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For sake of prudence, I must object. - 90%

hells_unicorn, February 20th, 2007

My objection is obviously not to this album, which is essentially one of the better non-NWOBHM albums to attempt to capture the same spirit of heavy metal, but to 2 brands of controversy surrounding it. The obvious objections launched by wacko-Christian fundamentalists is hardly worthy of responding to, but the 2 various musical criticisms that have risen up in the years following its release. Of course, to fully understand this it is necessary to understand the music that has been attacked.

“Warlock” was a German Metal outfit whose sound could be categorized as a hybrid of Judas Priest style NWOBHM and older hard rock influences such as Kiss and AC/DC, although female front person Doro Pesch has a rough edged voice that is appropriate to the Metal genre, yet flirts with sounding like a more polished and sober sounding version of Janis Joplin at times. “Touch of Evil” is probably the most over-the-top vocal performance I’ve heard out of anyone. It occasionally sounds like Brian Johnson or Rob Halford minus the testosterone, but the ending set of screams would probably have rendered both of them mute.

On the heavy side of things we have a large collection of solid tracks that could shack up to the “Killing Machine” and “British Steel” era of Judas Priest. “I rule the ruins” and “Touch of Evil” have the edge in terms of vocal performance and riffs. “East meets west” and “Cold cold world” follow up close behind, occasionally having some “Point of Entry” flirtations with the cock rock sound, but avoiding the more mushy aspects of the sound. “Three Minute Warning” and “Kiss of Death” stand out quite prominently in the flock, the former for its speed, and the latter for a dark atmosphere that rivals the intro to Priest’s “Nightcrawler”.

On the lighter side of things we have a rather curious collection of songs that are somewhat uncharacteristic of the metal style. “Für Immer” (German for “Forever”) is quite a poignant ballad with some inspirational lyrics sung in German. The overall atmosphere, the harmonic progression and the military snare beat are highly reminiscent of Scorpions classic track “Crossfire” off the Love at first Sting release. “Metal Tango” is a novelty song that sounds a bit more cock rock than Tango, but still in good fun. “Make Time for Love” is our token 80s cheese ballad, featuring a quite acoustic verse, a louder chorus, and some sappy love lyrics that still somehow manage to touch me. Perhaps it’s my sense of sentimentality towards the 80s, which was a happier time than what I went through during my teen years.

The most well known track off here is obviously both the subject of consternation and ridicule, but from me it simply gets an enthusiastic “Hell Yes!” “All we are” is one of those fun anthems cut from the Twisted Sister style that you can’t help but sing along with. The chorus is simple, the lyrics are cliché, and we have a meager 4 chords comprising the lion’s share of the song. Metal purists may call it shallow, boneheads like Tipper Gore may decry it, but I fucking love it.

Now as to the criticisms thrown at the album, the first obviously comes from a younger generation of metal fans who have little sense of history. I’m not a feminist by any stretch of the imagination (I condemn all forms of collectivism as it is hostile towards individual achievement), but damned if Doro didn’t just kick the living shit out of every cock rock singer from Cinderella to Motley Crue. She makes Don Dokken sound like a sissy. As far as the accusation that this music is dated, I assert that it is timeless, it’s not quite a “British Steel” or a “Killing Machine”, but it comes pretty damned close.

The other criticism of this album is thrown out by post-80s Grunge and Alternative “lifestyles” Rock fans. I purchased this album at “The Wall” (before it went under), along with Yngwie’s first two albums and Judas Priest’s “British Steel”. The person at the cash register was some Kurt Cobain worshipper who gave me a really funny look and then commented “Aren’t you a little young for this stuff? Shouldn’t you be checking out the new Pearl Jam release?” Now as this was 1997 and I had all but hated Grunge for the past 2 years, it took a lot of effort to simply state that it was not my thing rather than tear into how much Pearl Jam had sucked since “Ten”. But to all of you out there who haven’t heard this album; it kicks the shit out of Courtney Love, Kurt Cobain, Eddie Vedder, and all of the other female artists of the early 90s.

To all interested in finding all but forgotten classics that resemble the NWOBHM, this would be a good album to have. Although opinions vary as to how worthy of a homage it is to Judas Priest’s material, it is a fun and entertaining listen nonetheless. Sadly I have yet to purchase any of Doro’s solo material or any other Warlock albums due to an obsession with Power/Prog that I’ve been stuck in since 1999. I plan to remedy this forthwith of course.