Back with a Vengeance: The Anthology

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Among the countless second- and third-tier talents to emerge from the amazingly prolific New Wave of British Heavy Metal movement, Tyneside's Fist are as deserving as any of the posthumous anthology treatment. Unfortunately, due to various licensing issues pertaining to different labels owning the Fist catalog, Back with a Vengeance: The Anthology (not to be confused with Fist's second studio album, also named Back with a Vengeance) lacks the sort of cohesion and completion displayed by other excellent Sanctuary/Neat collections of obscure NWOBHM talent. Therefore, any attempts at chronology are summarily jettisoned here in favor of a rather more confusing, but altogether sensible, sequencing on both of these two discs. As such, disc one brings together all of their official Neat recordings (a melodic hard rock/heavy metal hybrid reminiscent of labelmates Tygers of Pan Tang): starting with their first single, 1978's "S.S. Giro" (recorded when they were still using the name Axe, and famously featured in 1999's Lars Ulrich-compiled New Wave of British Heavy Metal '79 Revisited CD); moving through other important singles ("Name, Rank and Serial Number") and B-sides ("Throwing in the Towel," etc.); and diving right into the second album, 1982's pretty solid Back with a Vengeance in its entirety, before polishing off their single cover rendition of "The Wanderer." Disc two is less consistent but conversely brims with astounding rarities: beginning with the rock-solid "Brain Damage" (an unspecified version of the song featured in MCA's Brute Force compilation); proceeding through eight demo versions of first album tracks and outtakes; unearthing two further obscurities from those 1978 Axe sessions; and finally wrapping up its 19 tracks with an assortment of slim pickings, which, for every loser like "Where They Are" (a hopelessly out of place reggae number in the style of the Police), scores yet another unexpected winner such as "See the Devil Rise" (once again, a second album demo take). In summary, Back with a Vengeance: The Anthology arguably takes a complicated discography and complicates it even further; but, in a clear-cut case of "mission impossible," it's likely about as good as one could hope for discovering the small heavy metal treasure that is Fist.

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