NWOBHM WEDNESDAY: SPARTAN WARRIOR
United Kingdom's Spartan Warrior were formed in 1980. With an original line-up consisting of Dave Wilkinson on vocals, Neil Wilkinson on guitar, Tom Spencer on bass and Gordon Webster on drums the band would spent their first two years crafting their own take on the NWOBHM sound. Second guitarist John Stormont was added although he wouldn't last long. Baz Warne replaced Stormont before being replaced himself by Paul Swaddle. In 1983 they released the "Cold Hearted" demo as well as having two tracks included on the Guardian Records sampler Pure Overkill. 1983 would prove to be a busy year for the band as it also saw the release of their debut album Steel n' Chains. As with their 1984 s/t release the album Steel n' Chains showed that the band was capable of writing music that was both heavy (and similar in nature to bands like Saxon and Iron Maiden) and melodic (almost traditional rock in nature like the softer "Don't Wanna Be a Loser"). Even though the record was not a heavy seller Roadrunner Records saw enough in them to take a chance. They ended up signing the group and releasing their eponymous sophomore album in 1984. This time around though the album was both a critical and commercial success. The album's mix of hard rock and heavy metal caught on with fans and the band seemed headed to the top. Even though they had made their debut at the tail end of the NWOBHM movement the band looked poised to make a move into the mainstream hard rock/heavy metal scene. Conflicts within the band arose though. There were problems with their label. Around 1985 with tensions between band members at an all time high Spartan Warrior called it a day. That could have been the end of Spartan Warrior's story. An all too familiar story in fact. In 2006 a digitally remastered version of Spartan Warrior was released. As we've seen with several other NWOBHM groups and eighties metal bands time does heals old wounds. Reforming Spartan Warrior the group released "Never Take Me Alive" in 2009. The song was originally recorded for the Steel n Chains album but didn't make it onto the album. The group re-recorded the song and released it as a single. 2010 would see the release of Behind Closed Eyes (Ironage Records) as the band looks to recapture their past glory. For a great overview of their 1984 s/t affair be sure to check out Mark's review in the archives. Spartan Warrior are another band too often forgotten about in conversations about the NWOBHM. That is a shame too because both of their early albums are worthwhile additions to any true NWOBHM fan's collection.
Metal Mark says-
I'm listening to their self-titled album as I write this and reflect on this band. They formed as the movement was in full swing, but their demo and albums came towards the end of the NWOBHM. As we all know it was such a crowded scene that it was given that not everyone was going to achieve success. These guys were very good and extremely tight. The vocals are strong and I have to give some real credit to the rhythm section who made themselves known and help guide the way. They walked the line betwene hard rock and metal at times and did that trick well which something not all bands can do. I do think their material sounded a couple years behind what was going on as I suppose they were sticking to the sound they started with in the early 80's, but the metal landscape was changing and growing heavier in the mid 80's. Plus arguing amongst yourselves and problems with the record label are probably the two greatest causes of cutting a promising band's career short and these guys ran into both of the above. Still these gave their all on their early material and it still sounds great today. The grooves are smooth and they had a lot of promise back then. Definitely a band whose material is worth tracking down for a listen.