For many of whom are already acquainted with this band, it is mostly considered to be a classic of the NWOBHM movement. I offer my concurrence. I think my initial interest stemmed from the very name. Angel Witch. It’s one of those monikers that you kinda feel cool to know. There’s nothing worse than admitting to a penchant for a band with some embarrassingly idiotic name. Well, here you needn’t worry. Angel Witch doesn’t offer much to be embarrassed about. That first moment of shredding early 80’s guitar invokes in me an unassailable feeling of invincible bad-assery as I blast it out of the apartment windows for all the boring ass neighbors to hear (and groan, and close their windows. Meh, fuck ‘em).
To be perfectly forthright about it, the first track “Angel witch” is probably their best. That doesn’t mean the rest suck; if this one is a 9, the rest are 8’s, that’s all. It’s just a good tune. Pulverizing guitar, fist-pumping drums, and Kevin Heyborne’s bizarre-but-ultimately-likable vocals screaming out, “You’re an angel witch, yooou’re an angel witch!” A goddamn classic. (But not so sacred that one can’t easily succumb to the temptation to replace the lyrics with, “You’re a skanky bitch, yooou’re a skanky bitch” or, “You’re a smelly cunt, yooou’re a smelly cunt”. Hmm… yeah… we get real intellectual ‘round here…)
Lyrically, there is a lot to do with fantastical love, life, and general (likely drug-induced) human confusion. The song “Confused” is an example of what happens when heavy metal splashes in the shallow end of existentialism. “They don’t understand me… they think I’ve gone insane… can’t they realize my pain… blah, blah, blah, I’m a selfish fuck.” I think I actually wrote a poem called “Confusion” when I was fifteen that sounds about like this. But whatever. People identify with that, and the music is rockin’.
Personally, one of my favourites is “Gorgon”. Fact: gorgons are cool. And cool to sing about. Thus, mathematically: Heavy metal + gorgon ÷ ear² = fucking awesome. (Yep, I was home-schooled, suckas).
“Angel witch” was one of the first NWOBHM seeds to really germinate, having come out the same year as Iron Maiden’s first album. They maintained real occult imagery, with a painting of Hell as a cover and Baphomet on the record. I think they were a bit unlucky with timing and circumstance, and for various reasons didn’t have that extra oomph required to really be pushed through to the top. But even when they (and by they I really mean mastermind, Heyborne) got pushed down, they got up and tried again. And they’re still going. This album is raw and ambitious; wonderfully unvarnished but reliable. Not bad for a band with two members named Kevin.
As much as they’re obviously not the most mind-blowing act to hit Earth, Angel Witch remains a valuable attribute to heavy metal history. And this album in particular proves this to be fact.