Review: Angel Witch – Angel Of Light

Metal Blade (November 1st 2019)

Reviewer: David Pearce

Angel Witch were formed in the mid-1970s and were part of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal alongside such stadium acts as Iron Maiden, Whitesnake and Def Leppard. Although they were never as successful, they were incredibly influential as hearing them encouraged Lars Ulrich to form Metallica. They have an interesting claim to fame as the least successful chart artists ever in the UK as their single Sweet Danger spent one week at Number 75, the lowest possible position for a registered chart entry. Of course, heavy metal is not a genre that gets a lot of chart time, so it’s a very poor indicator of quality! They have just released a new album ‘Angel of Light‘, so let’s see what has kept them going for so long.

The driving guitars and drums of ‘Don’t Turn your Back‘ start off the album in blistering fashion with echoes of both Iron Maiden and Judas Priest. It is a fantastic tune that explodes out of the speakers and immediately tells you that this isn’t a group resting on past glories.

The second track on the album is ‘Death from Andromeda‘ which coalesces round a driving, tribal percussion that gives Fredrik Jansson’s drumming a real urgency. It is a science fiction inspired song that leads into a chant of ‘Death from Andromeda‘ which will be shouted back at them by audiences wherever they play.

We are Damned‘ starts off with a guitar riff that sounds completely different from the usual driving guitar and gets the song into its stride from the first note. The vocals of Kev Heybourne are as good as any heavy metal singer going around and they give the song a real depth of quality.

The Night is Calling‘ is the seemingly obligatory metal ballad that appears on so many NWOBHM albums. Just as well its so good! Duelling guitars, brilliantly played by Will Palmer and Jimmy Martin lift this song above the mass of half-hearted ballads that you hear on the radio and it is pure class.

Condemned‘ continues the incredibly high quality of this release and makes you wonder if there’s a parallel universe where Angel Witch are playing massive stadiums and Iron Maiden are scraping a living whilst being seen as an inspiration by many other groups! It just seems so arbitrary at times, the way one group is successful and another, just as good, is largely ignored.

Window of Despair‘ is built round Jansson’s drumming once again as he shows that there are very few heavy metal drummers who can live with him. ‘I am Infamy‘ is a tune that starts off quietly then builds and builds really cleverly as it leads into Heybourne’s powerful spine-tingling vocals. ‘Angel of Light‘, the title track finishes this incredible album off in a blaze of glory.

All four members show their musical pedigree on this marvellous album and make it clear that far from being elder statesmen of the rock movement going through the motions, they are vibrant, energetic and as vital as they have ever been.

In the wake of their brand new album, ‘Angel Of Light‘ – already being described by some as the band’s finest work since the legendary debut – Angel Witch are proud to present their first bona fide music video since their eponymous single nearly forty years ago: the incendiary and extraterrestrial-themed ‘Death From Andromeda‘.

The handiwork of the Brighton-based production team Wild Stag Studio, this six minute piece forms a homage of sorts to the sci-fi and horror dreamworlds that have haunted the collective subconscious and fired the imagination of the band since its earliest incarnation.

Even before the day in 1979 when Kevin Heybourne used the recently viewed Alien as inspiration for the hellish guitar noise that kicks off “Baphomet”, the mystical aural landscapes that Angel Witch creates had always been heavily informed by futuristic dystopias, dark mythos and the kind of culture oft found in yellowing paperbacks, midnight movie screenings and on the flickering of small-hours television.

What’s more, whilst recording ‘Angel Of Light‘ in early 2019, the band were holed up together for three weeks in an AirBnB in Leeds, and found themselves spending most of their time in the evenings watching movies and TV, which naturally gravitated towards grand guignol horror and old-school sci-fi – from classics like ’60s Star Trek and the Hammer House Of Horror series to celluloid escapism from the sublime (The Devil Rides Out) to the ridiculous (Lair Of The White Worm).

Death From Andromeda‘ (with its lyrical influence drawn from the Michael Crichton 1969 novel The Andromeda Strain) reflects all these obsessions and more, a gloriously outlandish and suitably OTT journey into the trash and terror of the past, invoking the timeless headspace of eternal favourites like kitsch classic Barbarella, the fantastically overblown 1980 remake of Flash Gordon, the famously overambitious Starcrash, and the dark low-budget majesty of ’70s British classics such as Space 1999Dr. Who (with particular reference to the Tom Baker-era story Planet Of Evil).

