The New Wave
of American Hard Rock
Mad Mark After Dark, the man
in black that hates everything except the real thing, writing to you from the deepest
depths of hell.
With the deaths of Hard Rock legends Bon Scott, John Bonham and Phil Lynott, people
thought that the gaping hole in this area of music woul never be filled. It never
truly was filled. The only good thing to come out of the early 1980's was something
no one thinks about or cares to remember. It was something that I always considered
to be extremely creative. I don't want to compare it to 1970's Hard Rock, because
that was true creative genius. Sick of the simplicity of the Punk Rock scene and
the meaningless dribble of Anarchy by British Punk Rock bands like The Sex Pistols,
Sham 69 and The Damned, a new movement was brewing and bubbling over on the underground
Hard Rock scene. It was soulfully based on musicianship, the ability to play, and
had a louder faster, more abrasive sound. The music was influenced by late 1960's
and '70's Hard Rock.
Even though the term "The New Wave of British Heavy Metal" didn't get used
until the very late 1970's, Brimingham's Judas Priest had an effect on this new-sounding
hard rock movement. Born and raised in this working class steel town, Judas Priest
formed in 1973. With the rib-crunching lead vocals of leather-clad demon Rob Halford,
and the screaming double lead guitars Glen Tipton and K.K. Downing, this band released
its first record in 1974 on a small British independent label, called Gull Records.
This album was entitled Rocka Rolla. Their music didn't get noticed by the
mainstream until the late seventies/ early eighties.
Judas Priest's musical inspration was felt thoughout the underground British club
scene in the mid-1970's. By 1977, the scene was ready to burst out. Rushing onto
the British Rock scene were bands with the uncompromising sounds of London's Iron
Maiden, Yorkshire powerhouse Saxon and it also inspired Sheffield's own pop metals
mavens, Def Leppard. The music was felt all throughout the U.K. and all over Europe
with bands like Samson, Tygers of Pan Tang and Diamondhead, which were extremely
important in influencing Metallica and Megadeth in America in the earlier part of
There was another extremely important band to have a prime influence not just on
The New Wave of British Heavy Metal, but also on The Underground Hard Rock/ Heavy
Metal scene developing in America in the early in the 1980's. Former Jimi Hendrx
roadie and Hawkwind bassist Ian "Lemmy" Kilminster formed a new band with
ex-Pink Fairies guitarist Larry Wallis and drummer Lucas Fox. The called themselves,
"Bastard", but then manager Doug Smith convinced the trio to pick a more
viable name. So Lemmy came up with an Americanism for "speed freak". He
chose the name "Motorhead" instead, which actually came from a song that
he wrote for Hawkwind years before.
Motorhead's debut was in July 1975. By October 1975, the band earned critical assessment
as "the worst band to ever exist" after their legendary performance at
the Reading Festival. Even with their rave reviews by the critics and the music press,
Motorhead continued to exist with their high decible sound.
With Motorhead's no guts, no glory attitude, they released their first album at the
beginning of 1977 on the Chiswick label, simply entitled Motorhead. Combining
some of Punk Rock mixed with the best elements of Hard Rock, even with countless
lineup changes, Lemmy and his band still release the same skullcrushing earsplitting
hard rock-n-roll and still tour even after more than twenty-five years.
The so-called rock critics and music media in America tended to dismiss the New Wave
of British Heavy Metal Music scene as being outdated. But as usual, fans buy records,
not critics. Rock prevailed once again as the New Wave of British Heavy Metal raided
the American Top 40 charts in 1983. Def Leppard was the first Heavy Metal band to
ever crack the Top Ten (with Pyromania landing the number two spot behind
Michael Jackson's Thriller album in 1983.) and that was the beginning of the
end for this movement.
In the winter of 1980 a very special place opened its doors for the very first time.
This club was in a very unlikely part of New York. It was in warehouse district in
Bensonhurst, Brooklyn. The name of this once-great place was Lamour's. It's
where I spent most of my youth. I smoked my first joint and got my first taste of
Jack Daniels and cocaine there. Most importantly, Lamour's not only featured some
of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal all-stars like Iron Maiden, Saxon and my personal
favorite, Motorhead. It also had some of New York's finest Hard Rock bands like Blue
Oyster Cult, The Reiign, Twisted Sister and Riot. By the Beginning of 1981. I had
seen almost all the bands I had ever wanted to see all at Lamour's: Thin Lizzy, the
early and best Whitesnake (not that late eighties glam crap) and UFO. The reputation
of this club was growing by leaps and bounds without all that much in the way of
promotion. By 1983 Lamour's had reached an attendance level that rivaled the Reading
Festival in England, except that the huge crowds were gathering every night of the
week. Many of today's best-known bands made their debuts at Lamours like Metallica,
Megadeth, Guns and Roses and Anthrax.
Unfortunately all good things must come to an end. By the middle of 1983, after Def
Leppard, Quiet Riot and Twisted Sister all cracked the American Top 40 charts and
also with the '83 Us Festival, the music industry decided to get involved in this
thriving Hard Rock scene, and by the middle of 1985, with the commercialization of
Hard Rock and Heavy Metal it was the end of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal Movement.
But as Lemmy of Motorhead always said, "only the strong survive", and the
strong did survive.
By 1986, the Hard Rock/ Heavy Metal scene had unfortunately become more of a parody
of itself than real serious Hard Rock music. Hard Rock and Heavy Metal before all
of this have always been meant for the disenfranchised and forgotten youth who felt
left out of the Punk Rock scene.
