Angel Witch

Angel Witch was an English heavy metal band tied to London’s NWOBHM movement. They released a self-titled 1980 album and the single “Loser” on Bronze Records. After stints in Deep Machine and Blind Fury, guitarist Kevin Heybourne resurrected Angel Witch for the 1985–86 Killerwatt albums Screamin’ n’ Bleedin’ and Frontal Assault.

Members: Kevin Heybourne (vocals, guitar), Rob Downing (guitar, 1977-79), Steve Jones (drums, 1977), Barry Clements (bass, 1977), Kevin “Skids” Riddles (bass, 1978-81), Dave Hogg (drums, 1978-80, 1984), Dave Dufort (drums, 1980-81), Roger Marsden (vocals, 1982), Jerry Cunningham (bass, 1982), Ricky Bruce (drums, 1982), Dave Tattum (vocals, 1984-86), Pete Gordelier (bass, vocals, 1984-89), Spencer Holman (drums, 1984-89)


Background

Angel Witch evolved from Lucifer, a London hard-rock band formed in 1977 by singer–guitarist Kevin Heybourne with guitarist Rob Downing and a short-lived rhythm section that featured drummer Steve Jones, who split for Speed, a Basildon quartet headed by (future Samson, Iron Maiden) singer Bruce Dickinson.

In 1978, Heybourne and Downing formed Angel Witch with bassist Kevin “Skids” Riddles and drummer Dave Hogg. This lineup cut a demo comprised of seven Heybourne originals:

1. “Baphomet”
2. “Sorceress”
3. “Extermination Day”
4. “Flight 19”
5. “Hades Paradise”
6. “Devil’s Tower”
7. “White Witch”

Their setlist from this period also featured “Into the Dark,” of which a live recording exists from a 3/11/78 Angel Witch show at the Green Man pub in Plumstead. “Baphomet” appears on the 1980 EMI release Metal For Muthas, a compilation of NWOBHM acts, including Ethel the Frog, Praying Mantis, Sledgehammer, Iron Maiden, Samson, and the then-disband Liverpool group Nutz (who, in light of the new exposure, reformed as Rage).

In 1979, Downing left Angel Witch, which proceeded as the trio of Heybourne, Riddles, and Hogg. EMI signed the band for the May 1980 single “Sweet Danger” backed with “Flight Nineteen,” both Heybourne originals produced by Chris Roger.

A. “Sweet Danger”
B. “Flight Nineteen”

Angel Witch previewed “Sweet Danger” and three additional songs (“Angel of Death,” “Extermination Day,” “Angel Witch”) on the March 14 broadcast of the BBC Radio 1 music program Friday Rock Show, hosted by Tommy Vance.

EMI dropped Angel Witch because their manager, Ken Heybourne, refused to let them sign a professional management deal. Angel Witch moved to Bronze Records, a decade-old metal founded by Uriah Heep manager Gary Bron.


Angel Witch

Angel Witch released their self-titled debut album in December 1980 on Bronze. It features ten Haybourne originals, including “Sweet Danger” and a re-recorded “Devils Tower,” plus the deep cuts “White Witch,” “Gorgon,” and “Angel of Death.”

Angel Witch features Kevin Riddles on bass, backing vocals, and keyboards (programmed by Sev Lewkowicz of the Chichester band Warrior, one of four NWOBHM acts to record under that name).

A1. “Angel Witch” (3:22)
A2. “Atlantis” (3:41)
A3. “White Witch” (4:46)
A4. “Confused” (2:51)
A5. “Sorcerers” (4:13)
B1. “Gorgon” (4:04)
B2. “Sweet Danger” (3:04)
B3. “Free Man” (4:41)
B4. “Angel of Death” (4:52)
B5. “Devils Tower” (2:23)

Sessions took place at Roundhouse Studios with producer Martin Smith, a soundman on Bronze singles by Goldie and Small Ads. Angel Witch lists three engineers: John Gallen and Roundhouse regulars Ashley Howe and Mark Deanley. Gallen and Howe both worked on titles by Colosseum II (Strange New Flesh), Uriah Heep, and Delegation. Deanley engineered 1978–80 titles by AC/DC, The Beat, Headline, and the Q-Tips. All three worked on Bronze titles by Babe Ruth and Osibisa.

Angel Witch is housed in a single sleeve with a reproduction of Fallen Angels in Hell, an 1841 oil on canvass by English Romantic painter John Martin (1789–1854).

Bronze lifted “Angel Witch” as a single (b/w “Gorgon”). Soon after the album’s release, Hogg cleared for Dave Dufort, a veteran drummer with a psychedelic past (Paper Blitz Tissue) whose younger brother Denise Dufort (also a drummer) served as an auxiliary for Girlschool.


“Loser” / “Suffer” / “Dr. Phibes”

On June 5, 1981, Angel Witch released a three-song maxi single: “Loser,” a Haybourne original backed with the Riddles co-write “Suffer” and the group-written “Dr. Phibes.”

A. “Loser” (2:53)
B1. “Suffer” (3:24)
B2. “Dr. Phibes” (2:54)

Three unrecorded numbers from the Dufort-era Angel Witch setlist (“The Night Is Calling,” “Confused,” “Evil Games” — all from a January 29, 1981, show at Blackpool’s Norbreck Castle) appear on the 1999 Zoom Records CD Sinister History, which gathers the 1978 Downing demos. The complete thirteen-song Norbeck show (including an encore performance of the Black Sabbath classic “Paranoid”) appeared on the 1981 self-released cassette Give It Some Tickle.


Collapse and Resurrection

“Loser” was the final Bronze release by Angel Witch, which crumbled when Riddles and Dufort formed Tytan, a NWOBHM quartet with ex-members of Liar and A II Z. Tytan cut the 1982 max-single “Blind Men and Fools” before their initial collapse. Heybourne did a brief stint with Deep Machine, an East London NWOBHM band that cut two 1982 demo tapes but secured no contract or vinyl release.

In late 1982, Heybourne attempted to kickstart Angel Witch with fellow Deep Machine alumni, who proved unsuited to the style. After a spell in Blind Fury, Heybourne formed Angel Witch a third time singer Dave Tattum, bassist Peter Gordelier, and returning drummer Dave Hogg.


Screamin’ n’ Bleedin’

Angel Witch released their second album, Screamin’ n’ Bleedin’, in September 1985 on Killerwatt.


Frontal Assault

Angel Witch released their third album, Frontal Assault, in April 1986 on Killerwatt.


Discography:

  • Angel Witch (1980)
  • Loser” / “Suffer” / “Dr. Phibes” (1981)
  • Screamin’ n’ Bleedin’ (1985)
  • Frontal Assault (1986)

Sources:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *