By Various Artists
Galloping into view with more nostalgia than a thousand reminiscing grandparents, 'Classic Rock Presents: New Wave Of British Heavy Metal' does exactly what it says on the tin, and wastes no time in bringing things right back to the 70s, tearing straight into Diamond Head's 'Am I Evil?', a stone cold classic by anyone's standards, which has seen something of a deserved revival in recent times thanks to The Big Four's performance of it when they play together, such as when they dazzled the Sonisphere crowd with it this summer. Diamond Head are the first of a series of big names to appear on this compilation; Saxon, Girlschool, Angel Witch and Venom all provide stellar additions to the tracklisting, none more so than Venom's 'Bloodlust', which is quite possibly the best track on this CD, crushing any listener's initial doubts about the potency of the NWOBHM. That's not to say that there aren't quality contributions from some of the smaller players, though; though they found success in their prime, few people would consider Bitches Sin, Tygers Of Pan Tang or Samson household names in this day and age, which is a shame, as their tracks are amongst the best, in particular the punk laced blasts of Bitches Sin's 'Down The Road' and Sweet Savage's lightning-quick 'Killing Time', which easily hold their own against the titans of the movement.
However, that is not to say that this release is all killer; far from it, indeed. White Spirit's 'Backs To The Grind' sounds so dull that the only thing keeping you awake is the terrible, tinkering keyboards, and Girl's 'My Number' features lyrics so bad that Rebecca Black would cringe, and moves at the speed of a wounded tortoise. Above all, though, the thing which is holding this release back is that it sounds so dated that you're surprised that it doesn't come with a miniature denim jacket of its own. Yes, bands like Venom still sound as nasty as ever, nearly 30 years on, but time has softened the blow of this once dangerous movement. As such, it's a release which it's easy to appreciate- the influence which the NWOBHM had upon heavy music is phenomenal- but for many listeners it will lack the extremity which gave it such impact all those years ago. Coupled with some notable omissions (Iron Maiden? Pre-Mutt Lange era Def Leppard, anyone?) this release will face an uphill struggle if it aims to interest the youth of today.
Still, it's nice to hear that people are obviously still interested in this most legendary and influential of movements, and despite the patchy consistency of this compilation, there is enough quality on here to shine brightly through the filler. If you're looking for more extreme music, then you should look to the bands who took their cues from this era- Slayer, perhaps?-, but either way, the NWOBHM should be enjoyed by everyone, because although it may sound dated, the quality of it remains timeless.