Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The origins of the NWOTHM? Its the NWOBHM!

Question: So im wondering who started this nwothm thing in your opinion, I actually think its a band from the other side of canada to cauldron. 3 inches of blood, sounds bizare I know however they were playing traditional style heavy metal to metalcore audiences. infact their formation as a hardcore band is what helped with their touring and punk esque ethic to DIYing everything. Im curious as to whom your opinion is to whom think the root of this nwothm is? From:

Answer: It's hard to credit who is responsible for the upsurge in interest in bands playing classic Traditional/True/Timeless Heavy Metal, but it sure wasn't 3 Inches of Blood, at least according to my definition of NWOTHM anyway.

There have been countless bands in recent years playing modern music with hints of a traditional metal flavour from the past.You could count Power metal (Hammerfall) or Doom (Electric Wizard) or even Sleaze-Rock (Steel Panther) or straight-up 70s rockers (Firebird). All these bands lay claim to be playing authentic proper Metal in the classic tradition.

What they all have in common is that as far as influences go, they skipped the 90s- a decade where Death/Black metal and extremity in music came to be highly regarded, rising to prominence so much that Black/Death metal had more or less come to represent the mainstream modern underground metal sound during 1990s onward.They also skipped the noughties (00s)- a decade defined by Korn/Bizkit and endless rap/metal, nu-metal clones,plus female gothic and any type of metal with an added 'core'.You could sum it up as a decade of crossovers, metal was mixed, remixed, cut-up,and matched to suit all tastes, even symphony orchestras were added to metal and nobody seemingly complained. Urgh- why?!! Now a stampede of pure, undiluted True/traditional/Timeless metal bands are set to take the stage.

(Disclosure-I'm not a journalist or pundit, I'm an Indie metal label owner. My label signed some of the bands listed in the below NWOTHM list and this blog aims to help promote those bands.At the time of posting, none of the bands are anything much, most have'nt even barely released their debut album yet.As an aside, Earache never used the term NWOTHM- that was coined by Metal Hammer mag, and seems to have stuck)

If you've followed metal trends for a while, you'll know, aside from the ludicrous Italian Power Metal bands, or the postings of Rich Walker's Miskatonic label, as well as the Kings of Metal themselves, Manowar, there has not been too many bands claiming "True metal" status in recent years. In the underground, its mostly been the Doom metal bands who have been the ones flying the flag for "true metal" for the longest time. Doom bands by definition have no problem with being retro,being originally all about Black Sabbath worship, then lately branching out into other 70s classic metal offshoots. Look at the Rise Above Records roster for a comprehensive list of the bands who revel in the sounds of this era, a great example is probably Grand Magus.

Being retro is a large part of what makes the Doom genre cool, but by and large the Doom bands have concentrated on perfecting the riffs of trad metal, ignoring the 3 octave vocal Halford/Dickinson-style "metal scream" which in my opinion is the defining essence of the new breed of NWOTHM bands. I have no idea why they ignored this - my guess is its 1) harder to perfect 2) derided as "cheesy" and 3) mostly the ages of the members of the bands means they are products of the Death metal era and so growly vocals are de rigeur.Doom has always been about the authentic riffs anyway.

The one band who did most to popularise true HM first would be Sweden's WOLF.

My own definition of NWOTHM could be summed up as early Maiden/Priest worship.I mean metal with nimble riffing, and great classic vocals.In essence the roots of the NWOTHM is the NWOBHM, unsuprisingly- the clue is in the name. The key element is the 'NW' meaning New Wave, alluding to influence from the original NWOBHM era which dated from about 1979-1982 in the UK.This time span witnessed a huge explosion of metal bands with an almost punky DIY attitude and threw up so many debut seven inch records - it was the evolutionary equivalent of metal's 'Cambrian explosion', and could be summed up as Heavy Metal's "Punk phase", where anything went, more DIY the better.

For me personally, any bands with 60s, 70s, 80s classic rock/metal influences, that makes them retro, and even quite cool in many cases, but to qualify as NWOTHM their strongest influence must undoubtedly be the bands of the original NWOBHM era.Scandinavian bands can substitute Merciful Fate for Maiden and still be authentic.

