Have you ever wondered what UK doom legends Witchfinder General might sound like if they merged with early-to-mid-90s Cathedral, with an obscure Hammer Horror movie playing in the background? If so, look no further than Friends Of Hell (obviously named after the aforementioned Witchfinder General’s second album), the latest project from former Electric Wizard bassist Tas Danazoglou, and Reverend Bizarre vocalist Albert Witchfinder.
Friends Of Hell were quickly snatched up by Rise Above Records, easily fitting into the label’s aesthetic, certainly, the band members’ pedigrees probably also played part in the quick signing, Friends Of Hell soon set upon recording and releasing their Self-Title debut.
Friends Of Hell sounds exactly like my previous description. Heavy, Sabbath-inspired riffs, plodding, behind-the-beat rhythms, Candelmass-y vocals, and lyrics about all sorts of evil comings-and-goings. Clearly, these guys know exactly the sound and vibe they are going for, and that’s on display right away with opener Out With The Wolves. Serving as a mission statement, the listener is showered with some doom-y/proto-metal riffage, Witchfinder’sdistinctive vocals, and a rumbling low end.
Shadow Of The Impaler opens with some horrifying screams, before a pretty menacing riff courtesy of guitarist Jondix comes creeping along, accompanied by a steady march from Danazoglou. Into My Coffin has me thinking Mercyful Fate, while Gateless Gate slows things down to a plod, really getting into the doom muck, but accented by Witchfinder’s wailing vocals.
Heavy, Sabbath-inspired riffs, plodding, behind-the-beat rhythms, Candelmass-y vocals, and lyrics about all sorts of evil comings-and-goings…
The title track, Friends Of Hell, serves as the centerpiece of the album, and features more doom-y riffage, from Jondix, some nice build-up and tension, and a catchy chorus from Witchfinder beating a well-worn topic. Elsewhere, Evil They Call Us features a riff and tempo lifted straight from Ethereal Mirror/Carnival Bizarre-era Cathedral, while Orion’s Beast features more notable vocals from Witchfinder, especially in the catchy, memorable chorus. Friends Of Hell closes with the plodding Belial’s Bell, before giving way to the riff-y Wallachia.
At this point, I almost consider ‘UK stoner and doom’ a genre unto itself, because the bands, while unique unto themselves, own a very specific sound to my ears. I swear, if I was blindfolded, knew nothing of this band, and was played this album, followed by the question ‘guess where they’re from?’ I’d instantly guess the UK. No shit. I guess I could say the same about many Swedish bands as well, owning a specific, singular sound.
In any case, if you’re looking for groundbreaking, progressive, stoner riffs, I’d look elsewhere. However, if you’re in the mood for some tried-and-true UK doom metal from a new band, one could do worse than Friends Of Hell. This is a solid debut from a band that clearly knows how to create this kind of music from top to bottom.
Scribed by: Martin Williams