Most likely you’re wondering, what more could I possibly have to say about an album, that was released 37 whole years ago? Is there anything, that yet another review -amongst the plethora of them- can offer, on such an iconic, classic and loved by fans, release? Probably nothing, or maybe there is something, who knows?
Typically, one would review a new release, to promote and bring light to it, because it’s, as I said new, but…sometimes, you want to write about those albums that became the “soundtrack” of half of your life, those bands that you got so hooked up with, like no other, for those logos that decorated every school book you ever owned. Just because you feel the need to talk about it. Angel Witch, were all those things for me. As you probably already guessed, this review is definitely not unbiased, it’s made by a fan for the fans, possibly written in a very quaint way, you’ll be the judge. If anything, we are fans, and Metal Invader is giving us that needed space to express ourselves!
And now that I’m done with this huge prologue, let’s start from the beginning. England, December of 1980 and everything started with the self-titled anthem “Angel Witch”. A song that some of us can’t stand to listen to anymore, because 1.000.000 times were enough, and come on, they have so many epic tracks other than this one, but still, we all know that it is a one-of-a-kind song, that words can’t really describe… That “something” in the melody and vocals, that you can never ignore, even the 1.000.001th time you’re listening to it. It’s the definition of a hit song! The brilliant debut album of these British guys, contiues with “Atlantis” and its incredible energy and characteristic guitars, let’s be honest now, who didn’t put his fist in the air, shouting “To Rise!”, while listening to this song?And before you even get the chance to breathe, “White Witch” starts, one of fans’ favorite, amazing solos and a slow part that gives you goosebumps, every damn time! Drumming here is unique in my opinion and fit perfectly with the general feel of the song. Next is “Confused” that even though musically,is following the same pattern, lyrically, it swifts away from occultism for a while, with its timeless lyrics, that manage to remain relevant 37 years later.“Sorceress”brings us back to the mood, slow and dark, it manages to transcend you among the tombs of the long-haired witch, until the kickass solo that follows, wakes you up. Your awakening though, is notcoincidental at all. There is a reason and that reason is called motherfucking “Gorgon”! Ok, you guessed it, “Gorgon” is my favorite track of the album, actually, my favorite song of ALL albums (along with “Loser”) … It starts cunningly and calm, and all of a sudden that doom-bringing “more evil than the devil” woman appears in front of you, accompanied by hellish riffing, but instead of turning you to stone, she turns you into a head-banging maniac! I feel that I’m not worthy enough to even begin describing this track. And no, you’re not getting a chance to breathe afterwards, either, because “Sweet Danger” starts, such a “hit” song (excuse the term) that it’s going to play in your head, even when you’re sleeping. Kickass drumming and Kevin on the vocals, giving his best, once more. The only ballad of the album comes next, titled “Free Man”.
Generally, without trying to sound “tough” (I’m not anyways), I don’t really like ballads or cheesy songs. “Free Man” is one of the exceptions. It’s special to me not only because I relate to the lyrics a lot, but also because of its dynamics and tempo variations, the fact that it remains steely even in its slowest parts, in a unique way, while Kevin’s vocals are at their best. “Angel of Death” is definitely the “way ahead of its time” track of this album. Angel Witch in general were way ahead of their time and undoubtedly the 9th track is the best example of that. Perfect from beginning to end, with its characteristic falsettos, it’s one of those anthems that gave Angel Witch their status. The closing track is the instrumental “Devil’s Tower”, which even though it draws inspiration from the previous decade, musically, but also structurally (it was released on the verge of two decades), it’s also soaked in the darkness that the pioneers Angel Witch, were known for.
It’s a tough challenge and I’m going to fail, if I try to answer to why this album is one of the most important pieces of N.W.O.B.H.M. history. It’s not one single thing that makes it so special, it’s all the aforementioned. Catchy choruses, a trio of talented musicians, intensity, simplicity and maturity.
The great painting on the cover is attributed to John Martin (England, 1789-1854) and is titled “The Fallen Angels Entering the Pandemonium”, though for some, its origin remains a mystery.
“Angel Witch” is a monumental album, or, to take this even further, is a piece of history itself. In this album, you can “hear” the sound ofprevious decade, that of the 70s’, on the same time you’re witnessing the birth of a genre, while you’re taking a glimpse of the future of Metal.
Grade: A NOT BIASED 6,6/6
Label: Bronze Records