ANGEL WITCH - Angel Witch

Angel Witch FORMAT: CD
REALEASE DATE: 20.02.1980
RECORD COMPANY: Bronze Records
USERS RATING: 17 votes

Top 1980: #8
Angel Witch more
Kevin Heybourne - voce, chitara
Kevin Riddles - bas
Dave Hogg - tobe

01. Angel Witch02. Atlantis03. White Witch04. Confused05. Sorcerers06. Gorgon07. Sweet Danger08. Free Man09. Angel of Death10. Devil's Tower
It must be extremely frustrating to be in the right place at the right time, with the right sound, and despite all that, only become a footnote in the history of rock. This is the story of Angel Witch, one of the most promising bands of the NWOBHM, whose song Baphomet was included in the famous compilation Metal for Muthas(1980), but lineup instability, bad management and bad luck took it out of the game too early. The band still exists today (from the classic lineup, only Kevin Heybourne remains on vocals/guitar) and is even active live – in August, it took part in the Hole in the Sky Festival in Norway, together with Cathedral and Venom. But its names remains mainly connected to the eponymous debut album.


By 1979 – 1980, Angel Witch would share stages in underground British clubs with Iron Maiden, Girlschool, Def Leppard, Saxon and others; sometimes it would be said that they were the best; the legend says that, one evening when an EMI representative came to the club where they played to offer them a contract, the boys of Angel Witch got so drunk and played so badly that EMI finally chose to go with Maiden… and the rest is history. What is certain is that their first single Sweet Danger, was launched by EMI, but then the record company abandoned them. Angel Witch did however manage to release their first album in 1980, and this is what I want to talk about next.


The first impression is that you’re listening to a “Best of”: the songs are that good. To get an idea, imagine a more occult Judas Priest or a more polished Venom, something from Black Sabbath and some from Atomic Rooster, everything overlaid on the first two Iron Maiden albums. But Angel Witch were anything but a copycat. They came from the same melting pot as Maiden, where blues elements from the sound of last decade’s great bands were melting in the aggression and ethics of DIY punk. On Angel Witch, we have 10 pieces of classic metal, with heavy riffs, catchy choruses and dark lyrics, and at least some of them are worth including in any heavy metal anthology: Atlantis (a fast and heavy piece, resembling Priest), White Witch (another fast song, must have been awesome live), Sorcerers (elaborate atmosphere, Sabbath-style), Free Man (with solos that seem to say that the 70s are not that far), Sweet Danger (a pure example of NWOBHM), Angel of Death (not the one by Slayer, but a good precursor). And, of course, Angel Witch, with an instantly recognizable riff that has its place next to Number of the Beast or Breaking the Law.


After the first album, the band fell apart and then reformed, released a few more albums, tried to move to the US, then broke up again and so on. They missed the train, but they did earn, in time, their status as a cult band.

Gedi more Nota: 10

Angel Witch is one of the most important names of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, as important as Judas Priest, Iron Maiden or Saxon. And this despite the fact that they have a relatively low amount of releases compared to the three other names. Angel Witch is one of those bands, like Pentagram or The Obsessed, that did not need too many records to come into their own as musicians and reach maturity, as Judas Priest did, for example. I am not looking to discredit Rob Halford & co. in anyway, or to sing praises to Kevin Heybourne & co., as Sad Wings of Destiny(1976), Sin After Sin (1977), Killing Machine (1978) still remain milestones of heavy metal. Why did I not include British Steel (1980) in the equation? Because British Steel is even more special, it is for Priest what Angel Witch is for Angel Witch. An absolute classic!

The music of Angel Witch has something of the dark atmosphere of the early years of Black Sabbath, enriched with Deep Purple-like technique and slow passages reminding Led Zeppelin. From the lyrics with a strong bias towards fantastic or occult subjects, to the cutting riffs and sometimes doomy solos of Kevin Heybourne, something makes Angel Witch, somehow special for the NWOBHM. Of course, one cannot deny influences from Iron Maiden, Saxon, Motorhead, Venom or Judas Priest (I know, the list is much longer) in the NWOBHM. But titles like Angel Witch, White Witch, Sweet Danger or Angel of Death, to name just a few of the songs included on this record, presented an approach that was as solid as their predecessors, but with a different attitude and dynamics compared to their contemporaries.

And if we spoke of bands that influenced Angel Witch, at the opposite end we find bands that admit to have been influenced by Angel Witch, such as Metallica, Slayer, Testament or Triptykon, i.e. not exactly small-timers when it comes to metal sounds.

To conclude, all I have left to say is that the debut album of Angel Witch is a must-have and must-listen for any fan of heavy metal, for anyone who wants to have a complete overview of the genre, of what NWOBHM really meant.

H. more Nota: 10

Posted at 23:10 |  22 Noiembrie 2010  | 3 Comments  | 4238 Views

Comment on: Angel Witch

  • Hellhammer, cum naiba sa le trebuiasca Priestilor multe albume sa se maturizeze? Al doilea album a fost Sad Wings, care e probabil atat cel mai matur al lor cat si cel mai inovator si de altfel unul din cele mai importante albume din metal ever. Nu poti sa zici de o trupa al carei al doilea album e un monstru ca SWOD ca s-a maturizat greu, ce naiba, e fractura logica! Cat despre British Steel, e f overrated si sub restul de albume ale lor din anii 70, exceptie Rocka Rolla.

    Angel Witch rulz, debutul e de nota 10, dar nici Screeming n Bleeding si Frontal Assault nu-s de lepadat deloc.

    1. Posted by JudasRising | 30 Noiembrie 2010 09:53
  • @JudasRising: 'Sad Wings of Destiny' este un album bun atat pentru Priest cat si pentru heavy metal, insa consider ca 'British Steel' si 'Painkiller' sunt discurile care definesc cel mai bine Judas Priest. 'British Steel' pentru Priest este la fel de importat precum este 'Angel Witch' pentru Angel Witch, 'Toys in the Attic' pentru Aerosmith sau 'Stay Hungry' pentru Twisted Sister.

    2. Posted by Hellhammer_x09 | 01 Decembrie 2010 04:18
  • Hellhammere, British Steel nu numai ca este ultra mega overrated, dar e albumul prin care Priest intra in zona mainstream, radio-friendly, de tip disco-metal (United, Living After Midnight, apoi Heading Out To The Highway, etc), areal in care si-au pierdut anii 80, adica exact decada de aur a metalului.

    JR, cam ce e inovator in Sad Wings?

    3. Posted by Piece of Mind | 06 Decembrie 2010 14:47

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