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Angel Witch: Angel Witch-25th Anniversary Expanded Edition

If nothing else, the New Wave of British Heavy Metal trio Angel Witch proved that you don't have to sell millions of records to be an enormous influence many years after the fact. Despite releasing a classic album in 1980, Angel Witch quickly sank without a trace and when they did resurface several years later with less than stellar material, frankly no one cared. Yet bands such as Metallica, Slayer, Trouble, Candlemass and a whole slew of metal bands regardless of subgenre (thrash, death metal, prog metal) have frequently cited Angel Witch as a major impact in their respective musical developments.

Led by guitarist/vocalist Kevin Heybourne, the music of Angel Witch was clearly inspired by the likes of Black Sabbath and Uriah Heep, but contained the energy of the first Iron Maiden album. Under review is the current CD issue of the debut album with tons of concurrent bonus material bearing the moniker 25th Anniversary Expanded Edition. The album proper consists of ten tracks and while most of the songs are in the 4-minute range, the band makes every second of every song count in a fresh and unique way. From the opening self titled anthem-which you will never be able to get out of your head, by the way-to the closing too brief sinister instrumental "Devil's Tower", one can only shrug their shoulders in disbelief that these guys never hit the big time. Themes of death, destruction, black magic and witchcraft permeate the album and it ain't a pretty picture.

Songs like "White Witch", "Free Man" and most especially the jaw dropping "Sorcerers" are tinged with progressive rock structures and even a bit of keyboards here and there. Indeed the latter track is worthy of the best Uriah Heep, with Heybourne doing a convincing David Byron falsetto shriek while bassist/keyboardist Kevin Riddles lays down some Ken Hensley like Hammond organ during the huge finish. But if concise and catchy is your thing, "Confused", "Sweet Danger" and the classic title track will fit the bill.

Equally impressive are the bonus tracks. Consisting of singles, b-sides and radio appearances, you won't want to press the Stop button on your CD player just yet. Instrumental "Dr. Phibes", the energetic "Flight Nineteen" and the awesome early Sabbath style crunch of "Baphomet" are as essential as the debut album. The CD ends with a few songs performed for the BBC Friday Rock Show in 1980, three of which are from the album but appear in rawer grittier form to give one an idea of what Angel Witch must have sounded like live.

Sanctuary has done a great job with this anniversary remaster. There's an excellent lengthy essay, a few contemporaneous and none too kind reviews and some photographs as well. Whether you missed out the first time all those years ago or you're looking to revisit a lost classic, 25th Anniversary Expanded Edition is essential.

Track Listing

Original Album

  1. Angel Witch
  2. Atlantis
  3. White Witch
  4. Confused
  5. Sorcerers
  6. Gorgon
  7. Sweet Danger
  8. Free Man
  9. Angel of Death
  10. Devil's Tower
Bonus Non-Album Tracks
  1. Loser (7 inch a-side)
  2. Suffer (7 inch b-side)
  3. Dr. Phibes (b side)
  4. Flight Nineteen (b side)
  5. Baphomet (from Metal for Muthas LP compilation)
  6. Hades Paradise (12 inch single B-side)
BBC Friday Rock Show Session 14-3-1980
  1. Sweet Danger
  2. Angel of Death
  3. Extermination Day
  4. Angel Witch

Added: June 30th 2007
Reviewer: Steve Pettengill
Related Link: Sanctuary Records Web Page
Hits: 3073
Language: english

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