Angel Witch - Angel Witch (1980)Release ID: 2328

Angel Witch - Angel Witch (1980) Cover
Shezma Shezma / November 28, 2023 / Comments 0 / 0

This is solid heavy metal. New Wave of British Heavy Metal if you will. Angel Witch is not a band I'm super familiar with but going back and listening through the classics with way more experience and history of metal under my belt now this is a quintessential album for the beginnings of this style and even as the turn of the 80's decade. Angel Witch the song is such an ear worm that I've been humming it all day. Memorable riffs and signature styles that has that NWOBHM style blowing up at but still absolutely stands out. At this point, i'll admit to having a hard time figuring out why I can't do a higher rating but I just don't feel it's quite a 4 1/2 or more record. It is a really good solid record that also doesn't overstay it's welcome at a perfect runtime of 38:10. 

Sonny Sonny / August 14, 2021 / Comments 0 / 0

Angel Witch were one of the bands, along with Saxon and Girlschool (among others), who were championed by Lemmy and I first became aware of all of them after seeing them live as support acts for Motörhead on tours during '78 and '79. The trio of Heybourne, Riddles and Hogg were my favourites though and had a fantastic energy in a live setting. Their debut also proves that they had the songs too.

The album dropped at the end of 1980 with the NWOBHM in full gear and was the equal of anything the scene had so far delivered, including Iron Maiden's debut or Saxon's Strong Arm of the Law. Heybourne had a tremendous knack for combining killer riffs with anthemic, sing-along choruses to consistently produce some of the most memorable tunes of the early Eighties' UK metal scene. I truly love every track on this record and don't believe there is a weak one among them, but particular praise must go to the epic storytelling of personal favourite White Witch and the monstrous riff of Angel of Death, a riff so good that Manilla Road "borrowed" it for Dreams of Eschaton on Crystal Logic. The title track is as recognisable to any old English metal head as Paranoid, Ace of Spades or The Number of the Beast are.

If there is any bone of contention around the album, then it is probably down to Heybourne's vocals. Kev certainly isn't going to rival Rob Halford or Bruce Dickinson vocally, but I personally think his singing is fine and help define Angel Witch's identity. Lyrically Angel Witch plunder the fantasy occult treasure chest of wizards, witches and mythical beasts for most of their themes, a source which has served metal well over the years and won't give you any life-changing insight, but is damn entertaining as recompense. The rhythm section of Riddles and Hogg provided a solid foundation over which Kevin Heybourne was able to weave his magic of awesome riffs and red-hot solos that were disciplined and focussed, never becoming self-indulgent.

Unfortunately for the band and for us fans trouble was never too far away and inter-band strife meant that the trio had split barely before the record hit the shelves. They seemed to be unable to maintain a stable lineup so by the time the follow-up Screamin' N' Bleedin' came out in 1985 the metal world was in the grip of thrash fever and Angel Witch had lost momentum, becaming an also-ran in the metal world. The 2010's have been a lot kinder and the band have released a couple of decent albums in '12 and '19 so maybe they are now getting a little of the success that this legendary debut should have assured them.

Tymell Tymell / November 24, 2019 / Comments 0 / 0

Angel Witch's debut is one of those albums where I keep having to remind myself of just how old it really is. Of course it has a vintage metal sound, but all the same it's way ahead of its time, belting out quality heavy metal song-writing like it's nothing. At a time when many bands were only just dipping their toes into the water, Angel Witch is here ironing out the timings on their synchronised swimming performance.

There's definitely a Sabbath-y darkness to the sound, but it's tempered with the emerging energy of speed metal, sparking and blitzing along through dark fantasy landscapes with wicked glee. That classic title track is a perfect example of all the band do so well: punkish rhythms from the thundering bass and percussion, while the vocals, full of falsetto and bold melody, are fresh out of classic rock, and the chorus readily flaunts a glam showmanship.

Showmanship is really the name of the game here, in the best way, so many tracks just clearly know exactly what they want to do and have no qualms about diving right into it. "Atlantis" makes fine use of a belting pace and grim bass rumble, proto-thrash with a wonderfully catchy chorus. Kevin Riddles' gorgeous bass work rears up again in "Angel of Death", driving forward that steady, irresistible march. "Devil's Tower" has ominous tones beneath flashy solo work, "Gorgon" erupts into molten fury after a deceptively soft intro, yet still keeps a rocking beat at the core. "Sorcerers" too starts gentler, but takes more of a doom-y route, and soars up into the stratosphere towards the end, helping to cement a foundational song structure that many future doom metal bands will make ample use of.

As all the above hopefully gets across, Angel Witch has great variety to offer: there's consistency, especially in a fantastical, D&D kind of fun darkness, but they know just when to switch up the pace and how to keep things catchy. The 70s were a formative decade for heavy metal, and Angel Witch sits proud as one of the albums that really marked its explosive birth in full. It's all here: the riffs, the vocals, the whole attitude. Angel Witch is both a culmination of what came before and a herald of what would follow.

Choice cuts: Angel Witch, Atlantis, Angel of Death, Sorcerers, Gorgon

UnhinderedbyTalent UnhinderedbyTalent / March 26, 2019 / Comments 0 / 0

The debut from London's Angel Witch is full of high octane NWOBHM that has a clunky yet still kind of cool style about it.  Whilst never to the point of truly grating Kevin Heybourne's vocals are clumsy at best.  That withstanding there's absolute standout songs on here like the title track that will be stuck in your head for days with their simple repetition and catchy chants.  But the real success of the album is the musicianship on display.

The band are tight as fuck on this release, creating super charged heavy metal tunes full of intense percussion and romping riffs and pulling no punches in the delivery department.  Reminiscent of both Diamond Head and Iron Maiden's sound of the time (Angel Witch coming in December of the same year that the other two bands also dropped their debuts) the album celebrates all that was good about metal at this point in history.  As the move away from rock and then punk started to gather momentum it is clear on this record where the draw came from for fans as they latched onto the pandemic energy of albums such as this.

I listen to the 30th Anniversary edition when spinning this record as it has two discs that showcase the full album, some BBC radio sessions as well as various demos and single A & B sides.  This gives me more of a feel of insight into the band at the time and shows that they were skilled musicians capable of putting down a solid track whether live or recorded.  All that brute force from the demos got transferred superbly into the record.  Even the instrumental track, Devil's Tower is chocked full of pervasive intent to get you headbanging along to it.

The lead work sings on this record, oozing quality throughout and firmly stamping its authority over all ten tracks.  You'll be hard pushed to find a record that holds up in conversations that mention Iron Maiden, Lightning to the Nations, Court in the Act or Wild Cat.  But Angel Witch is rightly able to be classed alongside such classics from the same era.


Release info

Release Site Rating

Ratings: 10 | Reviews: 4


Release Clan Rating

Ratings: 3 | Reviews: 2


Cover Site Rating

Ratings: 5


Cover Clan Rating

Ratings: 1

Angel Witch
The Guardians
Heavy Metal

Heavy Metal (conventional)

Voted For: 0 | Against: 0