Witchfynde were always unsung heroes of N.W.O.B.H.M. and their self released “Give ‘Em Hell” album was in every tribute, in every magazine Ι’ve purchased since the 90’s, whether the subject was N.W.O.B.H.M., evil covers, or the year 1980 (and how important albums it gave us). Amongst other, greater than life albums that were released the same year, Witchfynde always managed to make it to the list of the most remarkable releases of the era, of the year or of the genre. Their debut might be a small triumph for the band, but it’s still not my favorite one by them. Now that I’m thinking about it, it reminded me of a conversation I had with my friend pop instead, great music journalist and N.W.O.B.H.M. aficionado, that was talking about how great of an album this is while at the same time mocking Tygers of Pan Tang for being too soft and too pop, compared to early Witchfynde. In 1981 Def Leppard, who shared the stage with Witchfynde were sailing to U.S.A. to conquer the world, which eventually resulted to N.W.O.B.H.M. changing rapidly; Witchfynde wrote new songs emphasizing on melodies and catchy rhythms. Most likely the band was getting tired of playing the same songs over and over, since their early material was written somewhere between 1975 and 1979 , while at the same time, they wanted something new to help restart their career. Luther Beltz replaced original singer Steve Bridges and Pete “Thud” Surgey also replaced Andro Coulton, their original bass player. Eventually, they managed to sign a contract with Rondolet Records and their new melodic album titled “Stagefright”, came to fruition. Die-hards were disappointed from this new musical approach. Honestly I don’t get why, the album may be a bit more bluesy but has a nice feeling and is more hard rock oriented, it is a really nice effort over all. But I guess less satanic imagery, the more radio-focused compositions, their new vocalist (with a more 70’s Rob Halford like voice) and a couple of slow songs, confused their loyal fanbase. But my favorite album, and definitely much better than its predecessor, is their third record. 1983’s “ Cloak & Dagger” with the same line up, even though silly enough the band claimed that they had a new singer, that turned out to be Chalky White, but without his awkward nickname that he introduce himself with. The new album was a commercial disaster despite its excellent material. Even with their new record label Eruption being smarter than their previous (Rondolet Records that went bankrupt), it still wasn’t big enough to aid the band to grow more. “ Cloak & Dagger” has some awesome tunes with choruses that get stuck on your mind, warm vocals with some falsettos here and there, used in a smart way. The production is clean, with none of the instruments overpowering each other and it is 100% analog, which may new-school listeners will probably find weak; but it’s not, you’re just too fuckin digital to appreciate it. All songs are gritty, dirty and have accessible choruses and nice, boogie and groovy rhythm. As “Stagefright” was marked a big change in their sound cloak is a bit safer for them and might be more in their comfort zone, but is also daring in terms of how ballsy it sounds. “Cry Wolf”, “Crystal Gazing”, “I’d Rather Go Wild”, “Living For Memories” (for broken hearts anthem) and “Somewhere to Hide” have all the potential of making you sweat and to be singles (only “I’d Rather Go Wild” was released as a 7” single before the album with “Cry Wolf” as a B’ side), while the self titled song has this “Priest meets Saxon” feeling about it and it’s made to be a sing along song in live performances. All songs follow different patterns and show multilevel influences. Even though, sometimes, I wish I could listen to more riffs, the charismatic performance of Luther Beltz mesmerized me and captured perfectly the spirit of this album. Definitely an underrated album, that deserves your attention as a truly unsung hero of straightforward N.W.O.B.H.M..