Record Reviews

Album review: Warfare “Songbook of Filth”

Warfare serves up a full English metal-punk breakfast filled with raw energy and attitude on a new compilation which features plenty of deep cuts.

The band Warfare, from Tyneside in northern England, was formed by drummer and vocalist Evo in 1984. The band’s 1984 debut album, “Pure Filth”, was produced by Algy Ward (Tank, The Damned) and featured a terrific jam with Venom on the track “Rose Petals Falls from Her Face” (it’s a mayhem of a song!). The follow-up album, 1985’s “Metal Anarchy”, was produced by Lemmy of Motörhead and Motörhead’s guitarist Würzel also played some guitar on it. Their next album “Mayhem, Fuckin’ Mayhem” was produced by Venom vocalist and bassist Cronos. They released a few more albums before Evo retired from the music business in 1992 following some wild years filled with infamous incidents on and off stage. In recent years, Evo has reformed Warfare and written a handful of new songs. Guests featured on “The Song Book of Filth” include Tom Angelripper from SodomLips from Anvil, Venom legends Cronos and MantasFred Purser from Tygers of Pang Tang and many more. On the track “Misanthropy”, Evo is joined by guitarist “Fast” Eddie Clarke (Motörhead, Fastway) and bassist Pete Way (UFO, Fastway, Waysted, Ozzy Osbourne), who both passed away not long after recording the track. Warfare’s “The Song Book of Filth” is a triple-CD release, packed full of new songs, demos, radio sessions, rare rehearsals and live recordings from back in the day. All of it is Evo, most of it is Warfare and there are also some appearances by his former bands Angelic Upstarts, The Blood and Major Accident. Evo’s gloriously filthy music is matched by equally dirty and in-your-face lyrics. The anthem-like “Death by a Thousand Cuts” is one of my favourite tracks on this release and the uncompromising “Murder on Melrose” is another track that puts a big smile on my face. Musically, this three-CD compilation (also available as an LP featuring 12 of the songs from the compilation) ranges from dirty Motörhead-style hard rock, via NWOBHM and thrash metal to punk rock. On a track such as “Death Charge”, we get good-old thrash metal while a live recording of “Two Million Voices” (performed by Angelic Upstarts) is proper punk rock. No matter the musical style, Evo pulls it off with raw energy and a determination to entertain and be heard. The careers of Evo and Warfare can best be described as a car crash, but among all the rubble, there’s glorious yet filthy and uncensored music. There is raw energy and talent. Proper British steel, I’d say. This compilation is a terrific document of the messy, intriguing and wonderful history of a Tyneside rocker who didn’t give a fuck and created fabulous music on his own terms. I don’t know what the future holds for Evo, but this release is a fab summary of Evo, Warfare and their wacky world so far.

The Warfare compilation “Songbook of Filth” is out now via HNE Recordings/Cherry Red Records.