If you'd have told me back in 1982 that I'd be sat here now scribing the sleeve notes for this, the 30th
Anniversary Edition of 'Burn This Town', well, you could have slain me with the proverbial (Battle) axe right there and then! Since the publication of No Sleep Till Saltburn I've received countless e-mails from readers thanking me for reviving their metal memories and the recurring theme throughout is how the book has dragged kicking and screaming back to life through a dry ice clouded haze, the previously long lost times we spent headbanging to our local heroes in the smokey pubs and clubs of the North East back in the day. I first witnessed the mighty Battleaxe in one such venue, on a stiflingly hot early summer evening in the highly unlikely location of the village hall in Sedgefield, a picturesque hamlet on the edge of County Durham. The band were already in the throes of recording their debut opus at Terry Gavaghan's local Guardian Studios and whilst they didn't literally 'burn Sedgefield right down to the ground' that night, they did have a damned good try! Thanks in no small measure to their colossal arsenal of effects and a pyroladen performance which did actually leave a few scorch-marks on the ceiling! I quickly became very close to the amiable Battle-boys, promoting gigs for them myself on more than one occasion and having a great time following them around the UK in their double decker Battle-Bus! Over a few very short years they truly raised the bar for North East and UK metal. Striking deals with Roadrunner/Music For Nations, sessioning on the Tommy Vance Radio 1 Rock Show, guesting live with Saxon, and Madam X amongst others, and treading the hallowed boards of the UK's most major venues just like their boyhood heroes before them.
There was talk of a potential mega-deal with Atlantic Records that sadly never was, even a rumour that Metallica coveted a UK tour as support slot to our hometown boys and it all started right here with Burn This Town, now digitally remastered to snuff out once and for all some of that 'rough and ready - local studio vibe'. From the awesome Brit-Metal chugging riff and searing solo-ing of opener - 'Ready To Deliver', to the all out onslaught of the blistering title track, 'Burn This Town' is a towering testament to the very spirit of the NWOBHM. Of course this newly re-packaged anniversary edition comes complete with loads of extra goodies for the hardened axe-wielding fan too, including you'll have noticed, a lavish 21st century re-working of the album's original artwork. When their LP sleeve was first unveiled to myself and Kerrang! Journo - Geoff Banks back in the day, I think it's safe to say that both of us were a tad bemused to put it politely. But say what you want (and many have over the last 3 decades - the sleeve doesn't still regularly feature in numerous Top 10 Worst Album Art on internet polls for nothing!) - Arthur Ball's legendary design has kept the name Battleaxe on everyone's lips for the last 3 decades, and that's no mean feat!
So dust down your denim jacket, pop your studded wristbands on one more time and enjoy 'Burn This Town' in all its remastered glory! Because with festival gigs coming up across the UK and Europe and a brand new album nearing completion too, incredibly, Battleaxe are 'Ready To Deliver' all over again. So look out for the Battle-Bus revving in to burn a town near you very soon!
Mark Gregory - Author "No Sleep Till Saltburn".
Dave King - vocals
Brian Smith - bass
Steve Hardy - guitars
Ian Thompson - drums