Friends of Hell by Friends of HellRelease date: March 18, 2022
Label: Rise Above Records
How long has it been since I listened to an album straight out of Lee Dorrian’s label, Rise Above Records? The answer, I really don’t know. However, it introduced me to amazing bands such as; Uncle Acid and the Dead Beats, Purson, Blood Ceremony, ASTRA, Twin Temple, and Electric Wizard. The label knows its doom, stoner, and pure, real prog-rock bands like there’s no tomorrow!
Now in 2022, a new band launched by former Electric Wizard bassist Tas Danazoglou called Friends of Hell are adding more fuel to the fire in a blaze of glory with their sole self-titled debut release. Taken their name from Witchfinder General’s second studio album in 1983, Friends of Hell are a band that carry the doom flag with a heavy walk into a marching battlefield that is waiting for us.
It is brutal, fierce, ominous, and filled with some evil attitude. And boy do I love some evil. From the moment ‘Out with the Wolves’ starts the album off, you can hear aspects of Michael Schenker’s riffs on UFO’s ‘Natural Thing’ bursting through the flood gates to get this massive cannon blast, waiting to explode.
But with some tidal waving vibes coming at you, you begin to bow to Satan with guitar solos that isn’t just a dooming sound, but a hypnotic gesture that turns into a Middle-Eastern dance. From the terrifying screams of the 1984 cult classic horror film The Toxic Avenger, ‘Shadow of the Impaler’ is like a ticking time bomb waiting to happen.
You feel something creeping up behind you. Almost as if someone is about to impale your stomach with a massive bloodbath, you have the pounding riffs, vocals, and roaring improvisations to give the drummer a chance to go into this climatic atmosphere.
‘Into My Coffin’ opens up the long narrow box to reveal its true dark secret. A darker vision of hell that the church doesn’t want you to see, it is a punching attitude between the Jekyll and Hyde vocal styles of higher arrangements and small bits of the cookie monster vocals.
It’s a striking metallic march that you can imagine Magma’s label Seventh Records really wanting to sign this band and go into a Kobaian vibe with Friends of Hell. While it is a mid-train composition, they evoke Judas Priest’s British Steel-era of the double guitar vibes of Glenn Tipton and K.K. Downing.
They continue to get their blood vessels pumping with more attitude and some fanfare-like touches for the new born king to sit on the throne, and rule with an iron fist. The last minute on ‘Evil They Call Us’, is a terrorising composition.
There’s a moment in the midsection where they walk into Peter Hammill’s territory in the monstrous alarming sounds of ‘Modern’ from The Silent Corner and the Empty Stage while ‘Orion’s Beast’ sounds like a sequel to Black Sabbath’s ‘Electric Funeral’.
As we head to the dance of the macabre at ‘Belial’s Ball’, it becomes a duelling stride with a dangerous trap. You can imagine the victim itself, falling down 800 feet below Earth’s crust with no chance of getting out.
‘Wallachia’ closes the album as Friends of Hell go for a bit of a darker progressive styles of Premiata Forneria Marconi’s ‘La Carrozza di Hans’ and Van der Graaf Generator’s ‘White Hammer’. You feel your presence of this bloody war, over and done with. But the battle itself has only just begun.
This here is a ruthless and ascending debut that really took me by surprise. Friends of Hell are a band that gives listeners an understanding that metal isn’t just a five letter word.
It’s good to see that Rise Above Records are still going strong. And I can imagine that they have a huge amount of electrical juice waiting to be filled up with enough heavy sounds in the years to come.