Thunderstick. An alumnus of Iron Maiden, the man who discovered Bruce Dickinson. A gumby in a rapist’s mask trading on shock and horror to make a measly quid. However you view Barry Graham Purkis – for it is he – he certainly left his dent upon the NWoBHM.
Drumming on what many consider to be the best Samson albums in the early eighties, Thunderstick was synonymous with the dubious IQ levels of the heavy metal community – as perceived by the legions of chortling outsiders who derided the movement at that time – and in many ways it’s comforting to note that he has not progressed one iota in 2017 in an attempt to mollify ‘progressive’ commentators, either visually or sonically.
Something Wicked This Way Comes is a throwback to the British pub metal scene of the early eighties – I.E. when Barry last meant something to someone – performed as if the wider world has also failed to move on since then. Bluesy, rocky metal is the order of the day; Opening track Dark Night Black Light sounds it was written by a group of acned youths with a collective Golden Earring fetish, whilst Don’t Touch I’ll Scream and Don’t Sleep with the Enemy both hang heavy with redolence of the days when John McCoy was genuinely menacing and ‘thrash’ was something your teacher did to you, hopefully with his trousers not around his ankles.
The blues dirge of The Shining actually sounds like Samson post-‘stick, the sort of song vocalist Nicky Moore would have eaten for dinner (and probably breakfast and tea too, given his impressive girth), but you don’t miss him because of one of the album’s true delights, the vocals of Lucie V.
Ms V is a real find, and possibly the best heavy rock singer of the female persuasion to emerge from the UK in the last twenty-odd years. On The Shining she’s a bluesy bellower out of the top drawer, but she’s no one dimensional shouter, and often – very often- it’s her vocal melodies and phrasing that lift mundane material up a notch or three.
The frantic pub rock of Lights (Take Me Away) features a great vocal and some plangent bass playing from Rex Thunderbolt, but the best tracks are tucked away at numbers eight and nine on the scoresheet. The first, Blackwing, is dramatic, epic Brit metal of a particularly fine vintage; A seething, febrile mix of Nazareth and Rock Goddess, it’s absolutely worth the price of admission on it’s own, whilst the second, Thunder Thunder is a rumbling, drum-driven rollicker that features some superior guitar work from Dave Kilford and Martin Shellard (especially the fabulous fast-fingered fretwork on the solo) and yet another commanding performance from the divine Ms V, whose melodies on the chorus are hair raising.
So there you have it. It’s hard to see this appealing to the young folk, but if you were around at the time when primitive production values, rudimentary songwriting prowess and ridiculous stage names and clothes were the norm, Something Wicked This Way Comes is sure to raise a nostalgic smirk and prompt the deployment of an unironic air guitar. I was, and I love it.
Thunderstick will release Something Wicked This Way Comes on July 31st.