About a week ago, a friend who has a record label polled his friends to see if anyone would be interested in a metal album that wasn’t in English and to his surprise, nearly everyone was, myself included. Years ago, I was introduced to Angel 7 through their Black and White album, which came out in 2004. To put it mildly, I was literally blown away and all the vocals were in either Russian or Ukranian as the band is from the Ukraine. This was around the time Dragonforce was popular due largely to “Through the Fire and Flames” being on the Guitar Hero video game and in Angel 7 I could hear guitar of similar skill and craziness but with more of a melodic death metal feel to it…instant fan.
This is the fifth album for the band from Kyiv, Ukraine and the third with a title in English, which is somewhat surprising as the lyrics and vocals are in Ukrainian or Russian (not exactly sure which). Let’s just say there are a lot of song titles in Cyrillic and I can’t even attempt to translate. Going off their bandcamp page, Седьмой Ангел was their first album (2001), followed by Black and White (2004), Silver Sky (2005), Любовь никогда не умрет (Love Will Never Die, 2012), and now Last Revolution (2014). From what I’ve heard from the band, the overall process of recording Last Revolution brought many challenges, some of which most of us can never directly relate. First off, due to family reasons, the band was not able to record together and was only able to meet together at the end of the process, but the most difficult part was having to face the reality of revolution and war in the Ukraine and being “able to see in real life what I was singing. Fear, blood, and hope. This album was a prayer for the Lord’s mercy for my country, for all of us.” Powerful.
Going against the trend of an intro track or even an intro section in the first song, “Law or Grace,” Angel 7 launches straight into a ferociously heavy, fast riff and a brief guitar solo over the top of that. For those not familiar with Angel 7 this is a great introduction to their sound. Fast guitars, growled death metal vocals, some keyboards for accent, rapid fire drumming and scorching guitar solos are pretty much found in every song. I appreciate the keyboards in the faster sections of this song as they provide a nice accent and allow the guitars to not be forced to the forefront. Riffs are fast and technical and the backing vocals sound suitably noble and have what I could consider an Eastern European flavor in tone and delivery.
Production quality is high and the guitars have a distinct rough edgy tone to them that I really like. One thing I noticed comparing Last Revolution to Black and White is that on this album the guitar playing and especially the solos may be, for lack of a better word, more mature, perhaps. On Black and White there was a certain amount of insanely fast solos that while certainly technically impressive, can lean toward more of showing off, but on Last Revolution, there is a bit more restraint. Keep in mind the solos and fills are no less impressive from a technical perspective, but the performance is more along the lines of an established master who has nothing to prove, whereas those on Black and White had the feel of a newcomer trying to make an impressive statement.
Songs on the album tend to be fast, but there is a good bit of variety in the general songcrafting that keeps the songs interesting. Incorporating some strategic starts/stops/breaks within the songs and then transitioning to faster or slower sections keeps the listener interested. Songs like “The Oils My Lord” has an almost marching riff to open up and the keyboards and female vocals in the chorus-like sections add a feeling of lightness to the pounding dark rhythm. The band describes their sound as Death/Power/Thrash/Black Metal and one can hear those influences in their songs. I personally would add melodic death to the mix and with a little bit more keyboards, even could throw in some symphonic but guitar fans will certainly be drawn to the band for the guitar work.
One of my favorite tracks is “Way to Heaven”. The songs starts out with some acoustic guitar playing and then a loud, on the edge of overwhelming electric guitar plays over the top for the rest of the intro and then the song launches into a fast drum and guitar riff for the verse sections. The backing vocals again add a lot to this song as do the various starts and stops and the driving rhythm. Later in the song is a two guitar solo section with the guitars playing in harmony that briefly leads into an acoustic and clean guitar section only to be taken over by the driving main riff and the great backing vocals, again keeping the listener’s interest.
You might be able to tell by now that I could go on and on writing good things about this album. The more I listen to it, the more I like it and I was basically hooked from the opening riff of “Law and Grace.” Growing up, I was enthralled by the likes of Ritchie Blackmore, Jeff Beck, Tony Iommi, and Eddie van Halen and as such band with great guitarists have always been high on my list, but it’s not just the guitars, the songs also have to be good and the guitars need to fit within the songs. Being a fan of hardcore as well, I’m not too much into guitarists just showing off their skill and songs shouldn’t be just a vehicle for the guitarist to showcase their ability in a solo. From a metal perspective, Angel 7 manage to combine elements from various metal styles into songs that really grab the listener and then the guitar solos raise the songs to the next level.
Written by John Jackson
1. Law or Grace 04:40
2. Lions And Jackals 03:56
3. The Blind Leading The Blind 04:22
4. The Oils My Lord 04:20
5. What The Lord Has Built 04:21
6. King of Kings 04:52
7. Way To Heaven 05:06
8. Prophets Of The End Times 03:46
9. Freedom In Christ Or Death 04:44
10. The Final Revolution 04:35
11. Infidelity 03:07
Slava Malinin – Vocals, Keyboards, Bass, Drums, Programming
Nikolay Kiriljuk – Guitars
Alexander Grechanyuk – Rhythm guitars
Record label: Independent, Dec. 2014
Video below ‘The Final Revolution’
Video below ‘Law Or Grace’