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A Legendary Release and a Pure Lay of Magic - 93%

ballcrushingmetal, August 28th, 2017
Written based on this version: 1989, CD, Teichiku Records (Japan, Reissue)

Rather than just one more album taking part in the NWOBHM, Angel Witch's self-titled debut is one of the most important and influential albums within the NWOBHM in the early '80s. Moreover, it also provided relevant features for the way forward (mainly if you played during the 80's certain metal sub-genre named power metal). Seen as the band's finest hour, it offers incredible moments throughout its ten tracks, which can keep you playing the album over and over without getting tired of it. Think about Uriah Heep on amphetamines mixed with a Judas Priest and Black Sabbath inspired guitar playing, and in general, anything having to do with all that good stuff played during the '70s (including at some point Led Zeppelin).

The musicianship displayed in this album goes far beyond. Track by track, the band exploited the talent of the guitarists, showed an over-the-top bass playing (such a privilege considering that the albums released later on tend to fade away the bass notes) and a drumming that is no less than great. That said, this release could not have started in a better fashion. As an exception to their well established subject matter, the title-track addresses the bitter taste of lovelessness seemingly expressed through the furious intro riff. Although somehow contrasting with the sweet and melodic pace in which the song runs, said riff is still its most memorable moment, not only of this album but their entire career.

Afterwards, the album offers other numbers that are still as good as the title-track. "White Witch" is an example. This Uriah Heep-inspired number is significantly reinforced by the doomish feeling that Black Sabbath brought out quite a while ago. Another interesting number built on the blueprint of Uriah Heep is "Angel of Death." This classic number is somehow similar to "White Witch," however, it is a little bit more aggressive due to the type of riffs included here. On the other hand, the band also left room for some proggy stuff like "Sorcerers" and "Gorgon," and also for the Queen meets Judas Priest number (more accurately, "Stone Cold Crazy" meets "Call for the Priest") "Sweet Danger." Although not as remembered as the previously mentioned numbers, this song is one of the best speed metal numbers ever made, and unfortunately, a criminally underrated piece. Think what would happen if Uriah Heep tried a speed metal number, for sure, it would result in a number of this sort.

Angel Witch is shown at its creative peak in this album, as its formula in the next releases was not even similar to that used to make up their magnum opus. However, the impact that this album had, and the fact that it is widely quoted as a landmark album in the NWOBHM, were important factors that kept the band alive, mainly, since the following releases tend to be far from the potential herein shown. Thus far, several versions of this album have been released, among others, the CD with a different cover and anniversary editions with a lot of bonus tracks (including a live version of "Angel Witch" that has different lyrics). No matter which one you pick, you can only win. You can only call yourself a metalhead if you have listened to this release.