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You simply can’t talk about the New Wave of British Heavy Metal without mentioning Iron Maiden, Def Leppard, Diamond Head and Angel Witch, for all of these bands are the epitome of heavy metal music. Once the NWOBHM scene crossed the pond and hit American shores in the early days of 1980 the metal demographic was forever changed. Bands along for the ride included Venom, Spider, Gorgon, Rock Goddess, Girl, Tytan, Demon and Jaguar, just to name a few. While not exactly paced in speed or violent lyrical content (in fact, much of the lyrical content was fantastical-women related) the NWOBHM was the most important piece to a puzzle some 35-years old.
Angel Witch needs little introduction, but the band hails from England and has been cited as an influence by everyone from Metallica to Stratovarius. Melodic and heavy, Angel Witch has been on top of the heap from the very start with no signs of going away, despite many break-ups over the years. The power metal contingency owes a huge debt to the NWOBHM movement in all facets; they forged the irons early on and set the standard. Originally called Lucifer, the band changed its name in 1979 and the rest has been one hell of a history. The band’s discography reads like a virtual phone book with a multitude of EPs, compilations and releases over 30-years. With songs such as “Burn the White Witch,” “Loser,” “Confused,” “Atlantis” and “Nowhere to Run” the band’s legacy and influence has been highly-regarded over the years.
The latest releases is a live album recorded at London’s Underworld Club in 2009 and has all of the favorite tracks you’d come to expect from Angel Witch, and if not for the amazing sound the band has yet to lose after so many years this addition the band’s catalog might otherwise be one of those “ehhhh….” releases. Kevin Heybourne, vocalist/guitarist, sounds just as crisp and strong as he did on the band’s ’79 demo, which in and of itself is amazing. It seems as if time has stopped for him in spots. Admittedly, aside from a 2004 EP called They Wouldn’t Dare, this entire century has been a succession of live albums (three since 2000), which can be frustrating when a band so influential and obviously still teeming with talent and ability lets its creative juices simmer in the live album arena. In that regard, I love the band, but will honestly say that if you have the first two live albums from this century, this might be one you could afford to miss.
Now, that aside, the performance itself is energetic and a lot of fun, hence my wondering why the band doesn’t just chop wood and throw new logs onto its historical fireplace. It just makes sense to offer up some new music in the old vein. Not many bands are afforded to opportunity to stick closely to a sound it created some three decades ago; in that regard Angel Witch has it made! C’mon guys…how about some new tunes?? That also aside, the energy from the crowd is enough to make this CD an enjoyable ride. When the crowd sings the chorus to “Burn the White Witch” with such fervor and enthusiasm you can actually get chills.
All in all, the Burn the White Witch: Live in London is a good release for the fan that needs everything, but a disappointment for the fan like me who has everything, yet desires so much more from such a great band.
(Originally written for http://www.metalpsalter.com)