a Metal Monday post
“You’re an angel witch. Youuuuuuu’re an angel witch!”
Those of you who follow me on Instagram (@kevinhellions if you don’t) are aware that I always post my Spotify Discover Weekly list. Once a week Spotify says, hey based on what you’ve listened to we think you’ll also enjoy these songs. It’s become one of the best ways for me to discover new music but I did not expect to stumble upon something from 1980. This has existed nearly as long as I’ve been alive, and I didn’t know it existed until last week.
Angel Witch is considered part of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal. Formed in London in 1977 they were one of the pioneers of this sound which took place as punk declined and New Wave rose. Underground in the mid-70’s, this genre found support from a few DJs who used their platforms to gain attention. Bands like Iron Maiden, Def Leppard, and Motorhead started here and went on to become international successes. Other bands – Diamondhead, Venom, Tygers of Pan Tang – are beloved by fans of NWOBHM but unknown or barely known to the mainstream. Then there’s Angel Witch.
This band just could not keep it together. All the promise in the world at the beginning though. A compilation album called Metal for Muthas was released in February 1980. Angel Witch’s song “Baphomet” was the seventh track and attracted record label interest. They release another single, “Sweet Danger”, which appeared on the British charts for one week, at the bottom position of 75. Because of this Angel Witch holds the Guinness World Record for “least successful chart act of all time”.
Heavy metal at any time has not been a top of the charts genre. The band could have enjoyed this brush with crossover fame and then gone on to put out great heavy albums for years like much of their brethren. Instead they get one great album in 1980, Angel Witch, before infighting broke the band apart. (Yes, the band, the first album, and the big song all have the same name. I never said this was Shakespeare.)
The various members of the band split off to join other groups or leave the music industry completely. Various attempts were made to reform the band, and the list of former members is at least 20 deep. While there are a couple later albums from the band none have the original line up.
The song “Angel Witch” is catchier than a flu wrapped in Velcro. Ever since first hearing it, I’ve been singing the song. At home, work, in the car. While I remember to change the lyrics a bit at home there have been a couple co-workers asking why I’m calling them an angel witch. My wife came into the room during one listen and asked, “is this Ghost?” No but the influence is there. Even more, you can hear the influence it had on Metallica. Drummer Lars Ulrich can be seen rocking out at a famous recording of an Angel Witch concert.
A lead singer with incredible vocal range. Guitars that sound common today but were groundbreaking at the time. A drummer that pushes his energy into every clash. The band plays so tight too, like they’ve been together for decades. It’s a shame this line up couldn’t stay together because the potential for a new superstar of metal is there.
Hey, are you curious? Take a listen on this YouTube link!