Stormwitch - _Priest of Evil_
(B.O. Records, 1998)
by: Alvin Wee (8.5 out of 10)
I wouldn't be too surprised if Hammerfall's recent sucess had anything to do with this re-release of 80s cult-metallers Stormwitch. Apart from sounding less contemporary than their modern counterparts, Stormwitch is everything Hammerfall is and more; vinyl fetishists will rejoice at the satisfyingly grainy sound reproduced on the older tracks. Anyone who's heard Hammerfall's rendition of "Ravenlord" has already heard Stormwitch: what's on offer here is simply 15 tracks of metal anthems with the usual cheesy high-pitched "German"-vocals that power metal fans can't seem to get enough of. One point to note, though, apart from the operatic choruses and the occasional screams, is that Stormwitch isn't ever as metal as, say, Running Wild or Manowar are, or were in the early eighties. In fact, some of the songs resemble more metal-edged hard rock, or a more diabolical form of NWOBHM, (a metalised Incubus, perhaps). Still, few other bands (with the exception of Mercyful Fate / King Diamond) can match up to the sheer darkness of the title track. Boasting a riff of utter darkness and vocals to match, Stormwitch manage to create an atmosphere as diabolical as the best of today's black metal without sacrificing melody or being as directly abrasive. There's little else to be said about this release; either you have no idea who King Diamond is and have lost interest by now anyway, or you're a faithful fan of Attack, Running Wild and Iron Maiden and will already have rushed out to grab this godsend.

(article published 8/7/1998)

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