Fist are one of the originals that created the N.W.O.B.H.M. and hail from South Shields, North East UK. We all know how important that music movement was and how influential to the extreme sound of the upcoming decades. Formed in 1978 as Axe, they recorded only one song under this moniker (‘S.S. Giro’) before changing to Fist the following year and soon signing with Neat Records to release their first single, “Name, Rank and Serial Number” in April 1980. The single was highly acclaimed and almost praised in the pages of Sounds, so a new contract was signed with MCA that lead to another single (‘Forever Amber’ in August 1980) and to preparations for a full length studio at the end of the same year. Entitled ‘Turn the Hell On’ was out finding a band full of confidence and ready to share the stage with huge names like U.F.O., Judas Priest and Iron Maiden. Back then this wonderful LP had a poor promotion from MCA, a label certainly big but with such a small experience of handling Heavy Metal bands, something that proved almost fatal for Fist’s future. This album features one of the best N.W.O.B.H.M. songs, the one and only ‘Collision Course’ (also on 7” single originally printed by Neat in January 1981, b’ side ‘Law of the Jungle’).

If I was in a bar and someone broken hearted asked me to name two songs to help him through the night, without second thought I would suggest him ‘Collision Course’ and probably ‘Don’t Stop By’ from Tygers of Pan Tang’… A short period on hiatus, with only some compilation appearances (including the ‘78 Axe recording of ‘S.S. Giro’ showing up on Neat’s ‘Lead Weight’), ended in early 1982 when they released their second LP, ‘Back with a Vengeance’ via Neat Records. Featuring a new lineup including lead vocalist Glenn Coates from Hollow Ground, John Roach from Mythra, bassist Norman Appleby as well as Hill and Irwin, the new album had great songs, better production, the catchy choruses that established their unique sound, it was even with almost smoother vocals and an essentially American tone (mostly due to Glenn Coates vocals). We have to mention that Fist were not another cliché – average Joe band dealing with occult or hooligan lyric themes, but their verses were dealing more with every day issues or unusual topics (‘You’ll Never Get Me Up (In One of Those)’ is about the fear of flying or ‘Throwing in the Towel’ is about an ageing boxer unhappy to be back in the ring just to mention a few). Despite the fact that ‘Back with a Vengeance’ was a killer album, Fist never made it big…In fact after the commercial fail of ‘Back with a Vengeance’ they released only one 7″ vinyl single (‘The Wanderer’ –Status Quo cover-, November 1982 via Neat) and went through a few more changes from that point until finally and officially disbanding in 1985. In 2001, original frontman Keith Satchfield formed a new version of Fist which included members of Hollow Ground as well as guest musicians. This lineup released a new album, entitled ‘Storm’, in 2005. But before that, a beautiful compilation entitled ‘Back with a Vengeance: The Anthology’ was out via Castle Communications. Dissonance Records now re-issues this fantastic combo that includes ‘Back with a Vengeance’ on its entirety plus some special outtakes, singles, B’ sides, compilation songs, demo editions and rich liner notes on the booklet, plus the magic hand of Bart Gabriel on remastering.

A fine way to start exploring an unsung hero of N.W.O.B.H.M. that most people mention them because of the look-alike artwork cover on Pantera’s ‘Vulgar Display of Power’ and don’t focus on their brilliant music, the enormous riffs and the hedonistic feeling of a pure and explosive N.W.O.B.H.M. blend of Tygers of Pan Tang’s melodic melancholy and Raven’s raw aggression that Fist were offering…