Witchfinder General
Friends of Hell
[Heavy Metal]

Witchfinder General's second album "Friends of Hell" musically and stylistically picked up right about where the first album "Death Penalty" left off - Sabbath-inspired psychedelic stoner-doom metal that's actually fairly upbeat and energetic. However, I think "Friends of Hell" shows more musical growth. The only lineup change from the first album is the replacement of bassist Woolfy Trope with Rod Hawkes, whose more adept basswork also helps the band get out of the 'Sabbath' rut. Graham Ditchfield's drumming, Phil Cope's great riffs and quick leads, and Zeeb Parkes' unique 'nasal whine' vocals are all still present. However, the Sabbath flair of the riffs is a bit downplayed as more of a 'modern' (for 1982) tinge comes in, and the songwriting occasionally shows more elaborate arrangements creeping in here and there (like the title track of the album, or the closing song "Quietus/Reprise"). Also, great leaps are made lyrically - instead of an album worshipping 'sex, drugs, rock, and beer' with the occasional 'evil' track thrown in for good measure, the band touches on some of everything - anthems to youth ("Requeim for Youth") and music ("Music"), songs about darkness ("Shadowed Images"), suicide ("Love on Smack"), and the occult ("Friends of Hell"), and even a ballad ("I Lost You") all show the band's progress (as does the album cover, which features now FOUR pair of bare breasts, not just one...).

This album, like the band's first, has been long out of print but was just recently reissued on CD. Basically, if you liked the first album or are at all a fan of Sabbath-style or psychedelic metal, you'll like this album, but hurry and get it before it goes the way of the dodo. Also, watch out for a 'Singles and Rarities' reissue on CD soon from Heavy Metal records, which is supposed to contain the classic "Soviet Invasion" EP, the "Burning a Sinner" single, and other gems.

1999 lord vic