Angel Witch: Angel Witch-80’s-1980.

Angel Witch are a British heavy metal band which formed in London, England in 1976 as part of the new wave of British heavy metal (NWOBHM) movement.[1]

The band formed, originally under the name of Lucifer, of guitarist and vocalist Kevin Heybourne, guitarist Rob Downing, drummer Steve Jones, and bassist Barry Clements. Lucifer split and Steve Jones joined Bruce Dickinson to form Speed. The remnants of Lucifer became Angel Witch, with the exceptions of Clements, who was replaced by Kevin Riddles, and Steve Jones, who was replaced by Steve Coleman. The following year Rob Downing left the band.

Angel Witch’s first song to achieve mainstream popularity was “Baphomet”, which was included on a compilation titled Metal for Muthas. This song drew a fair amount of attention to the band, and they eventually signed a recording deal with EMI. However, the deal was soon cancelled, due to manager Ken Heybourne refusing to hand Angel Witch over to professional management, and performance of their first single released under the EMI label in 1980, which was entitled “Sweet Danger” and lasted a single week on the UK Singles Chart.[2] This was their only UK chart listing and despite being quite an achievement for a NWOBHM group, spending a single week at No. 75 (the lowest position in the charts)[3] meant they were listed as the ‘least successful chart act of all time’ in the Guinness Book of Hit Records. This same feat was repeated by fellow NWOBHM group Grand Prix with their Keep On Believing 7″ in 1983.[4]

In 1980, Bronze Records picked up the band and they soon proceeded to record and release their debut album, self-titled Angel Witch.[2] This album is considered one of the most notable from the new wave of British heavy metal,[by whom?] but subsequent to the album’s release, the band’s structure began to fall apart. The sacking of Dave Hogg, and Kevin Riddles leaving the band to join Tytan, and despite Heybourne’s attempts to continue Angel Witch with other musicians, the end of the band was declared and he joined Deep Machine.

Angel Witch returned to activity on 1982, when Heybourne and two musicians from Deep Machine – namely vocalist Roger Marsden and drummer Ricky Bruce – left to assemble a new Angel Witch line-up together with bassist Jerry Cunningham. This line-up lasted a very short time, as Marsden’s voice did not fit the style of the band very well. He was fired from the band and Heybourne assumed the vocals once more.

By 1983, the band had ceased its activities, and Heybourne moved to Blind Fury. In 1984, Angel Witch was once more brought to life, this time with the help of bassist Peter Gordelier (ex-Marquis De Sade), singer Dave Tattum and with Dave Hogg returning to the drums.[2] This line-up recorded the album Screamin’ N’ Bleedin’.[2] Dave Hogg was sacked yet again. He was replaced by Spencer Hollman.[2] With the new drummer they recorded Frontal Assault,[2] which deviated heavily from Angel Witch’s previous albums, having many melodic elements.

Dave Tattum was released the same year and for a few years Angel Witch played as a trio on sporadic live performances. In 1989, they recorded a new live album, entitled simply Live.[2]

Heybourne decided that it was in the band’s best interest to move to the United States, but the other members had no way of accomplishing that, having stable lives on their home country. Thus, an American incarnation of Angel Witch was born. It was composed of Heybourne, bassist Jon Torres (Lȧȧz Rockit, Ulysses Siren), drummer Tom Hunting (Exodus) and guitarist Doug Piercy (Heathen, Anvil Chorus). This line-up functioned quite well, and soon the band had booked a fair number of shows throughout the US. However, it was found that Heybourne had some pending issues regarding immigration, and he was arrested one day before the first concert of the band. Without Heybourne, Angel Witch was soon dissolved.

After the release of the Resurrection compilation in 2000, the band intended to play together once more, but after a series of internal conflicts, Heybourne assembled yet another line-up, with new members.

They were on the bill for the traditional Orange Goblin Christmas show at The Camden Underworld, London, on Saturday 20 December 2008.

In 2009, their eponymous song “Angel Witch” was featured on the soundtrack of the action-adventure videogame, Brütal Legend.

