Wednesday, March 12, 2014

N.W.O.B.H.M. Wednesday: Battleaxe-Burn This Town (2013 Re-Release)


In anticipation of the soon to be released "Heavy Metal Sanctuary", which will be the first new studio-album* from English heavy metal outfit Battleaxe since 1984's "Power From The Universe", I thought what better way is there to celebrate then to (re-discover) this 1983 N.W.O.B.H.M. gem? Especially as the re-release is now sporting a brand new cover which is about a billion times better album then this!:
Yes, I know what you're thinking because it's my exact thought as well! Where did they find the 13 year schoolboy to draw that cover? In what just might be the BIGGEST example of why you just can't judge a book by it's cover, "Burn This Town" originally sported one atrocious album cover which was just sad. Why sad? Because, simply put, what awaits the listener is (straight-up/no chaser) MONSTER metal that (on one hand) draws it's influence from the likes of (early hard hitters) Motörhead, Raven and Tank while also taking a cue or two from fellow N.W.O.B.H.M. heroes Judas Priest and Saxon (a band with which the band actually toured!). Having originally formed at the tail end of the seventies**, with vocalist David King proving to be more than a capable front-man (his raspy voice being the icing on the cake when it comes to this what this four-piece hard and heavy outfit was rolling out back in the day!) and with "Burn This Town" first appearing as a single in 1982, Battleaxe adhered to the no- frills (but plenty of thrills!) style of metal that we've all come to know and, frankly yes my brothers and sisters in arms, LOVE! This (timely) re-release by Steamhammer, which includes a session*** that Battleaxe did for the Friday Rock Show back on May 13th of 1983 tacked on as the (obligatory) bonus material, is prime-time heavy metal/N.W.O.B.H.M. with plenty of punch and power! Opener "Ready To Deliver" let's you know right up-front what this lot was all about and from there it's just crunchy rocker after crunchy rocker with cuts like the title cut, "Dirty Rocker", "Overdrive", "Running Out of Time", "Starmaker" and the band's namesake song all adding extra fuel to the fire! I for one am ashamed to admit that I overlooked this album for far too-long just because of the album's abysmal stab at "thunder and lightning"-themed "warrior" art. I missed out on so much making this re-release nothing short of manna from heaven in the form of heavy metal goodness!  While the band (sadly) was only active (originally) between 1979 and 1987, with the follow-up release, "Power From The Universe", being their only other released full-length endeavor so far, "Burn This Town" really does stand as testament as to what was a FANTASTIC movement as far as the N.W.O.B.H.M. scene goes! For fans of Judas Priest, Saxon, (early) Raven and Tank (meaning fast and furious metal madness!) this is one re-release that should peak your curiosity! As I've already pre-ordered my copy of "Heavy Metal Sanctuary" (featuring one-time Skyclad drummer Paul A.T. Kinson!) I'll cover that album as soon as it lands in my mailbox! Now though I do want to recommend "Burn This Town" to fellow metal maniacs and N.W.O.B.H.M. collectors as it's a real gem of an album with smashing-good tunes of the highest headbanging quality!

* Battleaxe recorded a third album in 1987 entitled "Mean Machine", but it has (to my knowledge) never "officially" been released. I would be curious to find out if the band still owned the rights to "Mean Machine". If they did, and providing that a track like "Mean Machine" is any indication as to the band's direction on said album, then why not release it? Maybe that is in the works? I would love to find out. If anyone can put me in contact with David King and company that would be greatly appreciated!

 **Some sources claim that this Sunderland-based outfit started out as Warrior in 1979 with the name change to Battleaxe taking place in 1980 or so. If they did start of as Warrior then it would be no small wonder that they would opt for the name change as back then (late seventies-early eighties) there seemed to be more than a dozen plus bands going by the same moniker!

***For said session the band, which at the time featured David King on vocals, Steve Hardy on guitar and Brian Smith on bass, enlisted the services of  one-time Satan drummer Ian McCormack (also of Cronos and Pariah). He would stick around with the band for the follow-up album, 1984's "Power from the Universe", as he replaced original drummer Ian Thompson (Metal Mirror, Tokyo Rose) who ended up leaving Battleaxe for Dark Heart! Besides "Ready To Deliver" and "Running Out Of Time" (both of which appeared on the "Burn This Town" full-length LP) the session included the very cool (rock-like) "Shout It Out" and "Mean Machine", which, had it made it onto the band's (unreleased) third full-length, would have proved to be a solid heavy metal thrasher! 

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