Metal Evolution (2011–2014)
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New Wave of British Heavy Metal 

Heavy metal was now boldly out of the closet, Iron Maiden, Motorhead, Saxon, Raven and Def Leppard seethed out of the gates with fast, technical, uncompromising metal music, building a fanatical, energized movement.


Sam Dunn, Scot McFadyen


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Episode credited cast:
Geoff Barton Geoff Barton ... Himself
Biff Byford ... Himself
Phil Collen ... Himself
Jess Cox Jess Cox ... Himself
Bruce Dickinson ... Himself
Sam Dunn ... Himself
Joe Elliott ... Himself
John Gallagher John Gallagher ... Himself
Ashley Goodall Ashley Goodall ... Herself
Mark Gregory Mark Gregory ... Himself
Rob Halford ... Himself
Steve Harris ... Himself
Gary Holt ... Himself
Scott Ian ... Himself
Neal Kay Neal Kay ... Himself


Heavy metal was now boldly out of the closet, Iron Maiden, Motorhead, Saxon, Raven and Def Leppard seethed out of the gates with fast, technical, uncompromising metal music, building a fanatical, energized movement.

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Documentary | Music




Release Date:

10 December 2011 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Banger Films See more »
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User Reviews

When The Greatest Movement In Metal Was Born
6 June 2015 | by bogdan-ionut18See all my reviews

The late 70s and early 80s gave birth to one of the most important movements within the metal scene, that being the New Wave of British Heavy Metal (shortened, NWOBHM). Its importance is primordial because the sound that bands such as Iron Maiden, Saxon, Diamond Head, Raven or other major contributors of this genre subsequently gave birth to a whole new palette of metal genres.

While the bands that promoted this genre are at the center of attention, the contribution of several 70s bands or artists to the sound of the NWOBHM is primordial as well. Motorhead with its 1979 albums Overkill and Bomber presented a sound with a punk edge and attitude, aspects that could eventually be heard in the music composed by the main contributors to the NWOBHM (much to Harris' dismay).

The punk rock movement has thoroughly been stereotyped, same like the 90s grunge movement for its attitude of going against trends and displaying an anti-social behavior. While most of the metal bands representative of this movement emulated the attitude of punk, we can safely say that bands such as Motorhead were clearly inspired by this movement, frequently citing Ramones as a primary influence. Sex Pistols' contribution to punk is noteworthy, but Ramones did not only display earlier the attitude of punk better than Sex Pistols, but as musicians they were far more capable than Pistols ever were. At least they did not play with band members that did not know how to handle their instruments just for the sake of that rebellious punk attitude (yes, talking 'bout Sid Vicious).

Another band that is both credited for laying the foundation of speed metal and NWOBHM is Judas Priest. Priest laid the foundation of these two genres on their two 1978 records Stained Class and Killing Machine. Judas Priest has been the oddball of the 70s blues based heavy metal movement, especially after they released Sad Wings Of Destiny in 1975 and their sound developed in the 70s was the logical step to reinvigorate the identity of heavy metal. While parallels with the punk rock sound are few and hard to notice, the speed of their last albums of the 70s was indeed a trait present in the punk rock scene.

One thing we can say about the NWOBHM is that those who brought it in the spotlight are also the ones who buried it for quite a few decades. Iron Maiden is the Black Sabbath of this genre, as their sound was innovative for entire generations of traditional heavy metal bands, however, they set the bar so high with releases such as The Number Of The Beast in 1982 and Powerslave in 1984 that made it almost impossible for the rest NWOBHM bands to keep up, quality wise. As such, most of them did not last longer than 1985 or those who did made some slight adjustment to their sound.

The "slight" adjustment to the sound of some NWOBHM acts brings us to the debate that if we should include Def Leppard in this whole movement. Def Leppard was the kind of band with ambitions beyond the limitations of the NWOBHM. They did not want to sound heavier, punkier, more metallic, they wanted to make music that would click with a big audience. Unfortunately, for their time, the edgy sound of NWOBHM was not really fit for commercial success outside of Europe, and in order to 'make it big', you would have to focus on breaking the US charts. Thus, Pyromania came in 1983, and 5 years later, Hysteria. While these two records were anything but metal, we cannot say the same thing about the first two, with an emphasis on the debut. On Through The Night had a sound that bordered metal and hard rock, a mixture that many NWOBHM bands took and promoted. Def Leppard's music might not be in the play list of someone that wishes to hear more "intellectual" music, but more like in the play list of those that know that rock and metal music are also about celebration and having fun. Def Leppard had a vision, and the fact that they followed it through the end and achieving it does not make them less intelligent than other bands. And it surely does not take their spot within this movement. They may not have been a great contributor to the NWOBHM, but they started as a band within this movement. Period.

Other than the classical side of this genre, we can see the early inception of doom metal in the music of bands such as Witchfinder General or Pagan Altar, a tinge of folk infused in metal, a precursor of folk metal in Golgotha, signs of progressive metal in bands such as Omega and of course the very beginning of extreme metal represented by Venom. If there is anything good about this music genre is that it was varied and even the bands that would emulate the sound of the pioneers would prove to be challenging.

Other notable NWOBHM representatives: Tokyo Blade, Cloven Hoof, Angel Witch, Satan, Grim Reaper, Tygers Of Pan Tang, Chateaux, Quartz, Tank, Holocaust, Legend, Blitzkrieg, Samson, Demon, Tytan, Hell, Jaguar, Rock Goddess, etc.

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