It’s good to know that Kevin Heybourne, the founder and sole remaining original member of Angel Witch, still has it. While they were never as popular with the masses as Iron Maiden or Judas Priest during the heyday of classic Heavy Metal, they always had a special place in the blackened hearts of Bay Area thrashers. In a way, they were Heathen before there was a Heathen. They were a bit too heavy to be in with the more Rock inspired NWOBHM bands (Def Leppard, for example, was one of these bands) and they were too melodic to be in with the harder-edged bands (like the UK Warfare or Venom). They kind of existed in their own territory, which made it hard for folks to lump them in with other bands. As Above, So Below is more inspired by British Doom Metal (as opposed to the more Thrash oriented stuff from the more recent albums) but still with the melodic guitar-work that made Angel Witch famous. The pacing is slower than previous albums and it is definitely the heaviest stuff they’ve done in a long time. I would have liked a thicker, heavier, guitar tone to go along with this, though. The Black Sabbath influences are more prominent in the Doom-inspired tracks and I think a bass-heavy sound would have lent some additional weight to the songs. I’ve heard people say that this album is comparable to their 1980 self-titled debut, but I’m not sure that I agree with that sentiment. As Above, So Below doesn’t have the same feel as Angel Witch. With thirty plus years between them, As Above, So Below is a far more mature album. It’s much more controlled and effective. There’s less “flash” and more of an emphasis on hard-hitting Rock & Roll. The hints of occultism are still there, which is something that I also liked. While they were never known explicitly as an occult Metal band, Angel Witch had far more songs about occult topics than Iron Maiden or Judas Priest ever did. Between Angel Witch and the resurrected Hell, the darker side of NWOBHM is making a comeback and personally, I welcome it.
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