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Witch - Still Alive?

Still Alive?
by "Metal Mark" Garcia at 06 October 2021, 12:45 PM

During the 80’s, Scandinavian countries had strong scenes that produced many bands. But unfortunately, just a few transcended the frontiers of the countries to gain a worldwide recognition. But MERCYFUL FATE, KING DIAMOND, SILVER MOUNTAIN, BATHORY and some others made it. But it’s extremely hard for someone to get some info from the early days of the scenes of Norway, Sweden and Denmark (I’d be thankful for some links or historical articles about them, just mail the editor-in-chief, and he’ll send them to me). So how to measure the value of a work as “Still Alive?”, of the Swedish WITCH?

This double album is a recollection of materials from their Demo Tapes, because for what I could find, they never had a chance to release an album or EP in those days. And it’s a pity, because their musical work is a form of traditional Heavy Metal filled with influences of NWOBHM and North American heavy Metal, but there are many traces of what can be called Swedish Metal DNA on their music: a very good technical insight along a great use of melodic hooks and choruses. Yes, the band showed personality on their songs, and they deserved a better chance. Even being independent releases in those days (and remembering that no info is given about a remastering done on this material), the sonority is very good (if the reader have in mind how terrible some Demo Tapes can be sometimes), allowing the understanding of what is being played. And the organic feeling of the songs comes from the fact that, on those days, was a matter of doing things with few resources. So the result is very good.

On the disk one, the material is from “Still Alive” and “Soldier of the Future” (from the newer to old release), both of 1984. From “Still Alive”, songs as “Still Alive” and “Tell Me Why” (very good melodies, mixing Swedish DNA with NWOBHM influences, especially on the guitars), the Hard Rock touch on “Queen of the Dark”, and the charming melodic hooks of “Black Winds” and “Crucifixion” are showing a band ready to conquer (if they had the chance they deserved). And the same can be hard on “Soldier of the Future”, “I’ll Never Forgive”, “Mean Machine”, “Nightmare City”, “Lights of the Dying City”, and “The Answer is Cruel”, songs from their third Demo Tape, “Soldier of the Future” (the sonority is not as good as on the previous Demo Tape material, but isn’t a loss as well, and the band plays a mature and solid form of Heavy Metal).

On the second disc, it seems that someone messed on the order of the songs, because “Evil Night” and “White Death” are from “Live in Obbola (1983)” Demo Tape (both strong Heavy Metal songs with those traditional melodies from Swedish Heavy Metal bands, based on very good guitars), the comes “Loosin’ My Mind”, “The Last Breath”, “Heads Are Rollin’” and “Still Alive” from “Demo #2 (1983)” Demo Tape (again, fine examples of what Swedish Heavy Metal School was up to on those days, but the sonority is really something sour), and them back to “Live in Obbola (1983)” Demo Tape (with “Twilight Zone”, “I’m a Hero”, “Turn the Cross” and “Kill the Witch”), where the vocals are doing a good work.

To judge a band with such material that hadn’t the right chance back in the 80’s would be unfair. They really did a very good work on their songs. So if you’re a fan of 80’s Metal, “Still Alive?” is for you, and I hope that WITCH can fly once more, even after all these years, to have the chance to record an album.

Songwriting: 8
Musicianship: 9
Memorability: 8
Production: 7

4 Star Rating

Disc 1:

1. Still Alive
2. Tell Me Why
3. Queen of the Dark
4. Black Winds
5. Crucifixion
6. Soldier of the Future
7. I’ll Never Forgive
8. Mean Machine
9. Nightmare City
10. Bass Solo
11. Lights of the Dying City
12. The Answer is Cruel

Disc 2:

1. Evil Night
2. White Death
3. Loosin’ My Mind
4. The Last Breath
5. Heads Are Rollin’
6. Still Alive
7. Twilight Zone
8. I’m a Hero
9. Turn the Cross
10. Kill the Witch
Henrik Kjellberg - Vocals
Tomas Jakobsson - Guitars
Patrik Bergholm - Guitars
Ulf Johasson - Guitars
Anders Hedman - Bass
Jan Johansson - Drums
Frank Stenbro - Drums
Record Label: Cult Metal Classics


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