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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Witchfinder General - 'Death Penalty' (Heavy Metal)
Originally put out in 1982, this was the Witchfinder's first of two 'proper' releases. Top notch NWOBHM / doom metal to be fully experienced here. Best tunes include "Invisible Hate", title track "Death Penalty", the powerful "Burning A Sinner" and "R.I.P.". Line-up: Zeeb Parkes - vocals, Phil Cope - guitar, Woolfy Trope - bass and Graham Ditchfield - drums. This is WELL...
Published on July 9, 2006 by Mike Reed

versus
1.0 out of 5 stars One Star
Got to be in to it!
Published 25 days ago by Randy Lynch


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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Witchfinder General - 'Death Penalty' (Heavy Metal), July 9, 2006
This review is from: Death Penalty (Audio CD)
Originally put out in 1982, this was the Witchfinder's first of two 'proper' releases. Top notch NWOBHM / doom metal to be fully experienced here. Best tunes include "Invisible Hate", title track "Death Penalty", the powerful "Burning A Sinner" and "R.I.P.". Line-up: Zeeb Parkes - vocals, Phil Cope - guitar, Woolfy Trope - bass and Graham Ditchfield - drums. This is WELL worth checking out. Should appeal to fans of Iron Maiden, Saint Vitus, Saxon, Grim Reaper and possibly Candlemass. A should-have.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The missing link between BLACK SABBATH and CATHEDRAL, November 23, 2002
This review is from: Death Penalty (Audio CD)
When I bought this album I was about 13 and a huge Black sabbath fan!How could I resist the name of the band and most of all the cover at that age-by the way I'm not Nicole but Phil, Nicole's husband.Witchfinder General is one of the first Black Sabbath's clones, the voice is VERY close to Ozzy's, the riffs are VERY close to IOMMI's-the solos are pretty FAR but anyway..., the songs are VERY Sabbath-alike.
Technicaly speaking, those guys are bad but I think it's the whole package that makes it worth.
It's fun(dark but fun),pretty heavy and once again...the cover is just so hilarious.
Witchfinder general certainly didn't invent the powder but probably showed the way to bands like TROUBLE, St VITUS or even the great CATHEDRAL.
Anyway W.G. was doing Black Sabbath when Black sabbath wasn't doing it anymore.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Classic underground metal LP with not so great production, August 1, 2010
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This review is from: Death Penalty (Audio CD)
Coventry's Witchfinder General were like the black sheep of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal. While most of the bands in the scene were pioneering an embryonic form of thrash metal consisting of sped-up Judas Priest and Motorhead song structures, these guys were still longingly clutching their 10-year-old Black Sabbath records and formed the band in 1979 as a means to create similar sounds of their own.

While perhaps not in the league with the work of said Birmingham heavy metal progenitors, Witchfinder General's debut LP "Death Penalty," released in January 1982, has a few things going for it. The overall spirit is one of drug-addled abandon (i.e., sex, drugs and rock & roll), a key facet of the sound to begin with. The lyrics to "Free Country" drive this point home: "Lines of speed on a mirror face/Sniff it up through a biro case." These could be seen as a little tongue in cheek, that and the infamous LP sleeve photos of a beautiful naked blond woman before and after a pillaging by the Witchfinders. With this all but banned cover art along with the overt drug references, "Death Penalty" remained something of a rare collectors item throughout the '80s and went unreleased on CD for much of the '90s.

That said, to me there aren't as many standouts here as there would be on the follow-up but on the LP's B-side are two songs that are among the group's best ever, the first being "Witchfinder General," which I first heard on Lars Ulrich and Geoff Barton's 1990 "NWOBHM: '79 Revisited" compilation. Totally vintage and catchy with a mindblowing riff interlude from guitarist Phil Cope. Brilliant. The other is "Burning a Sinner," a song along the same lines with a Sabbath-y song structure that really makes it effective and memorable.

