Good evening and happy All Hallows Eve everyone! In honor of Halloween, the Meista's got a special "witching" hour pairing for you: Witches' Brew Golden Ale from Belgium's Van Steenberge Brewery and Angel Witch's self-titled, debut album from 1980.
I've always been a huge fan of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal (NWOBHM) movement from the late 1970s and early 1980s that took England and America by storm. Bands like Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, early Def Leppard, Diamond Head, Raven, Saxon, Pentagram, Witchfinder General, Tygers of Pan Tang, among many others heavily influenced and continue to influence stoner rock, doom metal, power metal, progressive metal, thrash, glam, and even death and black metal. I think what I really love about NWOBHM is that these bands were the link from the blues-based hard rock of the 1970s to modern metal. Contextually it is not such a huge leap from Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, and Humble Pie to Slayer, Metallica, and even Morbid Angel when you throw into the mix someone like Diamond Head or Motorhead as the lineage link.
Considered by many as one of the most notable NWOBHM albums of the era, "Angel Witch" was released in 1980. Characterized by the ferociousness of Rob Downing's blistering guitar assault, Kevin Heybourne's soaring vocal delivery with a touch of early English '70s glam, and the thunderous rhythm section of Kevin Riddles (bass) and Dave Hogg (drums), Angel Witch incorporated the bluesy heaviness of Led Zeppelin with the dark thematic approach of Black Sabbath and the fierce speed of Motorhead to create a wonderful, solid, metal album. Songs like "Angel Witch," "White Witch," "Gorgon," "Sweet Danger," "Loser," and "Angel Of Death" are intense, fast-paced metal classics. While songs like "Sorcerer," "Free Man," and "Devil's Tower" channel the slow, dirge-like heaviness of early Black Sabbath. "Sorcerer" even has some nice Hammond organ toward the end of the track that is reminiscent of John Lord's work with Deep Purple. "Atlantis" is fast and exciting, but with its harmonies and high-pitched chorus, it sounds almost like a metal version song by the Sweet, and yet it still fits the album perfectly.
Witches' Brew Golden Ale "will put a spell on you" as the bottle states. Bottle conditioned, this blond triple has a lovely hoppiness perfectly balanced with an ester sweetness. But don't be fooled by the refreshing, bubbly sweetness of this ale. This is indeed worthy of a witches' coven coming in at 9.3% ABV. If you are not careful, this brew of the black arts will sneak up on you! It pours a nice copper-amber with a frothy, thick, 2-finger head with sustained lacing. The flavor is full of tart sour apple notes, sweet malt, and a trace of banana along with slight bitterness from the hops. The Witches' Brew is medium bodied with strong carbonation and bit of a boozy, yet subtle bite. The Witches' Brew really pops with flavor, which makes for a very fitting pairing with the foot-stomping, fist-pumping good time of Angel Witch!
Cheers and happy Halloween everyone!! Have fun and be careful out there!!