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Samson, one of the most promising NWOBHM bands that unfortunately were left behind along with Marseille, while Saxon, Def Leppard and Iron Maiden became the leaders of British metal (I can’t believe I included Leppard in the same line with the word “metal”!!! don’t shoot me, you know what I meant...). Probably we should admit that most of the fame Samson have now it’s because they were the previous band Bruce Dicknson sang for before joining Iron Maiden and achieve international popularity. “Shock Tactics” were their second Lp, featuring Paul Samson on guitar, Thunderstick and Chris Aylmer on bass.
In my opinion, Samson have always been more a traditional hard rock band (and never really hard) than a metal group, compared to the brutality of Venom, Raven or Angel Witch’s sound. And rock is what you will find in this album, that clearly demonstrate’s who are Samson’s biggets influences: Fleetwood Mac, Free, Montrose, Mountain,... or even a bit of Aerosmith?? (Listen to “Nice Girl”). “Earth Mother”, “Go To Hell” or “Grime Crime” are an amusing does of good bluesy rock, catchy and sometimes commercial, and to be honest the rest of the tracks are the same, like “Once Bitten” that features the coolest riff of the album, “Blood Lust” (don’t let the interesting tittle fool you) and the AOR Russ Ballard cover “Riding With The Angels” are nothing out of this world. About the last song, “Communion”, just say that still remains as one of Bruce’s finest performances ever. And of course the sound of those stuff and the production are wayyyy better and more solid than the primitive previous release “Head On”.
The band is professional and efficient in this record, although it’s clear that Paul Samson is not really technical or a virtuoso guitar god at all, and same with Thunderstick on drums. And about Bruce’s voice? I’ts simply brilliant in each song, even in a highest level than on his next record (with Iron Maiden, obviously...). So Dickinson’s talent was too great for a band like Samson? For sure, we must be honest with ourselves.
As conclusion, “Shock Tactics” is an amusing record, definitely not from the most remarkable or brilliant NWOBHM ones by that time, but their finest.
Shock Tactics can be thought of as the most metal album that Samson has released. Head On had its metal tendencies, but all in all, it was not as nearly as consistent. Virtually all of the work to follow would not be metal as well, but rather Blues-oriented rock. Bruce Bruce aka Bruce Dickinson's voice oh Shock Tactics is not quite what it has been known for in Iron Maiden, but it is definitely getting much closer than with Head On. Thunderstick's drumming is evening beginning to become more coordinated.
The opening track, Riding With the Angels, could definitely be an Iron Maiden song. Bruce's slick and raunchy vocal stylings with a bevy of power chords from Paul Samson make this a straight up NWOBHM masterpiece. There is not exactly much of a solo to this song, which is its only downfall, but then again, Paul Samson happened to be the band's only guitarist therefore not able to pull off the twin axe attack of Iron Maiden.
Nice Girl is just one of the many metal songs I have heard about a lust for women. If you have heard any of the Wolfsbane work with Blaze Bailey, you could probably put Bruce in the band and their songs would sound earlier similar. Oddly enough half of this album has a considerable amount of sexually oriented lyrics.
Bruce's high note, the air raid siren, is not totally developed yet on this album. Blood Lust and Grime Crime have a considerable amount of shreiking in them, but it does not exactly sounded like the end of Maiden's Aces High. Although Bruce's singing voice is warming up, his higher end has not been totally developed yet.
Communion is probably my second favorite on the album, and it is also the lone ballad. The Iron Maiden lyrical mentallity for ballads is forming here with feelings of sadness and grief. This track does not pick up at all, and it is just a nice accoustical melody which is practically just a vocal showcasing for Bruce because the instruments are not really being played to stand out.
Samson is not exactly Iron Maiden, but on Shock Tactics, they are some pretty damn good NWOBHM that is definitely worth checking out. The only problem that most people may have is the lack of amazing solos. Paul Samson is a pretty good guitarist, but his solos aren't exactly the same caliber of Adrian Smith and Dave Murray.