by Penelope Tritou & Gio Tsekas
We had this article almost ready and planning to post it around October when it was actually released (it was recorded during August – September 1982 at Music Works Studios in London) in order to celebrate somehow its 40th anniversary. Unfortunately Nicky Moore’s sudden death makes me finish it in a rude and unpleasant way. Its the least I can do in order to add a little piece to honour his memory and try to spread as far as my power can his legacy, to mostly younger metalheads.
Samson was a really worth exploring situation of a NWOBHM band. It wasn’t just the band of Paul Samson. Paul was a brilliant composer, smart guitarist, devoted rocker , an NWOBHM pioneer that offered many great hymns of the genre and a masked executed figure heavily inspired by Middle Ages that worked as a mascot before the bands started using these tricks as a trademark. It wasn’t only the band that used as a step before boarding the giant rollercoaster of success with Iron Maiden. Samson was a decent, strong card of the genre, one of the bands that won’t bring masses or hordes of new fans to Heavy Metal but will turn the ones that stayed here to loyal ones. And mostly it was a group that offered us four excellent samples of genuine hard rocking Heavy Metal albums, four in a row.
“Before the Storm” is the fourth studio album by Samson. It was released in 1982, with the back then new vocalist Nicky Moore. Moore was recruited to replace Bruce Dickinson after Dickinson joined Iron Maiden. The drummer Mel Gaynor was also replaced by Pete Jupp, when Gaynor left to join Simple Minds.
The London-based four-piece had the momentum for being bigger and commercially independent but not all stories have a happy end after all, especially in music business. 1980’s Head On was a killer and its follower Shock Tactics a year later had bring the bar too high for them as everyone expected their new move. Their performance in Reading Festival in 1981 was their peak but they didn’t capitalise it unfortunately as Steve Harris took the best out of it for his -and probably ours- benefit. The shock of departure of their frontman would kill any band but Samson managed to get stronger out of it. Meanwhile things were getting even harder and complicated when their drummer Barry “Thunderstick” Purkis also left at the same time period due to apparent artistic differences with band leader Paul Samson. So it was also a personal bet for Paul Samson to keep the good name he had worked so hard and his band’s fan base tight.
The new album had definitely many differences in its music direction. The sound was hard rock oriented and the melodic parts were dominating it. Even though Dickinson’s voice and Purkis’ drumming was the ace on the band’s sleeve it was proved to be a wise move to replace them with Moore and Jupp, two completely different type of singer and drummer as their departure accelerated things in terms of the new music approaching that Samson wanted to start.
New drummer Pete Jupp had a groovy playing similar to AC/DC boogie classic rock n roll/hard rock hitting. It actually bonded perfectly with the bassist Chris Aylmer and created a solid rhythm section. Moore was also a brilliant choice. His warm smooth voice gave a delicate essence to Samson while his blues hint added dirt and rock n roll spirit. Dickinson was a Gillan inspired shouter back then and Moore’s lines could compete David Coverdale best performances and also will bring you in mind Dave Hill of Demon fame. That was a key factor to the new and proved to be short melodic era of Samson that ended in 1984 with Don’t Het Mad Get Even album release.
The guitars were melodic and flirting with radio friendly tunes. Probably Paul’s was moving in his comfort zone still despite the fact that there wasn’t much of extreme ideas or mad soloing and the riffs were typical of the first wave of the genre, still the guitars in the end were keeping a nice groove and giving space to Moore’s star to shine.
“Before the Storm” 40 years after its release stands proudly,even though not so loud, among the gems of NWOBHM, adding more glance to the legacy of the genre and making us all thing that Samson wasn’t a band of the pile and that they should definitely offer more …