Earache has signed retro rock in the past, we signed both Clutch (as a quirky Philly HC band) and Sleep ( as straight-up Sabbath worshippers) in the 90's, Cathedral also, and in my opinion the bands playing retro rock nowadays are nothing original, nothing excites me from the entire Kemado label roster for instance, and the proggy or psyche touches displayed by certain metal bands claiming true metal status also leave me cold.

Retro-rock is big business nowadays, from the stellar sales of Wolfmother to the psyche touches in Mastodon, every band in the land has a retro-rock flavour, its standard fare almost.

To counter this, and cos my tastes are quite niche, in my opinion NWOTHM must be narrowly defined, its about 79 Maiden/Priest era, nimble riffs in normal tuning, not ponderous downtuned Iommi style riffs- actually and most crucially, its the punky slant that is missing from most of the other current retro bands, its this punky aspect which makes the NWOTHM bands by far the most contemporary-sounding metal bands around presently.

Also it goes without saying that regular recent-ish Metalcore bands who adopt a few half-assed high (ish) metal screams here and there don't cut the mustard, I'm afraid.3 Inches of Blood are basically OK, and have a few songs which were a really good stab at the style, I do quite like them -in fact I tried to sign the band recently without success.3 inches of Blood are a band stuck in the middle of two scenes, they were'nt fully NWOTHM when they had second short-haired screamo-singer Jamie.He ruined the band for me, his screamo vocals more or less ruining the effect of true metal singer Cam Pipes, who is excellent.

3 Inches of Blood:

A young band who trailblazed the way in 2007-8 for retro rock to be cool again, and on a major label too, was Florida's BLACK TIDE, though they did not have high pitched vocals. Heres Black Tide 'Show Me The Way' clip


Grand Magus
Slough Feg
The Gates of Slumber
Viking Skull
The Sword
Sister Sin
Black Stone Cherry
Steel Panther
Heaven's Basement
Holy Grail
3 Inches of Blood
The Devil's Blood
Dear Superstar
Savage Blade
Sinister Realm
Twisted Tower Dire
High Spirits
Metal Law
Conquest Of Steel
Steel Horse
White Skull
Barn Burner


Powervice ex-members formed Devils Blood
White Wizzard ex-members formed Holy Grail
Helvetets Port
Crowning Glory
Volture - Ryan & Phil from Municipal Waste's great NWOTHM side project.
Icarus Witch
Overloaded Split-Guitarist Erik joined White Wizzard
In Solitude
Evil Survives
Diamond Snake
JC Satellite

Here's WHITE WIZZARD 'Over The Top' Official Video




Here's RAM :

Heres Overloaded (RIP)

heres Crowning Glory :

heres Voltax :

And the youngest newcomers of them all- JC Satellite:


Helm said...

I wonder if you try hard enough if this movement you're going for will catch on with listeners. I wonder if 20 years from now when we discuss the latter part of the 00's will we speak of this 'NWOTHM' like we speak of NWOBHM now, or will it just be an amusing anecdote for those in the know, how you tried and tried to make these bands into a movement but failed.

Here's a historical perspective: cultural movements are named and cleanly defined in retrospect, not by a label owner trying to make his marketing work. People do that because they need a name for a cultural force that has been influential and significant. Aleksey Kruchenykh for example, might have objected to having been called a futurist, but nobody would object to saying he was influential and significant.

Time will tell if the 5-6 bands you have put into this group will leave an enduring mark and if they do, if future listeners will characterize them as a movement. Until then, I don't think you're helping them at all with the initializing and the claims of 'timelessness'.

Mick Usher said...

None of the NWOTHM bands in their current forms will come close to Priest or Maiden's contribution to Metal's legacy.
The NWO_HM or Thrash revivalists don't come remotely close to the original artists that influenced them.
That said, I think it's bands that are following these two strains of metal that have the best chance of morphing into something that will define the next era of metal. Because let's face it - all the "(fill in the blank)-core" bands suck so incredibly matter how cool their TShirts are.
...well, that's my Christmas rant.
I feel so much better now. ;-p

Lewis said...

I actually regard the nwobhm as the bands who were influenced by tony bourke of budgie and later tredegar's nimble style of playing as opposed to the iommi worship of some bands. For me bourke is the godfather of that style of heavy metal if prob the most under appreciated.

Anonymous said...

lol i ment bourge not bourke

Tim said...

How no mention of Slough Feg?