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Music Review: Marshall Law – Power Game (Angel Air Re-Release)

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First, there was the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal. Then came a wave of bands who had been influenced by it. Together they forged a newer new wave, if that makes sense.

Birmingham is not only England’s second city and the home of some of the best Balti houses in the UK, but it is also the place where many of the most influential metal bands originated from. The list is impressive. There was Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, the more melodic Magnum, and later Napalm Death. In 1988, Marshall Law added itself to the list.

In fact Marshall Law are still going strong but in honor of their past Angel Air Records have re-released Power Game, their 1993 album. It comes complete with a bonus track, and excellent sleeve-notes by Joe Geesin, all of which proves to be very timely indeed.

The band came about when guitarist Dave Martin (formerly of Chinawhite and Shadowlands), and vocalist Andy Pyke (who had been with Detroit), and Damian, were drawn together by their love of British metal.

However, it wasn’t just their local heroes like Judas Priest that grabbed their attention. Other influences were drawn from further afield through the likes of Welsh band Budgie, Motorhead, US trio Testament, Malice, and Dio.

The Dave Martin story is a fascinating one. He was classically trained but that was all destined to change when he went to a Motorhead gig. Joe’s sleeve-notes also inform us that Dave and Andy Pyke would go to Edwards No. 8, one of the best rock venues in Birmingham. Little did they know that they would soon be back there but this time fronting their own metal band.

First to join was ex-Realm guitarist Andy Southwell who was drafted in to form a formidable twin attack with Dave Martin. By the time their self-titled debut album appeared in 1989 they had added bass player Rog Davis, and drummer Mike Donovan.

The album, which is considered something of a cult metal classic, contained many of the Marshall Law live anthems including “Under The Hammer,” “Marshall Law” and “We’re Hot.”

With Lee Morris stepping into the drum stool, the band went about recording their follow up, the even heavier, Power Game. For the sessions they brought in renowned guitarist/producer Robin George who had worked with David Byron, Thin Lizzy, Robert Plant, Roy Wood, and NWOBHM band Diamond Head.

Despite being more intense than most of what he had previously worked on, Robin expertly managed to capture the band’s undisputed power in this appropriately titled album.

Power Game explodes at you with a solid wall of energy through tracks like the opener pair “Chain Of Youth” and “Another Generation.” “No Justice” finally slows it down with an unfolding power ballad that is brilliantly delivered by Andy Pyke. 

The awesomely powerful “Searching For Paradise” drew many a Priest comparison, as did “Naked Aggression” which is everything its title promises. Other highlights are the title track, “Psychodrama,” “Dead Zone” and “Leviathan,” all of which will be familiar to anyone that has seen this band over the years. A bonus track, the single version of “Naked Aggression” is also included.

This classic British metal album shifted over 75,000 copies in Japan, but back in the UK sales suffered through limited distribution. In 1996 they released Law In The Raw and the following year brought out Metal Detector, the first Marshall Law album to be sold in South America.

Warning From History followed in 1999. Then in 2008 they released the darkly intense Razorhead, three years in the making, to positive reviews. This resulted in them appearing at the Wacken and Bloodstock Festivals where their loyal fan base gave them a rapturous welcome.

This is a must have for metal fans the world over who may be working back from the impact of Razorhead’s release, or were there first time around. Either way Power Game is exactly what it says on the box.

Marshall Law can be found on their MySpace page or their website. Meanwhile, the extensive catalog being released by Angel Air Records can be explored by visiting their website.

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About Jeff Perkins