As soon as I saw that Friends of Hell featured ex-members of Electric Wizard and Reverend Bizarre, I knew I wanted to sample its wares. I haven’t been disappointed.
Friends of Hell contains 40 minutes of old-school doom metal that’s atavistic and raw. The promo blurb states a mix of Pentagram, Candlemass, Saint Vitus, and Cathedral on the one hand, and Venom, Bathory, and Hellhammer on the other. This is as good a starting point as any, although the weighting is firmly on the side of the former group of bands. This results in songs that are short, rough, and full of underground character.
The songs are hewn from gritty riffs and have giant personality. The music ranges from upbeat belligerence to mid-paced swagger to crawling macabre atmosphere. The tracks are catchy and memorable, and they’re ultimately just fun slabs of grisly metal. How can anyone dislike this? It is unapologetically unpolished and firmly of the 80s in temperament and style, but due to its quality of songwriting and passionate delivery, that’s no bad thing.
It’s a treat to hear the singer’s vocals once again too. His voice was great in the legendary Reverend Bizarre, and that’s just as true here. His performance is larger than life and would steal the show if the music wasn’t confident and strong enough, which it is.
Essentially, if you’re a ran of the old-school style, enjoy the bands mentioned above, (as well as newer acts like Lucifer’s Fall and Cardinals Folly), then this is very much for you. Friends of Hell’s debut album is an underground gem.
Very highly recommended.