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Saturday, March 3, 2012

NEWS: Angel Witch Coming Out With New Album "As Above, So Below"

(Kickass cover art borders NWOBHM and Doom)

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Legendary NWOBHM band Angel Witch are coming out with their first full-length album ever since Frontal Assault hit the stores at 1986! That is, if we're not counting their album "Resurrection", which was compilation of never before released demotapes between 1987-1998 or something close to that. The new album - called "As Above, So Below" - is released by both "Rise Above" and "Nuclear Blast" record labels, and is coming out at least in CD and 2-LP packages. The release date will be 12th March 2012 in Europe, and 27th March 2012 in North America by Rise Above, and 20th March by Nuclear blast (also in US as I understood).

Angel Witch was one of the original NWOBHM bands along with other english bands of the genre such as Diamond Head, Saxon, Demon, and Iron Maiden - formed early as 1976 under name Lucifer by guitarist/vocalist Kevin Heyborne, who is only original member left today. The band changed their name to Angel Witch at 1978 and released their first demo year later. At 1980 their first full length album "Angel Witch" (S/t) saw the light, and is today considered as one of the very classics - one of the cornerstones of NWOBHM. Their two later full lengths included "Screamin' n' Bleedin'" at 1985, and "Frontal Assault" at 1986, which saw them taking a turn towards more traditional, heavier but less doomy and crisp tone. This caused controversy among fans, although many still consider those two records good albums on their own right. Well, now "they" are back.

The new lineup seems to consist of Kevin Heybourne (Guitar/Vocals), only original member left. According to wikipedia, they have also acquired Bill Steer as secondary guitarist, and if he made it to the recordings of the album, it should be considerably interesting. Steer is known as the former of the band Carcass, and his work with Napalm Death also. The rest of the two members are Will Palmer (Bass), and Andy Prestridge (Drums, ex-Winters).

The new album has eight tracks, of which at least four are recordings of the songs, originally written decades ago. "Dead Sea Scrolls" and "Witching Hour" both are from 1983-1984, while "Into The Dark" and "Guillotine" date even prior to those years. That's pretty cool, and by listening the song down below called Dead Sea Scrolls, I would say that at least that song nods closer to the debut than Screamin' N' Bleedin'. Gloomy melodies, rocking NWOBHM riffage and vocals, plus crisp old fashioned guitar sound is back! While the production might be slightly more modern, the style is definitely classic Angel Witch! Hopefully the rest of the album goes along the same tracks. Listen below and share your thoughts!


01. Dead Sea Scrolls
02. Into the Dark
03. Gebura
04. The Horla
05. Witching Hour
06. Upon this Cord
07. Guillotine
08. Brainwashed

Thursday, March 1, 2012

REVIEW: Risk (GER) – The Daily Horror News (1988)

During low amount of readers and general rush in current life I haven’t been writing many posts lately, so I think it’s time for one a new review – here’s one that might save a shitty day even. Risk was german band originally known as Faithful Breath, which was formed as early as 1967 – playing Progressive rock, Hard Rock, earlier on their career, and later on moving into more traditional heavy metal fields with quite typical German sound. The band took a turn into different metal fields after their “Skol” album released at 1985, last one under the flag of “Faithful Breath”, and changed their name to Risk afterwards. The Daily Horror News was the debut under Risk band name, bringing some changes musically and lineup-wise. While lineup was mostly the same than on Skol, they did bring a new second guitarist to replace Thilo Hermann (who also went to Running Wild later on). While Thilo certainly holds his own, the new guitarist was pretty interesting choice too. The replacement was Roman Keymer, who was already known from his work with Angel Dust (Ger) in Marching For Revenge Demo (1985) and Into The Dark Past (1986) full-length album. Angel Dust used to be speedier and thrashier band in the day before their nineties era. But lets stick to the topic.

This lineup change would back up the musical change presented between Faithful Breath release Skol and Risk debut The Daily Horror News. Past were the days of traditional german heavy metal with hard rock influences, and the band took a turn to more power/speed approach with The Daily Horror News, with a nod towards thrash scene. By previously hearing only Monkey Business by Risk, which is quite good album on it’s own, I was rather impressed with The Daily Horror News. While Monkey Business takes thrash influences even further heading towards Bay Area Thrash time to time, The Daily Horror News remains more on power/speed field with taste of the thrash in the air at times. I think the combination of different heavy metal (speed/power/thrash) styles is near perfection at this album.

