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Review: Witchfinder General - Death Penalty
Witchfinder General
Death Penalty

Label: Heavy Metal Records
Year released: 1982
Duration: 30:38
Tracks: 7
Genre: Doom Metal

Rating: 4.25/5

Review online: January 24, 2010
Reviewed by: Adam Kohrman
Readers Rating
Death Penalty

Rated 3.58/5 (71.54%) (26 Votes)

During one of my frequent perusals of the Metal Crypt review archive, I found that this pearl of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal had not yet been reviewed. Witchfinder General played bluesy doom metal with tinges of other NWOBHM peers Angel Witch and Judas Priest. Instrumentally sounding as if they took off where Sabbath left off upon Dio's arrival, Witchfinder General employed the nasal squeal of Zeeb Parkes to set themselves apart from a scene becoming increasingly muddled by Saxon and Holocaust clones. The result was one of NWOBHM's most stellar and underrated acts, who created two fantastic albums of simple yet infectiously catchy songs.

Death Penalty was the first of Witchfinder General's two albums (their new album, Resurrected, will be ignored). At merely thirty minutes, this album ends before it seems to begin. Even so, and with only seven songs, each track on this album is an earworm. Opening up with "Invisible Hate," Zeeb spits out his distinctive vocals over tightly woven blues lines. This goes straight into the drug addled "Free Country:" a song dedicated to mushrooms and LSD. Witchfinder General were just as much hippies as they were metalheads, as there are psychedelic influences scattered across this record as well. The standout songs on this album are the two derived from the band name itself: "Witchfinder General" and "Burning a Sinner." The former rolls along with bass heavy riffs until the Zeeb croons"I'm the Witchfinder General," in one of metal most appealing and downright catchy self-titled songs. "Burning a Sinner" tells the story of a witch hunt, as a woman is burned at the stake. The trancelike chanting of the song's chorus evokes the frightening brainwashed hysteria of history's witch hunts.

Death Penalty was the first of Witchfinder General's duo of excellent doomy NWOBHM albums. Soon followed by Friend of Hell, the album still remains a pillar of a scene that has crumbled.

Other related information on the site
Review: Friends of Hell (reviewed by Adam Kohrman)
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