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Many fans accused Witchfynde of selling out with their second album, Stagefright, which arrived a mere six months after the band's debut and offered a hit-and-miss collection of songs that proved relatively watered down by comparison. But clear-headed observers would have been well aware by now that Witchfynde's affiliations to the New Wave of British Heavy Metal resulted more from publicity-driven convenience -- not to mention their grossly overdone Satan-worshipping antics -- than actual sonic aesthetics. So there's little cause for complaint over the added commercial flavor heard on singles like "Moon Magic" and "In the Stars," when several songs, including the title track and "Wake Up Screaming," still offered a healthy dose of heavy metal bombast. If anything, the band's once prevalent progressive rock interests are the real source of concern here, as their absence removes that extra touch of surprise that had pervaded their more adventurous and consistent debut. As for Stagefright, any possibility of consistency is lost with the inclusion of pathetic attempts at pop hooks ("Big Deal") and power balladry (the awful "Madeleine"), and it's easy to understand the source of fan confusion. Inner-band strife would soon become another problem for them to contend with, and Witchfynde truly never recovered.

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