Friday, February 22, 2008

Heavy Metal Heroes (1981 Heavy Metal Records)

Staying on the subject of label debuts, one of my favorite NWOBHM compilations is also the first LP on Heavy Metal Records. They had released a few singles earlier in 1981, but this was their first full length album.
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Oddly enough the “cover” (for this version anyway) was actually issued as a separate insert:
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1. Twisted Ace – “I Won’t Surrender”: Most people who have heard this band don’t seem to like them, but I do. The biggest problem with this song seems to be that they aren’t sure what they want to be. This is particularly obvious in the vocals, such as the falsetto chorus or the “Hocus Pocus” bit near the end. A slightly different version was released as the B-side to their “Firebird” single.
2. Grim Reaper – “The Reaper”: In my opinion this is one of the best Grim Reaper songs, despite (or perhaps because of) the different singer. This song eventually evolved into “Final Scream” on their 1985 Fear No Evil LP.
3. Jaguar – “Stormchild”: One of many NWOBHM songs to have this title. A decent song, similar to their “Back Street Woman” single, though Jaguar would get better than this (before getting much worse). Rereleased on the 2002 Power Games – The Anthology compilation CD.
4. Soldier – “Storm of Steel”: The first and probably heaviest song by this solid NWOBHM band. Rerecorded by the recently reformed band for their 2005 Sins of the Warrior CD.
5. Bitches Sin – “Strangers on the Shore”: This song was rerecorded for their 1982 Predator LP, but the version on this compilation is so much better. It sounds heavier and surprisingly less sloppy, in addition to being about a minute longer.
6. Metal Mirror – “Hard Life”: This song is OK, but I’ll never understand why their similar sounding single can sell for $150 or more. Rereleased as a bonus track on the 2006 II LP.
7. The Handsome Beasts – “Local Heroes”: A decent, slightly bluesy effort with a catchy chorus, also on their 1981 Beastiality LP. Later rerecorded for their 2004 CD which was rather unoriginally titled 04.
8. Buffalo – “Cold As Night”: I love everything about this song, from the epic, almost doomy intro to the awesome riff to the fist pounding chorus. Originally exclusive, but later released on the 1999 Best of Buffalo CD.
9. Expozer – “Rock Japan”: The most commercial sounding song on here, but still an enjoyable piece with a great solo. Also on their sole release, a 1980 single titled Exposed at Last.
10. Split Beaver – “Running Wild”: Exclusive track from this AC/DC clone. Like the similar band Starfighters, they’re good but ultimately unremarkable.
11. Dragster – “Do It!”: An energetic and well-done song, though the BDSM lyrics are a bit silly. Also exclusive.
12. Witchfinder General – “Rabies”: This was actually the first Witchfinder General song I had ever heard and when I did my reaction was, “this is what all the hype is about?” That would later change as you will see in my next entry. This is the same as the version on their 1982 Soviet Invasion EP, and therefore was also reissued on their 2007 Buried Among the Ruins CD.

Available Formats: There are 2 versions of the vinyl release – the one pictured above and one with a proper cover showing the above insert. A cassette version was also released as well as a 1996 CD reissue (split with volume 2) on British Steel.

Value: $20-30 (LP), $8-10 (cassette), $25-30 (CD)


Anonymous said...

I just wantetd to say that your blog is very interesting. Its a great idea to focus on old compilations. Will you cover Heavy Artillery (Auburn Records) in the future?

Keir said...

Thanks for the interest in my blog. I'm sticking with compilations that I actually own and unfortunately Heavy Artillery isn't one of them. Sorry!

Mettle H said...

This edition with the seperate insert was the first pressing - I bought it the week it came out!

Keir said...

I thought that was probably the case, but I wasn't sure. Thanks for the info!

Anonymous said...

Nightsblood from The corroseum here. Nice entry! HMH has never been a personal favorite, but it's definitely a worthy inclusion here. My main beef is that several bands are 'still in the demo stage' at this point and would go on to record much better material later (e.g., the not-so-hot Witchfinder General song you pointed out).
FYI, copies of the orig. press will often, but not always, sell in the $30-50 range and it remains a very popular item among collectors.

Anonymous said...

Nightsblood again.
Forgot to mention; that Metal Mirror 7" was a very limited pressing (only a few hundred made) and that's why it sells for so much. Musically it's nothing special, but folks pay big bucks for crappy sounding records if they're rare enough :)

Anonymous said...

Hi, I don't suppose you know where I can get hold of a copy of this. I was the singer in Grim Reaper at the time and lost my copy years\ago. Cheers

Keir said...

Hi! Nice to hear from you. Send me an email at

nnyspaz said...

This Grim Reaper is nice kind of like thin lizzy. no pics of paul vocals .