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Due to the 30th anniversary of this album, I want to honour this raw output with a review. I know, metalpunks do not highly value awards. Nonetheless, this album is still too strong to be ignored. At first I was very impressed by the simple cover. I immediately liked it for some reason without knowing that the barbed wire perfectly symbolized the aura of Warfare´s ugly outbursts. And some of them are really ugly. The noisy collaboration with Cronos at the last track, for instance, does not even offer trace elements of a serious melody while heading just for total chaos. All musicians seem to play another song. This leads to an unworthy end of this record. But I can luckily state that the most ugly moments on this album are of this kind of ugliness which metalheads usually appreciate. So here I would like to highlight two songs that I really very estimate. They are the reason why this album always finds its way back on my turntable in more or less regular intervals.
On the one hand there is the metallic "Dance of the Dead", a perfect combination of gloominess (the intro and the outro) and rabid aggression. Perhaps you will see the same images in front of your inner eye as I do while listening to this tune. The awakening dead crawl out of their graves and, once freed from their coffins, start a morbid attack before they get back to rest in peace again. On the other hand we have "New Age of Total Warfare". A perfect riff wittingly starts a short up-tempo number that hits the mark at the latest with the shouted chorus. The band itself obviously enjoyed the riff, too. They used it again on their next album called "Metal Anarchy" for a short break in their band anthem "Warfare". In effect, this means that these two songs demonstrate the metal and the punk side of Warfare in a representative manner. With hindsight it perhaps appears that they should have chosen a clearer direction for a bigger commercial success. But it may be doubted that these proletarian guys took care of business matters.
As expected, the majority of the songs is structured simply and this means that, for example, "Total Armageddon" is despite its smooth verses overrunning somewhat due to its playing time of more than six minutes. This is aggravated by the fact that the solo parts of this tune deliver pure noise so that this reduces the good impression of it. Warfare feel more comfortable when performing short pieces that get straight to the point. These tunes characterize the album while they are commuting between pure aggression ("Let the Show Go On") and dirty fun ("Burn Down the King´s Road"). Perhaps the one-dimensional shouting of Evo leaves room for improvement, but Warfare have a knack for catchy and memorable choruses and this is the crucial point. Furthermore, their soft spot for punk does not have a negative effect on the production of Tank´s Algy Ward which is not outstanding, but nevertheless vigorous. It was therefore incomprehensible for me why the band almost always got devastating criticisms, at least in Germany.
I can't understand why this album does not get the praise that it deserves. Yes it is heavily influenced by Venom, Motorhead and Tank , yes it features dirty production and yes it has more of a punk feel. However, how can you go wrong with these elements? This is what makes it great in my opinion.
As I hinted at already, this album is not just a mere rip off of Venom, Motorhead and Tank. Warfare have an original punkish/metal sound that I would argue is also influenced by Discharge and GBH just as equally. I say original because some how they manage to mix these 5 bands together and create their own dirty recipe of black hell punk. This is the dark black punk sound that Darkthrone have been trying to create with their latest offerings, but unlike Warfare they have only managed to do half sucessfully and this was done in 1984!
The only thing lame about this album is the long and cliche intro entitled "Warning" which sort of brings to mind Destruction's great introduction on their "Sentence of Death" album, but Warfare's attempt at building an introduction to an intense climax like Destruction did fails miserably. However, they can be forgiven by the high energy of instant fist pumpers like "Total Armageddon" and "Rabid Metal".
Produced by Tank's Algy Ward, I would say the production is very similar to Venom and even early Tank. It is dirty and raw and the bass is pretty loud in the mix. The production certainly suits Warfare well as they probably would lose much of their charm if the album was too slick and clear sounding.
Admittedly, even though I love this album and highly recommend it, it will probably only appeal to fans of Venom and Tank with an appreciation for British punk. Fans of the blackish punk found on recent Darkthrone albums may also may like what they find here. Be sure: Technical metal this is not.
The version that I am reviewing is the Canadian Banzai version with bonus 12". If you can find this version I recommend it because the 3 tracks on the 12" are great and feature the same punk vibe and are perhaps even better than most tracks on the album itself.
Never the Warfare fan, these guys have always stuck boredom on me like flypaper, stretching as far back as when this lp rolled off the assembly line to a couple of steps right before the album’s end. Maybe it was my youthful enthusiasm as I ripped the lp, an import, from the rack and forked over two or three bucks extra for the stupid thing (just for that reason), enthusiasm that would stagger in mid-flight, momentously deflate, and by the end of side one would sound like a balloon that had been let go without being tied.
