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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

REVIEW: Witchfynde (UK) - Stagefright (1980)

witchfynde stagefright

Witchfynde hail from United Kingdom. With their second album Stagefright they set strong mark in NWOBHM fields, that raises above an average album of the genre for sure. Guitar and bass sound here are kind of warm and very dry, reminding me of the late 70s crispy tone, making the overall sound fresh and different than one would usually expect from a band with rather evil lyrical approach and image. Instead of that deep, thick, and heavy 80s sound, Witchfynde delivers rather more 70s progressive rock influenced early / pre-heavy metal vibe with Stagefright. Bare in mind that Stagefright was released at the times of a turning point of heavy metal, in 1980, when New Wave of British Heavy Metal was very fresh thing and Venom still hadn't released their crushingly dark debut Welcome To Hell, which would later on influence several extreme metal bands. Vocals of Steve Bridges fit into music well, with typical "neutral" sounding mid-range for NWOBHM and some more haunting occasional high pitched wails. I do actually prefer Bridges over Luther Beltz, who would join for the next album to handle vocal duties, because I feel Beltz is way more sloppy and at times out of key while singing.

Stagefright reminds me a lot about early British band Demon's material: bluesy rock, with 70s progressive rock tone and some vibes of doomy sounding early heavy metal, with an occasional evil twist and influence surrounding the atmosphere, lurking behind the uplifting melodies. What we have here is mix of happier melodies and more haunting heavier guitar riffs mixed together, depending a bit about a song. I feel Stagefright is unique by it's sound, because it's a weird crossing of the 70s doom and progressive sound with early 80s heavier metallic approach, falling somewhere in between all the styles, with some mind-expanding melodies every now and then. Result is very enjoyable its best. Stagefright is not your ultimate headbanging album, but it offers very enjoyable mix of happier bluesy rock tunes with doomy and occult vibes that keeps haunting. Stagefright is quite settled down offering, yet it has it's unsettling moments on the heavier songs of the album.

Song content on the album is quite varying, perhaps even little bit too much. Talking about inconsistency, the little bit over-the-top happy-songs here are Doing The Right Thing, Would Not Be Seen Dead In Heaven, alongside the ballad Madeleine, which all decrease the album's satisfactory value a bit, since there's just too many of these "lacklusters" in the album. While enjoyable in certain mood, they fill up too much of the album's length making one think how good Stagefright could had been, "just if...". Mellowest songs slows Stagefright down a bit too much. In The Stars somewhat manages to be a good happier track, though. The most occult, heaviest, and haunting tracks include Merciful Fate-esque Stagefright and Wake Up Screaming, which I consider best of the bunch in the album. Quite memorable songs actually, and rather heavy too, for 1980. Moody Moon Magic can also hold it's own.

Overall, there's few too many happier lackluster songs (over a half of content) in Stagefright, while the best material (heavier & haunting songs) don't cover enough of total-lenght of the album. Not to say that happier ones are totally bad (except for the ballad perhaps), but ratio should be definitely in favor of heavier occult tracks, since I feel that Witchfynde are at their best when they crank out those haunting and heavy melodies. Still, Stagefright is overall a good album, with varying song quality. The album is definitely worth of getting for the sake of the best songs in here. It's sort of an album you either understand or don't.. I did.

77 | reviewer: dungeoncrawler

  • Steve Bridges - Vocals
  • Montalo - Guitars
  • Pete Surgey - Bass
  • Gra Scoresby - Drums

  • 1. Stagefright 04:40
  • 2. Doing the Right Thing 04:59
  • 3. Would Not Be Seen Dead in Heaven 04:43
  • 4. Wake Up Screaming 04:28
  • 5. Big Deal 03:47
  • 6. Moon Magic 03:40
  • 7. In the Stars 03:38
  • 8. Trick or Treat 04:36
  • 9. Madeline 04:32
    • Total running time: 39:03

For Collectors:
(Following prices have raised since ’99 but will give you direction)
Used album price @ Martin Popoff’s Heavy Metal Record Price Guide (1999):

Label – Rondelet/ABOUT2
Type – LP/UK/81 (photo/lyric-sleeve, textured cover)
Near Mint – $35
Very Good+ - $20


  1. Good to find out there's people who dig these records.The reason I wanted to comment is beacause I believe this is the best Witchfynde album..and,well,Witchfynde is a top class band.I don't really get the whole headbanging idea,music is supposed to be enjoyable first of all,if it makes you bang your head even better!At the very end that's how heavy metal sounded at the time.Ok there were really hard-driving bands like mythra,venom etc along with bands like early witchfynde,demon,quartz etc who were heavilly influenced by the deep rock roots.The actual cheesy song is "big deal"which opens the second side,still like it though(really good hook here).The entire first side is breathtaking and it doesn't get much heavier than the title track or "I wake up.." which has an excellent progression.Second side has two killer tracks,"moon magic" and "trick or treat",two really good ones and the last one, "madeleine", which is a shity ballad(it's not shity beacause it's a slow song,it's shity cause it really sucks...).It's by far the worst song in there,it would be much better if it had been omitteed.Simple as that!As a whole this LP is really above average NWOBHM with superb songwriting and attitude,I suggest you all give it a chance!
    Thanks a lot for the space here!

  2. Hey Vasilis. Thanks for dropping a comment :)

    It's been quite a while I listened this album the last time, so it might just be time to give it another spin. I also consider Witchfynde to be above average NWOBHM band.