Witchfinder General
Death Penalty
[Heavy Metal]

By looking at the cover of this album, you might be fooled into thinking that any band that descends to showing a woman's tits on an album cover is doing so because that's all they've really got going for them. Not in this case - for Witchfinder General, it's a perfect extension of the music. Witchfinder General were one of the many bands of the NWOBHM scene, but their style was closer to Black Sabbath, in a psychedelic stoner-rock-metal kind of way - the band glorified mindless sex and drug use to the point of self-destructive nihilism, and occasionally threw in an 'evil' song for good measure (musically, think of mid-era Trouble and you'll be close). The rhythm section of Woolfy Trope (bass) and Graham Ditchfield (drums) laid a good foundation for guitarist Phil Cope's excellent Iommi-inspired riffing, but Cope's much more adept and energetic soloing added a bit more of a modern flair to the Sabbath-esque sound. The most unique facet of the band, though, was frontman Zeeb Parkes' vocals - he uses some combination of nasal whine and indistinct mumbling that actually comes off quite a bit better than that description - truly unique, and something that must be heard to be understood.

The whole album is great, but particular standouts are the opener "Invisible Hate" (an ode to 'sex, drugs, rock, and beer'), the tale of satanic grave-robbing in "RIP", and "No Stayer" - a modernized-rip-off of Rat Salad that morphs into a hymn to the one-night stand, complete with a straight, pounding rhythm and tacky double-entendre lyrics. Despite the album's age, it has stood the test of time very well, and it was reissued on CD in the not-too-distant past, so get one before they go away again.

1999 lord vic