To stream ‘Angel Of Light‘, head over to: metalblade.com/angelwitch – where the album can also be purchased in the following formats:
– digipak-CD
– deluxe box set (digipak CD, red/white/black marbled vinyl, 7″, flag, backpatch, art print – limited to 1000 copies)
– 180g black vinyl (EU exclusive)
– orange / purple marbled vinyl (EU exclusive – limited to 666 copies)
– signal orange vinyl (EU exclusive – limited to 400 copies)
– light yellow vinyl (EMP exclusive – limited to 200 copies)
– sungaze swirl vinyl (EU Webshop exclusive – limited to 100 copies)
– blue vinyl (High Roller exclusive – limited to 200 copies)
– clear vinyl (Band exclusive – limited to 100 copies)
– transparent red vinyl (US exclusive – limited to 700 copies)
– yellow / red marbled vinyl (US exclusive – limited to 300 copies)
* exclusive bundles with shirts, plus digital options are also available!

Angel Witch‘s current line-up is comprised of Kevin Heybourne (vocals, lead guitar), Jimmy Martin (rhythm guitar), Will Palmer (bass), Fredrik Jansson Punkka (drums) – the nucleus of which (Heybourne & Palmer) first formed eleven years ago, delivering 2012’s critically acclaimed album, ‘As Above, So Below‘. This time around, the band went to the Stationhouse in Leeds (UK) to record ‘Angel of Light‘ with producer James Atkinson (Gentleman’s Pistols/Voorhees). The result is a revelation; Angel Witch is reborn and more powerful than ever, retaining every iota of the melodious finesse and metaphysical intrigue that elevated them above their contemporaries from day one.

Be sure to catch Angel Witch at their release shows this weekend! See below for all dates:
Nov. 1 – Mannheim, Germany – 7er Club
Nov. 2 – Berlin, Germany – Cassiopeia
Nov. 3 – Köln, Germany – Helios 37

Line-up:
Kevin Heybourne – vocals, lead guitar
Jimmy Martin – rhythm guitar
Will Palmer – bass
Fredrik Jansson Punkka – drums

Official Website

Facebook

Instagram

Twitter

On November 1st, Angel Witch will release their fifth full-length, ‘Angel of Light‘, via Metal Blade Records. Angel Witch‘s 1980 eponymous debut on Bronze records created shockwaves that would resonate throughout the nascent realm of thrash, doom and death metal. Now, nearly four decades later, the band remain custodians of a style that transcends era and archetype.

Angel Witch‘s current line-up is comprised of Kevin Heybourne (vocals, lead guitar), Jimmy Martin (rhythm guitar), Will Palmer (bass), Fredrik Jansson Punkka (drums) – the nucleus of which (Heybourne & Palmer) first formed eleven years ago, delivering 2012’s critically acclaimed album, ‘As Above, So Below‘. This time around, the band went to the Stationhouse in Leeds (UK) to record ‘Angel of Light‘ with producer James Atkinson (Gentleman’s Pistols/Voorhees). The result is a revelation; Angel Witch is reborn and more powerful than ever, retaining every iota of the melodious finesse and metaphysical intrigue that elevated them above their contemporaries from day one.

Angel Witch comments: “It’s hard to believe it’s been almost a decade since we recorded our last album and it is so exciting for us, personally, to have another record fully finished and in the bag which reflects the passion and chemistry of the line-up we have enjoyed over the last two and a half years.

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 Infamy
8. Angel of Light

Angel Witch will play four German release shows, a rare chance to see them play small club. Do not miss out!
Oct. 31 – Hamburg, Germany – Knust
Nov. 1 – Mannheim, Germany – 7er Club
Nov. 2 – Berlin, Germany – Cassiopeia
Nov. 3 – Köln, Germany – Helios 37

Line-up:
Kevin Heybourne – vocals, lead guitar
Jimmy Martin – rhythm guitar
Will Palmer – bass
Fredrik Jansson Punkka – drums

Official Website

Facebook

Instagram

Twitter