There is no doubt that Leicestershire's Blitzkrieg is one of the most enduring (and popular) acts of the entire New Wave Of British Heavy Metal period. They formed in late 1980 under the original name of Split Image. However, when charismatic frontman Brian Ross arrived, their moniker quickly changed to Blitzkrieg. Newcastle-based label Neat Records issued the band's first 7" single »Buried alive« in 1981. The single was an instant hit due to the catchy B-side “Blitzkrieg” (even more so when Metallica placed a cover version of the song on the flipside of their 1984 »Creeping Death« 12" EP). Blitzkrieg singer Brian Ross comments: “The thing is, well, I don't mean this in a derogatory way at all, but Metallica play it wrong. The play it slightly wrong and they got the lyrics wrong as well. Lars phoned me to get the lyrics so I gave him the lyrics over the telephone. He read them back to me and he had them perfectly. I don't know what happened … But you know what, the fact that they got it slightly wrong gives it its charm. It's their version, it's not Blitzkrieg's version. When Blitzkrieg does the song, it has to be right. When somebody else does their own version of it, it's their interpretation of it. Metallica did it, they did a good version of it. You listen to it and you think, yeah, that's okay. James didn't try to sing it as me, he sang it in his own style. They did send me complimentary copies of their »Creeping Death« EP back in 1984. And as I said, it was a great honour that they played my song.”
Following on from their legendary »Buried alive« single, it took Blitzkrieg four long years to release the first album entitled »A Time of Changes« (it finally hit the shops in 1985). It was a more than decent traditional British metal album but by the mid-1980s the momentum of the N.W.O.B.H.M. had already gone. Thus Blitzkrieg did not reach the status of Iron Maiden, Saxon or even Diamond Head. Nevertheless, Brian Ross never wavered and kept the spirit of Blitzkrieg alive (although with ever changing line-ups). The band never split up and kept on releasing high-quality studio albums throughout the decades and appeared live whenever possible (e.g. at the legendary Headbangers Open Air festival in 2003).
In 2007, »Theatre of the Damned« came out, an album which saw Blitzkrieg rising again. Brian Ross remarks: “We toured a lot for »Theatre of the Damned«, in Europe and in England as well. We spent an awful lot of time rehearsing and playing shows for that album. During this time, I was not able to write any new material. However, I put pressure on the band to re-visit our back catalogue, to feature songs in our setlist which we had perhaps not played for a long, long time. Old songs. And then problems within the band occurred. We were at a crossroads and members left making way for new blood – a constant ingredient in Blitzkrieg, revitalising the band. So we have a totally new line-up now.”
The new line-up of Blitzkrieg can be heard on »Back from Hell« (the band's ninth studio album all in all). In 2013, Blitzkrieg consists of original founding member Brian Ross (vocals), his son Alan Ross (guitars), Ken Johnson (guitars), Bill Baxter (bass) and Mick Kerrigan (drums). The album contains all new tracks (apart from a new version of “Buried alive” plus a cover version of Metallica's “Seek and Destroy”).
A certain Jack the Ripper plays a role in the new Blitzkrieg album but I figure it's not a concept album as such. Brian Ross (who, as you might know, also sang on the last Satan album) comments on the details behind »Back from Hell«: “Actually, the lyrics to 'Jack's back' and 'Back from Hell' go back to the times of »Unholy Trinity«. The song should have been on the album following »Unholy Trinity«. There was a song on »Unholy Trinity« dealing with the original story of Jack the Ripper, back in 1888. And then I wrote another song about Jack the Ripper coming back to Whitechapel in the present day. I forgot all about it, so I placed it on the new album. Jack the Ripper features on the 'Back from Hell' song and on the sleeve of the new album and that's cool. It's the closing chapter of my own Jack the Ripper trilogy, the second part being 'Escape from the Village” (an alternative version of this song can be found as a bonus track on the vinyl edition of »Back from Hell«), and the third and final episode being the 'Back from Hell' song itself.”
»Back from Hell« features some quite unusual compositions, for example “Sahara” with its oriental feel. Is it Brian Ross' answer to “Kashmir”? He laughs: “Actually: no! In 'Kashmir' Led Zeppelin sing about spiritual things. Our own 'Sahara' does have an Eastern feel to it but that is down to the matter of the song. 'Sahara' is actually about 'Stargate', the movie. It's about leaving a stargate on earth. The stargate gets buried under the sand and a team of archaeologists discover it thousands of years later.”
“One last Time” is a proper ballad on »Back from Hell«, what's it all about? Brian Ross: “Well, my mum passed away early this year, so it is a very personal song. I went back to where she lived, the place where I grew up. So I went back there one last time to sort out my mum's funeral arrangements and stuff. That's what the song is all about. I do get very emotional about it. It was hard to do this song in the studio and I don't reckon I will be able to perform it live at all. But it's a great song and who knows, we might do it live one day ...”