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Classic Review: Witchkiller - Day of the Saxons
Day of the Saxons

Label: Metal Blade Records
Year released: 1984
Duration: 18:04
Tracks: 5
Genre: Heavy Metal

Rating: 4/5

Review online: February 11, 2003
Reviewed by: Michel Renaud
Readers Rating
Day of the Saxons

Rated 4/5 (80%) (11 Votes)

The “Day of the Saxons” EP is the only official release of local boys Witchkiller, who had a brief existence in the mid-80s. Just my luck that the band disbanded before I moved in the area. :( It's a shame that this EP is only slightly over 18 minutes in length, because the 5 songs showcased here are some good quality NWOBHM-inspired heavy metal, especially the first two songs, “Day of the Saxons” and “Riders of Doom”. The title track is by far the most memorable with its chorus whose melody is also repeated by the guitars (without the vocals)... Want it or not, this one's gonna stick in your head. “Riders of Doom” is more varied in speed, with some very slow, ballad-like moments but also with some galloping riffs, not without reminding me of what countrymates Sword did on “Metalized” a couple of years later.

The third song, “Cry Wolf” is the one I have a little grudge with, when the vocals start, there are some very bad sounding backing vocals at around the 0:26 mark. They really sound unprepared and thrown in as if the guy had forgotten he was supposed to sing a line there. This sounds really bad and I just can't phase it out. Other than that, it's a mid-tempo song, not as heavy as the first two, but pretty good, although I'd say it's probably the weakest on the EP, with or without the horrendous backing vocals. “Beg for Mercy” patches things up, on a faster tempo, more upbeat and more along the lines of the trend set by the first two songs. The EP closes on “Penance for Past Sins” which at the beginning sounds like a ballad but quickly grows into a fast, heavy song with slightly more aggressive vocals than on the rest of the EP.

The vocals duties are handled very well, no matter what pitch or “aggression level” the singer is using, the lyrics are relatively easy to understand without much effort on the part of the listener. The NWOBHM musical influences are coupled with a more North American sound of the time, and I don't really have a reference band that comes to mind to compare them with... Unfortunately, Witchkiller are among the many 80s bands that never made it far despite some pretty good material, so all we can do now is simply enjoy this short classic recording… Not the most original band out there, but 80s metal fans will certainly get a kick out of this one.

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