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Top Of The NWOBHM Food Chain - 95%

brocashelm, September 28th, 2009

When oldsters like me wax nostalgic about the glory days of the NWOBHM, Angel Witch is invariably one of the bands that gets us misty eyed. The band’s sharp yet brooding, tough yet melodic occult-flecked style was very new to us at the time, bearing hints of Sabbath and other elder forces but in a clearly new guise. Band leader Kevin Heybourne was not only a sterling guitarist but also was possessed of a fine singing voice and a talent for penning classic metal according to his own unique vision. Also their debut album looked really Satanic, with the band’s baphomet adorned logo and the classical painting of hell slapped on there, but this no death or black metal affair.

What we have is energetic, snappy songs visited by a raw guitar sound, melodic passages and a basic but perfectly functional sound job. There are classics galore here, the band’s own theme song “Angel Witch” (duh) being amongst metal’s finest hours and certainly high atop the NWOBHM food chain. “Gorgon” has an almost UFO like stride, but “Sweet Danger” really brings the band’s love of matching melody with force into view. All of this is well and good, but “Angel Of Death” is another mug of poison entirely. Built on the most malicious of riffs, this cut, with it’s slashing riffs, dramatic structure and seriously menacing guise, this is perhaps the band’s summit and another NWOBHM benchmark for sure.

Damn awesome this album, and it should have made major players out of this band. But it didn’t, and in disillusioned shame they forged ahead with weaker vision and even lesser fame. A sad but essential chapter for metal nevertheless.