Iron Maiden mascot Eddie carrying the Union Jack. Cover art for The Trooper
Political OriginsThe New Wave of British Heavy Metal began in the late 1970s with a recession in Britiain. Masses of unemployed seeking ways to earn money. One way was to perform music. The Punk phenomenon arose during this period, with both its music and its attitudes advocating rebellion.
Not everyone who was unemployed sought to use music as a catalyst for a political movement and sought to express their disillusionment through the darkness that heavy metal is known for. The metal scene evolved separately from the punk movement until a new band called Mötorhead - whose members were friends with members of the Punk Rock band The Damned - incorporated elements of punk rock with heavy metal and speeded up the tempo. Mötorhead went on to establish their own style - to the point where they famously refuse to consider themselves a Heavy Metal band - but the precedent was set and many new bands followed this style.
Influence on Heavy Metal MusicBeyond Punk Rock influences, NWOBHM was not one continuous style of music.
Iron Maiden's speedy and melodic style of music led to the development of Speed Metal and later, Power Metal and Thrash Metal. Def Leppard was the innovator of Glam Metal. Other bands, like Angel Witch, Witchfinde and Venom were instrumental in the development of speedier and darker types of metal
NWOBHM led to a similar resurgence of heavy metal in the US and the growth of its popularity in Europe.
DeclineNWOBHM in many ways became a victim of its own success. With the launching of MTV in 1982 and the explosion of cable television, NWOBHM and its derivatives gained a lot of exposure. Music video production was too expensive for smaller labels, limiting the exposure of bands attached to them. Speed, Power and Thrash gained popularity, overshadowing NWOBHM in Europe.
In the US, the music industry favored Glam with its sex-driven themes and other growing genres of music.