WITCHFYNDE - The Witching Hour  LP
WITCHFYNDE - The Witching Hour  LP
WITCHFYNDE - The Witching Hour  LP
WITCHFYNDE - The Witching Hour  LP
WITCHFYNDE - The Witching Hour LP

HRR 160, limited to 300 copies, 100 x grey/ white blend vinyl + 200 x black vinyl, cardboard lyric insert

Harry Harrison - Vocals
Montalo - Guitars
Pete Surgey - Bass
Gra Scoresby - Drums

-The Other Side
-Stab In The Back
-You'll Never See It Coming
-Leaving Nadir
-Hall Of Mirrors
-In Your Dreams
-Give 'Em Hell
-Wake Up Screaming


There was a time, a very confusing time, when two versions of Witchfynde were active simultaneously. Vocalist Luther Beltz was fronting his own creation of the band and original members Montalo, Pete Surgey and Gra Scoresby signed a new singer, namely Harry Harrison, and recorded an album entitled “The Witching Hour” (now for the first time released on glorious vinyl by High Roller Records). However, for guitarist Montalo that’s all in the past: “Luther Beltz has been back as the vocalist with Witchfynde for over two years now and we are having a great time together. When Luther returned it seemed to give the band a new lease of life and recharged our stage shows. I regard the whole Wytchfynde scenario as history. The main issue is that it gave rise to a lot of confusion and it was ill conceived and ill informed but, as I said, it’s all in the past. I guess, on the positive side, it kept the Witchyfnde name in the public eye and gave us publicity. I think it would have been more honourable if Luther’s comeback had simply been under the name of Luther Beltz but I understand that it was due to pressure and advice from record companies that they thought that using the Witchfynde name would lead to better sales.”
As you surely know, Witchfynde originally came to life during the early years of the historic N.W.O.B.H.M. movement. Their excellent debut single “Give ‘Em Hell” was released on Round Records in 1979 (although the band’s roots go back even further into the mid-‘70’s). From day one on, Witchfynde incorporated occult themes into their concept, being forerunners for acts like Demon, Witchfinder General, Cloven Hoof, Hell or Pagan Altar. Did the band recognize back then that a lot of other N.W.O.B.H.M. bands were following in their footsteps? This does not seem to be the case: “At the time that we originally came out I cannot recall any other bands with direct occult involvements. There had been Black Widow but they were no longer around when we started out so there was a void. It was only after we had been around for a few years that we began seeing the likes of Angel Witch and Demon but I still felt that they had no direct involvement. Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Uriah Heep, Mott the Hoople and UFO were big influences on me personally but the rest of the band had very wide ranging musical tastes including a lot of American influences such as Frank Zappa.”
Witchfynde followed their quite successful debut album “Give ‘Em Hell” with a much poppier second album called “Stagefright”. Quite shockingly melodic, the album received mixed reviews when it came out in 1980 but seems to have grown with fans (like me) over the coming decades. Montalo reflects: “I would view ‘Stagefright’ as our most experimental album certainly in terms of use of studio techniques. It was the first time we had the luxury of spending time just experimenting in a studio. Previously, when recording the ‘Give ‘Em Hell’ album we already had the structures of the songs in place after playing them live for several years. For the ‘Stagefright’ album, we had to go into the studio and start writing from scratch, although we had some songs like ‘Wake Up Screaming’ already left over from the ‘Give ‘Em Hell’ sessions. You must also remember that the ‘Give ‘Em Hell’ album was largely self-financed and we had a lot of it in the can before we took it around the record companies so we had a very limited budget. There wasn’t the same kind of financial pressure when we returned to Fairview Studios in Hull to work on the ‘Stagefright’ album. I take your point about the poppiness but it might be the influence of a more polished/produced sound in comparison to the ‘Give ‘Em Hell’ sound which was far more basic and raw. I do have some real favourites from the ‘Stagefright’ album - after all the tracks ‘Stagefright’, ‘Moon Magic’ and ‘Wake Up Screaming’ remain firm live favourites which continue to feature in our live shows and I still rate ‘Big Deal’ and ‘Wouldn’t Be Seen Dead In Heaven’ as great songs in terms of quirkiness and humour.”
