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Roxxcalibur - 'Lords Of The NWOBHM' http://rocktopia.co.uk/media/reviews/photos/thumbnail/200x200s/fb/a1/ef/1560_roxxcaliburlordsofthenwobhm_1315423367.jpg Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     September 07, 2011    
 
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The loveable German 'Keepers Of The NWOBHM Grail' are back.

The loveable German 'Keepers Of The NWOBHM Grail' are back for their second outing of New Wave Of British Heavy Metal covers and tributes, following on from their 2009 debut 'NWOBHM For Muthas'. A side project featuring drummer Neudi, vocalist Alexx Stahl and guitarist Roger Dequis from Viron, guitarist Kalli from Abandoned and ex-Into The Abyss bassist Mario Lang, Roxxcalibur came together after a boozy barbeque and vinyl spinning session threw up a mutual liking for all things NWOBHM, and within days they were rehearsing Jameson Raid's 'Seven Days Of Splendour'. Formed originally for the live circuit, Limb Records offered a deal and the rest, as they say, is history.

The band's ethos is that the songs were great but the production was generally lacking; so if you re-record the songs (generally quite faithfully, but add the odd twist here and there) with modern equipment you can introduce them to a new audience. As a band they veer towards the less well known material, as Neudi explains: "The big names within the NWOBHM are great bands, no doubt, but we don't want to bore people with version number 548 of 'Running Free' on a CD. Also Metallica did some good jobs with many NWOBHM songs, so there's no need to repeat these on a CD either. It's different when we play live though as we do have some of those types of songs in our programme." As such, probably the most famous song on offer is Tygers Of Pan Tang's 'Hellbound' or Tokyo Blade's 'If Heaven Is Hell', both delivered with panache; the humour comes from picking up the two-minute 'At War With Satan (Preview)' snippet that Venom used to close their second album 'Black Metal', and the one that pushes all my buttons is Roxxcalibur's wonderful rendition of Saracen's 'A Face In The Crowd' (with More's 'Atomic Rock' B-side a close second).

Fireworks - The Ultimate Magazine For Melodic Rock Music

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The centrepiece this time around is 'Lift Up Your Eyes'. Saxon fans will know of the track – a Byford/Quinn composition from the pair's pre-SOB days in Coast – from the 'Diamond And Nuggets' compilation of out-takes and rarities which featured the song as a one-and-three-quarter-minute incomplete demo. With permission from the writers the band worked out their own way to complete the song which, Roxxcaliburised, now runs to five minutes plus and sounds as exciting as they come. The only thing that doesn't work for me is the new take on 'Stage Fright'. Whereas the Witchfynde original was menacing and oppressive, here the verse sounds too slow and the slight time-change for the chorus turns it almost into a Maiden gallop. And I'm sorry, but they just don't nail the original's eerie opening. 

Again issued with a Rodney Matthews cover, and again featuring in the booklet tongue-in-cheek reproductions of some of the promo photos or sleeves of the time, the added twist this time around is that producer extraordinaire Chris Tsangarides – a man who was there at the time – was brought in to oversee the final mix which gives the whole thing one more touch of authenticity. A DVD features live and backstage footage and a report from the studio, and the whole shooting match is dedicated to Rob Rigby of Oxym who was chuffed to bits about 'Music Power' being given the Roxxcalibur once-over but who sadly died before the album was released.

Some of the purists aren't that happy with what Roxxcalibur do, but to my mind they help keep they flame alive – and surely that's reason enough.

John Tucker

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