Witchfinder General
Death Penalty


4.5
superb

Review

by ealordofthedepths USER (11 Reviews)
August 6th, 2008 | 79 replies


Release Date: 1982 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Death Penalty is a truly amazing album by a band often overlooked as a gimmick, and though it might sound a bit too much like its influences this doesn't stop the album from being truly superb.

Back in 1982, before Cathedral signed a major record deal and long before Type O Negative went platinum, doom metal was not a widely used term, in fact it wasn’t even a term at all. In 1982 a little band out of Stourbridge, England called Witchfinder General released their debut album, Death Penalty, an album musically evoking Black Sabbath, Black Sabbath, and some times even Black Sabbath. Riding the coattails of the NWOBHM, though musically almost completely unrelated to it, Witchfinder General found that more attention was being paid to their controversial album covers (featuring naked models) than to their music and quickly disbanded. However posthumously they have been regarded as pioneers of the doom metal genre, and their debut, Death Penalty, as one of the most influential albums in the heavy metal underground.

From the beginning the album explodes into a flurry of ass kicking riffs, one after the other, delivered with absolutely no mercy to the listener. In fact the riffs are the most characteristic part of the whole album, blues inspired pentatonic licks that just keep on coming, each better than the last throughout the whole album and never let up. Invisible Hate, the first track is a perfect representation of the six songs to follow, the fill happy drum patterns, varied riff landscapes and witch related lyrics (yes pretty much the whole album is dedicated to witches) delivered in a high pitched croon of sorts that may bring to mind a sort of Ozzy Dickinson. And that is really the feel of the whole album, what if Sabbath had come along 10 years later" And though the band’s unforgiving show of their influences might lead to the songs sounding almost unoriginal at times it is only so ocassionally, sounding for the most part like (I’m going to get blasted to hell for this one) an improved version of Black Sabbath. They are everything the legendary band were but to a larger, grander scale, while omitting the annoying or dull parts (The Warning anyone").

Black Sabbath aside, Death Penalty continues on with its rampant roar and concise songs all throughout, being incredibly consistent and constantly interesting. Songs such as the title track and No Stayer travel fluidly through their different sections, from heavy riffage, to melodic crooning, through bluesy soloing and catchy choruses. No song is boring, the record is never stagnant, it just kicks ass all throughout, melodic, heavy, and bluesy it’s everything you could want from heavy metal. At times Death Penalty almost sounds like a summary of all that hard rock had accomplished in the 70’s packed together very nice and tidy into seven songs. Much like a greatest hits compilation it emits all of the mistakes and magnifies the successes to a huge scale. Everything in the album, from the melodic fade out in the title track to the continuous breaks in No Stayer, through the sing-a-long choruses in Witchfinder General and Burning a Sinner, had been done before, yet never this well.

From the very beginning Witchfinder General was intended to be pretty much a Sabbath tribute, they even took cues from their heroes and named themselves after a horror movie. However they wrote such amazing songs that even if they were molded pretty much note by note from the Black Sabbath template they did such a good job in eliminating the unnecessary and leaving only the best to shine by itself that they beat their heroes at their own game and helped mold a genre in the process.



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user ratings (145)
Chart.
3.9
excellent
other reviews of this album
PsychicChris (4)
Death Penalty offers some well-written proto-doom for fans of the genre and some unintentional comed...


Comments:Add a Comment 
Eliminator
August 6th 2008


2067 Comments


this album is alright, some awkward stuff that sort of kills the mood

there were better bands around then tbh

Tyler
Emeritus
August 6th 2008


7925 Comments


damnit i was going to do it this week. basically i was just gunna go "lanky white kids play black sabbath" over and over but yeah.

ealordofthedepths
August 6th 2008


80 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

this was an old review I'd written for a friend's fanzine on the "Classic" feature I used to take care off, I dug it up now that I joined this site and decided to post it

charlesfishtitz
August 6th 2008


784 Comments


album is pretty aight

jrowa001
August 6th 2008


8752 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

i love this album. probably drop it to a 4 though after the awesomeness dies off a little

Tarantino's Tarantulas
August 7th 2008


819 Comments


This sounds hangin', burnin' & mutilatin' good.

charlesfishtitz
August 7th 2008


784 Comments


Edit: most righteous This Message Edited On 08.07.08

masscows
August 7th 2008


2230 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

burn her! burn her! burn her to the ground!



great album

UnderFlames
August 7th 2008


268 Comments


lol

Hawks
August 7th 2008


68364 Comments


Albums sounds really good. I'll add this to my list of albums to check out.

Digging: Akasha - Canticles of the Sepulchral Deity

JT2
June 23rd 2011


94 Comments


Awesome stuff.

JamieTwort
July 31st 2011


26988 Comments


I'M THE WITCHFINDER GENERAL

JamieTwort
July 31st 2011


26988 Comments


yea me too.

Pyosisified
July 31st 2011


2450 Comments


ye this rules

beeroine87
January 28th 2012


115 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

best album after the six first sabbath albums

JamieTwort
January 29th 2012


26988 Comments


m/

JamieTwort
March 18th 2012


26988 Comments


Rules so hard.

Hyperion1001
Emeritus
September 2nd 2012


19985 Comments


titties!

Hyperion1001
Emeritus
September 2nd 2012


19985 Comments


im tryin to find a shirt of that mercyful fate album art that would be sweet

Hyperion1001
Emeritus
September 2nd 2012


19985 Comments


my friend has an unlicensed one he got from some mexican dude thats like toxic waste green its pretty sweet



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