(TheBRHM.com) We’re looking at another strong debut with a dive into the New Wave of British Heavy Metal period of metal music. Atomkraft is a band that was formed during the punk-influenced speed metal roots of NWOBHM.
Atomkraft and 80s Speed Metal
Established at the end of the 1970s, Atomkraft came in during the ongoing punk movement and metal from the likes of Judas Priest, Black Sabbath, and Motorhead. I’d say the music of Priest and Motorhead had a major influence on the tempo of a lot of NWOBHM acts.
We’re talking Venom, Raven, Grim Reaper, and yes, Atomkraft. One thing to note about this band is that it was a starting point for Tony “Demolition Man” Dolan who would replace long-time Venom frontman Cronos as vocalist and bass player for a period.
While it took six years after the band was formed, the Newcastle band managed to release Future Warriors in 1985. What makes it a strong debut? Let’s dive in, look at both sides of this release, and find out!
Future Warriors (1985)
The debut and sole full-length release by Atomkraft have nine tracks and all of them are songs. When I say that, I mean that there are no instrumentals. This is one of those albums that is filled to the brim with the raunchier side of speed metal. I view that end of speed metal as the Motorhead-end.
It’s fast, loud, sometimes raunchy but usually rowdy. Tight musicianship is appreciated but that looseness that comes with this strain of speed metal adds to its explosive rawness. A good example of this is the first three albums from better-known contemporary Venom.
As for Future Warriors as a whole project, it’s a really strong debut for that period of the 80s. The latter part of the decade would see faster genres such as thrash metal and crossover take over while giving birth to even faster genres such as black metal and death metal.
So, a speedy album like Future Warriors kind of came at the right moment. It’s right there in the middle to where it could take the faster elements of heavy metal and run with it. However, it’s also in a spot where it could be an influence on bands that come afterwards.
You have to think of it in a sense that fanbases within a larger genre of music age. A new wave of fans might want something faster or slower or music with less emotion and more atmosphere. I’d say Atomkraft’s debut also straddles the fence between the more flexible nature of classic metal’s lyrics and the furious speed and more blatant awareness of the world as it is that late 80s metal took.
That isn’t to say you couldn’t hear fast or thrashy stuff about aliens, sci-fi, and magic. That’s basically how we got power metal and thrash that is rooted in sci-fi and fantasy is actually pretty fresh. It’s a change from the usual suspects of politics, warfare, nuclear war, and death.
Let’s check out the strength of side one’s four tracks. The titular track is a solid intro to the band but it’s by no means the best intro on the side—or even this album. I’d say that the follow-up track “Starchild” would’ve been a good intro as it has that grittiness that I associate with Atomkraft.
“Dead Mans Hand” is fine where it is. I put it on the same level as “Future Warriors” in that it’s a fine song but it’s not “Starchild” and it’s certainly not “Total Metal.” The fourth track on the A-side definitely gets the “Best of the A-Side” honors and I might be bold enough to say “Best of the Album”.
It has the speed and grit that I’d say defines Atomkraft at this time. The band even named its compilation after this song. Mind you, Atomkraft doesn’t have a massive discography. However, Total Metal: The Neat Anthology had enough tracks to make a second album. Side A showed a band with a lot of potential for a strong B-side and possibly a second project.
Best of Side A: Total Metal**, Starchild*
Over on the B-side, we’ve got five tracks and most are bangers. Honestly, “Future Warriors” and “Dead Mans Hand” could’ve taken two of the slots on this side. However, “Total Metal” had enough heat to make this a pretty balanced release.
“Pour the Metal In” kicks off the B-side and it’s got a lot of heat to it. This one rides at the same pace as “Total Metal”, so I’d probably put it as the third or fourth track on the A-side. It can be quite a bit to take in back-to-back.
That presents another problem as “Death Valley/This Planets Burning” and “Warzones” are two tracks right after the B-side opener that have a lot mustard on them. These songs rip hard, folks. My pick for A-side promotion would go to “Death Valley/This Planets Burning”.
You’ve got yourself a combustible A-side, right there.
For the B-side that leave “Burn In Hell” and “Heat and Pain”. Both are strong rockin’ tracks that—after hearing the rest—come off as somewhat mid-tempo. I’d alternate the A-side tracks “Dead Mans Hand” and “Future Warriors” on the B-side.
Best of Side B: Pour the Metal In*, This Planets Burning**
As the track listing is now, it’s not bad at all. It’s a very balanced album as it is and is actually a good starter listen for rock fans new to speed metal.
Staff Writer; M. Swift
This talented writer is also a podcast host, and comic book fan who loves all things old school. One may also find him on Twitter at; metalswift.