“Friends of Hell” is the second Witchfinder General studio album. It was released in 1983, succeeding the debut record “Death Penalty”. You know how it is when you buy your first album from a certain band, end up loving it and then you buy another one from the same artist and you are….well, disappointed. Now, disappointed is a very strong word and I certainly don’t want to suggest that I felt that way with regard to “Friends of Hell”. I will say, though, admittedly my expectations might have been unreasonable, because their first album blew me away. So, this one might have been just ‘doomed’ before I even heard it.
One thing that is certainly completely at par is the uncompromising sound and approach to their songs. Phil Copes guitar is always right in your face, blasting gain and treble like there is no tomorrow. Just the way I like it. Zeeb Parkes delivers on vocals, just like on the first record. And while it appears that the drummer Graham Ditchfield and the rest of the band members parted ways just before the record’s release, I certainly enjoy his and Rod Hawkes (bass) contributions.
Here is the Witchfinder General, Friends of Hell tracklist:
“Love on Smack” (Parkes, Cope, Rod Hawkes) – 4:10
“Last Chance” – 3:50
“Music” – 3:05
“Friends of Hell” – 6:12
“Requiem for Youth” – 4:35
“Shadowed Images” – 4:15
“I Lost You” – 2:55
“Quietus” – 6:20
“Quietus Reprise” (Cope) – 0:38
Funny enough, my favorite track is probably “Music”. It’s such a simple, almost infantile song, yet I love it. The riff kills and if I recall correctly what I read a couple of weeks ago, “Music” was one of the singles off Friends of Hell.
As usual, the cover artwork doesn’t disappoint either. Some might get a little – or a lot – offended by the imagery and scenes featured on the front and back-cover, but to me it’s well in line of what you would expect from a band with a name like that. The important thing is to take everything with a little bit humor and acknowledge that it’s just part of the act. For what it’s worth, I believe the band’s statement that nobody got hurt during the production of “Friends of Hell”. I would assume that includes witches!
Anyway, despite my mixed feelings, I encourage you to get the album. You wouldn’t be alone if you end up liking it better than their debut. Either way, you can’t go wrong.
The band line-up on “Friends of Hell” is:
Zeeb Parkes – vocals
Phil Cope – guitars
Rod Hawkes – bass
Graham Ditchfield – drums (not credited on the album)