Monday, February 02, 2009

Iron Maiden and the History of the NWOBHM (DVD)

'NWOBHM', for the uninitiated, is an acronym for the 'New Wave of British Heavy Metal' and is a term originally coined in the first issue of 'Kerrang!' (at the time a one-off supplement of now defunct UK music mag Sounds) to label a perceived phenomena of up n' coming Brit underdogs allegedly empowered by the DIY ethic and high energy attitude of punk.

What we have here is a documentary film about the NWOBHM scene using Iron Maiden as the common thread rather than a film specifically about Iron Maiden. In fact the disclaimer on the back cover informs that this film is not endorsed by Maiden or their management and as such there isn't a whole lot of Iron Maiden music here. However, the running time of 157 minutes and impressive cast of interviewees makes this DVD great value for money and an excellent companion piece to Maiden's officially released 'Early Years' DVD if you are interested in this era of heavy metal.

Telling the history of the NWOBHM are Iron Maiden alumni Paul Di'Anno, Denis Stratton and the legend that is 'mad masked drummer' Thunderstick, plus a cast of former Kerrang! Journalists, DJ's,and groups such as Praying Mantis, Tygers of Pan Tang and Diamond Head. As a result, this is a comprehensive document and due to the first hand observations (and passion for the music) of those featured it is as entertaining as it is informative.

Topics of discussion include the difficulty in defining the NWOBHM (were all the bands 'metal'? Was this even a new movement, or just a case of the media taking a snapshot of bands from a scene which had never really gone away, despite what bitter old punks and those biased old twats at the NME might have you believe?).

Whilst this isn't just an Iron Maiden DVD as such, it is a fascinating insight into the workings of the music industry and the evolution of bands such as Maiden. It appears to confirm what business folks will tell you that there is only space for 2 major players, in this case it was Maiden and Def Leppard who sustained major label dominance whilst other talented hopefuls never quite reached the same dizzy heights, the victims of corporate bureaucracy, changing tastes, losing momentum, exhausted creativity.....or in some cases just a lack of god quality songs!!!
In summary, if you want an Iron maiden music video get one of the concert DVDs or promo video collections. If you enjoyed the documentary on the 'Early Days' DVD and are interested to learn more about the NWOBHM then this serves as an excellent companion.

- Alex Eruptor
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