NWOBHM WEDNESDAY: SHIVA
Bristol-based Shiva are another act that are sadly ignored when people start to discuss the nwobhm movement. When it comes right down to to it most people have never even heard of the band. I'm hopeful that today's piece might helped that even a little and open up discussions about this unheralded power-trio that had more in common with Rush then Iron Maiden. You can hear Rush, Yes, Deep Purple and even Blue Öyster Cult in the excellent "Firedance" (their sole studio album as "Continuance", the 2004 follow-up compilation, is just a mix-up of demo-cuts and material for a second album that never materialized"). Before we get too far off course though (which is easy enough for me to do- just ask my girlfriend or kids!) the band was formed in 1979 and featured three highly-skilled musicians in John Hall (lead vocals/guitars/keyboards)Andy Skuse (bass/vocals/keyboards) and Chris Logan (drums). Now, unlike Rush and Yes what Shiva brought to the party (as far as progressive rock goes) was the ability to write songs with interesting cord progressions that never got too winded or just plain "out there". Shiva never seemed to lose focus on the "rock" part of progressive rock. And even as I say that they were more influenced by acts like Rush then Iron Maiden the band certainly did know how it let lose when the time called for it.On "Firedance" there are plenty of moments where you hear the likes of Judas Priest sneak in through the back door.It is never quite on the level of the heavier bands of the day, but you do get the feeling that the band was quite aware of the sinister power of bands like Black Sabbath. Even if they were not going to be breaking out doom metal riffs there are moments here and there on "Firedance" where it all seems to come together. A little Rush, a little Black Sabbath, some B.O.C. and a hair of Judas Priest all converging in the same spot and tearing up the night. I'd even wager to say that Shiva burned through some copies of Deep Purple's "Machine Head" on their way up. Sadly the band released "Firedance" and then proceeded to call it a day in the summer of 1983. They did do one more show in 1986 and offered up "Continuance" for their fans. Nothing though tops "Firedance". It is simply a great collection of tracks that are technical and yet still rock the doors off. Fans of progressive rock will no doubt enjoy Shiva although they may also have a bit of an appeal to heavy rock/hard rock junkies. Especially as they are the very definition of a power-trio!