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Friends of Hell - s/t (Rise Above)

4 April 2022

Doom metal has gone through tons of permutations over the decades since the first Black Sabbath album belched forth, and a lot of it is damned fine. But the argument could be made it’s at its best when it’s nice ‘n’ dirty. Named for an album by the rocking and ridiculous second-phase doomsters Witchfinder General, Friends of Hell certainly think so, if their self-titled debut LP is anything to go by. With a sensibility informed by horror flicks and Satanism, especially the variety of both found in the underground pop culture of the seventies, leader/drummer Tas Danazoglou – formerly of Electric Wizard, which explains a lot – leads his band of devilish brigands through a set of songs so scuzzy they irrevocably stain any rag that tries to clean them. Guitarist Jondix and bassist Taneli Jarva paint blasphemous pictures straight out of the old school doom playbook, with downtuned riffs and minor key melodies galore, but the songs truly come to life through the larynx of Albert Witchfinder, former frontbeast for Finnish metal legends Reverend Bizarre. His complete commitment to the cause gives “Shadow of the Impaler,” “Orion’s Beast” and the statement of purpose “Evil They Call Us” an extra devilish kick. If veteran acts like Pentagram, Cathedral and Venom burn your biscuit, then Friends of Hell will be friends indeed.