The main thing however that holds back most of this album from being truly great is the subpar production. Normally I enjoy a really raw mix, but the drums here have a real "boxy" sound and the bass is very often buried in the background, something that really decreases my personal enjoyment level considerably.

Still, a true collectors item indeed, and this CD reissue on Heavy Metal Records is choice. It comes in a beautiful cardboard slipcase that is like having the original album sleeve and the disc itself is even a replica of the actual vinyl record.

At the time of this writing this one has gone out of print once again and is becoming harder to find at a decent price on the internet.

Yet, if you can overlook its flaws this album is still a cult classic and well worth hunting down.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best Black Sabbath album that Black Sabbath never made., November 8, 2008
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This review is from: Death Penalty (Audio CD)
Many classic albums came out of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal,and this is one of them.
A classic debut for one of the era's classic cult bands,Witchfinder General forge a sound of doom on this album,unlike anything heard...since Black Sabbath's Volume 4.
In many ways this makes up for the loss of the old Sabbath sound,lost since 1974,and certainly changed with the vocals of Ronnie James Dio.
Witchfinder General's lead vocalist does a good job at imitating Ozzy,and his voice and lyrics capture a real urgency and poignancy that makes the music stand out.
Many classics abound,but the most enduring are the epic title track,a dark journey into loneliness and madness and of past wrongs never to be righted.
The band's grand anthem,"Witchfinder General" is one of the golden classics of the NWOBHM,evoking images of terror and blood,very much like the Vincent Price film that the band derives there name from.
Truly classic doom metal,reccomended for fans of Black Sabbath,British Metal and Doom Metal.
Excellent and very underrated masterpiece.
Note:HILARIOUS cover art,practically worth the price by itself!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars If you want to hear the best Witchfinder General disc..., July 30, 2002
This review is from: Death Penalty (Audio CD)
This is it. Friends Of Hell was cool, but this is my favourite of the 2. This one is a little less Black Sabbath sounding Friends Of Hell then the second, but STILL has that vibe. I think the title track Witchfinder General is their standout, and the one most people have heard.
Unlike the second disc (Friends Of Hell) I like all the tracks on this one. The guitar tone was even better on this one for some reason. The subject matter is pretty much what most of the bands were singing about at the time, drugs, ect... but not bad.
They always had heavier looking album covers then the music anyway. This one only features one nakad chick, front and back.
Still not PC, but again, not as shocking as when it first came out in the early 80s.
I've been listening to these guys since I was an early teen back in the day when it was still new in fresh. Now that I'm in my 30s, I find I STILL listen to them constantly.
If you like Sabbath, or a score of other doom/stoner bands, I think you'll really dig this. The only annoying part I find is Zeebs queal/queech on Invisable Hate. Not sure why they didn't fix that in the studio to begin with. You'll know when you hear it. Other then that, I'm into it. One of a long list of my favorite albums of all time.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars unique early doom metal, November 4, 2007
By 
c-mo (sask,canada) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Death Penalty (Audio CD)
released in 82, witchfinder general has a unique sabbathy feel,slow and droning, this is some good stuff.production isn`t great,musicianship is average but there is something there that you haven`t heard before,crafted in a time when bands actually sounded different from each other,witchfinder general gives you something fresh,roots firmly entrenched in sabbath-like riffage,they seem to avoid the sabbath clone tag,
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The ultimate tribute, May 22, 2010
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This review is from: Death Penalty (Audio CD)
