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ANGEL WITCH (As Above, So Below) LP/CD

ANGEL WITCH aren't my favorite NWOBHM band (those are Witchfinder General, Holocaust, Blitzkrieg, and Diamond Head in particular), but nevertheless I like their self-titled debut record that has been released in 1980. Just like so many other heavy metal bands from that period of time, ANGEL WITCH never made a commercial breakthrough in the 1980's but remained an insider's tip over the last decades. Another factor that rendered the situation more complicated was that the last studio album 'Frontal Assault' was released 26 years ago. Only in the past few years, ANGEL WITCH have aroused considerable attention, particularly among younger people, whereby especially their performance at Roadburn 2009 has helped them to recruit new fans. That's what I assume, at least.

So, what could be more appropriate than going back to the roots and to record a new album. The result is 'As Above, So Below' and its much better than expected, even if vocalist/guitarist Kevin Heybourne is the only original member. The rest of the band is made up of drummer Andrew Prestidge and bassist Will Palmer (ex-Mourn, ex-Sloth), supported by guest guitarist Bill Steer (ex-Carcass, Firebird, Gentleman's Pistols). It seems to me that Steer had a considerable influence on a few songs, if there were not the characteristic vocals of Heybourne which remind me that this is ANGEL WITCH and not a more metallic version of Firebird. Despite all of this, ANGEL WITCH has managed to build a bridge between their iconic debut and the present times.

Especially songs such as 'Guillotine', 'Brainwashed' or 'Upon This Cord' enthuse me because of their powerful, rough riffing and the addictive hooklines. Kevin Heybourne's vocals are still in good condition, and also his guitar work leaves nothing to complain about. The album's track listing consists of old and new songs, but there is no difference with regards to quality. Everything is cast from the same mold. Overall, this is by far the best ANGEL WITCH studio album since the debut, and I think that old and new fans will enjoy 'As Above, So Below'.