Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Initial Impressions: Angel Witch: Angel Witch

For some reason, a lot of the bands from the NWOBHM have not become real well-known. Oh sure, there are the huge bands that everyone knows like Iron Maiden, Def Leppard (early years), and Motorhead. And there is the second tier of bands that most metalheads have heard of, like Venom, Saxon, Diamond Head, Blitzkrieg, and Girlschool. But there were a ton of NWOBHM bands. Many of whom only released a 7 inch vinyl single. Angel Witch is one of the second tier bands. They are reasonably well-known, mostly because of this album, their debut release. Dave Mustaine of Megadeth even recently appeared on the cover of an issue of Decibel wearing an Angel Witch t-shirt.

This is the third reissue of the album, labelled the 25th Anniversary Edition. The album came out in 1980 with ten tracks. In 1990, it was reissued with an additional three tracks. In 2000, it was reissued again with three more tracks in addition to the other thirteen. Then in 2005, this edition was released with four more tracks, bringing the total to 20 and 78 minutes of music. That's probably a bit much.

The music is fairly typical for the NWOBHM: fast riffs, catchy choruses, higher register vocals, short songs, and an overall lively sound. The NWOBHM for the most part brought speed to heavy metal. Bands played faster than the original metal band Black Sabbath. It's why the genre was so instrumental in the formation of thrash.

The best song on the album is the title track "Angel Witch" which has become a classic track and even appeared on the Brutal Legend soundtrack. It represents an almost perfect view of the NWOBHM in general. It features all of the well-known qualities of the music. The rest of the songs follow in much the same formula.

In recent months, I have worked to become better acquainted with the 1980's metal scene in general. In particular, the NWOBHM has been a goal. This album is one of the best representations of that genre for good reason. It is essential listening for anyone interested in the short-lived NWOBHM.

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