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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful, beautifully performed, and most importantly, obscure, 3 Dec 2012
D. Petley (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Fire Dance (MP3 Download)
I was amazed to find out about a band this amazing then realise that they came from my home town, Bristol. I thought that Jaguar were the only Bristolian NWOBHM group to have made an impact. This 1982 masterpiece is Shiva's only album, which is an absolute tragedy. They were a three piece, playing a more progressive style than other British metal bands of the time. Their complicated melodies and song structures aim way higher above the bar than most of their contemporaries were even capable of reaching. But this does make them very different to the more typical NWOBHM bands, who generally had a far more straight forward approach to making powerful rock music.

It drives me crazy when people compare any 3 piece band with a vocalist with a high pitched voice with Rush (for example, Budgie sound nothing like Rush! They couldn't be further from their sound in any part of their history, but just because Burke Shelley has a bass, long hair and a high pitched scream, people compare them to Rush! GRRRRRR!)... but having said that, Rush is quite a fair band to compare Shiva to. Apart from Shiva are more direct, more powerful and anthemic on this record than Rush have ever been. John Hall's vocals have a soulful, at times almost fragile quality, but somehow still immensely high, powerful and bold. His guitar riffs are full of surprises, with his finger-picking on 'En Cachent' weaving seamlessly between heavy riffs, imaginative soloing, and Andy Skuse's technical and magically fluent bass work. Chris Logan's drumming is unbelievable too, in 'Stranger Lands' it sounds like he has as many arms as the Hindu deity they take their name from. The three of them work so well together, like any prog band, and any three piece should. A galloping beast of a record, bursting to the seams with creative ideas, which all work so well. So I am totally baffled at how they didn't become huge.

The progressive edge of this band may have been off putting to rock fans who just wanted pure head banging, perhaps that's why they faded into obscurity? They are metallic and powerful, but with the added excitement of their complicated but playful song structures, which means each listen rewarded with the recognition of parts that you didn't realise were there before. Their prog elements probably make them heavier than they would be if they had just made a full on heavy metal album. Having said that, the main thing that makes Shiva special is the fact that they ARE metallic! The songs are great, the musicianship is crazy. I'm sure I won't get bored of this album in a hurry, and I was so pleased that I could get an mp3 so easily, as some British metal from this era is really hard to come by. So do yourself a favour and download this now.
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Firedance by Shiva Ram (Audio CD - 1996)
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