I guess every self-respecting metal fan should have heard of the mighty Fifth Angel, but anyway, for our younger readers, here’s a brief revisit of history. The band was formed in Bellevue, Washington back in 1984 and released two absolute classics in melodic metal before they disbanded five years later. There are three musicians from those days who still stand at the core of the band: drummer Ken Mary (Flotsam and Jetsam, ex-Chastain, ex-Impellitteri, ex-James Byrd, ex-Alice Cooper, ex-House of Lords), guitarist Ed Archer and bassist John Macko.
Fifth Angel rose from the ashes in 2018 with the excellent comeback album The Third Secret, after which two new members are entering the picture now in 2023 – Steven Carlson on vocals and Steve Conley (Flotsam and Jetsam) on guitars. The new album is a double conceptual LP, called When Angels Kill, released last Friday. As you can read from what Ken Mary told us a few days ago, the process of creating and recording the album was long and challenging, but the end result, as I can assure you, is worthy of the Fifth Angel name.
The style of the band is US power heavy metal, with strong emphasis on melodic guitars, very tight rhythm section and powerful vocals – think of early Savatage, Crimson Glory and Dio for reference. The album’s concept reveals the story of main character Phoenix, who is entangled in a battle for the world’s salvation, full of metaphors and very cinematic in presentation, with lots of samples and interludes. The title track, On Wings Of Steel, Run To The Black or Five Days To Madness are all representative of all the strengths of Fifth Angel, with very memorable choruses, power chords that stick immediately in the head and an inexorable performance on drums by Ken Mary. Resist The Tyrant and We Are Immortal are more mid-tempo, with a marching rhythm and sing-along choruses, meant to be sung with the audience, while Empire Of Hate and Light The Skies are among the heaviest songs in the band history so far. Seven Angels and the ballad Kill The Pain are both super epic metal hymns with soaring vocals and a somber mood, fantastic guitar solos and melodies. We should mention that most of the solo guitars in the album were recorded by guitar wizard Jim Dofka and what he has done on the album deserves great praise.
It’s not possible to pick up faults in this great album, which is one more evidence of the class and devotion of these fantastic musicians. The ability to come back after five years and a crucial line-up change and still make the fans proud with the band they’ve been following for so long, deserves respect. An essential release.
When Angels Kill is out now and can be ordered from HERE