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Makes Monty proud - 80%

WaywardSon, December 11th, 2011

Ah, the new wave of British heavy metal. Possible the most influential and, as odd as it may seem, under appreciated movement/”genre” in the history of all that is heavy. If you're reading about about a band called Ethel the Frog, I'll assume you're familiar with the basic history of the NWOBHM and why its influential and will skip that lesson. My view of it's under appreciation stems from bands like this. A hidden gem buried underneath the passing of time. Despite it's release on the major EMI label, it didn't and still doesn't receive much attention. A shame, really. It features a nice combination of the early punk sound a lot of bands from this time had and some swinging blues.

The album opens up with the closest thing the band has to a claim to fame: a heavy cover of the Beatles' classic Eleanor Rigby. While not as fast or heavy as the more well known cover done by the thrash band Realm, its a well done if not unique rendition of a song that's been covered many times by many different artists. Apple of Your Eye features some bizarre lyrics detailing an incestuous relationship between a father and daughter. Despite the odd subject matter, it's actually a relatively fast song that brings to mind Motorhead at times. The next few tracks feature the more bluesy side of the band. Having more in common with ZZ Top than Sabbath or Priest, they're still foot tapping catchy numbers. Fight Back brings back the aggression and is one of the highlights of the album. The rest of the album is more straightforward NWOBHM though Firebird features of a healthy dose of Thin Lizzy guitar harmonies that pleases the ear.

On the topic of guitar work, the instrumental side of the band isn't phenomenal, but they get the job done. I'm a fan of the bass work here. Though not exactly Geezer Butler, it has a nice thick sound to it and has some nice fills alongside the standard root note rhythm. The singing is rather workman like. No opera school graduates here, but nothing that offends either. They're similar to those found in a lot of other NWOBHM bands: what they lack in technical skill, they make up for in character and drive. Drums...carry the beat. He's not bad, but in between the fun guitar and bass work, he tends to fall to the wayside.

A fun album here. I'm a fan of classic rock such as Aerosmith and ZZ Top. While I'm not sure of the band's influences, I'd imagine those two would be possible candidates. The album can also be surprisingly heavy at times and often punk-like in its tempo. While not first rate, its definitely something I'd recommend to someone willing to explore past the Saxons and the Iron Maidens after they've got their fill of those bands. Solid work and it's disappointing they faded away along with all of their peers.

NWOBHM meets Beatles - 34%

Corimngul, February 23rd, 2005

Who’d believe this? A band with the same musical diversity and headbanging joy as the Beatles? Hell, they even open the album with a cover of one of Beatles more well known songs, singing in harmonies and adding Iron Maiden-esque guitars and breaks to it! Could it be any better!? Well, yes… Coming to that, Eleanor Rigby is a simple but decent song. Ruining the original, but well… The rest of the album isn’t quite as complex or nowhere as good as this FUCKING BEATLES COVER!!

The album sounds just as if it could’ve been done in Fruity Loops! Same drum pace for every song, guitars that are a combination of Saxon and well, Beatles. Bottom-line – not very much happens and when it happens it happens for several minutes and is then played all over again. There’s some room for the bassist to experiment though, so he tries some random string picking in song no. 9. Saxon used to have songs that never progressed that just beat on and on. Ethel the Frog even lacks the beat. It’s uninspired shit that doesn’t deserve the short, but way too effective record deal they had or even the NWOBHM label.

Another thing that Saxon had which Ethel the Frog didn’t have was a voice. After dropping the harmonies in the first song he just turns into a Paul McCartney wannabe without any power or class at all. And god isn’t he annoying when he sings “A Firebir-ir-ird” in that filthy British way? Unless you are sickly in love with the idea of laughing at unworthy Brits you should stay clear of this band.