Poland’s Black Thrash Metal trio Warfist have, over the eighteen years of their existence, unleashed a blistering trail of demos, EPs and splits, delivering a vital dose of early ’80s style thrashing attitude, reflecting the sound of early Venom, Sodom and Destruction, but melded into their own style.
Warfist – Teufels (Godz Ov War Productions)
Release Date: 11 March 2022
Words: Jools Green
They are back with their fourth full-length studio album, Teufels, or ‘devilish creatures’, translated from German. Teufels is the follow up to 2019s Grünberger, the old German name for vocalist/lyricist Mihu’s home town Zielona Góra. Mihu is inspired by and interested in the gloomy events in human history and the dark side of the human psyche. Having learned many years ago that there are many such stories related to Zielona Góra, it became the focus of the album Grünberger.
For Teufels, Mihu has gone further afield into aspects of distant and more recent global history and an element of mythology for his inspiration. All of these subjects are approached with respectful sensitivity and forthrightness. Warfist apply this in a way that makes the tracks all the more interesting. The Black and Thrash Metal delivery makes them hugely impactful, particularly thanks to Mihu’s raw scathing vocals, which have excellent clarity of content.
Teufels is a dynamically driving end to end listen. The opener, Tunes Of Black Contagion, is inspired by the legend of The Pied Piper of Hamelin, which dates back to the Middle Ages and is a subject about which there are a lot of different historical theories. It’s as addictive a listen as the Pied Piper’s tune.
Behind The Walls Of Keough, I believe, looks at the case of Catherine Anne Cesnik, a religious sister bludgeoned to death for speaking out about priests who were sexually assaulting students at the privately run Archbishop Keough Catholic Prep school. It ramps up the pace to a fast raw driving D-beat, searing first half leadwork and the line “Behind these walls, Speak a word and meet your doom,” followed by a tolling bell, sending a shiver down your spine.
Rite Of The Incubus delves into the myth of the Incubus of Greek and Roman mythology. Said to be a male demon that rapes young women as they sleep, these legends served a convenient purpose in the church, as they have helped to repress human sexuality by suggesting that certain feelings of lust were the result of demoniacal visitations.
This ties in with the concept of the scapegoating of often innocent women because many priests in past times considered that “all women are devils”, a reoccurring subject addressed in past Warfist songs. In this track, the woman in question ends up burnt at the stake at the priest’s recommendation. On the whole, it’s a punchy driver but with unnervingly suspenseful segments adding both interest and impact.
Scorching Trauma drives at an insane Thrash pace, dropping back to an ominous mood. The line “You will be spared, only to be haunted by visions of death again, and again…” is followed by searing leadwork and a frantic return of pace, which brings the whole horror behind the track home.
Meadow Of Bizarre is a “mystical mystery” about the “Children of Grünberg”, involving cults and priests. It has a great rolling groove that courses beneath the punchy riffing, with searing leadwork that forces its way through in the second half.
The song Tuol Sleng refers to a former secondary school site in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, used as a detention centre from 1976 to 1979, where an estimated twenty thousand people were imprisoned. It was one of the many torture and execution centres established by the Khmer Rouge. Sound-wise, it’s quite appropriately Thrash insanity to open, followed by an addictive repeat riff with plenty of punch and searing closing leadwork.
The dark, sinister and punchy delivery of Pacifistic Carnage, with searing midpoint leads, heralds an intensifying tempo. The lyrics “Carrying the holy Christian word, They don’t understand, Instructed to convert with peace, And fulfil the pope’s deadly whim” complete the mental vision of carnage that this track encompasses.
Next, the violently frantic thrasher Angel Maker, with its bleak second half swathe of lead work, is inspired by Amelia Dyer, a prolific serial killer responsible for the murders of around four hundred babies. These were horrific crimes that sent a shock wave through nineteenth-century Britain. Dyer preyed on the down-on-their-luck, desperate unmarried mothers who paid her to have their children adopted in the naive belief she would find them a better life. But there would be no fairy-tale endings. Instead, she took the money before strangling the helpless infants with dressmaking tape and dumping their bodies in the River Thames.
The penultimate offering, Sinful Bonds of Blood, is lyrically harrowing and delivered initially with an insane pace, levelling out to a gritty chug and searing leadwork bursts and slower contemplative segments that together reflect the abusive familial situation depicted in the lyrics.
The final track, Fire, an Arthur Brown cover, initially caught me off guard on the first listen. I really wasn’t sure how the take this lower key, Thrash version of a legendary track by an even more legendary showman who, roughly fifty years ago, stepped out on stage, with five-foot-tall flames leaping from his head, uttering one of rock music’s most stirring lines: “I am the God of Hellfire.” Arthur Brown helped to develop my interest as a youngster in music, but several listens in, and I think this Thrash version is bold, brutal, daring and brilliant. I’m sure Arthur would approve too.
If you love the ’80s Thrash style, then Teufels is definitely an album for you. It’s a great listen that also gives you a lot to think about.
Teufels is available as LP, CD, cassette and digital at godzovwar.com