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A Spirit Is Born - 82%

Thamuz, August 5th, 2006

Oh, sweet innocence! How beautiful it is to be unaware of sorrow, duty and circumstance. To be like a child and run free with the wind in your face upon the fields amongst the endless rows of flowers – to exist in a bubble of joy. One cannot help but crave a second chance to look at the world as a stranger, new to its mysteries, impervious to its overwhelming despondency, content to hear the songs of nature without a care in the world.

When listening to albums that were a prototype to the grand things that were to follow, one cannot help but admire the sense of Spirit and wonder that is present in these formative works. As found in Black Sabbath’s and Judas Priest’s seminal early works Angel Witch’s debut is teeming with a sense of adventure, a love of the bizarre and the representation of Will as Idea. From their desire to explore what makes life so mysterious - the sense of wonder in what lies beyond consciousness – and the magic that is veiled behind the tragedy of existence, they transcended man’s state of being predisposed to living content in a dead-world. From this led the (re)birth of a world that is beyond good and evil, a world reminiscent of Ancient triumph and an augury to a glorious future – the rough beginnings of a journey to the stars.

Admittedly the verse-chorus format utilised on this album is sometimes obvious and underdeveloped, but Angel Witch have also managed to use it effectively as a point of balance or a tension release and even more cleverly in some songs, particularly ‘White Witch’, as a voice of opposition to the verse – the cries of the feckless masses as they shout down anyone who dares to arise out of the grave that they created as their abode. The guitar playing is sharp, with intricate neo-classical leads interposed over a solid rhythmic base in the vein of Judas Priest. Whilst none of this is highly original, the importance of this album lies in the ability of the band in refining the aesthetics foundations of the 70s into a new context – and composed like an artist free of expectation and free of artistic boundaries. The band looked into the night and upon seeing a shadow by the moon was inspired to create a spacious realm of gentle clean arpeggios amidst the onrush of violent death. Gentle British melodies flow like streams, winding their way eloquently through the barrage of the storm. Most impressive is the carefully developed relationship between the ringing ambient chords and the above mentioned dreamy softer sections with the bounding energy of NWOBHM riffing. This creates a feeling of freedom, a place of vast space, where conflict is allowed to run its course without interruption, a world of natural splendour.

In listening to prototype albums such as ‘Angel Witch’ we essentially learn more about the genre by realising where the Spirit of the genre had its foundations. The listening experience is made even more enjoyable by the fact that this is more than just a mere historical artefact, it is an excellent artistic statement made by a band that was not afraid to use their imagination and explore the vast deeps of the mind.