Heavy metal -- the look and the soundhad become an over-glamorized joke than anything
related to music. On one side you had the very glam Metal bands, which I never understood,
besides the overplayed, overdone crappy power ballads were those so-called macho
men who would use lipstick, wear spandex and leather with high-heeled platform boots
and lastly use so much hairspray that they could set a whole block on fire. All of
thse guys were just trying so hard to look better than their already painfully stupid
girlfriends. My attitude and opinion toward these guys has never really changed since
then. They should have their dicks and balls removed and placed in a very small jar.
When that is accomplished, they can do whatever the hell they please. I am truly
thankful to this day, that I was born ugly and never got caught up with all of that.
On the other side of this was an underground music scene that went straight to hell
The music wasn't much better than the glam metal scene in my opinion, if you can
call this crap music. It was based more on playing as fast as possible than on song,
and I have always been more into hearing good songs than anything else. This was
the Thrash and Speed Metal Movement, where you had a bunch of bands that sounded
all like one another.
The other thing that totally irritated me about the mid-1980's Hard Rock and Heavy
Metal movement which still actually exists to this very day is, you had to be a rocket
scientist to figure out what category a band fits in with. If you didn't know there
was and still is Glam, Thrash, Speed, Doom, Death, Black and any other bullcrap you
can come up with, then you would be a musical ignoramus, which I consider myself
to be. I never understood the differences between all of these stupid-ass categories.
Whatever happened to just using the term "Hard Rock and Heavy Metal"?
The creative enegery in Hard Rock and Heavy Metal by the late 1980's was gone and
had lost its edge. There were far fewer bands from each category that were somewhat
good, but not great. Unfortunately, Hard Rock music has never fully recovered from
that mid to late eighties scene. Music had become more style than substance.
By the nineties, true Rock-n-Roll music had officially disppeared from the mainstream
pop music charts. The sad state of the so-called Seattle Sound otherwise known as
Alternative Rock hit the Pop music charts like a rocket crashing into the earth.
Then also came the destructive sounds of Hip-Hop, Rap and the horrible sounds of
The Underground Rock Music scene wasn't much better, either with its watered-down
Punk Rock Ramones and Dead Boys rip-offs. the originality and and physical emotion
of Rock-n-Roll had entirely disappeared. To this day, not much has really changed,
especially on the the underground Hard Rock Music scene, with almost ninety percent
of bands sounding and acting alike. One such example was something that surfaced
a couple of years ago in the form of a ressurected prehistoric sludge-fest, putting
itself into another lame Hard Rock/ Heavy Metal category called Stoner Rock.
The scene reminded me of a stale psychadelc mushroom, with a mix of late sixties
and early seventies rumblings of Hard Rock/ Heavy Metal. Despite the painfully obvious
proficiency in technical musical wizardry, there remained an equally obvious distinct
lack of vocal ability and songwriting skills. It presented an option to the watered
down and water-logged, over saturated Punk Rock scene. It was an option, but not
by much, with only a handful of somewhat good bands. It was still not enough to rejuvenate
that old Rock-n-Roll spirit.
Even with my own promotions and productions, I had just about given up on the Underground
Music scene and had gotten a bad reputation for having a controversial opinion. I
also didn't play any games or kiss ass like everyone else on the whole over-glamorized
It was about four or five months ago when a friend of mine told me about a certain
band. His description of this band made no sense to me, but I went to check them
out anyway. I was quite surprised at what I had heard. The name of this new band
is Queen V and their sound is a seventies influenced Hard Rock mixed with a modern
edge, kind of a hard band to describe, but they are a great new band with a new great
sound none the less. Every time I see the mighty Queen V they get better and better.
Queen V is a very important band to me. Each member of this band has re-inspired
me to get back to what I do best, and I owe them a debt of gratitude for what they've
done for me.
After seeing Queen V about two months later, I made one of my finest discoveries
- this four piece hard driving Hard Rock-n-Roll band called Joker Five Speed with
an original sound with lots of loud guitars and a wall of Marshall amplifiers. Their
songs blew me right out of my skin. It's Rock-n-Roll the way it was meant to be.
In the last few months, besides these two major examples, a new Hard Rock movement
with almost the same high energy and creative edge as the New Wave of British Heavy
Metal is ready to burst out. And I've invented my own term to describe this new movement,
The New Wave of American Hard Rock. The only unfortunate part of this whole
thing is that there are only a handful of bands on this scene that have that energy
to start something new and different. With the high volume and power of Roar Fiend
with Joe Hogan's screaming loud guitar squeals and then in the same breath comes
the sweet, heavy, hard Southern Rock sounds of one of my other favorites, Tijuana
Bibles with Michelle's sweet, soulful vocal styles with her rhythm guitar crunch
and Chris's heavy lead guitar work make a great combo. These elements make them one
of the best bands around. All these bands are different from one another like in
the seventies with Southern Rock legend Lynyrd Skynyrd alongside British rockers
The Who on their 1973 Quadrophenia Tour. Another excellent example was Motorhead's
Bomber tour with Saxon in 1980. These totally different sounds still fit well
together to this day, and that is what makes Rock-n-Roll music a great style of music.
It is the light of the past that can illuminate the future of Rock-n-Roll. The eternal
flame of hard Rock-n-Roll will be lit once again, and we will be rockin' together,
rockin' tonight. With the old denim and leather of the past we will ride the wheels
of steel of the future. Long live Rock-n-Roll forever.
to Mark After Dark