F U L L . R E V I E W S


Sampson
Shock Tactics
Type: CD
Company: Sanctuary Records
Release: 1981
Genre: Traditional
Reviewer: MetalKnight
Published: 2/1/2005
Featured three members that would thereafter join the more famous Iron Maiden
The year 1981 had just kicked off and yours truly was into his teen years, psychologically nourishing on a staple diet of Metal to assure a healthy development (!). I had actually not heard “Shock Tactics” until later on, when curious to listen to the album that featured 3 members that would thereafter join the more famous Iron Maiden.

The historical importance of this jewel is not as much its revolutionary value as the fact that it celebrates an important era in the evolution of Metal. In fact, the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal (NWOBHM) was then at its peak although a handful few bands were already ahead of the rest. Black Metal pioneers Venom, who were releasing their first groundbreaking full-length (“Welcome To Hell”), hadn’t yet played their first gigs. Iron Maiden woke to their first accolades, thanks also to their “Iron Maiden” L.P.. And guitarist Paul Samson’s namesake band, had garnered a enviable reputation as authors of classy metal songs.

On lead vocals was a certain Bruce Bruce, thereafter known as Bruce Dickinson, who was also active in Samson’s songwriting. The bassist was Chris Aymler, and enigmatic Thunderstick (“the drummer with a rapist’s mask”) played drums. Being the band’s third album, it was most successful, though ironically this might have contributed to the band’s downfall later on.

“Shock Tactics” gets off to a headbangin’ start with a heavier version of Russ Ballard’s ‘Riding With The Angels’, followed by ‘Earth Mother’ that features some great guitar licks as well as some vocal histrionics by Bruce. ‘Nice Girl’ comes next – a song ideal for any arena gig being catchy with great guitar solos by Paul. ‘Blood Lust’ is one of the slower-tempo songs – not a ballad though, but one featuring several riffs and one cool psychedelic vibe. In ‘Go To Hell’, the tempo picks up again as Thunderstick’s intro gives way to a excellent guitar-solo and the body of the song – probably Paul Samson’s best performance in the album. ‘Bright Lights’ has a Rock’N’Roll feel to it. Remorseful ‘Once Bitten’ however, has bluesy undertones but still is a rockin’ air-guitar-inducing song. ‘Grime Crime’ is a groovy sort of metal song. “Shock Tactics” is then wrapped-up by a song very unusual from the rest. ‘Communion’ is in fact rather dreamy and laid-back. I always liked this song, however. It’s a sort of ideal way to rest your brain after having head-banged throughout the rest of the album!

I reckon the forte of “Shock Tactics” is the songwriting level as well as an excellent performance throughout by Bruce.

A curious trivia surrounding this album is that while being recorded, Iron Maiden were next door recording what would be the “Killers” album. And during breaks in recording sessions, it seems both bands often hanged out together drowning the stress of recording-sessions under multiple pints of beer. Worth mentioning here is the fact that Clive Burr and one Barry Graham, who both played drums in Iron Maiden, had also both previously played with Samson.

This was the last studio-album Bruce did with Samson. In fact, a tour Iron Maiden had done with Samson and co-nationals Angelwitch, convinced Steve Harris and co. that Bruce should be the one to replace Paul Di’Anno. The rest, as they say, is history.

Samson was plagued by line-up changes and dragging legal hassles, which made the band’s unfortunate split inevitable. The band had reunited and even played some important festivals in the summer of 2002. Sadly, however, Paul Samson died on the 9th of September of that year at 49 years of age.

“Shock Tactics” is not easy to find nowadays, and similarly elusive are the other 2 albums Bruce Dickinson did with this band. Opinion might differ as to whether this ranks as Samson’s best album but if you get hold of the original vinyl version, I suggest not letting go of it!

Maximum Metal Rating Legend - Click for Full Details
5 Excellent - Buy it and say a prayer to the metal gods that you were tuned on to this masterpiece. A classic.
4-4.5 Great - Almost perfect records but there's probably a clunker or a lacking somewhere to keep it from perfection. You won't feel bad about dropping some bones on these.
3.5 Good - Most of the record is good, but there may be some filler. This is the OK range where you'd search for the record on sale or used.
3 Average - Some good songs, some bad ones at about a half/half ratio. Could show skills but be dull overall. Redeeming qualities for indy bands are effort and passion. Majors that don't try or suck outright end up here.
2-2.5 Fair - Worth a listen, but best obtained by collectors. There is much better metal out there.
1-1.5 Bad - Major problems with music, lyrics, production, etc.
0 Terrible or an otherwise waste of your life and time.

Note: Reviews are graded from 0-5, anything higher or not showing is from our old style. Scores, however, do not reveal the important features. The written review that accompanies the ratings is the best source of information regarding the music on our site. Reviewing is opinionated, not a qualitative science, so scores are personal to the reviewer and could reflect anything from being technically brilliant to gloriously cheesy fun.

Demos and independent releases get some slack since the bands are often spent broke supporting themselves and trying to improve. Major releases usually have big financial backing, so they may be judged by a heavier hand. All scores can be eventually adjusted up or down by comparison of subsequent releases by the same band. We attempt to keep biases out of reviews and be advocates of the consumer without the undo influence of any band, label, management, promoter, etc.

The best way to determine how much you may like certain music is to listen to it yourself.



ALL FULL REVIEWS FOR: SAMPSON
CD
TITLE BAND
DOR
REVIEWER DATE
Shock TacticsSampson
1981
MetalKnight2/1/2005


ALL SUMMARY REVIEWS FOR: SAMPSON

No Summary reviews currently exist for them.


ALL INTERVIEWS FOR: SAMPSON
INTERVIEW BAND INTERVIEWER DATE


YOU MAY ALSO LIKE THESE TRADITIONAL STYLED RELEASES:


<< back >>






ERIC COMPTON PICKS
Mean Streak
Declaration Of War
Sea
The Grip of Time
Iron Fire
To The Grave
Vallenfyre
Splinters
Crossbones
Rock the Cradle

GREG WATSON PICKS
Bloodbath
Grand Morbid Funeral
Mystic Prophecy
War Brigade
Zornheym
Where Hatred Dwells & Darkness Reigns
Nightwish
Nightwish
Ill Nino
Till Death, La Familia

FRANK HILL PICKS
Biomechanical
Cannabalised
Armory
The Dawn Of Enlightenment
Gentlemens Pistols
S/T
Volbeat
Rock The Rebel / Metal The Devil
Helloween
Gambling with the Devil

DAVID LOVELESS PICKS
Earthrise
Eras Lost
Throne of Katarsis
An Eternal Dark Horizon
Wolves in the Throne Room
Black Cascade
Hatebreed
The Concrete Confessional
Galactic Empire
Galactic Empire