Witchfinder General - Death Penalty

Witchfinder General - Death Penalty

On the occasion of the British Witchfinder General’s new release after 25 years (!!!), I seized the chance to add to the list of monuments the first and maybe the best of all (well ok… they have only released two so far…) “Death Penalty”, which was released in 1982 from Heavy Metal Records.
\r\nWell, Witchfinder General have the reputation of being the one of the first doom metal bands to mix the “Sabbath-ic” sound with the aesthetics of N.W.O.B.H.M, and that is why they are considered as one of the first bands who lit the way for doom metal. Of course I won’t disagree with that concept since no one can even begin to say enough about them.
\r\nSo, Withcfinder General were created in 1979 and in the next three years released a 7”  “Burning Sinner” (1981), which still remains one the hardest to find 7” of  Ν.W.O.B.H.M., and also the 12” Soviet Invasion of 1982.
\r\nIn 1982 the Parker, Cope and Ditchfield gang, releases “Death Penalty” with Heavy Metal Records and rock the scene with the album cover, which included a picture of a half-dressed witch in a graveyard with the “Witchfinder General” and his crew examining her while looking for signs of her witchhood.
\r\nThe band got it’s name from the 1961 film that carries the same name – a shocking movie for it’s time – but let’s get the LP rolling…
\r\nThe first track is “Invisible Hate” with an acoustic intro and Parker sounding like a thick-voiced Ozzy, and when the main riff comes we realise that the band loves the early Black Sabbath, but also adds faster parts to their music. Also, worth mentioning are the stilted screams Parker lets out.
\r\nNext on the track list is “free country”, a song that includes all the known drugs of it’s time, probably influenced by the grandiose “Sweet Leaf”. It’s a relatively fast track with ultimate riffs, groovy – and if I continue to add adjectives, I’ll probably never stop – it’s simply a great song, not in length, but it is just an acoustic delight. In this one Cope does some great work with the riffs and solos, it is simply insuperbable…
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\r\n“Look out for me
\r\nCome have some mushroom tea
\r\nLook out for me
\r\nD.S. look out for me”
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\r\nNext track on the list is “Death Penalty”, the one that gave the name to the album, a more mid-tempo song, heavy and probably the “doom-est” track in the whole album, with a great variety of tempos and riffs.
\r\nSwitching sides, we find “No Stayer” who’s intro is “Sabbath-est than Sabbath” and then suddenly the song transforms to classic N.W.O.B.H.M… What can I say? Witchfinder General is the only band that could pull that off…
\r\nNext comes the probably greatest track of all of Witchfinder Generals creations, the homonymous “Witchfinder General”. Pure heavy metal, with Zeeb pretending to be the Withfinder General through his lyrics and with a superb cut in the middle of the piece, everything changes and the song evolves in one of the greatest Doom Metal hymns, but only for a little while, since they quickly speed up and there lies the magnificence of Witchfinder General!!!!
\r\nSecond from the end, comes the re-recorded “Burning Sinner” from the homonymous 7”. Personally I believe that the original was better, but Witchfinder General don’t really leave any room for actions other than singing along with Zeeb…
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\r\n“Singing burn her
\r\nBurn her
\r\nBurn her to the ground
\r\nSinging burn her sins
\r\nBurn her pride
\r\nBurn her till she dies”
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\r\nThe ultimate hymn…Last but not least is “R.I.P.”, whose intro tend to love all the new epic doom metal groups. Full of riffs, mid-tempo and deeply religious (if we take under consideration that Black Sabbath are their Gods).
\r\nAfter consuming various substances, we met Mathew Hopkins, saw witches burn and witnessed the desecration of a lifeless body. Back to reality now, we have to abandon the British countryside… And we put the record on once more…
\r\nI don’t think that I need to say more about the album, since strong values like this one don’t need any comments, praises and any kind of promotion by anyone. If you are an album collector, you probably already have “Death Penalty” and while reading this, I could see a faint smile on your face. If you are not though, don’t buy it because Heavy Metal Records only released a limited number of copies and you will be depriving it from someone else who truly wants it…
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\r\nLabros “Withfynder” Tennes

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\r\nTranslation : Iro Kapeloni

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