Holland’s Angelic Forces have finally released a full length album, Arise, sure to please Stryper fans and those looking for an updated version of late 80’s metal.
With roots dating back to 2015, and an ep released in 2018, it has been a long road for Angelic Forces to release a full length album. Originally the band formed from ex-Methusalem members Wilco van der Meij (bass) and Harold de Vries (guitars) bringing in drummer Rudie Kingma and Maurice Glijsman (ex-L.S.D) as a second guitarist. This lineup created the independently released three song ep. In the time since the ep the band shared stages with the likes of Leviticus, War of Ages, Tygers of Pan Tang as well as being in festivals featuring Cannibal Corpse, Cradle of Filth, Pestilence, and King Diamond, some of which are diametrically opposed in messaging to the Christian one of Angelic Forces. During the pandemic, the band started work on Arise which was recorded at Audioshape studio and features new bassist Tjaard Walstra.
In general, for those who grew up in the late 80s as metalheads, Angelic Forces will sound very familiar. Given the Christian message, sound, and especially the vocals and twin guitars, comparisons to Stryper are inevitable, but there are elements from other bands of the time like Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, and I can’t help but hear some Mike Tramp (White Lion) in Harold de Vries vocals. Production is good and clean with vocals coming through clear alongside the instruments but to my ear there does seem to be a bit of an echo that keeps the sound from being as bright as I would have liked.
The album opens with “Rapture” and “Armageddon” two songs that could be almost thought of as one. “Rapture” is a short intro featuring sounds of chaos and leads right into the dark, heavy opening riff of “Armageddon”. That heavy, slower riff gives way into more of a galloping pace when the verses start and has a good groove to it. Harold de Vries vocals are clear, rhythm section pounding along, and some good layered guitars add variety. Given my previous mention of the late 80’s sound, one would expect some soaring choruses and blistering guitar solos and the song does not disappoint. For this track both guitarists take turns in the solo department and this happens on other tracks on the album as well as each taking some songs on their own. Either way, both are recognizably different and equally good.
“Through the Fire” picks up the pace quite a bit with a very fast riff and an intro solo brought in for good measure, something employed before the verse sections as well. Again the chorus sections really stand out and the backing vocals support de Vries vocals nicely. The additional guitar work in this song is a welcome addition and has been worked into the composition very well. Later in the track de Vries shows off his vocal range with some upper register screams that will bring out the Michael Sweet comparisons, but overall I do hear more Mike Tramp (White Lion) in terms of tone and phrasing, which is not a bad thing.
“Arise “is one of those tracks that serve as a call to battle on Christian albums and in that way is somewhat predictable. That being said, everything musically one would want in a metal song is here, from the high register screams to fist raising rhythms and blazing solos that erupt seemingly out of nowhere to fully take over the song. One of the other expected song topics is covered in “Religion is a Lie”, attacking the hypocrisy often associated with organized religion. I fully understand the sentiment, but this is one of those topics that has been done so often and so similarly that it seems dated. Fortunately, a great riff, good solos, and some great underlying bass work from Tjaard Walstra save the song.
“Fear No Evil” closes out the album and is one of the more different tracks on the album. Some acoustic guitar, bass, and drums carry much of the song along with some deeper vocals from de Vries and the overall pacing is slower, almost methodical. The opening solo from de Vries is great and when the guitars come in during the second verse, one can’t help be feel the power. Rudie Kignma’s drum work, though restrained in the much of the song, is really powerful in this more stripped down arrangement. Most bands tend to put these tracks in the middle of the album, so it is an interesting choice to close out the album, but I think works really well.
Angelic Forces have put together a solid album that pays homage to late 80’s metal but presents it in an updated manner sure to please the older fans as well as bring in some new ones.
Written by John Jackson
- Through the Fire
- Mission to Hell
- Repent or Die
- Religion is a Lie
- Fear No Evil
Harold de Vries – Lead Vocals/Guitar
Maurice Gijsman – Guitar
Tjaard Walstra – Bass
Rudie Kingma – Drums
Release Date: December 16, 2022
Record Label: No Dust Records
Socials: Facebook / Website / Spotify
Video for ‘Armageddon‘
Video for ‘Arise’