Friday, 9 April 2010

CD Review: Angel Witch, by Angel Witch (1980)

A strange mix of the naive and the innovative, Angel Witch's self-titled debut album is at least somewhat interesting.

Angel Witch are considered one of the bands that got away, since they never translated their influential membership in the New Wave of British Heavy Metal into significant success.

Angel Witch were among the earlier bands to write and sing almost obsessively about the devil and related themes back when these topics were still considered dangerous. This may have contributed to their lack of success, and consequent cult status.

The band's quick fragmentation and disappearance after this album was released eventually elevated their reputation to somewhat legendary status, much in the same way that the departed are always fondly remembered. And there are enough good moments on this CD to suggest that Angel Witch had some talent and innovation, and at least in patches, could match many of their peers. Opener and title song Angel Witch hauntingly and effectively sticks in the memory. Sorcerers ends with a brilliant instrumental section that demonstrates the power of the guitar / keyboard combination, and evokes Deep Purple's best keyboard-inspired passages. (The earlier part of Sorcerers sound very similar to Iron Maiden's Remember Tomorrow -- the two bands used to play shows together around London). CD closer Devil's Tower is an instrumental that quickly creates and sustains a smooth and evil mood.

But there are at least equally as many other moments that suggest a shallow pool of ideas and a skill level not far above garage band status. Confused is so bad that it would damage the reputation of a high school band. White Witch and Gorgon are both simplistic and bland, and several other tracks are generally forgettable and never kick out of second gear. A lot of the material on Angel Witch suffers when compared to what bands like Iron Maiden, Saxon, Motorhead and Judas Priest were recording around 1980.

Kevin Heybourne displays good guitar skills, but his vocals are uniformly strained. The album was produced on next-to-no budget, and it sounds like it.

Had they held together, Angel Witch perhaps would have evolved, improved, and found more success. But based on the evidence from this CD, it's not like the world was deprived of the second coming of Black Sabbath.


Kevin Heybourne - Guitar, Vocals
Kevin (Skids) Riddle - Bass, Keyboards
Dave Hogg (Day Vog) - Drums

Songlist (ratings out of 10):

1. Angel Witch - 8
2. Atlantis - 7
3. White Witch - 6
4. Confused - 4
5. Sorcerers - 8
6. Gorgon - 6
7. Sweet Danger - 7
8. Free Man - 7
9. Angel of Death - 7
10. Devil's Tower - 8

Average: 6.80

Produced by Martin Smith.
Engineered by Mark Deanley, Ashley Howe, and John Gallen.

All Ace Black Blog Heavy Metal CD Reviews are here.

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