Springing from the 1980’s Seattle music scene, during one of the golden ages of heavy metal and before the onset of grunge Fifth Angel was truly a forefather of the classic metal that also spawned Queensryche and Metal Church. Initially formed in 1984 by high school friends Ted Pilot (vocalist) and Ed Archer (guitarist) with lead guitarist James Byrd, the lineup was completed by drummer Ken Mary (Alice Cooper, House of Lords) and bassist John Macko
Inspired by Queensryche, Fifth Angel chose to write, record and release their music independently as opposed small time gigging, resulting in a battery of great material and perfectly honed songs. Their debut independent album was released in Europe by the fledgling RoadRunner Records and immediately became a cult classic, sparking greater interest and a $21million dollar 7 album deal from Epic Records. Their second release in 1989 saw the departure of lead guitarist James Byrd and the introduction of current axeman Kendall Bechtel. 2010 saw Fifth Angel briefly reform for festival duties, with in-house changes in personnel and a pause in activity.
Now they are back after almost 30 years with a stupendous slab of euphoric metal with guitarist Brechtel now also on lead vocal duties! Joining him are returning founder drummer Ken Mary and long term bassist John Macko to form quite the power metal power trio!
Instantly recognisable by their strong melodies and powerful vocals this incarnation is quite possibly Fifth Angel at their strongest! The band has matured, but they have lost none of their youthful exuberance and their infamous power and polish.
Bassist John Macko was not mistaken when he said,
“When we began this process, we always were mindful to write songs that moved us as a band first. We felt that if we achieved that, then the music will most likely touch our fans as well.”
Opening with Stars are Falling which would have slotted neatly in Fifth Angel, their debut album we are introduced to Brechtel’s vocals which are reminiscent of an early Sanctuary/ Dio/ Iron Maiden hybrid. The singing is not far removed from Ted Pilot’s original lead vocals, but the modern production elevates the performance and clarity of musicianship and it is handled with conviction. Mary pummels the drums with Macko’s heavy bass riffs affording Kendall to focus on vocals and blistering solos. It’s impossible not to wonder how this could be delivered live. It’s staggering. We Will Rise consolidates that this resurrection of Fifth Angel is truly a force to be reckoned with. Exhilarating and anthemic, if you are not smiling and bobbing your head, please check for a pulse. Queen of Thieves comes in heavier, changing the pace to a thumping groove while Dust To Dust and its blistering guitar opening is a glorious example of in your face old school heavy metal.
Can You Hear Me is the ballad, first single and is an emotional powerhouse despite its slower tempo. Drummer Ken Mary has stated that not only is this one of the bands favourite tracks, but they are incredibly proud of Brechtel‘s delivery of his performance.
“ The song is a very heartfelt tale about the internal struggle that we all have within our being. Everyday we fight a war between what we should do and sometimes what we do instead of that, and this song highlights that struggle.
It’s a very good song and it’s a testament to the enduring appeal of the golden age of power ballads. This Is War bring us back into arena anthem territory while Fatima is a pares it back with a masterful acoustic opening giving rise to an intricate but heavy body of delight. The Third Secret (is the last secret that the world will know) is ominous, bass driven and its added strings elevates the track to epic proportions. The bombastic penultimate track Shame On You is a surge of feel good power metal before the closing Hearts Of Stone which leaves you gasping.
Guitarist/ vocalist and staggeringly talented Kendall Bechtel states,
“We are very proud of the new album! We hope the fans will hear the classic threads of the FIFTH ANGEL they know and love, along with the growth and maturity the individuals of the band have gone through over the years. We hope they love the new songs as much as we do!”
The Third Secret may not be breaking any new ground, but that is no bad thing. It is classic metal finely tuned and will appeal to audiences both new and old.
»The Third Secret« – Track Listing:
01. Stars Are Falling
02. We Will Rise
03. Queen Of Thieves
04. Dust To Dust
05. Can You Hear Me
06. This Is War
08. Third Secret
09. Shame On You
10. Hearts Of Stone
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