Witchfynde - Divine Victims – The Witchfynde Albums 1980-1983 album review

We’re off to see the Witch

Cover art for Witchfynde - Divine Victims – The Witchfynde Albums 1980-1983 album review

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The unsung heroes of the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal, Witchfynde languished on obscure record labels such as Rondelet and Expulsion while their peers were fêted by the majors. In retrospect, this was a good thing. With no one forcing them to commercialise their sound (ref. MCA and the Tygers Of Pan Tang) the Mansfield band’s eclectic Satanic musings remained intact across the trio of albums contained here: debut Give ‘Em Hell (1980), Stagefright (also ‘80) and Cloak And Dagger (‘83). The first two are classics of their kind, tracks such as Leaving Nadir and Wake Up Screaming exuding a wistful menace that even today sounds utterly unique. Frontman Steve Bridges’ agonised shouting-cum-singing takes some beating but the star of the show is guitarist Montalo and his cryptic playing style; more rambling than a Ronnie Corbett monologue. Sadly there was a dip in form on the third album when Bridges was replaced by the ridiculously named Luther Beltz and much shrieking and cackling ensued. Regardless, Witchfynde will always have a special place in this hack’s heart for recording the theme tune to Dick Barton - Special Agent (aka The Devil’s Gallop) in wry response to early criticism of their demonic oeuvre.

Geoff Barton

Geoff Barton is a British journalist who founded the heavy metal magazine Kerrang! and was an editor of Sounds music magazine. He specialised in covering rock music and helped popularise the new wave of British heavy metal (NWOBHM) after using the term for the first time (after editor Alan Lewis coined it) in the May 1979 issue of Sounds.