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Thursday, March 03, 2011

CD Review: Warlock - Hellbound Reissue

Warlock - Hellbound Reissue
2011 Metal Mind Productions
Ray Van Horn, Jr.



Though their biography only warrants a mere paragraph at AllMusic, Warlock deserves more than an abbreviated overview. "All We Are" and "Fight for Rock" are two of heavy metal's master anthems. Even if you weren't around for the original wave of heavy metal, you know their choruses. They hold up, they're timeless, they speak to us all, they transcend, they are.

Perhaps it was the internal collapses within Warlock as they were gaining a worldwide audience that sweeps their contributions under the proverbial rug. Doro Pesch remains the lone figurehead of the band, particularly since she was left to hold the fort after 1987's Triumph and Agony was released and everybody she'd come up with in the band had well rolled out by the time that album's tour cycle wrapped. "Fur Immer" (Forever) Doro has chanted and swooned to her fans ever since, and it is Doro's legacy which keeps a beacon light upon Warlock.

Things happen for a reason, of course. The legal squabbles between Doro and her former Warlock brethren are distasteful, but the lady's made the best of such misfortunes and by attrition has been deemed immortal by her public as the reigning Queen of Metal.

Before all that, however, Warlock had surreptitiously staked a claim in the German power metal market, taking cue from Accept and Running Wild on their first two albums before 1986's slightly commercial True as Steel put them on the map.

1985 was a tremendous year for heavy metal across the globe and for Warlock's purposes, their sophomore album Hellbound proved they could refine and harness the agitation of '84's Burning the Witches. In '85, Hellbound became sort of a hidden gem amidst the variations of Iron Maiden's Live After Death, Anthrax's Spreading the Disease, David Lee Roth's Eat 'em and Smile, Exodus' Bonded by Blood, Kix's Midnite Dynamite, Overkill's Feel the Fire, W.A.S.P.'s The Last Command, Slayer's Hell Awaits, Motley Crue's Theatre of Pain, Pantera's I am the Night, Megadeth's Killing's My Business...and Business is Good and Celtic Frost's To Mega-Therion. Warlock's fellow countrymen Accept, Shy, Destruction, Sodom, Helloween and Kreator all struck with breakout and debut releases the same year. The Scorpions were leading the wolf pack with their uber-successful World Wide Live. Lee Aaron was running toe-to-toe with Doro for bragging rights as front-femme supreme. Then Warlock westernized their grooves and created metal history.

Though a breaking point for original guitarist Randy Graf, Hellbound is Warlock's heaviest and most relentless album they recorded. Though capped at the end by the gorgeous power ballad "Catch My Heart," which ranks high amongst Doro's best in a solo capacity, Hellbound is all business. It throbs and rolls on a tandem with scattered prog breakdowns and miscellaneous soundbytes, ala "Earthshaker Rock" and various experimental intros on the album.

Hellbound is hearty and focused, a polished piledriver of Teutonic mayhem kept on a steady equilibrium of shred, mid-tempo jogs and wailing guitar solos. "Earthshaker Rock," "Hellbound" and "Time to Die" hustle along like Accept on Restless and Wild and parts of Metal Heart. "All Night," "Wrathchild," "Down and Out" and "Shout it Out" summon fists into the air with meaty riffs and shining solos from Rudy Graf and Peter Szigeti, while Doro rips her indelible valkyrie imprint overtop.

Frank Rittel operates like a mechanic with his bass lines straight through Hellbound, while drummer Michael Eurich can switch gears between a third gear piston hammer and double time, no sweat. Together, they gallop all over "Out of Control" and keep a hefty crunch upon it, even if the schism is reminiscent of many heavy metal bands of the day. A distant cousin to it would be Quiet Riot's "Breathless."

While "Shout it Out," "Out of Control" and "Down and Out" would blueprint the future sound of Warlock, there's still a lot of fang to them on Hellbound, particularly with the atypically pessimistic "you're a loser" taunt Doro whips out on "Down and Out."

Added with two bonus tracks, the stout brigade march of "Hellraiser" and a live take on the title cut, this gold disc reissue of Hellbound is mandatory if you're a Doro Pesch fan, but more so if you're an apt pupil of vintage heavy metal at its ripest.

Rating: ****

10 comments:

Metal Mark said...

This is probably my favorite Warlock album. Great vocals and the music has more of an edge to it.

Ray Van Horn, Jr. said...

Agreed. This is their high mark. The next two are polished and catchy, but Hellbound is their most unified.

Metal Mark said...

I just wish that someone had stopped smoking their cigar long enough to snap this picture for the album cover.

Ray Van Horn, Jr. said...

LOL!!!!

metalodyssey said...

I enjoyed the way you acknowledged other Heavy Metal "gems" of this release year. An excellent Warlock album that can never receive enough attention or praise, IMO. BTW... Doro is "my" Heavy Metal Queen. :)

metalodyssey said...

I enjoyed the way you acknowledged other Heavy Metal "gems" of this release year. An excellent Warlock album that can never receive enough attention or praise, IMO. BTW... Doro is "my" Heavy Metal Queen. :)

Ray Van Horn, Jr. said...

Doro's key to longevity is that she belongs to all of us. Thanks for the nice words, brutha!

Seance said...

Great blog! I Just found it! I got get this reissue Warlock rules!

Ray Van Horn, Jr. said...

Awesome, thanks for the nice words, Seance, and welcome to the show! :)

custom research paper writing said...

this album contains most great their songs.!!! my favorite ever!! DORO is amazing