Pesch revisits Warlock’s classic, shows infectious intensity with punchy ‘Triumph and Agony Live’

Photo by Marko Syrjala

We don’t do a lot of live albums around here—I’m sure we’ve done them in our 10 years, but I don’t specifically remember one—and the reason is we see no real need to review them. We’re not really covering any new ground, and there’s no sense giving a blow by blow of an album that mostly contains material people have heard before. Not that we don’t love them!

But there are exceptions, and one of them is Doro Pesch’s “Triumph and Agony Live,” an excellent set that covers the 1987 Warlock classic of the same name that is one of the most important metal albums of all time. And one of the best. Pesch and her band, including Tommy Bolan who played on the original album, performed the entire album at Sweden Rock Festival in 2017, though not in the sequential order it’s presented on the LP. This collection that now celebrates the 35th anniversary of the album is an absolute must have for any Warlock or Pesch fan, or for anyone who just wants to get lost in the power of classic heavy metal. Pesch made her name at a time when there were not many women playing metal, and she’s an unquestioned pioneer, a true legend who still sounds amazing, is busting with energy, and unquestionably rules her version of the ruins, which she will defend to the death.  

“Legacy (Intro)” is a quick bit for when the band takes the stage, so you hear people getting riled up and the sense the band is getting ready to go, which they do on “Touch of Evil” that demonstrates just how powerful Pesch remains. The band sounds great, too, though one complaint that runs over the course of this entire record is the guitars and other instruments are kind of washed out so the vocals can be prominently out front. I get it. It’s Doro. But sometime that robs the songs of their power. “I Rule The Ruins” follows with Pesch leading her “hey hey hey!” chants that pop up throughout the record. The track is high energy, and the band’s gang calls over the chorus rush on the track’s last stand. “East Meets West” is one of the more aggressive tracks on “Triumph and Agony” and is punchy as hell here with Pesch in total command, the band on fire, and this thing just melting down the crowd. “Three Minute Warning” has the drums pacing, Pesch sounding strong and ideally raspy, and the solo just burning shit to the ground. “Kiss of Death” is a steamier, murkier song, a nice come down that’s still heavy but isn’t requiring your blood to pump with full force. It’s nicely positioned here.

“Für Immer” was a controversial track at the time as the label did not want the German-sung ballad on the album, only to have Pesch rightfully fight for it. That call was so obvious as three decades later it remains one that gets you in the guts, and the chorus of, “Deep inside my heart,” is so impactful. Oh, if you haven’t read Adam Tepedelen’s “Triumph and Agony” Decibel Hall of Fame piece, go check it right now. “Cold, Cold World” launches into heavy terrain with a killer echo on Pesch’s voice on the chorus, her voice like a razor blade against your neck. “Make Time for Love” is a soaring power ballad with dark synth and the singing rumbling in your chest as she bellows with emotion. “Metal Tango” is a fun one, a simple, catchy track that also was the B side to “Für Immer,” so it got a decent time in the spotlight, and the crowd eats it up here. All this builds to all-time classic “All We Are,” which is the album’s opener, but of course you’re sending the crowd home happy with this one. This is extended some as Pesch gives the crowd ample chance to sing back the iconic chorus, as well she should, and when she’s out front, she’s just unstoppable. The crowd sounds in a frenzy here, shouting back every word as Pesch praises them, giving a final adrenaline jolt to end the show on the right fiery note.

Pesch was one of the first women to prove that this is not a men’s game, and she can stand in there and rule along with the greats of the business, of which she is now one. “Triumph and Agony Live” not only is a celebration of an absolute classic metal album, but it’s also a treat for those of us who were there in the beginning to hear these songs sound just as powerful now. This is a live platter that is so much fun to behold, a jolt of energy that brings heavy metal to life in your heart and bloodstream.

For more on the band, go here:

To buy the album, go here:

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