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Angel: Risen

Although not strictly under the Angel name, seeing two lynchpins of the classic line-up of that band on stage together last year, playing the music of their old group, was, I must admit, a bucket list moment. Being born in Scotland in the early 70s, by the time Angel had disintegrated, I wasn’t even aware that they had existed. However, after reading a review by the ever knowledgable Dave Reynolds in Kerrang! of a full (mega-expensive) 1992 Japanese reissue campaign, I snapped up the band’s whole catalogue, especially with me already having been a long term follower of both Giuffria and House Of Lords, led by ex-Angel keyboard player Gregg Giuffria. From there I’ve been a devoted follower of a band long gone, so when both singer Frank DiMino and guitarist Punky Meadows each released top notch solo albums in recent years - and even worked together on a couple of songs - my fingers were firmly crossed for more collaboration.

Those ‘live dates of Angel music’ were, therefore a dream come true but I won’t lie, the talk of new music under the Angel name was something that worried me. The last Angel reunion, featuring DiMino, drummer Barry Brandt and occasional guest slots from Meadows and bassist Felix Robinson, resulted in just one album, 1999’s In The Beginning ageing much better than initial encounters suggested it would. However it’s Led Zeppelinisms were reasonably far removed from either the early melodic American prog Angel were initially known for, or the keyboard heavy pomp rock that they’d then go on to excel with, and as such left most fans cold. Hence, the recent rejoining of DiMino and Meadows under the Angel banner was just as filled with apprehension as it was exhilaration.

Introducing the album with a trademark (now sadly Giuffria-less) keyboard motif - which instantly reminds of the intro to Ozzy Osbourne’s “Mr Crowley” - is a brave move but opener proper “Under The Gun” simply stuns you into submission. DiMino is in incredible form, his voice maybe not quite as elastic as it once was, but his ability to knock you sideways with power, emotion and melody isn’t diminished one jot. With a guitar riff that bites in deep and the keyboard work from Charlie Calv beautifully and unashamedly retro, if I didn’t know better I’d think this was the opening to a lost Angel album recorded between Helluva Band and On Earth As It Is In Heaven.

It’s no one off, “Shot Of Your Love” a strutting pomp anthem with one of those listen out for moments when a rifle is primed and fired on the beat before the chorus kicks in (you’ll be acting it out after one listen - oh yes you will!). With glorious layers of backing vocals and a trademark Meadows howling guitar solo, it really is as though the last 40 years or so never happened - apart from, thankfully, the sparkling production job that Risen arrives with. Then take in the measured strut of the keyboard dripping “Slow Down”, the beautiful paean to days gone by of “1975” and the trademark, uplifting chorus and strafing riff of “We Were The Wild” and Angel followers of old will be left in no doubt that Risen is the real deal. With 15 new tracks, the incredible thing is that the standard never drops and that while there’s no denying (and why would they?) that this new line-up of Angel are trying to stay true to the band of old, neither does this album sound like a rehash of past glories - not even on an excellent, if faithful, reworking of fan favourite “Tower”.

From the lighter waving “IOU” to the mid-paced fist pump of “Stand Up” and from the chant-along of “Don’t Want You To Go” to the easy but urgent “Turn Around” this comeback from one of the 70s most misunderstood bands really is glorious and so much more than we had any right to expect. As a long term fan, I’m nothing short of flabbergasted.

The only thing left to say? Angel truly are Risen once more!

Track Listing
1. Angel Theme
2. Under the Gun
3. Shot of Your Love
4. Slow Down
5. Over My Head
6. 1975
7. We Were the Wild
8. I.O.U
9. (Punky's Couch Blues) Locked Cocked Ready to Rock
10. Turn Around
11. Desire
12. Our Revolution
13. Tell Me Why
14. Don't Want You to Go
15. Stand Up
16. My Sanctuary
17. Tower - Bonus Track

Added: October 6th 2019
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Risen at Cleopatra Records
Hits: 3481
Language: english

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» Reader Comments:

Angel: Risen
Posted by Carmine on 2019-10-07 00:12:52
My Score:

My overall impression is that this is a damn strong effort- the old Angel wings definitely have a few flaps left in ‘em!

I tend to disagree a bit with Pete’s comment that this “doesn’t really sound like Angel album”. As the band evolved from the proggy debut thru the pop flavored Sinful, no two albums were alike- each had its own identity while providing enough signature “Angel-isms” to retain continuity with what came before or after. I find the same to be true here, as well as mixing in some new elements. The goal seemed to be to touch on every era of their past history- and I guess they felt like they needed 15 new songs to do it. I’d like to say it’s “all killer no filler”... but if I have an issue, it’s that with this much new material, there’s bound to be hits and misses. However, when it’s good, it is very good indeed!

The killer: Under the Gun, Shot of Your Love, Slow Down (3 very strong opening tracks); 1975, We Were the Wild, Punky's Couch Blues (Angel meets Back In Black?), Turn Around, Our Revolution (heavy in a Queensryche-ish sort of way), Don't Want You to Go, and My Sanctuary (has an almost BOC vibe about it). Those 10 equal a very strong Angel album for me right there!

The filler: Over My Head, Desire, Stand Up (3 pretty average rockers); I.O.U (overly cheesy ballad); and Tell Me Why (attempt at 60’s style pop). These songs aren’t bad by any means, just not exceptional by comparison. The 30:second Angel Theme intro doesn’t add much, and the remake of Tower though great is pretty much superfluous.

Based on my “personal taste” math, that’s 10 hits/ 5 misses, and your mileage may vary. But any Angel fan will find an album’s worth of enjoyment here regardless of what era of the band appeals most to you.

And it has to be noted- Punky is 69, Frank is 67. The fact that Punky is arguably playing better than ever- and Frank can still go out and sing the back catalog- in the original keys- and hit 90% of the notes he was hitting in 1975 is really pretty amazing, and it shows on this new album. Punky is tearing it up, and Frank, though not trying to be quite as vocally gymnastic as he used to, can still bring all the power and melody. Considering the declining abilities of many of their contemporaries (Blackmores, Coverdales, Stanleys, etc.) I’m hard pressed to come up with another lead guitar/ vocal duo of their era that can still perform at this level both in the studio and live.

Angel: Risen
Posted by Grant Arthur on 2019-10-06 18:22:03
My Score:

Great reviews...I going out to pick this up today!!!

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