, but still "melodic" fringe of N.W.O.B.H.M.
(Stefano Coderoni)




MARQUIS DE SADE--Same--(LP 2005 Hades Paradise Records,limited edition 1000 copies)

Not so "vicious" as their name suggests, Marquise De Sade are a true underground legend in the N.W.O.B.H.M. scene. Authors of an only one single, released in 1981 and considered one of the rarest and most expensive heavy metal 7" of the period, the group split in 1982 and their bassist played later with Blind Furry and then with Angel Witch. This album includes that mythical single ("Somewhere up in the mountains"), an alternate version of that same track in 1979, when the group name was Mix Stix, the B-side of the single "Black Angel" and three excellent tracks, originally only available on demo tape, before the 7" was recorded. The group could afford a not so common song writing ability and an eclectic singer (Chris Gordelier), able to follow, with absolute ease, each, sometimes very complex, sound shading. Marquis De Sade style was not like the N.W.O.B.H.M. usual standards, and they're able to sapiently mix an heavy impact with the melodic sound of the late Seventies hard/prog groups. Their best tracks are characterized by some "time -signatures", fairly unusual for the most classic metal; "Living in the ice age", an unusual track with an unpredictable structure, with an ending influenced by the more famous Seventies progressive/psychedelic bands, can be a good example of their elaborate compositive approach, fuelled by a deep musical culture, and of a fairly original style, not easily accessible, well delivered by an inspired and theatrical vocalist. Marquise De Sade seemed not to be obsessed by a forced metal impact, and their music is enriched by several different shadings, seemingly not suffering from the cheap youngish hysteria of some groups of that period or from the presumptuous of some Rush wannabe with no talent or musicianship. Marquise De Sade were no geniuses, but they distinguished themselves from the mass di opportunists, common in that period like it is today. And that is enough. This is one of those albums which can be appealing to a public not bound to the classic standards of N.W.O.B.H.M. or to the appeal of collecting.
(STEFANO CODERONI)




METAL MIRROR-1--(LP 2006 High Roller records,limited edition 500 copies)

Sometimes we could (or should) give credits to old groups too, if they deserve(d) them, but never for time or age reasons.
Coming from Middlesex, English Metal Mirror were one of the most promising bands of New Wave Of British Heavy Metal scene. They released an excellent (and now highly quoted, in terms of collectibles) single, printed in about 1000 copies and, in 1981, they recorded a track included in the "Heavy metal heroes" compilation, for the label Heavy Metal Records, before they split the following year. Thanks to the always aware High Roller, we can now enjoy the true potential of this band with this unreleased LP, recorded completely live on 15 June 1981, at Dingwalls Club in Camden, London. The album is dedicated to the guitarist Chris Haggerty, died in 2004. Haggerty and the other guitarist Paul Butterworth formed a very solid guitar duo, playing numerous solos, on the wake of Judas Priest and the likes.. The aggressive and viciously pitched voice of the singer Cameron Vegas, although maintaining a proper personality, can remind, in some tracks, the early Paul Di'Anno of esordient Iron Maiden and many fans of early Iron Maiden will be very interested in this group. Although Metal Mirror weren't that original, they were the classic band "with attitude", absolutely devastating in their live performances, as we can hear now.. The good quality of this release shows a great group with a devastating live act, although some occasional flaws that don't affect the impact of songs like "English Booze", "Hard life" and the others, rhythmically enhanced by one of the best and most underrated drummers of that scene.
If you listen to Metal Mirror - who were than considered a group of "losers" - nowadays, in a period when whoever can act like a rock star, you realize once again how times, and groups in general, have changed. For the worse. (STEFANO CODERONI)






METAL MIRROR 2--(LP 2006 High Roller Records,limited edition 500 copies)

The second full-lenght work by Metal Mirror was released a few months after the first one, featuring the other tracks recorded live in 1981 in Camden, London, not included in the previous album. Besides these tracks, we can listen to both sides of their 1980 single, and the track included in the compilation "Heavy metal heroes, vol.1" released in 1981. Personally, I prefer the live part. Back then, and sometimes it still happens today, many official studio recordings, because of the production, couldn't properly capture the true energy of the band - and this is an essential quality when it comes to heavy metal - and the Metal Mirror's studio recordings, although their good productions, are confirming the rule. I think that this Lp too, just like their previous one, is bound to become a collectors-item, soon impossible to find because of its limited edition and its inner value. You've been warned. (STEFANO CODERONI)






OVERDRIVE--Three corners to nowhere (LP,2006,limited edition 500 copies + free patch. High Roller Records)

The come back on scene of English Overdrive (not to be confused with the Sweden group) is one of the most convincing, thanks to the good quality of their previous work "On wizard ridge". While other more famous groups of New Wave Of British Heavy Metal got back in the recording studios unable to re-create their old performs, on the contrary Overdrive recorded two excellent Lps, with tracks kept in the drawer for over 20 years that don't suffer from that long time inactivity, but are fuelled by the determined will of those who were far from the scenes too long. Embellished by one of the best fantasy sleeves of the latest years, "Three corners to nowhere" reiterates the high quality of their previous Lp, with itsheavy/fantasy style and a better production. Overdrive pay homage to the best tradition of the fantasy side of N.W.O.B.H.M., not forgetting to replicate some of its clichés (such as the spoken-intro, already present in a similar version in "on wizard ridge"), but revisiting it with a song-writing directly coming from the keyboard oriented Seventies hard rock, balanced between Uriah Heep, Rainbow (Dio-era), Nightwing etc.
Amongst the tracks of this must-have Lp I'd like to point out "Marshall Law", with one of the most incredible keyboards-solo ever in heavy metal with an outstanding sound choice, and "Trapped in time", embellished by a brilliant central instrumental section, according to the intuitions of the best Seventies hard/prog bands, which preferred dark and menacing sounds. The production enhanced with skill the tight sound of the heaviest side of Overdrive, giving strength to the various moods of an album not at all cheap and repetitive.
The amusing notes written by the group members on the album innersleeve don't pay them justice. The irony they use in self-descripting their "job" as musicians, the way they filosophically detache themselves from the so called Rock Stars, "sounds very british humour", but it's not completely convincing. I could have forgiven a bit of arrogance from Overdrive's part, instead I have to underline not only their dexterity, but also a disarming humbleness.
Many "modern" musicians should learn something from the Overdrive. And I'm not referring only to their music.
(STEFANO CODERONI)