On the three-piece’s debut, Evo, Gunner, and Falken, Venom wannabes, can taste the gargantuan need to plug all things OTT but are blunderingly unable to spew it forth like their heroes - defenseless as it howls threats from two miles away, a 4’ tall bully, I don’t know, it’s like they’re dread creatures hitting land-speed records only in their minds. They can write it on the back of the lp well enough though - pandemonium, a thousand dying hells, apocalyptic confrontation, total Armageddon - to me, images borne more out of hyperbole and yearning than the band’s deluded reality, a reality that read like a psalm when I was fourteen, conjuring ill-fated grandiose for what sweated in my hands and in my yet unwise head, turning out to be three blokes who just wanted to be Venom, some semblance of Motorhead, or about ten of the hundreds of punk bands that urinated before them.
With most of this hollowly produced by Tank’s Algy Ward, many would like to throw his band’s resonance into the sound-alike fray, but I don’t hear nearly as much Filth Hounds Of Hades thru This Means War as I’m told there is, nine of these tracks at least three times more obtusely barroom brawled with bare bones fighting spirit, hulky yet bulging with little muscles, stuff like “Break Out”, “Let the Show Go On” (a poor man’s “Too Loud for the Crowd”, anyone?), “Rabid Metal” and “Collision” systematically underpowered and mystique-less Venom, the vocals a cross pollination of tired Cronos and a somewhat dispassionate younger brother of Blackie Lawless.
Of course, some are more stringently simplistic and uneventful yet, such as the single-mode thrum of intro-ish “Warning”, the lyrics being the back cover outcry, the music chugging weakly like half of “Seek and Destroy”’s main riff wandering at a mystical 24 rpm, then to wind out the first half of side one there’s “Total Armageddon (Full Scale Attack)” and “Noise, Filth & Fury”, a pair of oddly alert yawners that could’ve smoked had they a tar pit of aggression to swim through but instead manage to attract energy that’s the sheer opposite of their titles.
It’s almost as if they were unaware that metal had progressed beyond late ’82.
But the reason this lp has been rescued from the auction block is Venom’s spittle bringing the last thirty or so seconds to life, an almost unsurprising guest appearance (considering Neat Records) on the niftily-titled “Rose Petals Fall From Her Face”, the blustering, unhinged final track only offered on the UK pressing (at least the God of Crappy Album Purchases gave me something) which isn’t anywhere near worth the entire price of admission (in fact, the song is pretty useless), but since I had the damn thing anyway…. Cronos is in rare despicable form, revving up as the end nears, spewing gravelly-voiced greatness like “suck the diarrhea from her tights…” and other poetics over wails of descending feedback. Abaddon's unabashed in a baritone swing number…yep, $11-12 for about thirty seconds.
Pure Filth pressed in any country is pretty hard on the originality synapses of the brain, but a tumor pressing on its aggression center could’ve made this almost listenable. If I want to hear Venom, I’ll listen to Venom.
Yeah, these guys sound a lot like Tank... then, by transitivity, they sound a lot like Motorhead. Well, not as much - Motorhead are pretty much straight-up "smash your head in". These guys are smash-your-head in too, but a bit more epic and melodic at times. Not all that much more melodic, mind you - just enough to differentiate these guys firmly from the first Bathory, for example, in the realm of speed metal. Imagine some Tank, meets the first Iron Maiden LP. You know, the one where they were half punk and all balls.
Anyway... opener "Warning" is a really sloppy version of the first few notes of You Got Another Thing Coming, stretched into a nifty intro. Then, Total Armageddon is 6 minutes - a midpaced, kinda melodic number with the unmelodic shouted, slightly punkish vocals that mark a Tank song, just kinda long. Not overlong - well done.
Then the fast "This Machine Kills" - this is very punkish, decently fast, NWOBHM with a touch of 80s rock. A total winner, headbanging mania, and really fucking catchy. Highlight of the album.
The rest is pretty similar... gang choruses of "Let the Show Go On" is a bit reminiscent of the second Grim Reaper, while Burn the King's Road is total Motorhead fun.
Dance of the Dead, a bit of a melodic intro goes into more straightforward smash-your-face-in stuff. Rose Petals Fall From Her Face - you'd expect this to be a pretty little number, not no, it's the ugliest. A total raw punk attack, different from the rest of the album, complete with obscene Sex Pistols lyrics and Venom attitude.
When all is said and done, a decent example of British speed metal with punk overtones - good stuff, and worth getting, especially for fans of Tank, Motorhead, etcetcetc.