Tuesday, 5 November 2019

ALBUM REVIEW: Angel Witch, "Angel of Light"

By: Richard Maw

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: Metal Blade Records
Label: 01/11/2019

“Angel of Light” CD//DD//LP track listing:

1. Don’t Turn Your Back
2. Death from Andromeda
3. We Are Damned
4. The Night Is Calling
5. Condemned
6. Window of Despair
7. I Am Infinity
8. Angel of Light

The Review:

Angel Witch are probably THE band that most will think of when it comes to NWOBHM bands that are not Maiden, Saxon or Leppard- with the possible exception of Diamond Head, of course. Their debut from four decades ago still crackles with arcane power and Kevin Heybourne remains something of a voice archetype for many trad doom bands. Their reactivation in 2012 with “As Above... So Below” was good- if a little meandering at points.

With “Angel of Light”, the band have delivered a strong and competent set of songs rooted in the early 80's Brit metal scene and with a warm and live production feel that suits the music down to a tee. Not for Angel Witch the pro-tools, triggers and processing of many modern metal releases. This sounds like a band playing their tracks in a large live room with a wooden floor and is all the better for it.

Opener “Don't Turn Your Back” is sprightly and hooky with plenty of punch and speed. “Death From Andromeda” takes a sci-fi turn and is a galloping riff fest- if a little overlong. It is perhaps a small criticism which could be levelled at much of the album; the songs are a little long, but then again, after seven years Heybourne and cohorts must have had a lot they wanted to lay down. It's not like Maiden are known for conciseness theses days and as for Leppard, well...

Elsewhere, the charming aspects of the band's debut are present; Heybourne's excellent wail, the sharp guitar work and weighty riffage. In fact, this record very much picks up where the debut or “As Above...” left off. It is especially pleasing that the rather doomy atmosphere of the debut is resurrected here. “We Are Damned” and “The Night is Calling” are very much cousins to Witchfinder General and myriad other doom inflected bands that came after- and the latter has a really nice riff and solo passage down the back stretch.

“Condemned” and “Window of Despair” pick up the metal pace with direct riffs and structures that will get your head banging, while maintaining that mournful vibe beloved by fans. “I am Infamy” is another rager with a nifty faded in intro. The title track just caps off this confident and expertly played comeback in style.

Thirty nine years on from the debut, Kevin Heybourne has proved he still has something to say musically and has delivered a very worthwhile fifth Angel Witch album. There is no place for disgrace here and this is better than “As Above...” which was in itself a solid and emphatic comeback. The songs may be a little overwrought in places and the band's sound as a whole may be an acquired taste, but for anyone who has ever chanted along to that chorus on the debut, drunk or otherwise, this is a rare and convincing treat. I hope they don't leave it so long next time, as it is clear that there is more music to come that deserves and needs to be heard.

“Angel of Light” is available HERE

Band info: bandcamp || facebook