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Angel Witch - Angel Witch review

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Band: Angel Witch
Album: Angel Witch
Release date: March 1980

Disc I
01. Angel Witch
02. Atlantis
03. White Witch
04. Confused
05. Sorceress
06. Gorgon
07. Sweet Danger
08. Free Man
09. Angel Of Death
10. Devil's Tower
11. Loser [1990 reissue bonus]
12. Suffer [1990 reissue bonus]
13. Dr. Phibes [1990 reissue bonus]
14. Flight Nineteen [2000 reissue bonus]
15. Baphomet [2000 reissue bonus]
16. Hades Paradise [2000 reissue bonus]
17. Sweet Danger [live][2005 reissue bonus]
18. Angel Of Death [live][2005 reissue bonus]
19. Extermination Day [live][2005 reissue bonus]
20. Angel Witch [live][2005 reissue bonus]

Disc II [30th Anniversary Edition bonus]
01. Devil's Tower [demo]
02. White Witch [demo]
03. Baphomet [demo]
04. Sorcerers [demo]
05. Extermination Day [demo]
06. Flight Nineteen [demo]
07. Hades Paradise [demo]
08. Baphomet [Metal For Muthas compilation version]
09. Sweet Danger [single version]
10. Hades Paradise ["Sweet Danger" B-side version]
11. Flight Nineteen ["Sweet Danger" B-side version]
12. Angel Witch [single version]
13. Gorgon ["Angel Witch" B-side version]
14. Loser [EP version]
15. Suffer ["Loser" EP B-side version]
16. Dr. Phibes ["Loser" EP B-side version]

Angel Witch is, to me, one of the biggest "what if" bands in heavy metal. The frequent changing of the lineup and delegation of vocal duties from Kevin Heybourne to others after their phenomenal debut resulted in two follow-ups that, while not altogether terrible, contained none of the energy, personality, or brilliance of the first landmark Angel Witch album. If only the trio had stayed intact, Angel Witch could very well be one of the most successful bands on the scene today. Who knows what other great works they were capable of back in their prime? Instead, we must remember them for this one-off masterpiece.

Angel Witch is the crystallization of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal sound. It is similar in style to contemporary releases such as Iron Maiden's self-titled debut, Girlschool's Demolition, and Judas Priest's Screaming For Vengeance, combining riff-centric songs with a punk attitude and an instantly recognizable voice. Kevin Heybourne's vocals are perfect for this kind of music: thin, raspy, and almost strained at times, but capable of hitting high notes when appropriate, and as firmly lodged in the new generation of heavy metal singers as it got back in 1980. Heavy-handed, bluesy overtones of early metal are nowhere to be found on this record, except in the occasional Black Sabbath-influenced riff (i.e. "Free Man"); the slow, thick, pounding musical fusion that dominated the original scene have by this time given way to fast, metallic, proto-thrash with production that, while not especially professional, perfectly complements the band's sound.

Just as the influences of Black Sabbath, Rainbow, and the punk scene are palpable on this album, so, too are the ways in which Angel Witch would influence future generations of the thrash, power, and even black metal movements. Early Slayer has "Angel Witch" written all over it, and this album is musically similar enough to Mercyful Fate to be viewed as a reasonable influence on the very early stages of black metal's infancy.

Angel Witch is distorted, guitar-oriented heavy metal of the highest order, filled with memorable songs accentuated by Kevin Heybourne's divine vocals. It is a little sloppy here and there, but the music never suffers from it. This record exudes passion, intensity, and a raw energy that seemed characteristic of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal. Since they fell to pieces so quickly after their first album, Angel Witch has never really received the consideration they deserve for it, undoubtedly one of the strongest debuts of any metal band. Songs like "Angel Witch," "White Witch," and "Sorcerers" alone are worth the listen, but this whole album is a wonderful experience.

Rating breakdown
Performance: 9
Songwriting: 9
Originality: 8
Production: 7

Written by ScreamingSteelUS | 25.12.2012

Guest review disclaimer:
This is a guest review, which means it does not necessarily represent the point of view of the MS Staff.


Comments: 4   Visited by: 75 users
25.12.2012 - 01:44
Best NWOBHM album of all time...
27.12.2017 - 23:13
Bad English
Tage Westerlund
Written by nicaZe on 25.12.2012 at 01:44

Best NWOBHM album of all time...

maybe worst NWOBHM album of all time, but better as bands opener
Life is to short for LOVE, there is many great things to do online !!!

Stormtroopers of Death - ''Speak English or Die''

I better die, because I never will learn speek english, so I choose dieing
27.06.2020 - 10:34
Rating: 7
Dark Horizons

Kevin Heybourne was the guitarist and songrwriter of the 2 follow up albums too...
We are just a moment in time
A blink of an eye
A dream for the blind
Visions from a dying brain
I hope you don't understand
27.06.2020 - 15:50
Rating: 9
Written by Dark Horizons on 27.06.2020 at 10:34

Kevin Heybourne was the guitarist and songrwriter of the 2 follow up albums too...

Yes, I misunderstood the timetable of events when I wrote this; the trio did fail to stay intact and Heybourne wasn't the lead vocalist on the next two, which I think did have a negative impact on them, but I had thought that Heybourne moved from or to the US after this album rather than at the end of the decade. I probably ought to correct the review.
"Earth is small and I hate it" - Lum Invader

I'm the Agent of Steel.

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