The New Wave of British Heavy Metal (frequently abbreviated as NWOBHM) was a heavy metal movement that started in the late 1970s, in Britain, and achieved international attention by the early 1980s. The movement developed as a reaction in part to the decline of early heavy metal bands such as Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath.
NWOBHM bands toned down the blues influences of earlier acts, incorporated elements of punk, increased the tempo, and adopted a “tougher” sound, taking a harder approach to its music. It was a scene directed almost exclusively at heavy metal fans. The era is considered to be a major foundation stone for the extreme metal genres; acts such as the American thrash metal band Metallica cite NWOBHM bands like Saxon, Motörhead, Diamond Head, and Iron Maiden as a major influence on their musical style
Reviled or ignored by many mainstream critics in both the UK and the US, the NWOBHM nonetheless came to dominate the heavy metal scene of the early-mid 1980s. NWOBHM was musically characterized by fast upbeat tempo songs, power chords, fast guitar solos and melodic, soaring vocals, with lyrical themes often drawing inspiration from mythology and fantasy fiction.
The early movement was associated with acts such as Iron Maiden, Def Leppard, Saxon, Motörhead, Angel Witch, Tygers of Pan Tang, Blitzkrieg, Avenger, Sweet Savage, Girlschool, Jaguar, Demon, Diamond Head, Samson and Tank, among others. The image of bands such as Saxon, consisting of long hair, denim jackets, leather and chains, would later become synonymous with heavy metal as a whole during the 1980s. Some bands, although conceived during this era, saw success on an underground scale, as was the case with Venom and Quartz.