Samson – Survivors

I feel that it’s time to represent some more New Wave of British Heavy Metal (NWOBHM) and a perfect example of the genre would be Samson’s 1979 release Survivors. Originally released through Laser Records, this album has all the hallmarks of classic NWOBHM.  The chugging bass is ever-present and provides a great rhythmic backbone, the drums have a crisp-yet-subdued sound, the guitar playing and tone are an obvious inspiration on Spinal Tap, and the vocals are right at the forefront with enough sing-along bits that any non-fan of heavy metal will be pleased. By the end of Side-One it’s impossible not to bob your head along to the album. Although Bruce Dickinson (of later Iron Maiden fame, duh) enters the Samson fold during this time period, all vocal duties were completed by guitarist Paul Samson at the time of recording. However, Bruce would appear on the two subsequent releases from the group.

This specific version of the album is the 1983 reissue on Thunderbolt Records with alternate artwork and hoo-boy is this art a million miles better. The ibex head (not really a goat, is it?), the band logo, the dark color scheme; all of this comes together to make a wonderfully simple and effective package. If you know what the other cover looks like then I hope you would agree that this is better. The logo got an update and it’s simple, readable and recognizable. The band goes through a few main logos over the years but I wish they had stuck with this. The others range from OK to laughable and this variation will always be my favorite.

The back of the jacket features the band logo, a pair of lightning bolts and the album notes. This is one of the cases when I like the sparse graphics as it doesn’t taint my thoughts before/while listening to the album. I don’t see some ugly dudes on the back and automatically think something will be good or bad. Whether intentionally or not (I think not) the lack of extraneous artwork makes the music speak for itself which is a benefit with this release. I like the songs and album as a whole but this is a textbook example of cover art being cooler than the music.

To me, the sound of the album has a KISS-vibe weaved in throughout. It’s not a bad thing but the bitchin’ reissue cover art definitely doesn’t get held up from the music within. I see that horned animal head and red text on the cover and I immediately start to have evil thoughts. The music within has a tone that could be considered heavy by some but definitely not evil. Well… at least not by today’s standards. If you happen to snag this album in a pile of old Heavy Metal goodies, don’t forget “For best results play loud when wrecked!”

3 Songs To Survive To

It’s Not As Easy As It Seems
I Wish I Was The Saddle of a Schoolgirl’s Bike
Inside Out

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