Sex sells. Apparently. And that, we should accept, happened somewhat in Rock and Metal in the ’80s. It still happens now. But not with Doro Pesch. She’s been playing Metal for almost 40 years. And now she’s released a live version of her most popular album, Triumph and Agony
The lead singer of Warlock could have been objectified. She’s blonde. Conventionally good looking. And a woman. There weren’t many in Metal when Warlock debuted in 1984. One of the only other bands in Hard Rock and Heavy Metal not to be splashed in recumbent postures throughout magazines were Girlschool. That band managed it by playing their music louder and prouder and by playing the men at their own game.
Doro did it differently. For all the ‘Metal Maiden’ lines, she forged her way with Warlock and on her own. She did it by loving what Metal music stood for and by simply being nice. Perhaps Warlock benefitted by not walking the Sunset Strip and fighting for flier space. They were from Dusseldorf and not LA, ’84 was the time of Armored Saint and those new fangled Thrash lads Anthrax with their Fistful of Metal album. Oh, and a little Metal band from the Midlands dropped Defenders of the Faith. Germany had Scorpions, Accept and, erm…As she told The Rockpit in 2020; ‘I never thought I’d last this long, when you start out you hope for five or six years, but here I am!’
It’s said that Metal fans are some of the kindliest, the most open. And Warlock are loved by many leather clad louts; they were on the radar early on as Phonogram took them on and in 1986 Doro became the first woman to lead a band onto the Monsters of Rock stage. They may have been forging forward but the lineup changed regularly. When their best selling Triumph and Agony came out in 1987, they were on their third band change; the album went gold and they graced MTV’s Headbanger’s Ball regularly.
By the end of the ’80s, Warlock were no more and Doro struck out on her own, more because she had to, she didn’t own the name. And she has continued to play the Metal she loves (with some accessible diversions). All through leaner times when the European market comforted her, even through ups and downs of record deals, she’s kept at it and released more than 10 albums under her own name.
To the most popular album though, Triumph and Agony. It’s Warlock’s last and is more than 30 years old. But it’s been given a facelift and some new smart duds; live and in a fan box with a Doro model if you want it. She’s said that these are powerful versions and she’s got that right. But there’s something more, this live set at Sweden Rock festival injects some real love and life into them.
Firstly, this doesn’t sound like a fixed up job, Doro’s voice is seasoned, weathered and almost cracking in a sharply riffing ‘Kiss of Death’. It actually does in ‘Cold Cold World’ and if she can’t reach the vocal leaps of the original, that adds care and belief to this performance. This music is so well realised, perhaps with the sound of the drums and sometimes the guitars a little too reined in, but it’s really the Metal Queen we are here to celebrate. ‘Metal Tango’ is so much more of a pump than the original, ‘Three Minute Warning’ seems to want to get it done in that timescale and leaps into it much quicker than on the album, Doro keeping up and riding those riffs so well.
Among those breast beaters like ‘East Meets West’ are the huge ballads which Warlock and Doro are so known for. Just like ‘Make Time for Love’ with its imperious guitar solo, and of course this album contains the massive ‘Für Immer’ sung completely in German and so large it could be seen from space.
And within the slightly overwrought broadsword with bouffant balladry, the show, even without visuals, is clear. The videos are available on YouTube of course, but the crowd sections are so welcoming to Doro’s ‘are you all enjoying yourselves?’ kind of questions that there’s a warmth, a companionship, a togetherness. That makes this album a bit special.
And that’s why ‘All We Are’ comes last. It’s more than just a song, this is a joining, a togetherness, a singalong which the crowd gleefully accept; for metalheads it’s an affirmation of faith. Here it’s twice as long as the original and stands as a celebration of the defiance of choosing Metal and supporting one of the stars who never accepted some of the expectations of that musical genre. As Doro told Blabbermouth very recently; ‘when I started out in the ’80s, really, sometimes people looked down on metalheads…And now I feel Metal is so accepted….But in the beginning, it was sometimes hard. But then I thought, it’s cool to be an outlaw’. And that’s an appeal that’s hard to beat.
Doro said to Brian Rademacher in 2006; ‘I have no kids or a husband. I’m married to the band, crew and the fans …That is my family’. And metalheads those who have come with her might well have encountered the Triumph and the Agony this album absolutely celebrates. That’s surely why Doro thrives.