Thursday, December 05, 2013

Headstone-Burning Ambition (2013 Re-Release)

Karthago Records

When is a N.W.O.B.H.M. band not really a N.W.O.B.H.M. band? In the case of Headstone and "Burning Ambition" (their 1983 full-length debut album that was recorded at Donna Summer studios in Munich), the answer stares you in the face by way of the group's front-man. Wipe away the fact that the group originated from Germany and instead focus in on the simple fact that "Burning Ambition" featured none other then (future) Veto member Harry Liebhäuser! It all starts up front with Harry and even though Veto would end up being more of a speed/power metal band (whose 1986 self-titled debut is fantastic!) here on "Burning Ambition" Harry does his best "Even if we hail from Germany I'm still going to act as if I'm fronting a British metal/N.W.O.B.H.M band so all of you haters out there can just suck it!" impersonation. And man alive he does it in a way that leaves little doubt as to what these guys were aiming for on their debut album! Other then a couple of tracks sung in their native language (and a few moments where the group sort of sounds like a rougher version of early Accept)  this is one early eighties release that really does it's best to compete with what was happening other in England at the time and it's hard to find fault with that kind of ambition I would argue. It's not all about England's scene though as I mentioned, but there are quite a few wonderful moments of "Burning Ambition" that could have passed for N.W.O.B.H.M. material. For fan's of Harry's later band it has to be said that he sounds remarkable here and it does beg the question of what happened to him after Veto? I would love to find out in anyone has any information on him. But, that's a question for later on so let's take a look at who was involved here. In addition to lead vocalist Harry Liebhäuser (who is credited in the liner notes as handling keyboards as well, but on Pure Steel's site they credit him with guitar as well) this 2013 re-release, which is just now (finally!!!!) seeing a CD release thanks to the wonderful folks at Karthago Records, features guitarist Frankiln Holfmann (who composed all of the music on "Burning Ambition"), drummer Michael Brieger (who wrote all of the lyrics on "Burning Ambition" except for for "Waller" which was written by Harold Shaw) and two bass players in Franz Spitzer and Roman Wagner. As stated this was originally released in 1983 so, while it is technically sound and all, we're still talking about the early days of heavy metal so this release comes off as more rough around the edges and more "homegrown" then anything. Of course both of those traits (as well as the fact that Headstone pulls some killer 70's hard rock riffs into the mix on "Burning Ambition") only make this one all the more enjoyable! This re-release, which I would assume had some-kind of face lift as it sounds great for such an old recording, is limited to just 666 copies and includes a colored tray, a neat holograph guarantee certificate (the number on my copy is hard to make out, but it sure looks as if it is somewhere in the first 100!) and booklet that features lyrics, pictures and a brief write-up on the album by Karthago Records founder Stefan Riermaier. As an added treat the album also features the bonus cuts "Waller" and "Wacht Im Weltengang" which (and I'm making an educated guess here as the info in the booklet is a little vague) feature future Headstone members Harald Karg (vocals) and Roman Wagner (bass). Those two individuals ended up on Headstone's second album, "Excalibur", but by all accounts it's not as good as "Burning Ambition". For fans of Harry Liebhäuser this album is a given a course, but there is also plenty of cool material on this 13 track re-release that fans of eighties heavy metal and the N.W.O.B.H.M. movement should enjoy. All around this is a fun album and it serves as a reminder of why the early days of heavy metal were such a blast to begin with. Fans and collectors alike would do well to snag a copy of this long-overdue re-release!

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