WITCHFINDER GENERAL

Traditional Doom Metal • United Kingdom
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WITCHFINDER GENERAL picture
UK act WITCHFINDER GENERAL was formed in 1979 by Phil Cope (guitars) and Zeeb Parkes (vocals), with Johnny Fisher (bass) and Steve Kinsell (drums) making out the rest of the initial line-up. By the time they were given the opportunity to record their first single "Burning a Sinner" Fisher had left the band though, replaced by Kevin McCready (bass).

This initial 7 inch from 1981, was followed by the EP "Soviet Invasion" in 1982. The EP itself was recorded at the tail end of 1981, but for one reason or another didn't make it out into the shops until several months later.

By that time Witchfinder General had been offered to record a full length album by their label Heavy Metal Records, while Kinsell and McCready had left. Graham Ditchfield (drums) hooked up with the band at this point, while Phil Cope handled the bass for the recording of their full length
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WITCHFINDER GENERAL Discography

WITCHFINDER GENERAL albums / top albums

WITCHFINDER GENERAL Death Penalty album cover 3.96 | 10 ratings
Death Penalty
Traditional Doom Metal 1982
WITCHFINDER GENERAL Friends of Hell album cover 3.18 | 5 ratings
Friends of Hell
Traditional Doom Metal 1983
WITCHFINDER GENERAL Resurrected album cover 1.67 | 3 ratings
Resurrected
Traditional Doom Metal 2008

WITCHFINDER GENERAL EPs & splits

WITCHFINDER GENERAL Soviet Invasion album cover 3.00 | 1 ratings
Soviet Invasion
Traditional Doom Metal 1982

WITCHFINDER GENERAL live albums

WITCHFINDER GENERAL Live '83 album cover 3.50 | 1 ratings
Live '83
Traditional Doom Metal 2006

WITCHFINDER GENERAL demos, promos, fans club and other releases (no bootlegs)

WITCHFINDER GENERAL re-issues & compilations

WITCHFINDER GENERAL Buried Amongst the Ruins album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Buried Amongst the Ruins
Traditional Doom Metal 2007

WITCHFINDER GENERAL singles (2)

.. Album Cover
0.00 | 0 ratings
Burning a Sinner
Traditional Doom Metal 1981
.. Album Cover
0.00 | 0 ratings
Music
Traditional Doom Metal 1983

WITCHFINDER GENERAL movies (DVD, Blu-Ray or VHS)

WITCHFINDER GENERAL Reviews

WITCHFINDER GENERAL Death Penalty

Album · 1982 · Traditional Doom Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
siLLy puPPy
Before metal was even a decade old the heavier sibling of rock was already shifting gears away from the dark dreary doom metal of Black Sabbath and amping up the sounds of the more operatic and melodic constructs of Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple into what would be called the New Wave of British Heavy Metal (NWOBHM). Despite the trend which found bands like Iron Maiden, Angel Witch, Saxon and Def Leppard bringing metal to ever larger audiences, a few bands refused to join the new game in town and looked back to metal’s earliest origins that took the more occult route laced with the slower doom metal riffs.

WITCHFINDER GENERAL was among only a handful of bands which included Sorcery, Pentagram and Death SS which continued the occult themes along with the slower doom metal riffs that would basically launch the subgenre of metal into its own in the 80s alongside the NWOBHM. This band got its start in Stourbridge, England alongside other NWOBHM but stood apart with its horror themes which matched its moniker which came from the 1968 British film of the same name. The band was founded in 1979 by Zeeb Parkes and Phil Cope and although considered a part of the NWOBHM, owed more to early Black Sabbath for its heavy doom riffing and Ozzy Osbourne styled vocal phrasings however the band did implement some of the faster riffing practices of the early 80s.

DEATH PENALTY was the band’s debut and immediately caught attention for the racy cover art which featured a topless model in a yard of a church which sparked outrage and criticism. Along with Parkes (vocals) and Cope (guitar, bass), the band was only a trio with Graham Ditchfield sitting in as drummer. DEATH PENALTY was in effect one of the earliest album’s that took on the full-fledged Sabbath worship since although Pentagram had formed as early as 1973 didn’t release a full-length album until 1985 making WITCHFINDER GENERAL one of the most influential of the second wave of doom metal as the guitar riffs evoked Iommi inspired Sabbathry with nods to classic tracks like “Paranoid” and others.

Perhaps what makes DEATH PENALTY stand apart from other early traditional doom metal albums is that it did mix in a bit of Judas Priest styled riffing as heard in “No Stayer” which sounded like a veritable hybrid of early Priest mixed with Sabbath. There are also much more traditional hard rock blues and overall the album feels like it was created around the 1975 timeline rather than the year 1982 when it was released. DEATH PENALTY is a strong album of doomy NWOBHM inspired retro songs that finds the perfect balance between raw occult fueled sounds and the more operatic rampaging speed metal that was coming of age. While not as evil sounding as early Venom or Celtic Frost, WITCHFINDER GENERAL revived a style of doom metal that some would call witch metal that would be influential for bands like St Vitus of the same decade as well as later bands like Blood Ceremony. All in all a really compelling early slice of doom metal with some NWOBHM influences on board.

WITCHFINDER GENERAL Resurrected

Album · 2008 · Traditional Doom Metal
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Warthur
Although its followup (Friends of Hell) wasn't so impressive, Witchfinder General's debut album Death Penalty was both a major influence on the doom metal scene and a really entertaining listen in its own right. Resurrected, unfortunately, shows little sign of being either. Combining a poor vocal performance from Gary Martin with humdrum Sabbath mimicry with little to none of the creativity or NWOBHM embellishments evident on Death Penalty, the album is too mired in a retro sound to serve as anything other than a nostalgia piece, and it doesn't even work well as that since it doesn't really stand up to the band's original albums.

WITCHFINDER GENERAL Friends of Hell

Album · 1983 · Traditional Doom Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
Warthur
A fun NWOBHM album from proto-doom masters Witchfinder General which, alas, doesn't quite come up to the standards of the excellent Death Penalty. Watering down their heavy doom sound with vacuous classic rock bilge like the repetitive and tepid Music, when the band do get doomy like they did on their previous album the compositions still don't quite seem up to scratch. Perhaps if they'd given it a bit more time since recording Death Penalty they'd have been able to produce a tighter album - there's nothing wrong with it that a bit of polishing and refining couldn't fix - but they didn't, so we got an album which is just good rather than great.

WITCHFINDER GENERAL Death Penalty

Album · 1982 · Traditional Doom Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
Warthur
An excellent doom metal album from Witchfinder General - a band who were harking back to the 1970s when the decade was barely over? The primarily stylistic influence is, naturally, early Black Sabbath, but here and there I also detect a little of Judas Priest's slower tracks creeping in - particularly in the (rare) quiet acoustic moments. Fuzzy, raw, and heavy, the songs display an intriguing lyrical preoccupation with crime and punishment - not to mention Witchfinder General itself, the track the band were named after, which surely inspired future doom metal acts such as Cathedral and Electric Wizard to pen their own tributes to the classic Vincent Price movie that inspired the song. You could almost consider this a concept album of sorts, revolving around the arrest, trial, execution and disposal of a "thought criminal"; either way, it's a startlingly good debut album which deserves wider recognition from doom afficionados.

WITCHFINDER GENERAL Movies Reviews

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