WITCHFINDER GENERAL - Friends Of Hell Gatefold LP (Black Vinyl)
Witchfinder General

WITCHFINDER GENERAL - Friends Of Hell Gatefold LP (Black Vinyl)

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“Friends of Hell” is the sophomore release by the short lived but newly resurrected Witchfinder General. This album reeks of killer riffs and solos that will have you humming for weeks. Witchfinder General offered a “balls to the wall” approach to heavy metal at the time – glorifying drug use, sex, and the occult shamelessly, also taking what Black Sabbath begun and making it catchier than ever!

This is a slight improvement compared to the timeless “Death Penalty” although other reviews might state the opposite. The composition has more direction compared to their previous release where it seemed they were more or less growing into their style. Phil Cope’s guitar playing is more solid, knowledgeable, and professional showing his improvement as a musician and as a songwriter. No longer are the solos put on the backburner, instead they are more declarative and in the front of the mix. Zeeb Parkes, while sounding too much like Ozzy Osbourne at times, shows his improvements by offering more harmonies, general direction, and standing apart from the guitar work as his own separate entity.

One poor attribute about this release (but not completely detrimental to the album as a whole) is the single “Music”. Witchfinder General were obviously using this piece as a tool to attract a wider audience but this song fumes with clichés and overall cheesiness that would be expected from a song like “Turn Up the Radio” by Autograph. From the lame metaphors about music being Parkes’ wife right down to the repetitive chorus layered with a tin sounding synthesizer voice, this weak song utterly sucks. While the lyrics of “I Lost You” mildly stink of over-emotion, they are accompanied nicely by Cope’s acoustic guitar which gives the track a nice complimentary feel to the rest of the album; this track is harmless.

“Friends of Hell” is an essential pickup for doom and traditional heavy metal fans. “Love on Smack” and “Friends of Hell” are just two of the many noteworthy tracks on this release where the solos and guitar work (dueled nicely with Parkes’ vocals) will kick your ass from beginning to end.

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