Register Forgot login?

© 2002-2019
Encyclopaedia Metallum

Best viewed
without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
or higher.

Privacy Policy

The Final Bell Is Tolling - 92%

LickMyOrangeBallsHalfling, May 15th, 2019

There's something about Angel Witch that sets them apart from many other NWOBHM bands in my mind. While bands like Saxon, Jaguar, Tygers of Pan Tang took a rough, Motorhead-esque tough-guy approach, bands like Angel Witch had a more epic, geekier kind of feel to them. I can easily picture this album soundtracking an intense Dungeons & Dragons campaign. It sounds to me like a predecessor to American epic metal bands such as Manilla Road, Omen, and Warlord. The album cover says it all, showing a scene of biblical desolation.

But does the music itself live up to the grand atmosphere? It most certainly does! Kevin Heybourne's guitar work is masterful on this record, full of heavy riffs and emotive solos.He knows how to write a catchy chorus, making frequent use of dramatic backing vocals to create a grandiose atmosphere, such as on "Atlantis" and the amazing title track. Heybourne may not be the most technically skilled vocalist, but he makes good use of his range. He's not afraid to get a bit sappy, and his falsettos might crack a bit, but his voice is full of emotion and power.

There's no compromise in heaviness in exchange for the catchiness of the songs, and you can hear some clear influences from metal forefathers such as Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, and Deep Purple. "Angel of Death" contains the best riff that Tony Iommi never wrote. In fact, it's so good that Mark Shelton had to steal it for "Dreams of Eschaton!"

The songs are generally pretty concise, and none of them hit the 5 minute mark. I see this as a positive thing, as Heybourne's style of songwriting lends itself well to a traditional verse-chorus form, and that's how most of the songs play out. Some of the extended clean sections can wear a bit thin, such as the midsection to "White Witch," but it's not a major issue.

The bass generally tends to double the rhythm guitar, but it's pleasantly audible, and occasionally gets its moments to shine, such as on the album's ballad, "Free Man," where it takes the melody during the chorus. The drums aren't particularly flashy or attention grabbing, but they do a good job of holding everything together.

"Angel Witch" stands as one of the high points of the entire NWOBHM, and almost 40 years later, it still sounds exciting and enthralling.