In 2011, Angel Witch entered in the studio to record their fourth studio album, entitled As Above, So Below. It was recorded with Kevin Heybourne on guitar and vocals, Will Palmer on the bass guitar, Bill Steer on the guitar, and Andrew Prestidge on the drums. They also returned to playing live, with a second stage headline slot at Bloodstock Open Air in 2011.[5]

One-time Angel Witch bassist Jon Torres died on 3 September 2013 of a reported heart failure. He was 51 years old.[6]

The band continues to tour and play festivals.[7][8]

On 30 August 2019, the band released a new single, ‘Don’t Turn Your Back’, which subsequently debuted at number 17 on the Kerrang! Rock Chart before rising to 14 in its second and final week.[9]

Discography:

1978 DemoDemo1978 
Demo 1979Demo1979 
Sweet DangerSingle1980
Sweet DangerEP1980 
Angel WitchSingle1980 
Angel WitchFull-length1980
Give It Some TickleDemo1981 
LoserSingle1981
Demo #3Demo1983 
GoodbyeSingle1985 
Screamin’ N’ Bleedin’Full-length1985
Doctor PhibesCompilation1986 
Frontal AssaultFull-length1986
PsychopathicDemo1987 
Frontal AssaultCompilation1988 
Screamin’ AssaultCompilation1988 
Twist of the KnifeDemo1990 
Angel Witch LiveLive album1990 
’82 RevisitedLive album1996 
ResurrectionDemo1998 
British Steel: Heavyweights of Metal Live & LoudSplit1998 
ResurrectionCompilation1998
Sinister HistoryCompilation1999 
2000: Live at the LA2Live album2000
They Wouldn’t DareEP2004 
Burn the White Witch – Live in LondonLive album2009
As Above, So BelowFull-length2012
Seventies TapesCompilation2017 
Don’t Turn Your BackSingle2019 
CondemnedSingle2019 
Angel of LightFull-length2019
Frontal Assault / Straight from HellSingle2020 
Kevin Heybourne
Guitars, Vocals (1978-1982, 1984-1998, 2000-present)
See also: ex-Deep Machine, ex-Blind Fury
Will Palmer
Bass (2008-present)
See also: ex-Mourn, ex-Sloth
Jimmy Martin
Guitars, Vocals (backing) (2015-present)
See also: Teeth of the Sea
Fredrik Jansson
Drums (2016-present)
See also: Atlantic Tide, ex-Noctum, Lugnet, ex-Abramis Brama, ex-Count Raven, ex-Taiwaz, ex-Witchcraft

Past Members:

Kevin “Skids” RiddlesBass (1978-1981)
See also: Tytan, ex-Lightning Lord, ex-The Deep, ex-Weapon UK (live), ex-Samson, ex-Lucifer, ex-The Fall (live)
Steve ColemanDrums (1978)
See also: ex-Blind Fury
Dave HoggDrums (1978-1980, 1984-1985)
See also: ex-Blaque Jaque Shallaque, ex-Blind Fury
Rob DowningGuitars (1978-1979)
See also: ex-Blaque Jaque Shallaque
Dave DufortDrums (1980-1981)
See also: ex-Nevada Foxx, ex-Troy, ex-Tytan, ex-Deep Machine, ex-E.F. Band, ex-Epizootic, ex-Kevin Ayers, ex-Lionheart, ex-Mike Oldfield, ex-Paper Blitz Issue, ex-Phantasm, ex-Screaming Lord Sutch, ex-The Scenery, ex-The Voice
Jerry CunninghamBass (1982)
Ricky BruceDrums (1982)
See also: ex-Touchstone, ex-Deep Machine
Roger MarsdenVocals (1982)
See also: ex-E.F. Band, ex-Nevada Foxx, ex-Deep Machine
Pete GordelierBass, Vocals (1984-1989)
See also: Marquis de Sade, ex-Soldier, ex-Blind Fury, ex-Driveshaft
Spencer HolmanDrums (1984-1989)
See also: ex-Guitar Gangsters
Dave TattumVocals (1984-1986)
See also: ex-Blaque Jaque Shallaque, Dave Tattum & The Rattlesnake Bones, ex-11th Victim, ex-Bill The Murderer, ex-Jacflash, ex-Nightwing [Gbr], ex-Skin Deep
Grant DennisonGuitars (1989-1990)
Jon TorresBass, Guitars (1990-2000), Bass (2002-2003)
(R.I.P. 2013) See also: ex-I4NI, ex-Ulysses Siren, ex-Warning S.F., ex-Pleasure and Pain, ex-Heathen, ex-The Lord Weird Slough Feg, ex-Repulsa, ex-Lȧȧz Rockit, ex-Black Pearl, ex-Demized Faith, ex-Genocide, ex-Iron Angel, ex-Psychopaths, ex-Strangers in the Night, ex-Thunderhead, ex-Zumbox
Tom HuntingDrums (1990-1993, 2002-2003)
See also: Exodus, ex-I4NI, ex-IR8, ex-Repulsa, ex-Sexoturica, ex-Wardance, ex-Pleasure and Pain, ex-Heathen (live), ex-Piranha, ex-Quarteto de Pinga, ex-Runaway Train
Doug PiercyGuitars (1990-1992)
See also: Blind Illusion, ex-Control, ex-Anvil Chorus, ex-The Company, ex-Heathen, ex-Ulysses Siren, ex-Cobra, ex-Delta, ex-Patricide (Ger), ex-Spastik Children, ex-Vyking
Lee AltusGuitars (1993-1995, 2002-2003)
See also: ExodusHeathen, ex-Die Krupps, ex-Mordred
Darren MinterDrums (1994-1998, 2003)
See also: ex-Brutal Groove, ex-Die Krupps, ex-Heathen, ex-Dissident Aggressor, ex-SoulMotor
Chris FullardGuitars (1996, 2008-?)
See also: Winters
Myk TaylorGuitars, Keyboards (1996-1998)
(R.I.P. 2003) See also: ex-Strangers
Richie WicksBass, Vocals (2000-2002, 2002)
See also: Hydra Vein (live), ex-ShadowKeep, ex-Tygers of Pan Tang
Scott HighamDrums (2000-2001, 2002)
See also: ex-ShadowKeep, ex-Samson, ex-Pendragon
Keith HerzbergGuitars, Vocals (2000-2002, 2002)
Ace FinchumDrums (2001-2002)
See also: ex-Treason, Tigertailz, ex-Tokyo Blade, ex-Crash KO, ex-Idol Threat, ex-Marseille
Andy PrestidgeDrums (2008-?)
See also: 40 Watt SunWarningWintersObiat (live), ex-The Oath (live), ex-Lucifer, ex-Tytan, ex-Cortizone, ex-Kane
Alan FrenchDrums (2015-2016)
See also: ex-Sloth, ex-Mourn, ex-Reactor, ex-Firebird, ex-Purson
Side A
1.Angel Witch03:25  Show lyrics
2.Atlantis03:42  Show lyrics
3.White Witch04:48  Show lyrics
4.Confused02:51  Show lyrics
5.Sorcerers04:16  Show lyrics
Side B
6.Gorgon04:06  Show lyrics
7.Sweet Danger03:07  Show lyrics
8.Free Man04:44  Show lyrics
9.Angel of Death04:52  Show lyrics
10.Devil’s Tower02:28  instrumental
 38:19 

