Great Metal Albums of 1981: April Wine- The Nature of the Beast


It was about this time of my life that I began to wonder if Canadian music was largely ignored by US and UK markets, especially metal bands from the Great White North. Rush and Triumph being the two exceptions of course.  Two of my very earliest posts asked this question and certainly feel free to go back through the archives and read those posts. I ask myself the same question because while searching through my local record store, I discovered “The Nature of the Beast” by Canadian band April Wine. There will be some debate as to whether or not to label April Wine a metal band and I will attempt to put forward the case for yes as I examine their most commercially successful album.

If one were to listen to the first four songs only, they would be more inclined to put April Wine into the hard rock or power pop category. The opening song “All Over Town” starts hard enough with the opening riffs. However, I get the sneaking suspicion that it could have been played even harder. It’s still a good song though and the second song, “Telling Me Lies” sort of goes on in the same vein. It’s another song that borders on power pop. Then comes “Sign of the Gypsy Queen.” This is the first song that really shows off some impressive guitar work. I have “The Nature of the Beast” on cassette, which is gathering dust in my attic so I heard the version on YouTube. It was a live version and it is totally mind blowing. The guitar solos go on for much longer and my thought to this was “Why couldn’t have recorded it like that on the album?” It would have made a great song even greater. Following “Sign of the Gypsy Queen” is my second favourite power ballad of all time, “Just Between You and Me.” Yes, it’s a soppy love song lyrically, but the guitar breaks between the verses and the solo itself totally launch it to a new level. I will go out on the limb here and say that “Just Between You and Me” set the bar for how metal ballads should sound. It totally kicks the ass of “Every Rose Has Its Thorn.”

After the ballad, the album goes heavier kicking in straight away with “Wanna Rock.” I agree with the lyrics “Disco music has a social disease, if it ain’t gonna rock me then it ain’t gonna please.” “Wanna Rock” sets the stage for the hard rocking rest of the album and is the exhibit A, B and C for my case of April Wine being a metal band. It follows on with the anti-nuclear weapons song “Caught in the Crossfire” that starts with a very cool lead guitar intro. On the cassette it would start the second side but “Future Tense” starts with an almost thrash sound before slowing down a little while still maintaining metal integrity. It continues with the third best known song on the album and definitely more metal sounding than either “Sign of the Gypsy Queen” and “Just Between You and Me.” Big City Girls” is a true cooker of a song even if it is about prostitutes. “Crash and Burn” doesn’t do what it suggests in the title but continues the party. “Bad Boys” may not be as hard as the ones mentioned but it carries things on nicely to its excellent closer “One More Time” which ends the album very nicely. So, I hope I have convinced some of you that April Wine should be a metal band but don’t take my word for it, listen for yourself.

Track Listing:

1. All Over Town

2. Telling Me Lies

3. Sign of the Gypsy Queen

4. Just Between You and Me

5. Wanna Rock

6. Caught in the Crossfire

7. Future Tense

8. Big City Girls

9. Crash and Burn

10. Bad Boys

11. One More Time

April Wine

April Wine

Myles Goodwyn- vocals, guitars, keyboards

Brian Greenway- vocals, guitars

Gary Moffet- guitars, backing vocals

Steve Lang- bass, backing vocals

Jerry Mercer- drums

I have a confession to make, when I bought “The Nature of the Beast” I never knew that they had put out so many albums before hand. It was always in my mind to listen to these albums but I never got around to it, that’s going to change. I would love to hear how they stack up to this monster of a classic.

Next post: Judas Priest- Point of Entry

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16 Responses to “Great Metal Albums of 1981: April Wine- The Nature of the Beast”

  1. I never heard of them before watching Trailer Park Boys earlier this month.

    To be fair, I’ve never heard of Triumph either except from seeing their logo a lot.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh man I grew up with April Wine. I hear some of these songs on the radio here every day.


  3. This was my first April a Wine purchase as well than I went back and bought Harder Faster. This is and was a bunch of classic great songs and yep Just Between You and Me is a kicker of a ballad the guitar work on it is fantastic and your right it should have set the bar for power ballads.
    I always dug All Over Town, cool tune and for me back than next to Molly Hatchet they were the only 3 guitar band that I knew of.
    I never did get to see them live back in the day but many yrs later(1993) they showed up in my hometown and played a co headline with Foreigner .
    Great album thanks for bring some life back to it…..


    • It was my pleasure. “All Over Town” is quite good and well spotted with Molly Hatchet. Blue Oyster Cult also does a three guitar attack but only on certain songs. April Wine and Foreigner, that must have been real cool.


  4. Heard the name, but not the music. You’ve convinced me to check them out. As for Canadian artists, I noticed Lee Aaron has gone back to the rock songs. She always had one of the best voices anywhere in rock music.


  5. ianbalentine Says:

    Growing up in Toronoto during the late ’70’s and well into the ’90’s, I heard a LOT of April Wine. Of course there was also Rush, but FM, Trooper and the great Max Webster (Hangover…one of the best guitar riffs of all time!) were played often as well. Oh, and then ther was Prism, the Canuck version of STYX!


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