Following the well-received "Headonizm" album from 2006 (HRR 006), "Will To Survive" (limited to 500 copies worldwide, pressed on extra-heavy orange vinyl) is the second Hammerhead release for connoisseur N.W.O.B.H.M. label High Roller Records. The 9 songs of "Will To Survive" originally saw the light of day in 2005 on a compact disc released by Sonic Age/Cult Metal Classics from Greece. The High Roller release does not only feature an exclusive bonus track, namely a live rendition of "Mushrooms & Beer" (recorded on December 16th 2005 at the Seaton Royal British Legion), but also a different cover artwork. Guitarist Buzz Elliot was not 100% satisfied with the way the sleeve of the CD version turned out: "It is quite a good design, but maybe not the right style for Hammerhead, it reminds me of Marvel Comics style of drawing. Sonic Age had their own artist come up with the design, I think it was loosely based around the lyrics of the title track 'Will To Survive', the song has a few lines within it referring to the chaos surrounding the aftermath of a nuclear war, hence the warrior emerging from a post apocalyptic scene, very Mad-Max! I don't know if the artist intended the bridge to look like Tower Bridge, but personally, I think it looks more like the Golden Gate Bridge in America ... During the arrangements for the release of the CD, Sonic Age were supposed to let me see the design before it was produced, but probably in their haste, and eagerness to get the project off the ground I didn't get to see it until it was too late to make any changes. I did request a couple of minor changes to be made, but it was too late, the sleeves had already been printed, so I thought 'what the hell, at least we're finally getting some kind of recognition for our work', so I gave them permission to go ahead with the sleeve design without any changes."
With "Lochinvar" (which first appeared on the legendary "It's Unheard Of!" compilation on Sane Records in 1984), the mentioned CD from Greece included a video extra track as Buzz Elliot explains: "The whole of that particular gig in 1984 was recorded, but I didn't think that the sound and the playing were consistent enough to release everything. There are probably around two or three other videos from the early days that still exist, but again the quality is limited on most of the recordings. I did make a collection of snippets available on DVD for a while, but I stopped selling them after a few people complained about the quality. In all fairness, what did they expect? We are an underground band from 25-30 years ago, video cameras had more or less just been invented, it is obvious that the quality is going to be limited. I have recorded all our gigs since we got back together apart from the 'British Steel Festival' last year. I didn't bother to take my camera to that one as it was supposed to be getting filmed professionally, but for some reason, that never happened. We didn't get a sound desk recording of that night either, but the good thing about all this is that we will always remember it as a fantastic gig to have been involved with."
As mentioned earlier, "Will To Survive" is already the second Hammerhead release on High Roller, Buzz Elliot is still full of praise for their debut album "Headonizm": "We are very happy with everything that High Roller Records did for us, the vinyl is quite heavy and well made, the sound quality has not suffered during the transfer into the vinyl format, in fact I think it may have even enhanced the sound quality a little compared to the original CD. Artist Birgit Hahn did an amazing job with the sleeve illustration - we love it! I think that it's probably one of the best designs out of all the albums that High Roller Records have released. The layout of the artwork was done by André Tueroff, and considering the fact that we didn't ever get any really professional pictures taken, all we had was a bunch of old photos, I think that he did the best he could with what we gave him, his work looks really professional. As always, Guy Forrester at Linden Sounds, where we recorded the album, made our time in the studio a pleasure, we told him briefly that we wanted to sound live in the studio, and all play together in the same room at once if possible, just as we did back in 1980. We just left him to decide what the recording should sound like. Obviously we had opinions, and whenever we told him what we wanted, he would listen to our comments, tweak a few faders and buttons etc. and pretty much anything that we asked for, echoes, reverb, splicing and editing, would happen in a matter of seconds, he is very good at his job."
Readers of Malc Macmillan's superb book "The N.W.O.B.H.M. Encyclopedia" will know that Buzz Elliot was briefly involved in a very short-lived (and musically rather lightweight) project called Plateau. However, as he explains, chances of a vinyl release on High Roller Records are slim: "I am afraid that this will probably never happen, the band only existed for a very short period of time (around 1986), and there were only two songs that were ever recorded in a proper studio, namely 'Death Lesson' and 'Five Miles Wide'. I still see some members of the band fairly regularly, and they told me that there might still be some live material, and also a few rehearsals on tape, if they can be found, but nothing solid has turned up yet. Having talked to the guys, I don't think anyone has the time, or the inclination, to put the band back into the studio. The drummer, Frank Hall, now lives at the other end of the country and we only see him occasionally, the guitarist, bassist and keyboard player now all play in a rock and blues covers band called Off The Hook. There is a small amount of information about Plateau on their website www.offthehook-band.com"
Matthias Mader (Iron Pages)