Various Artists

Jobcentre Rejects, Vol. 2: Ultra Rare NWOBHM 1980-1985

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The second volume of Jobcentre Rejects: Ultra Rare NWOBHM focuses on the first half of the 1980s, the era when the New Wave of British Heavy Metal was at its peak. This is in stark contrast to the first installment, which covered the nascent years of 1978 and 1982, a time when the groups tagged NWOBHM were as likely to be pub rock survivors as they were to be longhaired burnouts. That's not the case on Jobcentre Rejects, Vol. 2. All the ten featured bands are metal through and through, existing on an axis with Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, and AC/DC. The latter group is a tell about the kind of rockers who can be heard on Jobcentre Rejects, Vol. 2. Where a lot of the celebrated NWOBHM acts didn't owe much to the greasy crunch of AC/DC or Rose Tattoo, these hooligans all favor frenetic backbeats that vaguely resemble hyper-charged, old-time rock & roll. Sure, the tempos are faster and the amplifiers too loud, but the little-heard singles here all have some semblance of swing, which gives them all a sense of reckless abandon; they can sound like a nastier version of prime Judas Priest. The Priest is the main touchstone here, but by the time Traitors Gate closes the proceedings with "Devil Takes the High Road," some solo Ozzy creeps into view. Still, the charm of Jobcentre Rejects, Vol. 2 is how none of it really chases trends, not even within its own small scene. All these obscure rockers are enthralled by nasty, gnarly hard rock and metal, but they're just slightly out of step with the times, including the heavy hitters in their own scenes. That's why the music has aged so well, though: they're transmissions from another time, and still sound fierce, potent, and raw.

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