This is a review on the first album by Warhead, an old school power metal / thrash metal band from Belgium.
For today's new generation of metal heads reared on modern powerhouses such as Killswitch Engage, Lamb of God, Avenged Sevenfold, Children of Bodom and Shadow's Fall (all great bands by the way, I listen to them myself), these early metal releases may have been rendered primitive and unpolished by the new age production standards which the aforementioned bands work to. But be warned. For it was bands such as these which contributed towards the implementation of the template and evolution for the forms in which speed metal has manifested today.
Fact! This power thrash metal mob from Belgium believed in living in the fast lane when they were active. No, I don't mean getting high on narcotics, drinking yourself into unrecognizable stupors and least of all indulging in sordid activities that would hit the headlines described in a scandalous manner faster than anyone would have any clue. I am plainly and simply referring to playing the fastest metal one is physically and emotionally capable of.
Of course many bands these days play faster in more recent forms of metal such as death metal, grindcore, technical thrash / death metal and power metal. However, back in 1984 despite awesome thrash metal releases by Metallica, Anthrax and Exciter, playing super fast metal was still relatively new and unheard of to a lot of metal heads until thrash metal finally erupted out of the underground a few years later. No one quite knew what to make of it. It was faster, heavier and far more uglier than anything that came before. Back then the fastest bands were Judas Priest, Motörhead, Saxon and Riot. While these old guard veterans were by no means thrash metal, they, whether willingly or unwillingly, had already laid the groundwork for what was to transform into speed/thrash metal.
It wouldn't have surprised me for one second that if the members of Warhead had admitted back in 1984 when they were firing up their generators, that they had aspirations of being the fastest band on the planet. With this album as well as its successor (1986's The Day After) it is plain to see and hear that they had indeed made a reality of that aspiration. This band were clearly taking no prisoners. They wanted to go for that one better.
After listening to this album I cannot help but notice the very dominant Judas Priest influence as well as other NWoBHM (New Wave of British Heavy Metal) elements (the greatest being Motörhead and Diamond Head). All forged together with the thrash abrasiveness and incisiveness that had been coined by Metallica and Anthrax. It seems that all of those influences were taken and melted together to unleash an apocalyptic and insanely hyperdriven demolition sermon.
What you are rewarded with is one relentless double bass drum attack after the other with very few mid-tempo breakdowns which don't last long anyway and seem to make way for the guitar solos, indicating a melodic side. Ultra tight but nevertheless outright lethal power riffing is a staple in this album in all of the songs and last but not least ear splitting Halford-esque snarling vocals that would ensure that you get the message of how vocal this band were in their pursuit of speed worship. All of those are delivered at tempos of terrible certainty. The opening title track could be hailed as a faster and more brutal version of Judas Priest's Freewheel Burning without the melody (Thrash metal was originally intended to be melodically bereft anyway.). Most of the tracks are going for the throat into the speed realm with the exception of The Alliance, an awesome mid-tempo thrash rhythm that runs along the same lines as similar tracks by Exodus and Attack Of The Shark which is rather unusual in the sense that it snakes along alternating across multiple tempos ranging from simple slow chord progressions to all out rib splitting blasphemy! I swear, you had better run for cover, if you are standing in front of your stereo when First Light Of The Apocalypse comes on (in my opinion the best song on the album).
This is not music. This is domination and it is as old school as it comes. It is not only an example of thrash metal in another light, but also what power metal was and could have been before it became melodically modified by bands like Helloween and later Stratovarius. Not to mention infiltration by female vocals (Nightwish anyone?).
Like Judas Priest on speed and steroids, any true fan of old school metal will run for cover (and hopefully for their money too and wish that MTV was met with absolute disregard in its sponsoring of all the tripe that was churned out in the name of music back in the day (Sadly a practice still strongly active on a large scale).
Despite the fact that Warhead never made it beyond extreme cult status and still unknown to a lot of underground metal heads, this album remains one of the heaviest and most potent speed worship documents ever profiled and it means absolutely nothing what unbelievers think. What this album is will always remain and that alone can never be taken away by those who choose to disregard or by some record label goon's idea of what heavy metal should be. As Blitz from legendary New Jersey thrashers Overkill once stated in an interview: "In the underground, what you get is pure music and it separates the men from the boys".