Looking back, it’s hard to view 1984 as anything other than a banner year for heavy metal. The sheer amount of world-beating releases across a wide range of styles is almost unmatched by any year to follow. What we now call traditional metal provided an onslaught of classics, thrash and power metal both launched themselves headlong into the international fray, Sabbath’s legacy was in fine form via the first releases from Trouble, Saint Vitus and Paul Chain Violet Theatre, and thirty-five years on most black metal still comes up short against the triumvirate of Apocalyptic Raids, Morbid Tales, and Bathory’s self-titled debut. It would also mark the (semi-official) end of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, the very movement which would sow the seeds for much of the development that followed. So then, with metal exploding worldwide on an previously-unmatched level, with this article we’re taking a look at what happened in the wake of the NWOBHM.
The history of Satan is a long and complicated one. Originally formed in 1979, they were musically among the cutting edge of the NWOBHM, but were inundated with quite a few lineup changes, most notably as far as their vocalists go. They ended up changing their name several times over the 80’s – first as Satan, then as the band who did today’s album (Blind Fury), back to Satan for an EP and an album, and then to Pariah for a couple more thrash albums at the end of the 80’s.
Pagan Altar’s debut has an odd history all its own. It was originally recorded in 1982 and circulated around the underground as demo tapes for the better part of the 80’s and 90’s, only finally seeing the light of day officially as Volume 1 in 1998, along several other reissues in the years since.
Gladius & Goēteia: A Guide to Classical Mythology & History in Traditional Heavy Metal (Pt. I: 80’s Origins)
The gladius was the standard-issue sword of the Roman legions, whence the word gladiator gets its name. Goēteia is the ancient Greek word for sorcery. While much of traditional heavy metal old and new has been inspired by “sword and sorcery” literature, as well as by the legends and history of medieval Europe, several bands have peered further into the past to the classical world of Greece and Rome. From sorceresses enthroned on remote Aegean isles to swords dancing in the imperial arena, our heavy metal gods and heroes have time and again put the Classics in classics.
There are masterpieces, and then there are masterpieces. What I mean to say is, an album I might describe as a “masterpiece” usually tends to become so in my perception in one of two ways: the first is the type in which it’s immediately, or at least quickly, obvious that it’s a challenging, cerebral album, one that has the potential to be a “masterpiece” in some way, but which takes a lot of time to fully digest and understand. Albums I would put in this category include Fates Warning’s Awaken the Guardian, Psychotic Waltz’s A Social Grace, and Holocaust’s Covenant. The other kind, though, doesn’t necessarily immediately (or ever) strike me as overly cerebral or complex or challenging; it might not even seem especially interesting or ambitious upon the first few listens. This sort of masterpiece is more subtle in a way; its brilliance creeps up on you gradually, and at some point you suddenly realize everything works together perfectly, or the juxtaposition of melodies just strikes you in a way that you never noticed before. Albums I’d put in this category would include Screamer’s Target Earth, The Mist of Avalon’s Here and After, and, getting more to the point of the review, the self-titled debut from British post-NWOBHM act Full Moon.