WHEN their self-titled debut was released in 1980 the smart money was on Angel Witch to break away from the pack in the rapidly burgeoning New Wave of British Heavy Metal scene spearheaded by Iron Maiden, Def Leppard, Saxon and Diamond Head with Newcastle`s sub-scene centred around Wallsend`s Neat Records not far behind with Raven, Venom, Tygers of Pan Tang and Blitzkrieg all jostling for position.

History however tells us differently as Angel Witch were left in the wake of Maiden et al but that does nothing to diminish the impact of that classic debut and the reverence to which it is still held to this very day. It came as no surprise therefore that the bulk of the evening`s special guest slot was taken up with prime cuts from that release with Sorceress and White Witch sounding particularly potent and the grinding riff of Confused packing a real punch although Kevin Heybourne`s vocals struggled with the upper register at times.

With Dead Sea Scrolls and The Night Is Calling coming from later albums it was left to signature song Angel Witch to bring proceedings to a close although points must be deducted for omitting Free Man, their best song and Heybourne`s finest moment as a guitarist.

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With only three dates on this tour, securing Electric Wizard for an ultra-rare show up North was a real coup for local promoters SSD Concerts who have worked tirelessly to bring bands to the region and answer those very people who claim “but nobody plays in Newcastle”.

It`s been a fair while since the Riverside was as packed as this such was the level of anticipation that greeted the Dorset Doom Metal merchants as the cacophony of feedback and swirling psychedelic projections heralded the band on stage before Witchcult Today kicked in with doom-laden force.

With titles like The Satanic Rites of Drugula, Incense for the Damned, Dopethrone and Funeralopolis this was never going to be a happy go lucky type of show. With the sludge encrusted, granite heavy riffs of Jus Oborn and Liz Buckingham making Black Sabbath sound like The Beach Boys on speed against a backdrop of low budget `60`s horror movies, this was heavy duty stuff and definitely not for the faint hearted. As Spinal Tap`s Nigel Tufnel once said, “How much more heavy could this be, the answer is none….none more heavy” and that, just about sums it up in one sentence.

Mick Burgess