Heavier! Faster! Louder! Launch @Newcastle Discovery Museum, February 27 2020

Ged ‘Wolf’ Cook will never forget the night North East trio Atomkraft laid waste to London’s Marquee club prior to Slayer’s first UK show. 

“Our backline packed up after three songs and I just lost it,” the drummer told a packed audience on Tyneside at the launch of the hotly anticipated NWOBHM podcast: Heavier! Faster! Louder! The Story Of Tyneside Heavy Metal.

In a split second Atomkraft went from thrash metal to trash metal as the band destroyed what was left of their faulty gear and Cook hurled pieces of his battered kit into the crowd.

“I’d forgotten that I’d promised to lend Dave Lombardo some sticks and of course I threw them into the crowd too,” he added. 

“When Dave came looking for me later on it suddenly dawned on me what I’d done and I had to send my drum tech into the crowd to beg some poor fan to hand back the sticks! 

“We managed to find two just in time. I spent the rest of the night signing bits of the kit that I’d smashed up and hurled around the Marquee.”

Just one of many truly metal anecdotes told to NWOBHM devotees at an event that doubled up as the unofficial pre-show for Brofest’s 2020 festival, Cook’s story epitomised the excess of the early 80s metal scene.

And it served as a timely reminder that the North East of England played a key role in galvanising and growing a scene feeding off the success of Maiden, Leppard, Priest et al.

Cook’s brother was Eric – manager of Venom – and Atomkraft were one of a slew of bands signed to Newcastle’s Neat Records

The label’s Impulse Studio base spawned a raft of genre classics and was home to Tygers Of Pan Tang, Blitzkrieg, Raven, Saracen, Fist and more under the stewardship of Neat Reciords founder Dave Wood.

And Neat was where Venom was born – the black metal pioneers who went on to influence Metallica, Slayer and more.

Sat alongside Cook at the H!F!L! launch was former Venom drummer Abaddon. Every inch the rock star, his storytelling proved to be as tight as his legendary work behind the kit. 

If his recollection of Cook Jr’s hilarious foray into Hamburg’s red light district had a rapt crowd in stitches, then tales of pyro disasters and touring with Metallica recalled Venom’s golden – or blackest – era.

Contributions from Fist’s Harry ‘Hiroshima’ Hill, Tygers Of Pan Tang’s Robb Weir and War Machine’s Bernadette Mooney kept the panel-based event moving at pace. 

And when Hot N Heavy Express host Alan Robson popped up with a question from the floor it was like 1982 all over again.

Listening to Abaddon and Robson recall the faux feud which divided the North East’s metal community in the early 80s was pure metal gold.

The former revealed he was thrown out of a taxi on the Felling bypass after the driver accused Venom’s drummer of dissing Tyneside’s favourite rock DJ.

The latter admitted he thought the world’s best black metal band were ‘shit’ – for at least eight months!

An audience from across the globe was treated to tale upon tale of metal mayhem.

And, for many, H!F!L! was the perfect warm up for Brofest 2020 – the Newcastle-based NWOBHM-themed festival that continues to breathe new life into a genre that refuses to die.

Given the city’s association with metal’s glorious past there’s no better place to celebrate returning greats and fresh new talent.

And Sarah Younas, Digital Producer for Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums (TWAM), who created the series of H!F!L! podcasts and staged the launch event, added: “Events like Brofest take place almost every year and were set up because people were still so interested in NWOBHM.

“Many of those people were also sick of travelling to London whenever they wanted to see bands from that genre.

“Brofest has actually managed to persuade a few of those NWOBHM bands to reform in the last few years – including Fist and Mythra.”

Brofest boss Stu Bartlett was among the crowd at H!F!L! before heading across town to local rock haunt Trillians – where cult NWOBHM heroes Witchfynde were set to kick off the Brofest party in style.

“The panel was great and it just proves how important Newcastle always was to the NWOBHM scene,” he said. “It still is. And Brofest aims to celebrate the genre in style.”

*Heavier! Faster! Louder! is available now on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and other podcast platforms with new episodes released every Thursday.