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CLASSIC ALBUM REVIEW – Warfare ‘Pure Filth’

CLASSIC ALBUM REVIEW – Warfare ‘Pure Filth’
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Warfare – ‘Pure Filth’ (DISS086CDD)

Originally released on Neat Records, NEAT 1021, autumn 1984

Following the success of Warfare’s ‘Noise, Filth & Fury’ EP, which even the writers at Kerrang! claimed to like (presumably in an attempt to be hip), Neat Records gave the go-ahead to drummer/vocalist Evo and his bandmates Gunner and Falken, the band’s guitarist and bassist respectively, to go back into Impulse Studios to come up with an album. The result was ‘Pure Filth’, a suitably unsubtle ten-headed monster produced by Tank’s Algy Ward (with the exception of the track ‘Noise, Filth & Fury’ which had been lifted from the EP). It was chaotic, gloriously unfocussed and very, very noisy, which was probably exactly what Evo was aiming for.

The spoken word intro ‘Warning’, the lyrics of which were reproduced on the album’s rear sleeve, gave an indication to the uninitiated that ‘Pure Filth’ wasn’t going to be a picnic, and over the ensuing nine songs the album unveiled a punk/metal hybrid that spat bullets and oozed class conflict from every pore. There were no ballads, no let-up, and no escape from (to borrow from the second song) an anarchic vision of total Armageddon. And just when you thought things couldn’t get much further from classic rock, for the coup de grâce, the final track ‘Rose Petals Fall From Her Face’ combined the talents of Warfare and Venom in one almighty negasonic noisebomb.

Bands like Warfare were taking metal into a different direction and, back in 1984 when the thrash metal boom was still in its infancy, ‘Pure Filth’ was about as heavy and as aggressive and as malevolent as it was possible to be. “This trio gleefully jump off the rancid edge without the aid of a parachute… It’s a thrash metal party,” wrote Kerrang!’s Malcolm Dome, while Metal Forces’ editor Bernard Doe called the album “promising stuff” in his eight-out-of-ten review, reckoning that, “‘Pure Filth’ boasts some of the best death metal ever to come out of the UK.”

“This is history,” Evo proudly notes now. “This was the start of a genre. You have to remember that when ‘Pure Filth’ was written there was no thrash metal; I wrote those songs in 1983, and the term hadn’t even been invented back then. And so when you listen to ‘Let The Show Go On’ and ‘Break Out’ and all those fast songs, what you’re hearing now is the forerunners of thrash metal really.

“I was trying to achieve the perfect crossover with the amplifiers on twelve,” he laughs. “I wanted to create something that was wholly original. I didn’t want to copy anybody. I wasn’t influenced by a lot of people. I liked Motörhead but I didn’t want to copy them, and I don’t think I did. I wanted something over-the-top, and I also wanted something that was intellectually street. One thing about heavy metal was that it had never really been about the street; it was all dragons and demons and fantasy and stuff. If you listen to ‘Pure Filth’ it’s raw punk lyrics; observations of life itself; what the kids were going through; what I was going through… You could even argue that the whole thing is a concept album about everyday life, set to the backdrop of absolute mayhem.

“I had an email a while back from someone in New York, who said: ‘I was fifteen when ‘Pure Filth’ came into my hands and at that time mum and dad made me go to church. Within six months of listening to the album I was drinking cider, taking speed and beating people up.’ How wonderful is that! That’s what I set out to achieve – anti-conformity! You can’t get a better endorsement than that!”

The original Neat pressing of the album came with a free 7” single featuring ‘This Machine Kills’ and ‘Burn The Kings Road’. In addition, ‘Pure Filth’ was subsequently licensed to Roadrunner Records for a European release: this version came with a red (rather than black) cover and a slightly different tracklisting.

The Dissonance Productions re-issue contains the two cuts from the bonus single, as well as the three songs from the ‘Two Tribes’ 12” single.