Review by Daniel for Witchfynde - Give 'Em Hell (1980)
1980’s “Give ‘Em Hell” was the first & most celebrated album from this seminal four-piece English heavy metal band from Mansfield but they actually formed way back in 1973 so it’s not surprising that Witchfynde had a pretty well-defined sound by this point, even though they offered plenty of variety in style from track to track. The album cover features some of the earliest Satanic imagery in metal music with the inclusion of the now obligatory goats head & pentagram while the lyrics also hint at the band’s fascinations with the more sinister side of life, although it has to be said that (unlike NWOBHM contemporaries like Angel Witch & Venom) Witchfynde’s sound isn’t always a good fit for the thematic concepts the band are depicting.
Witchfynde are often sighted as an early influence on black metal although I think that’s stretching things a bit from a musical point of view. In fact, their sound doesn’t fit too comfortably under the NWOBHM banner either to be honest. Most of their musical influences are drawn from the 1970’s & they generally opt for a more restrained & controlled mid-paced delivery. They also possessed a darker atmosphere than the material really justified which has a fair bit to do with a thick, warm & moody production job that includes a fair amount of space. I find it to be a little muffled to be honest, but it doesn’t see the instrumentation losing definition. This may be an unusual sound but it really stands out from the rest of the NWOBHM movement & is more memorable as a result.
Witchfynde’s sound is best described as a blend of 70’s hard rock, heavy metal & progressive rock with touches of psychedelics here & there. Kinda like 70’s Black Sabbath meets the progressive hard rock of Rush. They’re at their best when they’re heading in more expansive & progressive directions with shifting time signatures & epic arrangements in my opinion. At times I can clearly hear the influence on bands like Mercyful Fate, Celtic Frost & Samael in the atmosphere & controlled aggression & if that’s not a feather in Witchfynde’s cap I don’t know what is. “Give ‘Em Hell” is definitely worth a listen for fans of the darker end of the NWOBHM.