April 30, 2023

Some detractors have whispered that just maybe the Frontiers label are releasing too many project albums and there may be a point to that statement but the listener has a choice and you can buy, download, stream or ignore depending upon your tastes and your pocket! However, this project heavy format does allow musicians to interact to a much greater degree and, in my humble opinion, any collaboration that gives an outlet to the imperious Zak Stevens is one that I will always fully endorse. Stevens is a vocalist with an extensive back catalogue which includes Circle II Circle, Savatage and Trans-Siberian Orchestra which very much makes him rock royalty and any album he is involved with immediately becomes a must have item.

Archon Angel came into life when Stevens combined with guitarist Aldo Lonobile of the Italian power/symphonic metal band Secret Sphere with their debut work, Fallen, being released in 2020. The two had met previously when working on the Return To Eden album and they quickly formulated an inspired plan to get together for a Savatage inspired band and the concept of the Archon was forged as a loose story based around the Archon being an angelic figure responsible for taking messages from the people of Earth to God. Come on, we all love a concept album with both Savatage and Trans-Siberian Orchestra being no strangers to the concept. The second album, hence the rather uninspired name II, sees a tweaking of the line-up with Steven and Lonobile joined by the returning Marco Lazzarini on drums and Antonio Agate on synthesizer and orchestral arrangements with Alessandro Del Vecchio being promoted from writing duties to keyboards and Nik Mazzucconi comes in on bass replacing Yves Campion.

As should be expected, the song writing is top quality with Stevens breathing life into every lyric and sounding so vital and vibrant. I have long been a fan of the guitar pyrotechnics of Lonobile and he riffs and solos with abandon making this a truly hard rocking power/progressive metal delight to totally savour. Fallen was a very good album but that was merely the appetiser as the band was finding its feet and we now have this quite outstanding second release where everything is neatly aligned with band in total harmony and each adds his own talents to the very heady brew that Archon Angel serves up. The record is an exceptional release full of hard and heavy progressive metal with melody throughout plus the royal pairing of Stevens and Lonobile makes this an exceptional release with Archon Angel most definitely becoming a band in its own right so we can say that it has outgrown the project stage and now the conquest of the world can begin.

Quite simply, get the album immediately as this is 51-minutes of hard rock heaven!

II

  1. Wake Of Emptiness
  2. Avenging The Dragon
  3. Fortress
  4. Quicksand
  5. Away From The Sun
  6. Afterburn
  7. I Will Return
  8. One Last Reflection
  9. Bulletproof
  10. Shattered
  11. Lake Of Fire