Angel Witch will forever be worlds apart from their immortal 1980 debut, but their fifth full-length album isn’t too far off from their last studio venture, 2012’s As Above, So Below. The presentation has a similar working-class loftiness as the production is noticeably cleaner without getting too polished and the arrangements hint at grandiosity while still feeling grounded. The guitars still drive the songs with a bright Thin Lizzy-echoing flavor, the vocals are delivered in a well-worn tenor, and the drums give the proceedings a raw punch.
A leaner execution is the main factor setting Angel of Light apart from its predecessor. The lengths and total runtime aren’t much different between the two, but this album puts greater focus on driving tempos and straightforward structures. Aside from the midway moodiness of “The Night is Calling,” just about every track is a snappy rocker with brash hooks to match. The approach makes for an admittedly less varied listen in comparison, but it also feels less bloated.
Unfortunately, such a breezy method has less weight when paired with rather shallow songwriting. Songs like the opening “Don’t Turn Your Back” and “Condemned” are solid choices for singles thanks to their memorable choruses, but they don’t quite have the spark to be true staples. “I Am Infamy” has the almost inverse struggle as its muscular chug could’ve really been something if it was propelling a more effective hook. It’s all perfectly serviceable but feels rather ‘made to order’ at times.
Overall, Angel Witch’s fifth album is an enjoyable but ultimately middle of the road burst of classic metal. While I personally prefer the more varied As Above, So Below, Angel of Light is competently put together and its more direct method could make a more accessible entry point beyond their untouchable debut. Their proteges in groups like Wytch Hazel are outdoing them and their peers like Satan and Diamond Head are making more definitive statements nowadays, but I’m honestly glad that Angel Witch has anything to say at all.
“Don’t Turn Your Back”
“We Are the Damned”
“I Am Infamy”