Official Facebook page for Angel Witch
Emerging from the inauspicious environs of suburban Kent in 1977 with the doom-laden clangour of Black Sabbath ringing in their ears, Angel Witch quickly found themselves leading a movement of bands who were taking the heavy metal paradigm to exciting new dimensions, creating something darker, faster and heavier than anything previously issued forth.
With songwriter, lead guitarist and chief architect Kevin Heybourne engineering a psychic realm where horror and fantasy imagery locked horns with pulverising riffage and razorsharp hooks, the band were soon vying for supremacy amidst an alarmingly fertile scene that also included Iron Maiden, Saxon, Diamond Head and Samson, yet with arguably the heaviest and most otherworldly dimensions at their disposal of anyone in range.
Angel Witch’s debut album was released on Bronze records in 1980, led by its deathless eponymous ditty - no less than one of the most enduring and life-affirming metal anthems of them all - and earned them a rabid following if not always critical plaudits, Yet unknowns to most, these feverish, vicious and incisive songs had already found the ears of a generation of young and hungry musicians who would come to lay the groundwork for extreme metal, and the likes of Dave Mustaine, Gary Holt and Tom G. Warrior have all cited this record as both personal rave and pivotal influence.
A storied quarter-decade followed, with various different incarnations of the band existing on both sides of the Atlantic, including an early ‘90s line-up based in San Francisco and including members of Exodus, Heathen and Laaz Rockit which stalled due to immigration issues, and Heybourne spent much of the following decade forging a career as a tree surgeon, until a serious head injury left him unable to work, and upon finding himself walking the same streets, drinking in the same pubs and crucially listening to the same records as in this teens, he arrived at an epiphany, and set upon a plan to return to the motherlode of what made his music a uniquely potent and powerful proposition
Kevin Heybourne knew what was to be done - Angel Witch would be reformed. Only this time, they would sound like they were intended to almost 30 years before: No more trying to assimilate to the musical climate around him, no more trying to keep up with fashion. Angel Witch would go back to the genesis moment - 1979 revisited and damn the consequences. The result was 2012’s ‘As Above, So Below’, which stood proud as the long-awaited successor to the debut, uniting past and present with style and finesse, as the band toured with a line-up that included Bill Steer (Carcass/Firebird/Gentleman’s Pistols).
In the five years since, Angel Witch have also united an audience of new devotees and older fans around the world, traversing Europe with Grand Magus, sharing bills with fans of the band like Trouble and Candlemass, playing festivals like Roadburn, Hellfest, Sweden Rock and Graspop and headlining shows as far afield as Japan and Canada.
2017 has already proved to be the most eventful year of the decade thus far, with the line-up of Heybourne, Will Palmer (bass) Jimmy Martin (guitar) and ex-Witchcraft drummer Fredrik Jansson touring Europe and the UK with Electric Wizard and set for a return visit to Japan in July, with fresh material nearing completion for a new album in 2018.
A full forty years on from their inception, Angel Witch’s re-ignited flame burns brighter than ever before. Eternal and timeless chroniclers of the heavy and arcane. the influence of their dark art looks set only to extend further into realms earthly and unearthly alike, from Beckenham to the beyond.
Pay what you want, all proceeds to Red Cross Grenfell Fire Relief Fund: angelwitch.bandcamp.com
Still on sale at angelwitch.bandcamp.com so far we have been able to donate a little in excess of £1,300 to the Family Action Just Giving campaign for Grenfell Tower, The Harrow Centre (where many of the residents are being temporarily housed) and the appeal the Red Cross launched towards the end of last week)
You have all been very generous.
Name your price to download our seventies demos - all proceeds to the victims of the Grenfell Tower fire.
(This photo is actually from the an earlier line up, which pre-dates these recordings - you gonna give us a hard time about that?)
Who would have thought that our rough demos, recorded back in ’78 & ’79, in our own houses, and on a load of rag-tag gear, would be number six on the Bandcamp best-sellers almost forty years down the line? angelwitch.bandcamp.com
Obviously, it’s not because the world is crying out to hear some Sabbath-obsessed teens making a racket in their front room, it’s because we are passing the money on to the Family Action campaign for the victims of the Grenfell Tower fire - Keep it coming!
We don’t have too much to offer to the victims of the terrible fire which befell Grenfell Tower, West London in the early hours of this morning. But what we do have is ownership of these demos from 1978 / 1979 - pay want you want for them, and we we will donate it all (once we suss out the best place to send it)