English Dogs
Where Legend Began


3.5
great

Review

by Robert Davis CONTRIBUTOR (152 Reviews)
October 16th, 2013 | 6 replies


Release Date: 1987 | Tracklist

Review Summary: English Dogs' career-defining moment, but that isn't saying much.

To begin with, English dogs were no different to the likes of The Exploited or Suicidal Tendencies. They started from the very bottom as a band who depended on raw, visceral energy constructed around rushed albeit energetic riffs which were always based around punk-influenced structures. However, whereas English dogs' contemporaries went on to produce heavier, more aggressive content, the band itself had gone down the route formerly taken by Cirith Ungol and Manowar, basing the majority of their songs on epic myths and legends as opposed to the harshness of British life and politics.

Arguably the band's most successful album, Where legend began is by no means perfect, yet it frequently comes across as an ambitious record which, unfortunately marred by various flaws, is generally well written. Although it seemed that the band had shaken off their crust punk beginnings prior to recording this album, the vocal style of Pete Wakefield was still very much rooted in English dogs' previous two records, Invasion of the porky men, and to a somewhat lesser extent, Forward into battle. His voice is unfortunately for the most part weak and rather hit and miss, largely affecting songs such as the average "The eye of Shamahn" and "Flashback". Even when the instrumentation is strong and consistent, as in both "Calm before the storm" and "Premonition", it is still very hard to ignore Wakefield's sub-par vocals, and you almost wish that the band had recruited a vocalist more fitting to this particular album's style.

Nonetheless, the musicianship on Where legend began is powerful in most of the songs. "Calm before the storm" is introduced beautifully with melancholic guitar leads and an acoustic melody that soothes the listener before exploding into a speed metal style which strongly resembles Angel Witch and Cirith Ungol. The solo work which proves extremely fluent in both "A tomb of traveller's past" and "Middle earth" offers aural delights for a pure metalhead, and the heavier, more mid-paced likes of opener "Trauma" gives you a chance to nod your head in great appreciation. What is also strong on Where legend began is the fact that many songs have a well-written structure, particularly epic closer "Epilogue" and the often enchanting "Middle earth", both of which easily eschew the well below average vocals in favour of consistent instrumentation. "Calm before the storm" is largely helped by this, as is the album's definite highlight "A tomb of traveller's past", yet you could be put off by the sudden transitions from punk-influenced speed metal to the harsher, heavier rhythms found in standard thrash metal.

All in all, English dogs were never quite a special band, and their most successful album Where legend began proves that point. However, if you really do love relatively solid metal music from the 80s, then this could certainly be for you. This album therefore marks the band's career-defining point, even if it isn't particularly significant compared to the other countless metal bands formed in the 80s.



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user ratings (6)
Chart.
3.8
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
linguist2011
Contributing Reviewer
October 16th 2013


1896 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Full album: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bgsvboAJ6lo

linguist2011
Contributing Reviewer
October 16th 2013


1896 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

By the way, I didn't realize that my previous review was still on the front page from yesterday, so if anyone's annoyed by there being two reviews of mine on the same page, it's my bad.

Voivod
Staff Reviewer
October 16th 2013


6205 Comments


Well written, pos.

Bad vocals can legitimately ruin a record of great music - one such example is the first Iced Earth album - but I could see this review with a higher rating.

Digging: Seduced (AT) - The Proclamation

linguist2011
Contributing Reviewer
October 16th 2013


1896 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Thanks. I'll check the first Iced Earth album again to see what you mean. As for the rating, I was questioning for a long time whether to give it a 3 or 3.5. Having gone back through my review again, I guess it reads higher than I initially thought.

spacegoose
June 28th 2014


1 Comments


If you knew anything about English Dogs you would know that Pete Wakefield was replaced by Adie Bailey after Invasion of The Porky Men, part of the lineup changes that transformed them from an average UK 82 punk rock outfit into the crossover thrash legend that they became. A lot of people criticize Bailey's vocals as being too weak to compete with the shredding riffs of guitarist Graham "Gizz" Butt, but part of what makes the English Dogs one of the greatest bands of the genre is that they lack the studio-polished contrition that many NWOBHM acts at that time touted. They represented the raw energy of punk rock fused with the fantasy elements of metal influenced by mythology and Tolkein et al. His vocals are a perfect reflection of the youthful ignorance of raw punk tinged with a yearning to tap into a more technical and in many cases more gaudy style. Mostly though, if you're going to criticize his vocals you should at least know who you're talking about, otherwise you come off as just plain ignorant. Any real fan of the English Dogs knows that Wakey was only the singer during their early years of punk mediocrity.

linguist2011
Contributing Reviewer
June 28th 2014


1896 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Well, I'm not a "real" fan of the band, I just came across this record by chance and decided to give it a review. Granted, it's not exactly the best of reviews, but I feel like I got my opinion down in type form at least. Review it yourself, you seem to know a lot about the band's heritage.



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