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.

Metal Blade Records is proud to welcome Dvne to its worldwide roster! Founded in 2013, Dvne is a 5-piece progressive rock/metal band from Edinburgh, Scotland. With highly dynamic compositions venturing from delicate and intricate melodies to crushing and brutal soundscapes, Dvne‘s music takes its listeners through a deeply emotional journey filled with dystopian thematics, grand narrative, and other-worldly landscapes. Fans can expect their upcoming 2nd full-length album – and Metal Blade debut – in 2020.

Dvne comments: “We are over the moon to announce that we have joined forces with Metal Blade Records. Working with such a legendary label and being among so many bands that have inspired us throughout the years is a huge honor.
Having just finished recording our next album, we are beyond thrilled on how far we’ve pushed our music and ourselves, and can’t wait to unveil it to you all with the support of one of the most iconic record labels in heavy music.”

To date, Dvne has released one studio album and two EPs. They emerged within the UK scene with their first EP ‘Progenitor‘ (2013 – Wasted State Records), shortly followed by a second EP, ‘Aurora Majesty‘ (2014 – Sea of Corruption Records). At their releases, both EPs received very favorable receptions, with reviewers calling their releases “Progressive metal at its best” (This Is Not A Scene – US) and “Stunning and majestic” (Nine Hertz – UK).

Dvne quickly began to make a name for themselves in the UK and around Europe, with various shows throughout these territories alongside the likes of Eyehategod, Crowbar, Dragged Into Sunlight, among others. The band’s sound at the time was already crossing over different music styles, including post-metal, progressive rock and sludge metal, but it is with their first full-length album, ‘Asheran‘ (Wasted State Records), that the band further established their unique blend of heavy music. Released in August 2017, ‘Asheran‘ was overwhelmingly praised by the press and was listed on many “best album of the year” lists.

Since ‘Asheran”s release, Dvne has toured all over the UK, Europe and North America, appearing at prestigious festivals such as Psycho Las Vegas, Desertfest London and Inferno Festival Norway. Not content to repeat their previous releases and always looking to push their sound forward, Dvne recently finished recording their 2nd album at Chamber Studio with producer Graeme Young. This new 10 track journey will be released worldwide via Metal Blade Records in 2020. Stay tuned for more news coming soon!

Line-up
Victor Vicart – guitar, vocals, keys
Dudley Tait – drums
Daniel Barter – guitar, vocals
Jack Kavanagh – bass
Richard Matheson – keys

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Phoenix-based thrash icons, Sacred Reich are thrilled to announce the return of former drummer Dave McClain to their ranks, following his departure from Bay Area metal outfit Machine Head last month after 23 years on the drum throne. Before joining Machine Head, McClain played drums for Sacred Reich for four years between 1991 and 1995.

Sacred Reich’s frontman and bassist, Phil Rind comments:

It is with great pleasure that we announce that Dave McClain is once again a member of Sacred Reich! This was the best case scenario that we could have hoped for. Dave is the best! A great drummer and a great person and we are beyond excited to welcome him back to the band. We’re headed into the studio in February and can’t wait for you all to hear our new record due in the Summer of 2019!

Dave echoes the sentiment, stating:

I’m so excited about re-joining my brothers in Sacred Reich. To have the opportunity to make and play music with one of my favorite metal bands was always something I hoped could happen. I can’t wait for everyone to hear the new album that we’re recording in February and to come see us out on the road in 2019-2020.

As well as new album plans for 2019 through Metal Blade, Sacred Reich are currently planning their live schedule for next year and into 2020. Stay tuned for more news from the Reich soon.

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'Flotsam And Jetsam'

Flotsam And Jetsam have released their first full video promo for the track ‘Life Is A Mess‘ off their new self-titled album.

Flotsam And Jetsam is a band from Phoenix, Arizona with a legacy that goes back well over 30 years.  Originally signed to Metal Blade records in the mid 80’s, the band released their highly acclaimed debut ‘Doomsday for The Deceiver‘ in July of 1986.   At this time the band consisted of Eric AK Knutson (Vox), guitarists Michael Gilbert and Edward Carlson, and founding members Kelly David Smith (Dr) and bassist Jason Newsted.  Soon after the release of DFTD, Newsted left the group to join Metallica shortly after the passing of their bassist Cliff Burton.   Shortly after, Flotsam hired bassist Michael Spencer (Sentinel Beast) and continued to tour and write for their next album, ‘No Place For Disgrace‘.

