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Of all the Warlock releases to have been put out in their short tenure as 80s metal contenders, “Hellbound” is probably the heaviest, most aggressive, and ultimately the most Judas Priest-like of the bunch. The lead work on here is at its most technically intricate, Doro’s vocals are at their roughest and nastiest, and each song rips out a series of top class riffs that would make most glam outfits check their manhood. Although by today’s standards this listens as only a moderately heavy album, back in 1985 this was probably the heaviest it got outside of the thrash genre.
The number of speed metal tracks on here is at its highest for anything that Doro has been associated, taking up nearly half of the album. “Hellbound” kicks off the album with a singular open E power chord, followed by the shouts of approval of a pre-recorded audience, succeeded by a classic speed metal riff with the double bass pushing it on. “Earthshaker Rock” starts off with a similar riff and a police siren, obviously inspired by a famous Judas Priest classic. There are a few slower sections in this one that feature a melody not all that far off from the chorus of a later Warlock classic “All we are”. “Out of Control” starts out similar to Metal Gods (another Priest tune) with a singular heavily reverb boom, followed by what seems to be a keyboard and lead guitar drenched ballad, then suddenly kicks into an upbeat galloping groove. “Time to die” starts a bit simpler with a single snare roll and features a bit more of Doro during the verses as the guitars back off a bit, and man does she scream her throat out on a few key parts.
The rest of the music on here is also quite aggressive, though at a slightly slower tempo. “Shout it out” has more raucous screams and heavily distorted guitars, listening almost like one of Running Wild’s upper mid-tempo anthems. “Down and Out” sounds a lot like some of the mid-tempo stuff found on “Screaming for Vengeance”, while “Wrathchild” starts off with a pretty fancy lead guitar break before launching into a more blues inspired hard rock groove. The album’s closer “Catch my heart” is the only ballad on the album, starting off with a simple acoustic line, but of course the lead guitarist can’t help but rip out a few speed licks even though this is supposed to be the slow song. This is the only song where Doro actually sings in a clean voice for an extended period of time, but the song looses none of the attitude and emotion heard on all of the previous music.
Basically to sum up, this album is a perfect reflection of the excesses of the time, be it Doro’s nearly ridiculous vocal assaults or the agitated lead breaks in between her scream drenched verses. Although there is a solid case to be made that “Triumph or Agony” is the better album, those who want a more aggressive side to this music should probably pick this album up before they get that one. It may not be as well known as that album, it didn’t sell as many copies, but it is definitely the more metal of the bunch. If you doubt this, download “Earthshaker Rock” as a test run, what you’ll hear is a pretty good representation of how this album sounds, and is probably the easiest one to find as it is played live the most of any of the songs on here.