The Lazarus Pit: Warlock’s Triumph and Agony

Welcome to The Lazarus Pit, a biweekly look at should-be classic metal records that don’t get nearly enough love, stuff that’s essential listening for students of extreme metal that you’ve probably never heard of.  Stuff that we’re too lazy to track down the band members to do a Hall Of Fame for.  This week’s entry isn’t as crazy obscure as some of the other stuff we’ve covered in this column, but it’s one of my all-time favorites, I know some of you haven’t heard it, and the water in my apartment building has been off for the past couple days so I’m trying to fend off filth-based insanity.  Anyway, Warlock’s Triumph and Agony (Mercury) has nothing to do with that, but it’s a pretty sweet record nonetheless.

Warlock formed in 1981, making them one of the earliest documented female-fronted metal bands.  Other than them, there was Bitch, Hellion, Girlschool, and probably some obscure Canadian acts, because there’s always some obscure Canadian act that got there first.  Stop stealing our ideas before we have them, Canada!  Anyway, Warlock had a couple secret weapons.  First was their charismatic singer, Doro Pesch, who went from being a model to one of the most fearsome frontmen on the Rhine.  Second, they were German, both in nationality and sonic disposition.  So, yes,  even though their hair could have single-handedly demolished the Berlin Wall (see hilarious photo below), it was a more burly, Teutonic version of glam than the Los Angeles transvestites.  I mean, look at Doro – she’s hot, but she could probably snap your neck with those gams.  Vince Neil couldn’t do that.

Besides, they weren’t that glam.  They had certainly streamlined their sound by the time Triumph and Agony came about in 1987, but they still went, ahem, balls to the wall.   With journeyman guitarist Tommy Bolan spraying hot flaming licks everywhere and and Michael Eurich unleashing pure blitzkrieging Hell with his drums, if there’s one thing that you can’t deny that this is, it’s metal.  And pretty excellent metal at that.  The sort of stuff that can get 800,000 people singing along at some European megafestival.  You know, the good stuff.

And oh man, the songs.  Written mostly by Doro and producer Joey Balin, Triumph and Agony contains one glorious anthem after another for the duration of its (too short) 40 minute run time.  “All We Are” is the big fist-pumper, their “Rock You like a Hurricane” or “You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’.”  “Three Minute Warning” absolutely scorches, something Accept would have been proud to write.  “I Rule the Ruins” lays waste to everything and THEN rules it.  “Kiss of Death” provides the requisite tragic vampire soliloquy, and “Make Time for Love” provides the requisite drama ballad.  “East Meets West” taps some serious spine with its love letter to the land of the rising sun, while “Metal Tango” may be the only, well, metal tango.  And then there’s “Touch of Evil,” which ends with one of the most astonishing vulgar displays of screeching ever recorded.

There are a few other tunes for you to discover, but you get the idea.  After this release, the band split up, with Pesch continuing to fight the good fight with her solo career.  Warlock’s influence can’t be overstated; Doro paved the way for a lot of the strong metal goddesses that followed.  Still, when the chronicles of steel are written, they usually leave these guys out.  And that is true agony for such a triumph.

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