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Angel Of Light
Metal Blade

After their unexpected return with As Above, So Below, we didn't hear much from the reincarnated Angel Witch, but given the band's past, it was clear that it could get reignited by founder Kevin Heybourne at any time. In the past few years, some Witch-worshipping successors popped up, such as the Bandcamp-famous Haunt, showing that Angel Witch's sound was still in great demand. Now the masters return with Angel of Light. It may be impossible for them to improve on their classic album, but it shows that the Heybourne hasn't lost his touch at all.

Don't Turn Your Back, certainly, goes a long way towards assuring the listener that this is so. Angel Witch was never a band that depended on speed for its impact, but the first few tracks' driving force, built on top of big, doomy riffs that sound as if they would be right at home in the classic era, definitely doesn't hurt. Heybourne's vocals, which have no more range than they did in days of yore, are also ageless; the man's taken good care of his vocal chords over the years. The Bandcamp blurb for the album boasts of authentic production values, and I must say that this doesn't seem to be idle talk: Few modern producers would be willing to put that much emphasis on the low end of the guitars, even if the metal style was supposed to be forty years old. If I heard this without knowing when it was made, I would presume it to be from the early 80s.

The songwriting sounds like it comes from the 80s, too. Some of these intros scream "old-time NWOBHM" so loudly that I caught myself wondering if Heybourne actually wrote these recently or if he pulled them out of cold storage a la Pentagram. Love-song themes inherited from hard rock in the band's early days are of course completely gone, but the tracks remain, if not radio-friendly, certainly more accessible than even many albums by modern heavy metal bands with retro influences; there is no attempt to build up a crushing atmosphere or an epic song structure. Everything on here is unadorned guitar-driven NWOBHM around 5-6 minutes in length. Heybourne's massive Marshall-powered overdrive does the rest; his vocals can get a little tiring through the album, but music-wise there isn't one song that falls flat here.

Which is how it ought to be. Younger bands are now carrying on Angel Witch's sound, and they have charms of their own, but Angel Witch's riff-filled latest offering continues to have a dark magic.

Andy quoted 86 / 100

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Angel Of Light
Metal Blade
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