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Yes I am an Angel Witch - 85%

nibblemark, March 9th, 2009

Being a twisted child of the eighties, I grew up listening to Maiden, Raven, Venom and some Saxon, and yes, Def Leppard BG (Before Gay) when they were great, and that was pretty much the extent of my knowledge of NWOBHM. Twenty years later I’m having a great time expanding my horizons and discovering what this socio-musical movement was all about.

Yes the lyrics are often cheesy, so what, it’s all good fun anyway. Yes the sound production is dated, but what the hell do you want, this was almost thirty years ago and studio technology was light years away from properly capturing high intensity music, such as symphony orchestras and metal bands. And yes the vocalists lack power and they sound like the effeminate pot-sucking crooners from the early sixties British invasion; the only notable exceptions being Bruce Dickinson and Biff Byford, with honorable mention going to Joe Elliot, John Gallagher and Cronos for having balls. Hmmm… all of these happened to be the singers of the bands I knew back then. It’s not a coincidence. I think the bands that had the more talented frontmen gained international acclaim, while the rest faded away, only to be remembered by ever loyal Danish drummers from the Bay Area. Too bad, really, because I think a lot of these bands had a lot to offer.

Despite these drawbacks, this old school music has a lot going for itself that today's metal babies could learn from. I’m not narrow-minded, nor am I old-fashioned. But I fucking know metal. I think there are many interesting, talented and truly remarkable bands in metal these days, but, sadly, due to greedy record company market saturation, the whole genre seems infected by no good worthless fucking jag-offs who think they know how to play metal by chugging out two power chords on the bottom end. They have no sense of song structure, riff composition, melodic sensibility, or any knowledge of their instruments, or any discernable talent whatsoever. And then the media tells us that we’re not cool unless we love these “arteests”. Go fuck and anthill.

Angel Witch is a prime example of what heavy metal was like in the early days, what it meant, how it was played, how it sounded, how it felt. The key factor to the quality of the music is as always, songwriting, charismatic energy and specifically where this band is concerned, instrumental prowess, most notably the guitar work of Kevin Heybourne. I bet I could sit in a room full of guitar players and say his name and nobody would know who I was talking about. A shame, because when I first heard this disc, I was very impressed by the guitar work: tremendous variety, multiple layers, bottom end riffs, soaring leads, arpeggios, clean chordal work, single note lines in harmony, you name it. Wanna sample? Check out the song “Atlantis” and listen to the numerous guitar parts. Craftsmanship, artistry and creativity.

Angel Witch often sound like Iron Maiden, most notably on “Sorceress”, which sounds like “Remember Tomorrow”, and on “Sweet Danger”, which sounds like it was stolen from Maiden’s recording studio. However, this album came out at the same time as Maiden’s first baby, so I don’t think it’s a rip-off. The similarities are more likely due to shared musical influences, such as Wishbone Ash, for example. Add to that a great slow tune, “Free Man”, early evil music in the form of “White Witch” and “Angel of Death” (no not the Slayer masterpiece) and you have a great recording worthy of being added to any true metal fan’s collection.