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1 Comment

  1. LickMyOrangeBallsHalfling, May 15th, 2019

    There’s something about Angel Witch that sets them apart from many other NWOBHM bands in my mind. While bands like Saxon, Jaguar, Tygers of Pan Tang took a rough, Motorhead-esque tough-guy approach, bands like Angel Witch had a more epic, geekier kind of feel to them. I can easily picture this album soundtracking an intense Dungeons & Dragons campaign. It sounds to me like a predecessor to American epic metal bands such as Manilla Road, Omen, and Warlord. The album cover says it all, showing a scene of biblical desolation.

    But does the music itself live up to the grand atmosphere? It most certainly does! Kevin Heybourne’s guitar work is masterful on this record, full of heavy riffs and emotive solos.He knows how to write a catchy chorus, making frequent use of dramatic backing vocals to create a grandiose atmosphere, such as on “Atlantis” and the amazing title track. Heybourne may not be the most technically skilled vocalist, but he makes good use of his range. He’s not afraid to get a bit sappy, and his falsettos might crack a bit, but his voice is full of emotion and power.

    There’s no compromise in heaviness in exchange for the catchiness of the songs, and you can hear some clear influences from metal forefathers such as Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, and Deep Purple. “Angel of Death” contains the best riff that Tony Iommi never wrote. In fact, it’s so good that Mark Shelton had to steal it for “Dreams of Eschaton!”

    The songs are generally pretty concise, and none of them hit the 5 minute mark. I see this as a positive thing, as Heybourne’s style of songwriting lends itself well to a traditional verse-chorus form, and that’s how most of the songs play out. Some of the extended clean sections can wear a bit thin, such as the midsection to “White Witch,” but it’s not a major issue.

    The bass generally tends to double the rhythm guitar, but it’s pleasantly audible, and occasionally gets its moments to shine, such as on the album’s ballad, “Free Man,” where it takes the melody during the chorus. The drums aren’t particularly flashy or attention grabbing, but they do a good job of holding everything together.

    “Angel Witch” stands as one of the high points of the entire NWOBHM, and almost 40 years later, it still sounds exciting and enthralling.

    Like

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