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Full Frontal Nudity - 61%

Tanuki, May 30th, 2017

Angel Witch's self-titled debut is a cherished heirloom of NWOBHM and among the most mystical and dramatic examples of the genre. I love Angel Witch more than I love wasting people's time talking about albums they already know about. But you might need this context to understand why I'm lukewarm about Frontal Assault, and equate Screamin' n' Bleedin' to the outflow of an effluent pipe. As both the lineup of Angel Witch as well as the release of these albums were handled as competently as Custer's Last Stand, I'll make this clear right away - I'm reviewing the 'proper' release of Frontal Assault, as opposed to the mutant LP the US ended up with.

Vocalist Dave Tattum reprises his role from Screamin' n' Bleedin', as Heybourne wasn't quite done exploring their bluesy doom options. To this end, Tattum has a sonorous, pulpy tone that floats lazily across the surface of most songs. With a range fettered to an unadventurous tenor, even the most acclaimed tracks like 'Dream World' feel lethargic. In fairness, Tattum attempts to combat this with some well-intentioned vibrato, yet his performance still feels like a shaky trapeze act swinging back and forth between doom and NWOBHM, unsure of who's more likely to catch him.

Did you hear that, US release of Frontal Assault? I said who's. As in who is more likely. So when you ask who is to blame, it should not be written 'Whose to Blame', for fucking hell's sake. It's spelled correctly in Screamin' n' Bleedin' - did they even look at the tracks before arbitrarily gluing them onto the US release of Frontal Assault? Gee, I wonder why Angel Witch never caught on in North America.

If it wasn't because of grammar infidelity (or immigration laws), it would probably be due to tracks like 'Straight From Hell'; the most half-baked, half-assed performance from Tattum and indeed the rest of Angel Witch. Everything from the cautious riffing to its rigid AOR time signature, it's an insulting lack of imagination I'd expect not from the same act that brought us 'Baphomet', but some careless, unstudied band who saw metal as a pie to stick their finger in. 'Undergods' is guilty of a similar problem, lifting the galloping riff from an earlier track 'Rendezvous with the Blade' and hoping no one will notice.

This lack of ambition continues with the album-wide formula of "verse-chorus-solo-verse-chorus", which can become tedious even in tracks that employ intricate riffing and eccentric chords. 'Take to the Wing' and the aforementioned 'Rendezvous with the Blade' - two of my preferred tracks due to the brilliant riff delivery from Heybourne - become exceedingly monotonous because of their predictability and overlong run-time.

Also not helping matters is the production quality, which is something I should've mentioned a long time ago. There's a grimy, muddled mixing not unlike Cobra's infamous Back from the Dead. It's like listening to metal through a gimp mask. Bass, one of the unsung heroes of Angel Witch is nowhere to be found from newcomer Pete Gordelier. And for all the fuss they made over drummer Hogg, Bruce, Dufort, Hogg again, and finally Spencer Hollman, snare tone is soggy and kicks have vanished into the same ether as Gordelier.

Frontal Assault will never be without its snide remarks, whether they concern its incompetent release, endless lineup changes, or most pertinently of all, the rambling deviation from their sublime debut. Though I attest the original release of Frontal Assault is still worthy of a place in your collection, and barely worthy of the Angel Witch name. It's better than that other album, at least.


Cricchio426, August 3rd, 2009

"Frontal Assault" is "arrogant" already from the cover, in line with the classic iconography of the British combo.

It starts with the great title track, which does not disappoint the expectations and shows a band very united and aggressive. The riffing is dark and dramatic and vocals will fall well in the gloomy atmosphere. The song flows nicely, even on well-set arrangements and the solo work is well in line with the melody of the song. Turning a "Dream World" we notice that the combo focuses on issues of melodic melodic thickness more sophisticated, emphasizing a harmony riffing which goes brilliantly with warm, enveloping vocals (especially in the refrain of easily impact).

And here you will notice more stylistic turn of the group compared to the previous production: less dark riffs and more space for harmony. "Rendezvous with the blade, on the contrary, riffing stands out a more vigorous, robust supported by an effective drumming. The sound of the piece reflects the abundance of clich├ęs debut album, especially of the interplay of dark tones and appealing rhythmic ride. With "Religion: Born Again" the band slows down the rhythm, concentrating their efforts on a kind of mid tempo where the sound always tough and strong impact helps to give more "color" a melodic line is always hovering between theatricality and darkness.

A small introduction to keyboards, soft, almost dreamy, introduces us to the following "Straight from hell", which now kicks off with a well-riffing among the most "sensible" and other more rocky impact. The refrain burst then in his power, pointing to a particularly sharp vocals in acute (and here we must give credit to a singer with good vocal charisma). "She Don't Lie" puts on display, again, the melodic mood of the band, emphasizing a certain propensity for a combo of heavy rock tones almost pompous, deployed along a pleasantly riffing that becomes brilliant in the melancholy refrain. The next song, "Take to the wind" is another episode energetic riffs played over and direct impact, while the rhythm section, pressing, acts as a drag factor of the rest of the instruments.

Interesting does the solo approach, which gives further strength to the basic structure of the track. The disc is coming to an end and the penultimate song, "Something Wrong", the combo leaves kicks his vein through a melodic riffing suffered, decadent romantic and, finally, majestic and rhythmic. Perhaps it is in this episode you will notice the most decisive turning point of the combo style that is so typical harmonic foundation of the group to inject new impetus to creativity. That was a good or bad it is not know with certainty. Personally, I can glimpse a maturity of approach evident that, though sacrificing (unfortunately) some key features of the sound of Angel Witch, it stands out of other valuable. The final track, however, go back to hammering the ears with a decidedly heavy riffing, as the dark Angel Witch can offer, supported by a precise and effective drumming. In this case report is the only one who succeeds in sound to compact the base of the piece.

To conclude this "Frontal Assault", although not a hard shift, those that shine like jewels in the heavy metal firmament, is a hard honest, genuine and demonstration of the great talents of a group, Angel Witch, who has shaped a particular kind of Heavy Metal. Let us remember, then, even after this beautiful and unforgettable "Angel Witch".