Hard Rock Music Archives
The New Wave of British Heavy Metal, or NWOBHM (pronounced: 'newahbim'), is a style of heavy metal that had it's founding in Britain during the late 1970s; by the early 1980s it was enjoying international acceptance. Many consider NWOBHM, specifically its overwhelming popularity, as the reason heavy metal survived to this day.
The name was coined by Sounds magazine editor Alan Lewis, and journalist Geoff Barton who first used the term in the May 1979 issue of Sounds magazine to describe these new British bands that emerged. This second wave of heavy metal bands emerged during the period of punk rock's decline and the dominance of new wave pop music, and as a result was influenced by both.
The NWOBHM movement developed as a reaction in part to the decline of the many pioneers of heavy metal, such as: Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple and Black Sabbath. Although these bands were classic and maintained popularity, their style was no longer seen as fresh and modern. The NWOBHM bands toned down the blues influences of the earlier acts, incorporated elements of punk, increased the tempo, and chose an overall harder approach to their music.
NWOBHM's style of fast upbeat tempo songs, power chords, fast guitar solos and melodic, soaring vocals, with lyrical themes often drawing inspiration from mythology and fantasy fiction was directed exclusively to heavy metal fans. As a result of this 'engineering' it became a foundation for future metal acts who took it's basic format and adopted it to their needs, resulting in more extreme and diverse styles, most still seen today. Literally dozens of influential bands from thrash metal, black metal, death metal, and others, cite various NWOBHM acts as influences to their style; Iron Maiden, Saxon, Venom, Motörhead and Diamond Head are the names most commonly mentioned. Although Judas Priest and Motörhead would later become a part of it, they actually pre-date the movement by several years,.
The image of bands donning long hair, denim jackets, leather and chains, would later synonymous with heavy metal because of NWOBHM's dominance of the heavy metal scene by the mid 1980s.
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