Traditional Metal / “NWOBHM” from the UK
“The New Wave of British Heavy Metal” are words seared into the brain of virtually every metalhead out there. The NWOBHM was a musical movement originating in the UK that started sometime in the late 70s and ended in the early/mid 80s. This movement featured beloved bands such as Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Motorhead, and Venom. It thrust heavy metal music into the mainstream and sparked worldwide interest in the genre. The NWOBHM represented far more than just a popularization of metal music; the seeds of power metal, speed metal, and extreme metal were sown from this movement. The crucial impact that the NWOBHM had on the development of heavy metal cannot be understated.
While the importance of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal isn’t a point of debate, the exact time period it spanned certainly is. For the sake of this discussion, I’ll define the NWOBHM as the time between 1977-1984. There were a numb er of releases before and after this of course. However, aside from notable exceptions like Black Sabbath, I don’t think most of the releases prior to 1977 were heavy enough to be considered metal and new bands after 1984 unfortunately got swept under the rug as the attention of the worldwide metal community shifted elsewhere. Charger is a shining example of a band that fits into the latter category.
Charger released just one single in 1987 – two songs totaling under seven minutes of music. That’s it. There’s so little material to sink your teeth into and even less information out there about the band. Despite the band’s shamefully tiny catalog, they’ve left such an impact on me that I am compelled to talk about them so many years after stumbling across their music. There’s something magical present in this album that resonates with me.
Desperadoes is an undeniably energetic, lead-driven affair – iconic twin-guitars are the centerpiece of Charger’s sound. Strong and punchy rhythm sections drive the music forward, but the melodies really steal the show. Both tracks, “Desperadoes” and “Are You Out There,” are littered with emotional twin-guitar melodies and blazing fast solos that call to mind bands like Jaguar, Angel Witch, and Satan. Singer Colin Bell works perfectly in conjunction with the guitars to create pure magic. His vocals are everything I could possibly want in this type of style – soaring mid-ranges with just enough grit and attitude to give them character. The closest point of comparison would be Cloven Hoof‘s Russ North, the vocalist for Dominator and A Sultan’s Ransom.
Even though Charger released only two songs, they managed to demonstrate a broad range of sounds across them. “Desperadoes” is the faster paced song out of the two and with a seemingly non- stop flurry of blistering guitar solos and catchy vocal hooks it’s certainly the livlier one. The band’s energy, charisma, and presence really comes out in this song – it makes you feel like you’re right there on stage with them. Charger takes it down a notch with “Are You Out There” – here they favor a more mellowed out approach. The guitars are no longer at the forefront and Colin Bell’s vocals take the reigns instead. I prefer the unrelenting guitar action and frantic pace of the opening track, but together these two songs demonstrate a band with a wide range of talents. Surprisingly, the production and mix are clean enough to showcase Charger’s brilliance – entirely unexpected for an independent single in the 80s.
Desperadoes is an unbelievably high energy single that stylistically would have fit with the rest of the NWOBHM in 1982/1983. The band was just far too late to ride the New Wave of British Heavy Metal movement and instead ended up fizzling out. Charger are a perfect example of why timing and luck matter so much when it comes to success. The songwriting is impeccable – the songs on Desperadoes deserve a spot alongside the legends of the NWOBHM. Do yourself a favor and spend seven minutes of your life listening to this single – I guarantee you won’t regret it.
Album Rating: 94/100
Favorite Track: Desperadoes