In May of 1988 NPFD was released on Elektra records, but not without member changes once again in the bass department.  Troy Gregory soon took over for Spencer who departed after a fall 1987 tour.  Spencer would return years later.  Even with the line-up changes, NPFD proved to be a thrash masterpiece that was embraced by fans around the globe. The band would even re-record this album a few decades later.
Flotsam’s next record ‘When the Storm Comes Down‘ followed in 1989 on MCA, and it’s exhausting tour schedule caused Gregory to depart by the end of the album cycle.

In 1992, the band released another landmark record in ‘Cuatro‘, along with new bassist Jason Ward.  This lineup finally solidified the band for a good 5 years and also became known to fans as the ‘Cuatro lineup‘.  Over the course of the next few years the band would release the albums ‘Drift‘ and ‘High‘ before drummer Smith and guitarist Gilbert decided to depart for personal reasons.

Over the course of the next decade Flotsam And Jetsam stayed the course with Eric AK and Ed Carlson being the only members from the “80’s era”, and released four more studio albums with drummer Craig Neilsen and guitarist Mark Simpson and Ward through the late 2000’s.

In 2011, Gilbert and Smith returned to the band along with the rumour that Newsted might rejoin as well.  Due to personal commitments, Newsted stayed out, Ward stayed in, and the ‘Cuatro lineup’ released ‘Ugly Noise‘ in December of 2012.  Shortly after touring for the record, Carlson left due to shoulder pain and was replaced by Steve Conley from the band F5.  Ward left shortly into the tour cycle only to be replaced by the returning Michael Spencer.  Throughout 2013 and 2014 the band did more touring to once again re-establish their career, and re-recorded and released the classic ‘No Place for Disgrace‘ album.   Shortly after touring for NPFD 2014 original drummer Kelly Smith left once again and was replaced by longtime friend Jason Bittner (Shadows Fall) in the winter of 2014.

In theory, the band Flotsam And Jetsam started in January 2015 when Eric AK, Mike Gilbert, Michael Spencer, Steve Conley and Jason Bittner got in a room together to start rehearsing for upcoming 2015 European tour dates, and to commence writing for the band’s next record.  Initially the band concentrated on the back catalogue and most recent setlists to make sure the touring obligations would be fulfilled, and the band was comfortable playing together.  Soon after, the band focused on it’s writing and started pre-production for the new songs that were taking shape.  After a 5 month initial writing process, the band completed 18 rough ideas to start having Bittner track drums to.  At first the band thought about a double release, but realized it would be better to concentrate on an album’s worth of killer material by what essentially is a new band with a 30-year history.

After picking the final songs, the band compiled some demos to start gathering label and producer interest.  Shortly following summer festivals, a short US tour, and another fall European headline tour, the band finally secured Chris Collier (Prong/KXM) to produce the band’s “return to form”, as well as AFM records to provide the much needed label support that the metal veterans required.

The end result is the self- titled effort Flotsam And Jetsam which is the culmination of a year of hard work which shows five very distinct personalities and influences come together for the common goal of creating another soon to be metal classic, as well as another pillar in the foundation of a band that has managed to stay alive and current amongst an ever-changing music scene.

Track list:

  1. Seventh Seal
  2. Life Is A Mess
  3. Taser
  4. Iron Maiden
  5. Verge Of Tragedy
  6. Creeper
  7. L.O.T.D.
  8. The Incantation
  9. Monkey Wrench
  10. Time To Go
  11. Smoking Gun
  12. Forbidden Territories

In addition to being available as a digipak CD, the album is also be available as a limited gatefold 2LP edition in black and gold, both limited to 500 copies.

A limited edition boxset (500 copies) will also be released and includes the digipak, a Flotsam And Jetsam flag (official tour backdrop design), patch, printed autograph card, and certificate of authenticity. Order details can be found at the AFM Records Shop.

Line up:

Eric “AK” Knutson – vocals
Steve Conley – guitars
Michael Gilbert – guitars
Michael Spencer – bass
Jason Bittner – drums

Flotsam And Jetsam

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