Review: Friends Of Hell ‘God Damned You To Hell’

European, doom-traditionalists Friends OF Hell in a fairly quick turnaround, are back with their second long-player, God Dammed You To Hell and this time joining the bands main man Tas Danazoglou is Per ‘Hellbutcher’ Gustavsson, of Nifelheim and Necrocurse fame, on vocals following the departure of Albert Witchfinder who appeared on their self-titled debut.

Friends Of Hell 'God Damned You To Hell' Artwork
Friends Of Hell ‘God Damned You To Hell’ Artwork

What we’ve got on God Dammed You To Hell, is another dose of fun-loving, occult-tinged doom metal, dipped in all the tones of the ‘70s as one would expect, and the switch in vocalists, while noticeable, isn’t distracting as Hellbutcher is completely capable of hitting all of the Ozzy/Bobby Liebling/Zeeb Parkes doom vocals stylings as Witchfinder was.

After the obligatory church bell ring, Friends Of Hell get right to business with the Celtic Frost-riffage of the title track summoning the evil, as they finish checking the boxes, with Hellbutcher’s doom-howls, evil lyrics and a behind the beat rhythm section. Gran Inquisitor screams to life with some straight-from-hell guitar wails and shred, anchored by the familiar rhythmic thud. Here, there’s some cool, malevolent vibes in this crawling doomster, including some wicked vocal shrieks and histrionics.

Bringer Of Evil sports a pretty nasty main riff and some well-placed melancholic lead action that’s bolstered by some cool, shout-along vocals in the chorus and all sorts of odes to the dark lord himself. Snakes Not Sons has a cool acoustic intro that gives way to some killer Sabbath-style gloomy riffage that’s anchored by a commendable swing from the rhythm section, while Arcane Macabre goes for the throat right away with its grimy, chugging, doom riff action, and a fun, yet still evil, melodic chorus.

This epic will scratch any traditional doom fans itch, and then some…

Ave Satanatas is a filthy, mid-tempo, fuzzed-up nodder possessing perhaps the best riff on on the album, and a foreboding call back to all-sorts of doom metal tropes, with much love thrown towards the man downstairs. Let The Devil Take You follows a similar, if less epic blueprint, again proffering some serious riffs and evil-ass tone, while the penultimate Cross Inverter, perhaps the biggest, and best throwback to the doom legends of yore, from the slow-burn build, to the rolling doom riffs, the thudding swing of the rhythm section and Hellbutcher’s doom-as-fuck vocals. This epic will scratch any traditional doom fans itch, and then some.

We reach the albums conclusion with the ominous bass notes that introduce the downcast All The Colors Of The Dark which, if one looked up ‘doom metal album closer’ in a reference book, there’s a good chance this track would be used as a perfect example as again Friends Of Hell willingly offer anything and everything a traditionalist doom fan would want to conclude an album.

If the listener is looking for a groundbreaking, progressive take on the doom genre, God Dammed You To Hell most certainly is not that. What it is however, is a tongue-in-cheek throwback to the early doom and metal pioneers, a knowing nod to bands like Cathedral all wrapped up in a dirty, menacing tone, that adds some dark vibes and energy to their shout outs to ‘Ol Scratch himself.

All of these evil vibes, sick guitar tones, and menace is presented by the good folks at Rise Above Records, who most certainly know a thing or two about vintage doom metal. To my ears, this was a good, fun, if not an overly essential release, that will have any fan of vintage doom nodding in approval.

Label: Rise Above Records
Band Links: Spotify | Instagram

Scribed by: Martin Williams