ANGEL – Once Upon A Time

Cleopatra 2023

Once Upon A Time

Spreading their broken wings again, American group aim to recapture glories of yore.

You can live in the past only for so long, and this ensemble know the rules of business named “showbiz” too well to try and harness their erstwhile glories, yet making a schtick out of it provided the hard-rock veterans with an easy way out… or perhaps, not so easy given “Once Upon A Time” that follows 2019’s "Risen" is just the third studio album the band turned in in the last quarter-century. Still, one look at the two platters’ covers to see the artists’ white attire would be enough to get a whiff of a concept which has been in the works for some time now. No surprise here, with vocalist Frank DiMino and guitarist Punky Meadows still at the fore and the record featuring the customarily faux-symphonic intro and outro to hint at the drama of the enclosed songs.

Still, opener “The Torch” lights up the sonic space with a new sensuality, pulling the listeners in via acoustic touch of a ballad before offering an infectious riff on a refrain, and “Liar Liar” sets their hearts on fire with a fun-fueled swagger, so it’s the incredibly titled and wondrously delivered “Once Upon A Time An Angel And A Devil Fell In Love (And It Did Not End Well)” that pitches a cinematically arresting contrast into AOR tropes. The tension may seem to rise once “Black Moon Rising” switches from a gospel-colored liftoff to a punchy mid-tempo number, and dissolve in the piano-driven serenade “Let It Rain” that locates orchestral spirituality in the streamlined attack which “Psyclone” will launch into orbit. But if the warm “Blood Of My Blood, Bone Of My Bone” takes the album’s drift to a slightly hackneyed direction, the heavier, tastier “Layla”-quoting “Rock Star” hits hard – working as a worthy sequel to “Juke Box Hero” and other stadium-sized anthems, and the powerful, righteously pompous “Without You” puzzles those who remember “Flying With Broken Wings (Without You)” from the group’s first era.

This is part of the play, though: abandoning their longing for old glories and assessing the past with ironic smile, ANGEL are finally free to soar again.


April 4, 2023

Category(s): Reviews
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