OVERDRIVE--On wizard ridge--(LP 2006 High Roller Records, limited edition 500 copies)

Coming from Lincolnshire, the english Overdrive (not to be confused with the Sweden group) in the early Eighties experienced that same bad fate of many of their, less inspired, colleagues. Authors of one of the best(and rare) underground singles of the time, Overdrive couldn't live up the indifference of the press and the unnerving line up changes and split in 1982. They tried again in 1989, recording the album "Dishonest words", as unsuccessful as the previous one. Only recently, thanks to a market far more receptive to their style, they reformed, appearing again in 2005 with the Cd "On wizard ridge", released by a Greek indie. The album I'm reviewing here is the vinyl version of that same LP, with a different and far better artwork. I can state that this is absolutely one of the best "come-back" of N.W.O.B.H.M. whole scene (and not only) and the 11 tracks, written between 1977 and 1981, would not pale in comparison with many other records of more famous bands. I could define Overdrive's style like "Fantasy-metal", without all those power-metal features of the recent trends; the breathtaking use of keyboards (in solos as well as in atmospheric passages), the melodic vocals and the constant search for epic (and sometimes dark)musical landscapes, link Overdrive to such groups as Uriah Heep, Nightwing, and those bands of N.W.O.B.H.M. devoted to a hard-rock sound, with a generous amount of keyboards (White Spirit, Axxis, Saracen,etc.). The production of the record is good, putting the modern technology to good use in enhancing the details without losing an "old-fashioned", warm and passionate approach. With no intention to underrate a perfect rhythmic section and an effective and balanced singing, I must point out the guitarist Tracey Abbot, with his powerful and balanced riffs and solos which would deserve a larger audience, and the original keyboard player Lee Sculthorpe, whose superb keyboards drive the music of the group through unsuspectable perspectives; seldom did I have the chance to listen, in a guitar oriented musical contest, a keyboard player able to convey such shadings and sounds (listen to tracks like "Nuclear bomb"...).
"On wizard ridge" should make the N.W.O.B.H.M. fans agree with those of Seventies hard rock, and if someone out there is not sleeping, I think that this record should be re-issued several times..... (STEFANO CODERONI)



SPARTA--Same--(LP 2006 Hades Paradise Records,limited edition 500 copies)

Sparta formed in 1980 and split up in 1987, after releasing just two singles and a track for a metal compilation. Now, in this self-titled vinyl offering published by Hades Paradise Records, the compilation-track and a b-side of a single are released together with five songs included in their 1981 demo tape. Sparta played a typical N.W.O.B.H.M. style, far from the more obsolete hard/rock, with more aggressive impact thanks to two guitars-attack (Tony Foster and Steve Reders), and to good vocal parts by singer Karl Reders. Despite their resounding early proclamations (they showed themselves among the best Heavy Metal acts of that time), Sparta, anyway, deserved a greater attention, and their heroic-filled songs (too much highlighted in the artwork of this LP) can be compared, more or less, with the most part of NEAT, Ebony etc. releases of that time, and tunes such as "Angel of death" (NO-Angel Witch-connections!!) and "Boy king" could be considered as minor-classics highly regarded by die-hard N.W.O.B.H.M. and Old-Style Metal fans.
(STEFANO CODERONI)



HAKENKREUZ NOCTURNA--Eternal introspective winter (CD limited handnumbered edition of 500 copies.Algiz Art 2007)

They define their music "cold intense black metal art", and nothing left to say. They're from Italy and they recorded this first official CD in Abruzzo, and it's funny to say that (as inner-notes of the CD state) Italian Mount Velino can inspire this Black Metal Band much more than the more famous and cold Northern landscapes, and I declare it without a trace of irony. Actually, being Black Metal (in its intentions), one of the most philosophically-inclined Rock forms, it's not contradictory for a Black Metal group to look for (and in the best cases, REACH), an inner-creative force and its reasons in its inner being and not outside, casting the outside world to a mere irrilevant role, to a simple excuse. So, beyond the many Nature's creative inputs and its pure forms, the celebration of just one single and chosen environment (as usual in Northern Black Metal), doesn't seem to me so determinant for a pure creative act. This group, not so original in its musical style and beyond the musical value of this CD, claims a more severe philosophical approach to life and music than many competitors unable to offer more than another boring face-painting......The misantropic black metal of Hakenkreutz Nocturna is a vicious offspring of Darkthrone's sound, but this group is not too deeply into the self-indulging area, and one blood-chilling, icy keyboards-only instrumental track leads to a deeper reflection all those who think that the majority of blacksters musicians doesn't have enough musical skills...... The production is "rough" as this style needs, and this CD is no less worthy than the most offerings of recent True Black Metal.

(STEFANO CODERONI)




DAMNA RECORDS & BOOKS is a registered trademark. All rights reserved. No parts of DAMNA RECORDS & BOOKS texts can be reproduced in every forms or by electronical means, without explicit authorization by the owners.