‘The Third Secret’
2018 release from Nuclear Blast Records.
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Kendall Bechtel – Vocals, guitar. Ed Archer – Guitar. John Macko – Bass. Ken Mary – Drums.
Bellevue, Washington, USA.
- Stars Are Falling.
- We Will Rise.
- Queen Of Thieves.
- Dust To Dust.
- Can You Hear Me.
- This Is War.
- The Third Secret.
- Shame On You.
- Hearts Of Stone.
If you asked me which band from the heydays that I would want to release a new album, that is an easy answer; Fifth Angel. A massive fan from way back with ‘Time Will Tell’ being one of my all-time favorite albums. The possibility that the band would come back in any shape or form felt so remote as not worth thinking about.
Then, in 2010, I heard they would be performing at the Keep It True festival in Germany. I was just a little excited. Saw a few clips on YouTube and they sounded good, but everything went sadly quiet after that performance. I was gutted.
The band tried to get something going to record a new album at that time but things didn’t come together.
Another opportunity to play Keep It True presented itself in 2017 and it was at that show that the head of A&R for Nuclear Blast approached the band about recording a new album.
Ken Mary and Kendall Bechtel took on the main songwriting duties with John Macko also lending a hand. As one of the core songwriters on the first two albums, Ed Archer had to take a hiatus due to personal reasons, then things didn’t work out with Peter Orullian, who sang with the band on the Keep It True festival dates. Where to for a vocalist then? Ted Pilot was not available and, as his voice has been synonymous with the first two albums, the band didn’t want to release anything that didn’t match the quality of those albums, particularly vocally. Both Ken and John knew that Kendall could sing (he sang lead on James Byrd’s ‘Crimes Of Virtuosity’ album), so Ken made the suggestion that Kendall sing on three demos that they would give to Nuclear Blast.
Based on those demos, Nuclear Blast signed the band and Kendall was given lead singer duty for the whole album.
When I saw the announcement that Fifth Angel were releasing a new album it really did come out of the blue for me. I had tried to keep track of what was happening with them, but lost touch until Nuclear Blast’s media release. Then, as with any band that has been quiet for such a long time, I wondered whether they would sound anywhere near how they previously did.
The first single, ‘Can You Hear Me’ (which you can hear by clicking on the appropriate link under the Media heading near the top of the page), was released and that question was not fully answered for me. I liked it, but was hoping for something more energetic.
We get the second single, ‘Queen Of Thieves’, more akin to modern melodic metal than to early Fifth Angel. Though I really enjoyed both tracks, in all honesty I was a little nervous about what the full album would reveal.
Would there be full on rockers?
Oh hell yes there are!!!!
After hearing just the first 40 seconds of opener ‘Stars Are Falling’ there is no doubt that Fifth Angel are back and sound sensational! Ken Mary’s thunderous drums crescendo into a full blooded metal assault. I’m already well and truly hooked when Kendall starts singing. Holy hell, his voice is nothing short of a revelation. Some may be familiar with his voice from that James Byrd album, but I wasn’t. A vocal delivery in the Ronnie James Dio vein, Kendall’s voice is perfect for this song, and the album in general.
‘We Will Rise’, my personal favorite off the album, is a belter of a heavy rocker in the classic Fifth Angel style similar to tracks on the ‘Time Will Tell’ album. I’m a sucker for metal songs with a middle-Eastern sound to them, which second single ‘Queen Of Thieves’ is. A moody, atmospheric, crunchy rocker similar to Black Sabbath’s ‘Anno Mundi’ from their ‘Tyr’ album.
If Metal Church collaborated with Fifth Angel, I reckon ‘Dust To Dust’ could come out of that. Brilliant, galloping classic American metal that begs to be sung along to while the air guitar gets a serious workout. I love the menacing tinge Kendall gives the vocals while staying melodic. This song is going to be a monster live.
‘Can You Hear Me’ makes more sense to me hearing it within the album than as a single. Softer in approach than the other single ‘Queen Of Thieves’, it builds slowly with Kendall’s vocals and an electric guitar melody over acoustic guitars to the uplifting chorus.
You’ll need to get the brace out after ‘This Is War’, a head-banging metal anthem and the heaviest track on the album. A standout track.
Church bells introduce ‘Fatima’, an acoustic-driven metal ballad that leads nicely into ‘The Third Secret’. I’m immediately thinking of the mighty Kamelot when it kicks in. The middle-Eastern vibe previously mentioned is in evidence again on this brooding heavy rocker. A great track that takes you on a journey musically and lyrically.
The band don’t leave anything in the tank with the remaining two tracks of the album. Both ‘Shame On You’ and ‘Hearts Of Stone’ are powerful melodic hard rockers with kick ass choruses, the latter being a bit more in the classic American metal territory as with ‘Dust To Dust’. A great neck-breaking conclusion to the album.
I’m not sure how many albums the deal with Nuclear Blast is for, but this better not be the last. Actually, I’d take another one right now! I am absolutely overwhelmed by ‘The Third Secret’. It has built on what I loved about Fifth Angel in the first place and taken it to another level completely.
Yeah, I’m going fanboy, but it’s hard not to when you feel all your Christmases have come at once. After 27 odd years, you are not going to get ‘Time Will Tell’ part 2, but the core Fifth Angel sound is evident on more than enough of the songs while others are in a melodic metal direction, which works great as well. The album sounds immense, with a massive, modern production. Add to that the incredible musicianship and songs that bring back old memories and create many new ones, what you get is a perfect album. At least for this fanboy.
Rating: 100 out of 100.
Reviewed by Luigi.
Some information within this review has been obtained from the following interviews: