Album Review: Angel Witch – As Above, So Below [9.5 out of 10]

By Andrew Bansal

One of the flag-bearers of the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal in its early stages, Angel Witch is a band that started out as far back as 1977. The South London-based outfit released three studio albums “Angel Witch”, “Screamin’ ‘n’ Bleedin'” and “Frontal Assault” in the 80’s, out of which the self-titled release is considered by many as a cult classic in this genre.

But then they faced a series of problems due to which they disappeared from the scene. Guitarist, singer and chief songwriter Kevin Heybourne recently reformed the band as a trio, with Andrew Prestidge on drums and Will Palmer on bass, while Bill Steer of Carcass fame is handling the duties of live second guitarist. They are now ready with the fourth Angel Witch studio album “As Above, So Below”, the first release after a gap of 26 long years. As someone who holds traditional heavy metal very close to heart, I must say I’m delighted to witness the rebirth of Angel Witch. Now, the only remaining question is, whether the album has actually turned out to be any good. The answer is emphatically in the affirmative.

Interestingly, even though all eight tracks on here are completely fresh releases, the album combines old and new incarnations of Angel Witch. Two of the tracks, “Dead Sea Scrolls” and “Witching Hour” date back to the band’s 1983-84 sessions, and two other tracks “Guillotine” and “Into The Dark” are even older. The remaining four tracks are newly written, though. These newly created tunes sound very much like what you’d expect from Angel Witch, but they are clearly different from the older tunes, which is only a natural thing.

Because of the vast number of years spanned by the album, the ordering of these tracks was very crucial, and I’m happy with the way the new tunes are intertwined with the older ones, giving the album the flow it should have to keep the listener’s attention throughout its 50-minute duration.

The album had me instantly hooked right from its first note, and other than a couple of brief segments here and there, it never let slip of its grip on me. These tunes exemplify the endearing qualities of traditional heavy metal, but in addition, they exude the uniquely dark aura of Angel Witch’s music, something that has always separated them from other bands in the NWOBHM movement. While I prefer and recommend listening to this album in its entirety, “Into The Dark” is the track that intrigued and impressed me the most on this release. This vintage tune combines classic rock with straight up traditional heavy metal, and its last couple of minutes can only be best described as a style that eventually evolved into thrash metal.

Credit obviously goes to Kevin Heybourne for recreating Angel Witch from the ashes and coming up with such an amazing album, but I would also like to give massive props to Metal Blade Records and Rise Above Records for supporting old school metal bands such as Angel Witch, and ensuring that this release sees the light of day. It’s important for the sake of traditional heavy metal that Angel Witch continues to make records, in the process not only putting forth their own music to the masses, but also inspiring and influencing a whole new generation of musicians.

Angel Witch is back, and has delivered an album brimful of heavy metal in its purest form.

Rating: 9.5/10

Record Label: Metal Blade/Rise Above
Release Date: March 27th 2012

Track Listing:
1. Dead Sea Scrolls
2. Into The Dark
3. Geburah
4. The Horla
5. Witching Hour
6. Upon This Cord
7. Guillotine
8. Brainwashed