Fifth Angel - The Third Secret

Fifth Angel The Third Secret cover
Fifth Angel
The Third Secret
Nuclear Blast Records
Returning after heck 29 years, with an album and having only performed for the public for the second time in 2010 and without the original singer, Fifth Angel is a band that could and should have been big, since the talent that they had in their ranks was phenomenal… and they were on the branch of a multinational (ie Sony’s Epic label) yet mainly due to timing and nonmusical issues were held back.
After issuing an open “inquiry” about procuring a capable enough vocalist a few years back that seemingly must have not yielded any worthwhile results, pretty much the lineup of the second album, sans original vocalist Ted Pilot returns, with one of the guitarists, Kendall Bechtel, also being promoted to vocalist. Now he’s pretty impressive don’t get me wrong, with a strong, passionate, epic vocal style that fits the band’s material pretty well, but just doesn’t have the same edge that Pilot had, sounding a bit more forced and strained when he goes for the higher notes. Also the music has a tendency to remain in a comfortable, mid-tempo pace, probably almost as good as in the 80s albums from a composition standpoint, but as it’s missing the extra edge and occasional breakout, it sounds like a “tamer” version of that. Is it still pretty awesome metal, almost as good, as they used to make it back in the day? Ya betchya… but, still, I could see myself going for those older albums instead of this one, hands down.
Opener “Stars are Falling” tries to be the “faster” paced number, just to try and get the listener pumped up… think a tamer “In the Fallout” for comparison. With raspier, somewhat fuller vocals.
“We will Rise” begins the tendency of some pretty cool and epic mid-tempo songs with usually well-crafted choruses and lovingly crafted solos that however sometimes have somewhat pretty generic riffs… it doesn’t mean they don’t work, but their impact might vary among different listeners.
“Queen of Thieves” is a doomier and more hard rock oriented piece that strikes a good balance between riffs, leads and chorus.
“Dust to Dust” is similar, but with a more spirited approach, but as with most of the songs on offer, the choruses are not entirely underscored and given the due focus, at first sounding like some variation of the verses. In the past album I feel that they had a tendency to stand out a bit more, releasing the payload of the song, instead of sort of just moving along.
“Can You Hear Me”, which was the first song that was revealed, is a “heavy” electric sorrowful ballad that was wisely chosen, as it has some of the most impressive musical themes among the other songs in the album, as well as chorus that similarly stands out more.
“This is War” feels like the slower heavier cousin of “Cathedral” crossed with “Midnight Love”… it feels like it might have been conceived during that era and who knows it might have, after all it’s the same people that recorded both albums.
“Fatima” is pretty odd, with its acoustic intro that might remind you the atmosphere of say “Wings of Destiny”… never really evolving much past that in term of the song.
A marked improvement comes in the form of the heavy as mercury title track “The Third Secret”, with its hypnotic repetitive refrain… which hits the nail in the head, in terms of what the album really needs.
“Shame on You” tries to be the double bass anthem that the album is sorely missing… the sort of song “The Night” was for the debut or “We Rule” for the sophomore, but unfortunately falls slightly short of such lofty goals. It comes close, but not close enough.
“Hearts of Stone” closes the album, managing to get the ingredients and balance just about right but coming too late in the game to save the album from it’s definitely above mediocrity status…
It really hurts the album and the band that they come very close to recapturing their original “mojo”, only to seemingly fall by the wayside by trivialities that however once piled up, tend to sidetrack them from achieving their goal.
Worth owning if you like the band, definitely. Compared to almost everything else that came this year in the “classic metal” subgenres, it puts almost everything to shame, but it doesn’t manage to overshadow the band’s own flawless legacy. It doesn’t mar it, but it doesn’t do much to add to it. Still if you like soaring vocals and scorching guitars shredding with gusto, you can’t go wrong with this album! Hopefully the addition of a capable singer would allow Bechtel to concentrate more on his guitar duties and get the band to come up with a follow up to this that will better yet reflect their true potential that this album is a good reminder of.