Monday, March 3, 2008

Heavy Metal Heroes Volume II (1982 Heavy Metal Records)

I'll get to some more obscure compilations soon, but I should probably follow up my Heavy Metal Heroes review with one of the sequel. Volume II is a bit more eclectic, including some songs that delve into AOR, prog and even new wave territory. It’s understandably less revered, but still should not be overlooked.
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Again, I apologize for the crappy scans. Still working on a better method.

1. Lionheart – “Lionheart”: The album surprisingly starts off nearly identical to the Dragster song from the previous volume but soon we hear the powerful chorus and this turns out to be one of the better songs on this LP. Quite a bit different from their more commercial sounding Hot Tonight LP from 1984. In 1999 this song was rereleased on a Japanese-only 2-CD compilation of rare and unreleased tracks called Unearthed: Raiders of the Lost Archives.
2. Shiva – “En Cachent”: Usually compared to Rush, I find this song has more in common with another Canadian trio, Triumph. Either way it’s a great prog-tinged NWOBHM song that also appears on their 1982 Firedance LP. A different recording of the song was released on their 2004 Continuance CD.
3. Pallas – “Arrive Alive”: Scottish band Pallas continue the progressive trend, but they mix it with a new wave sound. Don’t let that scare you though, it’s a song that most melodic metal fans should enjoy. This is the title track from their 1981 cassette only release which was reissued on CD in 2004. It was also rerecorded as “Eyes in the Night” and released as a single in 1984. I like this version better because while “Eyes of the Night” is arguably more metal, “Arrive Alive” is less polished and commercial sounding.
4. Mendes Prey – “What the Hell’s Going On”: An exclusive song similar to more mainstream bands like Michael Schenker Group.
5. Mantle-Swallow Palmer – “Ice Cold Diamond”: Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, you just can’t find enough info on a particular band. All I could find out was that the latter part of their name comes from drummer Steve Palmer who played in Glenn Tipton’s first group, The Flying Hat Band. I have no idea who Mantle or Swallow are, or if the trio released any other recordings. The song itself is a decent but unremarkable 70s style rocker.
6. Overkill – “Out of My Head”: From a band with an all-too-common moniker we have another exclusive song with a galloping rhythm and nice chorus in much the same vein as their lone 1981 “Elemental” single.
7. Jess Cox – “Devil’s Triangle”: Jess Cox’ post-Tygers of Pan Tang career consists mostly of dull, radio-friendly hard rock. However, this exclusive track is actually kind of heavy and at least moderately interesting.
8. Twisted Ace – “This Fire Inside”: Twisted Ace finally stopped pretending to be a metal band with this unreleased single, and it works! The result is nice, catchy melodic rock/AOR which is what I think they were meant to play from the start. This song was originally slated to be released as Heavy 14 but for whatever reason was only released on this compilation, leaving a mysterious gap in the label’s catalog.
9. Witchfinder General – “Free Country”: As I said in my review of the first Heavy Metal Heroes, I was not a fan of WG upon first listen. However, when I heard this song I became an instant fan. Even “Rabies” has since grown on me. This is the same version as on their 1983 Friends of Hell LP.
10. No Faith – “Oh Well”: Perhaps taking a cue from Judas Priest, No Faith decided to cover an old Peter Green-era Fleetwood Mac song. Unfortunately, the song they chose was never that good to begin with and the end result is absolutely terrible. This song is exclusive, the band’s only other output being a rare private issue single in1981.
11. Persian Risk – “Calling for You”: Some classic Welsh NWOBHM that is much more metal than their later material. Powerful vocals by Carl Sentance and some good guitar soloing make this one of my favorite songs of the genre. The song was originally released as a single in 1981. According to Malc Macmillan’s NWOBHM Encyclopedia, the two versions are different, but I can’t tell them apart. Given that the single is quite rare and usually exceeds $100 when sold, this compilation is a cheap way to get it.
12. No Quarter – “Power and the Key”: Another fine song from a band out of Wales. As their name would suggest No Quarter was strongly influenced by Led Zeppelin. However, on this exclusive track they take a more traditional and energetic NWOBHM approach.

Available Formats: In addition to the vinyl release there was a 1996 CD reissue (split with volume 1) on British Steel.

Value: $15-20 (LP), $25-30 (CD)


Anonymous said...

Nightsblood here. Another nice review! I've never heard this one in its entirety; always seemed to include a lot of mediocre material. The Persian Risk song is a true highlight of the NWOBHM genre, though that single will cost closer to $200+ if you want the picture sleeve with it. The Mendes Prey track is a great one; they're one of my favorite nwobhm bands.

Keir said...

Yes you are probably right about that Persian Risk single. I need to check out some of Mendes Prey's other songs one of these days.