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Spooky - 86%

Felix 1666, September 4th, 2016
Written based on this version: 1987, 12" vinyl, Metalworks

It has taken far too long, but now the rereleases of both Deathwish albums are at hand. This is definitely good news for all those who did not have the mercy of an early birth. (Forgive me this therapeutic wording - it helps me to endure my age.) The ignorant youth has the possibility to discover one of the best British bands of the late eighties and to enrich their collections with two jewels. I prefer the almost immaculate "Demon Preacher", but the debut is a very good full-length as well. Just have a look at the euphoric reviews of our colleagues. They send clear signals in this context.

Every beginning is hard. "In the Name of God", the first song of "At the Edge of Damnation", suffers from a slightly awkward chorus. Despite this minor flaw, it is a decent opener, but the remaining tracks of the A side hit the mark much more impressively. Deathwish play a form of prototypical black thrash metal. I freely confess: back in 1987, we did not know how to name their style of metal. It was just thrash metal. Yet today I realize that the compositions of the talented four-piece had a slightly satanic touch as well. Please note that the musicians were definitely no Satanists. Similar to their compatriots of Venom, they just created a certain scenario without forgetting their real characters. Nevertheless, the dudes were authentic in their roles. With that said, let's tackle the main issue, the further songs of "At the Edge of Damnation".

The tunes are perfectly aligned with the artwork (or vice versa). They are therefore rather simple, but with clear structures. Furthermore, they convey a spooky feeling and, last but not least, they have style. Deathwish commute between mid-tempo and high speed, they do not lack of aggression and the outstanding riffs are their biggest asset. "Demonic Attack" blows the listener away due to its energetic, restless verses, the concise chorus and its carefully thought out solo. Additionally, the lead singer delivers an excellent performance. Splendid vocal lines meet a charismatic voice that is not afraid of some high-pitched screams from time to time. Yet this is only the first highlight; many follow.

Idiots, everywhere idiots. One of them designed the back cover with the effect that the song titles do not appear in the right order. The mid-paced "Exorcist" with its double-bass driven chorus is the third track, not, as indicated, the title track. Yet this does not matter at all. Both tunes leave a lasting impression. "At the Edge of Damnation" has, of course, a perfect main riff and the chorus develops a very specific dynamic. Only the solo part is somewhat strange, because it does not possess the fundamental heaviness of the other song parts. Anyway, all these pretty irrelevant details are forgiven as soon as the furious "Leaving Your Life Behind" blows the horns for attack. Razor-sharp guitar lines form an unbending thrash jewel. To put it in a nutshell, the songs of the A side deserve the highest praise, only the opener cannot keep the pace. And there is another small deficiency. The production lacks slightly of power. The single instruments are not perfectly defined. But I don't care. Although this is not the most brilliant mix in the history of metal, it is absolutely acceptable and everybody who does not buy this album just because of its sound needs a doctor. We who are healthy enjoy the old school feeling.

The B side... is a typical B side. Guess you know what I mean. There is not a significant loss of quality and the robust and powerful tracks remind the listener of the fact that it is always good to be able to play air guitar. "For Evil Done", for instance, has all it needs to be a well respected member of the thrash community. Doubtlessly, coherent riffs, the hoarse yet vigorous voice and logical structures still characterize the songs. Yet whenever I have to choose between the A and the B side, my decision is clear. Nevertheless, "Sword of Justice", a close relative of "Demonic Attack", gets the pulse racing faster in view of its straight and fast conception. Deathwish were just too strong to write mediocre tracks and the entire album is worth listening. So many bands have molested us with half-baked comebacks (names like Metal Church, Running Wild or Bulldozer come to my mind) with the effect that I don't know whether to laugh or to cry that Deathwish never returned. However, the quality of their two classic albums will remain unaffected.