Samurai - 1986 Weapon Master

edited August 2 in year-1986


ARTIST: Samurai
ALBUM: Weapon Master
LABEL: Ebony
YEAR: 1986


LINEUP: Len Williams - vocals * Hun Lewis - guitar * Craig Ridsdale - guitar * Neil Rogers - bass * Mike Davies - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 We Rock All Night * 02 Fighter * 03 Hold On * 04 Too Hot To Hold * 05 You Better Be Ready * 06 Into The Night * 07 Aiming For You * 08 Weapon Master


The glut of British heavy metal bands riding the end of the NWOBHM in the mid 80's led to some fairly dire albums during that period, but South Wales' finest metal export Samurai seemed to have the talent to rise above the fluff.

Formed in 1983 the band signed with Ebony Records, home to similar bands like Savage, Chateaux and most notably Grim Reaper.

The 1984 debut 'Sacred Blade' was typical for the era, run of the mill traditional metal but with more melody than most.

Reading about the band's history it's noted they toured with stalwarts like Dianno, Tobruk, Lee Aaron and Girlschool around this time, which was fairly high profile for 1985.

'Weapon Master' was a logical follow up and is far more polished, with the obligatory melodic rock influences creeping in.

The Songs

'We Rock All Night' opens with a flurry of speed, with vocalist Williams giving a good account of himself, as does the polished guitar tandem of Lewis and Ridsdale.

If you've heard Spartan Warrior or Avenger you'll know what to expect, fast and furious stuff.

The tone of 'Fighter' recalls Battleaxe, with Williams sounding like Bruce Dickinson at odd moments. It's melodic metal at its best, with a far heavier approach than the AOR laden likes of Saxon in 1986.

That said 'Hold On' moves into hard rock anthem mode, chugging along as Williams pushes his highest pitched screams into orbit.

The formulaic 'Too Hot To Hold' is on par with early Jaguar and Savage, with a chorus that inhabits a vague party rock element.

There's more melodic rumblings, this time 'You Better Be Ready', which sounds like a combination of every NWOBHM band who ever existed. This has a Def Leppard style AOR breakdown, which shows where these guys were heading.

The intro of 'Into The Night' is a clone of Accept's 'Losing More Than You've Ever Had' and from there it develops into a poorly produced attempt at AOR once more. The drum sound is appalling, leading me to wonder if this was from the same sessions as the rest of the album.

'Aiming For You' is a back to basics metal rampage, not a totally unexpected turn of events, as is the title track which belongs more in 1982 than 1986, such is the nature of its relentless metal barrage.

In Summary

By 1986 it was either melodic hard rock or die for British metal acts and this was reflected in a heap of major releases by bands as big as Judas Priest, Saxon and Iron Maiden to some extent.

Realizing this, Samurai recorded a two track demo in 1987 with the songs 'Stay With Me Tonight' and 'Show Me Your Love'. I'd be curious to hear these and just how AOR they went, as the band soon dissolved into Cruise 101 and dumped Ridsdale, hiring a keyboard player in his place.

What became of that enterprise I have no idea, but it's safe to say not much. Samurai's albums seem to be held in high regard by enthusiasts, but they're hardly earth shattering.

Maybe with a better label they'd have succeeded, but they'll always go down as a footnote in 80's metal history despite their obvious talent.

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