Angel Witch – Angel of Light (Metal Blade)Thursday, 31st October 2019
Those ardent followers of metal know Angel Witch is one of the premiere bands in the NWOBHM movement – their self-titled debut from 1980 a classic for many in the traditional sector. Only guitarist/vocalist Kevin Heybourne remains from the many 70’s/80’s incarnations of the group – although surrounding himself with solid players in bassist Will Palmer, drummer Fredrik Jansson and second guitarist Jimmy Martin currently. It’s been seven years since the last Angel Witch album As Above, So Below – so hopes are high that the evil edge against addictive, charging riffs and sinister melodies continues for the band’s fifth studio record Angel of Light.
The guitars continue to carry the workload in a tight, push and pull manner much like Kevin’s penchant for taking his cues from Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, and Judas Priest for heaviness and progressive qualities. It’s why they are able to convey a clean to electric epic nature in “The Night Is Calling” just as easily as the straightforward rhythm salvos for the energetic opener “Don’t Turn Your Back”. The sound and tones keep up that older ethos, leaning in a raw, primitive manner where the snare/kick has proper punch without digital overload – along with the pounding bass and guitar girth to drive home these songs effectively. Kevin’s voice has that gripping quality and charisma that sets him apart from the pack – equal to the task against the rumbling riff charge for “Window of Despair” as a second half highlight. There are a few times early on in the record where the choruses seem too repetitive and monotonous – “Death from Andromeda” an easy offender in a similar fashion as latter-day Iron Maiden in this regard. The looming doom cauldron swirl that builds for “I Am Infamy” takes plenty of Sabbath-like liberties, a swinging affair that should align well with Angel Witch mavens, a headbangers’ delight.
Angel of Light for 2019 is a solid heavy metal record but can’t eclipse the legendary status that put songs like “Angel Witch” and “Gorgon” in the annals of history for the band. The fact that they are still around putting out quality songs this deep into their career speaks volumes to the passion and art of the genre – and hopefully result in a few more studio records before retirement.