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Spartan Warrior - 1984 Spartan Warrior



ARTIST: Spartan Warrior
ALBUM: Spartan Warrior
LABEL: Roadrunner
SERIAL: RR 9847
YEAR: 1984
CD REISSUE: 2009, Metal Mind, MASS CD 1305 DG

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: >

LINEUP: Dave Wilkinson - vocals * Neil Wilkinson - guitars * Paul Swaddle - guitars * Tom Spence - bass * Gordon Webster - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Assassin * 02 Black Widow * 03 I'm On Heat * 04 Son Of A Bitch * 05 Sentenced To Die * 06 Hanging On * 07 Mercenary * 08 French Girls * 09 Broken Promises


Background
Another in the long line of NWOBHM acts from the early 80's were Spartan Warrior, who like Raven were luminaries of the Tyneside circuit, but unfortunately not nearly as noteworthy or successful. This self titled album was supposed to be titled 'Assassin' according to Neil Wilkinson in a recent interview, but due to miscommunication with Roadrunner simply came out as 'Spartan Warrior'. Like most bands of their ilk Spartan went through a ton of lineup changes until this version was solidified and recorded two tracks for a sampler album in 1983, which led to the debut album 'Steel 'N' Chains', that met to some acclaim, enough to secure a licensing deal with Roadrunner. According to some the follow up was not as heavy as the debut, although this is passable metal, almost dated by 1984 and very similar to Tokyo Blade. Simply put this is old fashioned British metal, take it or leave it.


The Songs
Whoever wrote the line about Spartan Warrior being similar to Rush and Led Zeppelin must have been been making things up (he was probably a death metal fan! Ed). Think of any period British act from 1980 to 85 and this is more along those lines, 'Broken Promises' is a dead ringer for Saxon's 'Stand And Be Counted' for example, the main riff identical. Dave Wilkinson's vocals are typically shrill and high pitched, showing good range and used well on faster tracks like 'Black Widow', with guitar work that recalls Tygers Of Pan Tang, only Spartan seemed to have been left behind slightly in production values, this feels like 1982 and is eclipsed easily by the bigger acts who had moved onto greater things. The titles are all metal, 'I'm On Heat', 'Son Of A Bitch', 'Mercenary' and 'Assassin', which features the obligatory galloping riffing to excellent effect. 'French Girls' might appear to be AOR based, but is one of the quicker workouts, with some exciting guitar interplay, although the bass is too prominent, thudding and pounding too heavily. 'Hanging On' is slightly more commercial, the melodic riffs immediately accessible.


In Summary
Uncompromising for all its shortcomings and a third album was scheduled but never recorded as the band supposedly was asked to go in a more 'Satanic' direction that the band did not agree with. Instead they split, the victim of record company politics and mishandling, which can be read in an in depth interview with Neil Wilkinson at NWOBHM.net, which is an excellent guide to the bands history. The most surprising revelation is that the band is reforming. Just how they will sound over twenty years later is anybody's guess, but surely the days of this type of heroic traditional metal are gone. Mind you Iron Maiden and Motorhead are still doing it along with numerous others. And with the possibility of Spartan recording shelved tracks from the third album, it's possible the older metal fans of the world just might be in luck.


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Comments
#1 | dangerzone on April 11 2008 05:11:58
I don't know how I missed it in the initial review, but 'I'm On Heat' is the biggest rip off of Leppard's 'Let It Go' ever recorded.
 
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