To many, Angel Witch may not be the most famous or familiar of names. In other circles in the metal world however, Angel Witch are a band of iconic status, and with good reason. Their self titled debut, of 32 years ago, has been hailed as a masterpiece and a major inspiration, especially to numerous extreme metal bands. In recent years their reputation, although not damaged as such before, has certainly strengthened with these bands citing their influence as well as increased and, according to some, improved activity; notably with high profile slots at festivals such as Bloodstock and Hole In The Sky.
This improved positioning sees excitement for a brand new album very high, and expectations perhaps just as lofty. Can expectations of a glorious return to the heights of their classic be too high however? Thankfully the answer is no, as “As Above So Below” is a great album.
Although a brand new release, four of the eight tracks here actually come from older sessions: these being ‘Dead Sea Scrolls’, ‘Witching Hour’, ‘Into The Dark’ and ‘Guillotine’; whilst the other half are brand new material. However the track listing has them intertwined with one another rather than rigidly separated and you can’t immediately tell which ones are older or newer.
The new songs perfectly capture the spirit and sound of the older cuts. “As Above So Below” harks back to the classic debut sound rather than other material which has showed some slight shifts in sound. “AASB” even sports a production which, although at times is arguably thin and weak, is also reminiscent of the less well produced sound of their classic, for which it had charm.
The songs themselves certainly pack a punch. They can definitely stand shoulder to shoulder with their best previous material. The galloping guitar licks and dark and eerie subject matter especially are captured fully and will delight fans without question. One of the less hyped comebacks of the year thus far, but one that is fully deserving of merit, “As Above As Below” sees Angel Witch putting out an album truly worthwhile their increasing popularity deserves.