When it comes to the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal (NWOBHM), one of the truly classic and influential bands of that explosive early ‘80s fever was Angel Witch. Alongside heavyweight luminaries as Iron Maiden, Saxon, Venom, and Satan, the impact that the London-based headbangers had with (especially) their self-titled debut album in 1980 was huge for the metal generation to come. Songs like “White Witch” and “Angel Of Death” would become classics of the genre, covered far and wide and topping the NWOBHM playlists every time. The group released another two full-lengths in their heyday, neither of which could measure up to the debut, went through numerous line-up changes and periods of inactivity, and finally returned with the solid-as-tungsten-balls As Above, So Below in 2012. I was blown away at the freshness of the material and how amped the band sounded, but as it turns out, 2019 is the true return of the heavy metal giants.
Angel Of Light (buy/stream here), unlike its predecessor, shuns modern production to sneak in some bona fide NWOBHM analogue warmth, something that helps each of the eight songs shine like the unearthed diamonds they are. For a band that is officially 41-years-old this year, the performances are ridiculously solid, and the tunes are the easy sequel, quality-wise, to that amazing record from 1980.
Check out the video for “Don’t Turn Your Back” here:
The only original member on the album is vocalist/guitarist Kevin Heybourne, but it was his unique voice that made Angel Witch what it was with the uber-strong choruses and genre-defining lyrics. The rest of the group is a tight unit with great personality, the playing both an easy fit and headbangingly tasty, and they fit into the Angel Witch mould as if they have always been there. As mentioned, the production utilises the original NWOBHM sound by creating a natural atmosphere that nurtures the melancholy-inflected heavy metal like a new-born demon babe, and there were times when I had to actually remind myself that the album was released this year and wasn’t one of the genre classics. Tracks like “I Am Infinity,” the doom-heavy “Condemned,” and the ripping album-opener “Don’t Turn Your Back” are some of the best that the band have ever released, a confirmation that classic heavy metal is truly alive and well in 2019.
Alongside fellow NWOBHM stalwarts Diamond Head, the ‘Witch have produced a smashing collection of songs to sit at the top of the 2019 pile. Angel Of Light is the true return of a band that many might have overlooked over the years, but this album will make sure that this never happens again. This is classic metalhead fodder that ensures the banging of the head and raising of the horns, so come jump in the fire.
And here’s a video for the ripping “Condemned”:
Angel Of Light Track Listing:
01. Don’t Turn Your Back
02. Death From Andromeda
03. We Are Damned
04. The Night Is Calling
06. Window Of Despair
07. I Am Infamy
08. Angel Of Light
Run Time: 47:43
Release Date: November 1, 2019
Record Label: Metal Blade Records