One of the first bands to benefit from the initial burst of interest accorded the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, Berkshire, England's aptly named Sledgehammer were formed in 1978 by vocalist/guitarist Mike Cooke, bassist Terry Pearce, and drummer Ken Revell. Having had the good fortune of playing their very first gig in support of Motörhead, Sledgehammer quickly recorded their now legendary eponymous debut single and released it through their own Slammer imprint. They then gained wider distribution via Valiant Records, and saw it included in 1980's watershed Metal for Muthas compilation to boot.
Although not even all that heavy in retrospect, "Sledgehammer" fit right in with the NWOBHM's energetic, rough-as-you-want-it mentality, and instantly struck a chord with fans. Another hot track, "Fantasia," appeared on the nearly as influential Brute Force collection, and, after scoring a slot in that year's Reading Festival (opening a bill also featuring NWOBHM upstarts the Tygers of Pan Tang and Def Leppard), the hard-working Sledgehammer issued yet another self-financed single, "Living in Dreams," before setting their sights on a full album.
But Sledgehammer failed to capitalize on this early acclaim, waffling on and on in the studio before finally releasing the Blood on Their Hands long-player in 1983 (by which time John Jay had replaced original bassist Terry Pearce) -- and then having to recall it due to alleged issues with faulty artwork. Mausoleum Records reissued the album in a gatefold sleeve in 1984 and paired it with a four-track 12" in an attempt to entice consumers, but aside from a few enthusiastic supporters in mainland Europe, most of these only showed their indifference for a second time. In 1984 came the release of a last-ditch-effort picture-disc EP that was shaped -- that's right -- like a sledgehammer, but no such gimmicks could turn the tide for Sledgehammer now and, despite occasional one-off concerts and a rarely seen final single in 1988, the jig was basically up.