The sound is definitely quite raw, typical for many german heavy metal / power metal / speed metal bands of the 80’s with nods towards thrash scene. Guitar players have the sense of catchy melodies, something comparable to the Scanner (Ger) debut, or perhaps Running Wild (Ger). However the sound is more raw than Scanner’s “Hypertrace”. It comes from the fury of thunderous and speedy riffs of the album, with chainsaw-like palm muted rhythm section dominating, but leaving space for catchy melodies when needed. Let me tell you, for such a decently melodic album that Daily Horror News is, it’s absolutely ton of bricks to your face – piling up lightning fast.

Performance by the singer Heinz Mikus (who came from Faithful Breath) is also quite rapid. While he might not have the best vocal range, he really adds his contribution to the songs with mid-ranged German accent flavored vocals, something comparable perhaps to Rock’n’Rolf Kasparek from Running Wild. Mikus likes to wander between bit roughly sung traditional vocal style combined with thrash-like shouts, and it fits very well into the music. I have to give credit also bay area-like backing vocals in the shout parts, which also stand out very well.

The cover art might look goofy indeed, but don’t let it fool you. That and the short intro within the first tracks with the Tarzan scream are goofy as this album gets, before it takes off with tons of energy. Living In Chaos starts to album with directly on your face attitude after the meaningless intro. This song is fine example of more speed/thrash mixture of a style, with hammering drums and chainsaw-like riffs, until the song leads into the slower crushing part combined with Bay Area like backing vocals “Chaos! Chaos!”. The second song “Roadwar” is the another favorite of mine, continuing along same speedy lines. However Roadwar shows the more power/speed side of the album with melodic powermetal-like leads added to the speedy chainsaw riffs, and gigantic solo. The trend of using quite massive backing vocal shouts along the chorus continues and works great.

The third track “DNS Madness” is perhaps my third favorite of the album, dropping the pace into mid-fast and crushing on. The song could had fit well into Scanners Hypertrace as one of the bit slower moments. Once again, simple but massive shout chorus impresses. Of the remaining tracks worth mentioning are: Alien Terror which continues along the same Scanner like mid-fast style with DNS Madness, while Revolution Now is another fine power/speed track. Rommes Fritz presents ultra-fast instrumental melodic track, pick a melodic german speed metal band and throw Alex Skolnick of Testament to play lead and solos fast, and you get the picture of the song – while the song itself might be more of an actual showcase of “how skillfully we can play our instruments” than anything else. Actually Speed Kills is also decently good moment with thunderous fast drumming backing up speed/thrash approach of the song.

This leads to conclusion that there is no really weak moments in this album – while first half certainly tops the last in quality. The overall tone is really speedy with plenty of energy, while songs vary with others nodding more towards thrash flavored speed, and the others more towards power flavored speedmetal. Strong backing vocals really bring choruses alive in the album, the mid-ranged vocal performance of Mikus is very good, and solos are rather impressive. Drummer Jürgen Düsterloh also deserves a special mention for being absolutely furious at the best. I really enjoy the drumming, which kicks some more extra energy into the tracks. Sound mix is also very fine for year 1988, letting you to enjoy the music at it’s fittest.

Do you like hard hitting rougher powermetal, speedmetal, or just generally german traditional heavy metal? I think that The Daily Horror News has much to offer for anyone generally enjoying anything above mentioned, even if you like classic thrashmetal, the album might be a treat for you. If you were one who enjoyed Running Wild’s early works, Rage’s Perfect Man, Scanner’s Hypertrace, or Headhunter’s Parody Of Life – you’re in for a real treat. On the other hand I don’t see why wouldn’t someone liking Destruction or Darkness (Ger) enjoy this either! Very all around great and thunderous hard hitting german speed assault with melody. A borderline classic.

88 | reviewer: dungeoncrawler

Check availability from - buy

  • Heinz Mikus - Vocals, Guitars
    • ex-Faithful Breath
  • Roman Keymer - Guitars
    • ex-Angel Dust
  • Peter Dell - Bass
    • ex-Faithful Breath
  • Jürgen Düsterloh - Drums
    • ex-Faithful Breath

  • 1. Living In Chaos 05:25
  • 2. Roadwar 04:13
  • 3. DNS Madness 04:00
  • 4. Revolution Now 05:44
  • 5. Alien Terror 05:03
  • 6. Speed Kills 05:19
  • 7. Rommes Fritz 03:59
  • 8. Strike 05:11
    • Playtime 38:54

For Collectors:
(Following prices have raised since ’99 but will give you direction, my bet is you can double them up)
Used album price @ Martin Popoff’s Heavy Metal Record Price Guide (1999):

Label – Steamhammer/087572
Type – LG/U/88
Near Mint – $14
Very Good+ - $8