As Above, So Below (Metal Blade)
By Mike Delano
The long overdue return of these NWOBHM legends starts in spectacular fashion. “Dead Sea Scrolls” is six minutes of exactly the kind of driving, melodic metal, buoyed by fascinating mystical lyrics and Kevin Heybourne’s powerful vocals, that made Angel Witch‘s self-titled 1980 debut an enduring classic. “Into The Dark” follows with another instantly memorable arrangement, its atmosphere of creeping death eventually building to a sky-tearing guitar solo that sounds like mankind’s final middle finger before an impending alien invasion. “The Horla” churns its groove slowly but surely, hitting the same highs and lows that make Maiden songs like “Revelations” so mesmerizing and well suited for live performances. The trio of Heybourne, bassist Will Palmer, and drummer Andrew Prestidge mix strong melodies with charging, tough riffs so well that it reminds you how rare that combination is nowadays. Something like last year’s Ghost record sounds like a revelation because it recalls the songcraft of bands like Blue Oyster Cult, and As Above, So Below has a similar effect. It recalls that early ’80’s British style of metal that was so perfectly formed that it’s a wonder more modern bands haven’t taken lessons from its incredible template.