Ever wonder what would a band sound like if you gave them instruments and locked them in a room with the first four Black Sabbath albums and a bunch of dope? If so, Witchfinder General provides the answer on their 1982 debut album, Death Penalty. In a little over 30 minutes, the band manages to spit out what often sounds like a "lost" Sabbath album, almost the natural successor to Sabbath's 1972 release, Vol.4. One can imagine Tony Iommi and company blasting through these songs, which pay homage to the Sabbath sound in song structure, lyrical content and overall sonic attack. The youthful exuberance and sheer joy with which they play makes this almost an essential purchase to not only Sabbath fans, but fans of the NWOBHM movement in general. Not to be taken seriously on any level, this is pure, unadulterated fun to listen to.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Under appreciated Sabbath-y NWOBHM, March 6, 2006
This review is from: Death Penalty (Audio CD)
Witchfinder General was one of those NWOBHM bands that came and went without much notice, especially in the US, only to be rediscovered by metal fans sometime after their break up. Fortunately, Witchfinder General had the good sense not to attempt a reformation and embarass themselves trying to capitalize on the NWOBHM tag. If you're a fan of Ozzy-era Black Sabbath, chances are you'll find something to enjoy here. Some reviewers have made notes about the bands supposedly weak musicianship, but I think the band's playing mainly sounds sort of weak because of the demo-style production. There are some cool Sabbath-esque riffs all over this disc. The lyrics are entirely different matter, though. Lines like "Look out for me, let's trip on LSD!" make me wonder if these guys were goofy or just sort of immature in a teenage "I'm so bad, I like getting wasted" type of way. The cover art leaves me with the same question. Hey, I enjoy a naked lady as much as everyone else, and if I were 16 I'd be really impressed, but now, as I approach 30, I just kinda smile and roll my eyes. But whatever, these things are hardly bad. The music makes up for any shortcomings the band might have had.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Regardless of the shabby workmanship, still quite good., May 15, 2003
By 
This review is from: Death Penalty (Audio CD)
The first release from Witchfinder General introduces the listener to some unique musical and vocal stylings that some will compare favorably to Black Sabbath. I don't believe that a realistic comparison can honestly be made between the two bands due to the fact that WG displays a Sabbath-like flavour yet remains quite a bit out of their depth when matched against the Osbourne-Iommi-Butler-Ward efforts. Regardless, it is still a lot of fun to listen to as a result of Zeeb Parkes' unusual vocal style layered over some traditional early 70's metal-ish bass lines, beats, and riffs. "R.I.P" has a "Children of the Grave" bent note guitar tweak that is very noticeable, yet the song is quite different otherwise. Standout songs are "Invisible Hate", "Free Country", and... well... actually they all have their good points. In a nutshell, it was a welcome and unique addition to my 80's metal collection when I first picked up the vinyl edition, and the only downside I can make you aware of is the poor recording/mixing quality and an average level of technical accuracy musically. If you get it, based on my descriptions and taking into consideration my warnings, I don't think you will feel cheated in the slightest. Buy it if you are of a mind and you won't regret it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sabbath's star pupils, May 15, 2009
This review is from: Death Penalty (Audio CD)
NWOBHM's star Sabbath diciples Witchfinder General managed to recycle enough Iommi riffs to make a cool album with Death Penalty. Although it remains most popular for it's (at the time) offensive cover art, the music holds up in a way. Most current minded metal heads will usually ignore an album like this, but for true historians of the genre, this is a must have. Songs like Invisible Hate, the 'Paranoid' inspired Free Country, and the title track revel in some great riffs. Singer Zeeb Parkes is rather limited (which sometimes recalls Witchfynde's lead singer) but it works here. Burning A Sinner and RIP all cover early 80's Satanic styled raw rock for those who want to dig deeper than the Sab classics. The star cut of course that goes without mention is the bands name sake song. Making an appearence on the NWOBHM 79 anthology compiled by Lars Ulrich and Geoff Barton, it's a downright vicious song. Though this band obviously inspired a lot of the doom metal upbringing that would happen in the mid/late 80's they might have been bettered by bands that continued in Sabbath's slow and consistantly dark brooding style of hard rock known so well to many as 'doom'. i.e. Pentagram, Trouble, Candlemass, Cathedrel, Monster Magnet etc. However this is once again, a great nugget for pre thrash metal.
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Death Penalty
Death Penalty by Witchfinder General (Audio CD - 2009)
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