For 1983’s “Cloak And Dagger” Witchfynde changed labels (Expulsion in the UK and Roadrunner in mainland Europe). They did so again for their swansong release “Lords Of Sin”, which came out on the Belgian Mausoleum label in 1984. The album came with a free 12” live EP (apart from the Canadian Attic pressing which only had the studio album). It seems as if the label did not really communicate that that well with the band. Montalo explains: “The whole ‘Lords Of Sin’ album is a mystery to everyone apart from the guy behind Mausoleum Records in Belgium who seems to keep releasing it in various forms without informing ourselves or handing over any royalties. The ‘Lords Of Sin’ live EP was the best recordings put together from a number of live shows in the UK and Holland. Again, I have no idea where the rest of the recordings are. We feel very strongly about the album that I consider being the best produced of all our albums. Unfortunately, the guy behind Mausoleum decided to declare bankruptcy when the album was released which obviously meant that he didn’t have to pay anyone any royalties. This in turn made our management/production company go bankrupt because they had paid for all the studio time and wouldn’t get it back and this resulted in ourselves withdrawing from the spotlight as were so fed up and disillusioned with the whole business side of the industry.”
So the original incarnation of Witchfynde closed shop sometime in 1984. The High Roller release of “The Witching Hour” documents the return of Witchfynde some 15 years later. It’s a mix of some new songs like "The Oother Side", "You'll Never See It Coming" and "In Your Dreams" with re-recorded versions of old classics such as “Leaving Nadir”, “Hall Of Mirrors” or “Give ‘Em Hell”. Montalo explains the details behind the album: “When the time came to resurrect the band in 1999 the majority of our albums were no longer available – it is only in the past few years that they have been re-issued on CD, largely by Cherry Red Records. We therefore decided that it was quite important for people who had become interested in the resurgence of interest in the band to be able to hear our songs. This was partly the reasoning behind re-recording some of our favourite songs as part of ‘The Witching Hour’ CD together with the fact that we needed to get some product on the market as soon as possible. It would have taken quite a while to come up with a new CD’s worth of material at the same time as we were rehearsing for and performing live shows and this would also have denied access to the history of the band. We felt that the format of ‘The Witching Hour’ set the scene for us to move forward in terms of new product.” Montalo is really proud of the vinyl issue of “The Witching Hour”: “Its cool to have a vinyl release – I fondly remember them. All of our other albums, with the exception of ‘Lords Of Sin’, are tied up with Cherry Red Records who are mainly interested in downloads. So ‘The Witching Hour’ really is the only album that is available for a vinyl release and I’m sure it will make a wicked collector’s item. When we played in Greece we saw vinyl copies of ‘Give ‘Em Hell’ that are being produced over there – we were quite flattered.”
There are some other very obscure vinyl pressings of Witchfynde material around, for example the Swedish Planet Records pressing of "Give 'Em Hell". It just came out with white lettering on the cover, no red letters to be found anywhere. Montalo is not aware of this license pressing: “No, I wasn’t aware of the Swedish pressing of ‘Give ‘Em Hell’ although I am aware of other vinyl pressings such as the one from Greece and funnily enough Pete bought me another version he had seen on e-bay manufactured by Abraxas records under licence from Cherry Red.”
Serious Witchfynde collectors will know that the band placed an exclusive number called “Belfast” on the BBC compilation “The Friday Rock Show” in 1981. Maybe the only political song Witchfynde ever penned, as Montalo describes: “’Belfast’ was a song that Luther had written and played for years before he became part of Witchfynde and we just played it as part of our live shows in the beginning as a treat for his fans. When we were asked to do the BBC ‘Friday Rock Show’ album they asked for a previously unrecorded song and ‘Belfast’ fitted the bill. I always think from time to time that we should include the song in our shows again and I thought I remember Luther saying the BBC Session was available again on CD.” Unfortunately, there is not much else left in the band’s archive: “We do not have any unreleased archive material that is readily accessible. There might be the odd studio track around that wasn’t used but I have no idea where they are. A version of ‘Witch Queen Of New Orleans’ springs to mind when we were working on the ‘Devil’s Playground’ album but goodness knows where it is. I also have loads of tapes around at home including live shows but never seem to get the time to go through them all.”
Matthias Mader