I first became familiar with the band via a kind of well – known photograph of Lemmy, in which he wore a t-shirt having as a stamp the cover artwork of “Demon Preacher” (while embracing tightly two girls, probably models, dressed in just underwear). Around that time Motörhead were in GWR Records’ roster, through which “Demon Preacher” was released, so I guess that’s how Lemmy got the t-shirt in the first place. GWR Records’ roster also included Holy Moses, Girlschool, Cro-Mags, Tank, Living Death and Mekong Delta that era. Back to the photo now; it was the reason why I started searching for this band back when I was a university student, as I had no prior knowledge of them.

Lemmy Demon Preacher t-shirt

Deathwish were formed in 1983 and with their own financial resources managed to release a demo entitled “Sword of Justice” in 1986. The band was not entirely neglected, but surely overlooked. They released two very good albums (their debut entitled “At the Edge of Damnation” which was released in 1987 is also worth it) and this happened at a time when the genre flourished; just on the other side of the Atlantic… The British had similarities / influences to / from Overkill, Kreator and Exodus in a general statement and if you take the songs one by you will hear other elements as well as similarities with the Slayer-influenced riffs in the opening track (after the doom introductory instrumental “Death Procession”) and “Demon Preacher” which is probably their most famous song. Production is slightly sharper than the first album (which “reeked” of Venom, Motorhead and early Onslaught) setting aside the ‘dirt’ from the sound therefore assisting the quality of the final result. After all, the sound wasn’t polished in any way, thus making the music sound a lot better. Pretty groovy on rhythm guitars and fiendish fast speed metal with elements that “Carrion” evokes a mix of “Kill ’em All” and “Hells Awaits”. “Visions of Insanity” is well worked with lots of changes and doom elements (mainly in the introduction). The fun and interesting adaptation of Black Sabbath’s “Symptom of the Universe” closes the first side of the vinyl. Brute force at the opening of the second part with “Wall Of Lies” and simultaneously “melodic” chorus in classical metal style in the style of the Priest. A great moment of the record is “Prey to the Lord” whose amazing chorus could be included in an Omen record. Their vocalist Jon Van Doorn (I do not know why or how, but his vocal quality reminded me of JD Kimball) gave his best here. Messy and hooligans-ish but also a sensitive theme in “Fatal Attraction” (a reference to the AIDS scourge that decimated lots of people in the ’80s and was a hot potato for a long time, as opposed to nowadays, when AIDS is still affecting the masses, however is a topic only a few care to bring up). A melancholic instrumental epilogue with “Past Life”. The album is full of energy, lots of anger, furious riffs, clever solos, high speeds and excitement in maximum levels.

The album was re-released in 2012 by Divebomb Records and in 2016 by Dissonance Productions.

Genre: Thrash Metal
Country: U.K./England
Label: GWR Records
Year: 1988