Fifth Angel – “The Third Secret” (Nuclear Blast Records)
The return of the American Power Metal kings! Also hailing from the Bellevue area like Queensrÿche and inspired by them, Fifth Angel exploded onto the mid 80s Seattle scene through their incredible self titled debut. Signed by Epic Records to a 7 album deal (!), the world was set ablaze and the band was heralded as being the next big thing. With drummer Ken Mary covering duties also with Alice Cooper, the word about Fifth Angel was spreading fast in anticipation of their sophomore “Time Will Tell’, which arrived in 1988. However, just 2 years later it was all over. Call it the winds of change in the form of grunge, ironically spawned from their very own city, but Fifth Angel were thereafter relegated to the metal mists of history. That is, until the advent of true metal and nearly 20 years later, they would reunite for a special show at the iconic Keep It True festival, renowned for resurrecting bands for just such occasions! As has been played time and again through such happenings, the impetus was set in motion for something grander, and following a second show at Keep It True, the band was truly active again, amassing demos that would result in this 3rd album, Fifth Angel’s first release in almost 30 years. Although a trio, the band is made up of the incredible talents of guitarist / lead vocalist Kendall Bechtel (TKO, Q5), bassist John Macko and drummer / backing vocalist Ken Mary (Flotsam & Jetsam, Accept, Chastain, Impellitteri, House of Lords, Randy Hansen etc) – and they rock!!! While “The Third Secret” wisely makes no attempt to re-engineer their early work, make no mistake, this is 10 tracks abundantly resonating all the power, passion and sound of classic American Power Metal to herald a second coming to Fifth Angel for this age and time. Kendall Bechtel’s vocals are nothing short of messianic, definitive in their balance between power and a youthful, Dio like soul straight from the heart soaring majestically and bringing instant rapture. Then there’s his guitar work, effectively an extension of his potent vocal presence, full in its body and alternating between flowing bliss and heavenly fire through an unceasing manna of passionate riffs, heart pounding solos, and a plethora of blissful breaks and licks. With John Macko’s bass adding full body to the graceful work, Ken Mary’s precision percussion and double bass drumming power bolstered the already heavy sound with even more energy – so much so that it was actually hard to believe there’s only 3 guys at work here! From the battering ‘Shame On You’ with its catchy melodic break, pistoning double bass heads and drum rolls pounding away, Bechtel’s higher vocals set the tone to the almighty chorus while injecting even more guitar work just for good measure before his solo tears your head off in total headbanging frenzy. On ‘Can You Hear Me’ the contrast couldn’t be greater on this epic power ballad with it’s deep, soul grabbing passion backed by ballsy bass and drums culminating in a soaring chorus that not even heaven could ignore before being ignited by blessed Bechtel’s neo classical solo – wow. More rocking in its defiant posture was ‘We Will Rise’ with its high vocals and harmonies lifting off the propulsion from the multiple guitars blending melodies, tremolo wildness and crunching riffs enhanced by the busy drum work once again to a culminating chorus – not forgetting yet another climatic solo. Great songs, great performances and a great feeling – this is Fifth Angel back from the past unto a new beginning!