ANGEL – Once Upon A Time (2023) *HQ*

ANGEL - Once Upon A Time (2023) - lossless full

Legendary hard rock band ANGEL will release a new studio album, “Once Upon A Time“, on April 21 via Cleopatra Records. The LP features 11 brand new songs, plus three bonus tracks on this CD version, all written by Punky Meadows, Frank Dimino and Danny Farrow.
Angel was of course everything that was over the top, overblown and gloriously outrageous about the 70s. A band that wore all white had a spectacular stage show and were the complete embodiment of Pomp Rock – I loved it.
The band have rekindled the flame before with the ‘early days’ vibe of ‘In the Beginning’ back in 1999, but it was the second reformation of the band with Frank and Punky in 2019 and the resulting album ‘Risen’ that things really seemed to click, and 4 years later here we are with ‘Once Upon a Time’ featuring the same line up as that album. And Rocks.

Opener ‘The Torch’ has the wonderfully early Angel overblown sound we all love but with a distinctly modern sheen that rounds off the excesses and sharpens the guitars. It’s a great opener and ‘Black Moon Rising’ that follows doubles down with some great guitar and wonderful melodies. Two strong numbers to open the new record and whilst it may not blow old or new fans away there’s enough in the opening to suggest there may be gold ahead. And it doesn’t take long to make that strike.
The first nugget comes with ‘It’s Alright’ – the Synth-infused light Rocker that graced albums like Sinful – it’s gloriously unashamedly 1979 again! It’s also a great choice for a first single and builds upon the early promise.

It’s not all gold though… The title track might just have the cheesiest lyrics I’ve heard this Century and then some! As a song ‘Once Upon a Time a Devil and an Angel Fell in Love (And it Did Not End Well)’ is like Andrew Lloyd Webber got drunk with Jim Steinman one night and created a rock opera on the back of a beermat. And if you think the song is overblown then the breakdown is even more preposterous than those boys could come up with on a tequila and absinth binge! As much as I may cringe though on one level on another it is sublime! You love Pomp? Then this might be the most Pomp of all!
After that double white satin moment the waterfall and piano that open ‘Let it Rain’ thankfully bring you back to Earth. ‘Let it Rain’ is a wonderful song with some nice Seventies overtones and great melodies that steady the ship nicely.

But if you want ‘parping’ synth then ‘Psyclone’ even has those space noises that were discontinued in the late 80’s but… Angel bring ’em back again. If you want and crave those authentic Angel sounds of yesteryear then this is one for you. And this for me is where things really come alive and it just doesn’t stop!
‘Blood of My Blood, Bone of My Bone’ starts off with a horn-like synth pattern more like old school Rhythm and Blues than Rock and Roll and those sweet backing vocals just add to the overall sound. It’s a wonderful Soul-infused number that though stunningly and completely out of place is simply wonderful. As is ‘Turn the Record Over’ which has that wonderful ‘Sinful’ vibe. Honestly this could be my favourite part of the whole album.

Pitching the album right is a wonderfully rocky ride as then we are treated to ‘Rock Star’ that seems to grab a snatch of ‘Layla’ to open. It’s a nice hard rocker that treads a well-worn path lyrically and whilst not a stand out for me it’s worth your time.
‘Without You’ is another brooding Rocker that reaches back to the early days and brings that sound up to date rather like the opener did, but it arguably works even better here. It’s down to ‘Liar Liar’ to close the LP proper with a nice mid-tempo rocker that hints at later albums of the original incarnation replete with cheesy lyrics and feelgood chorus. It’s a wonderfully anachronistic way to end which of course is all part of the charm.

The CD version adds three bonus tracks ‘Daddy’s Girl’, ‘C’mon’ and ‘Let The Kid Out.’ ‘Daddy’s Girl’ sounds like an outtake from ‘On Earth’ or ‘White Hot’, a nice Pop infused Rocker that leans towards AOR. It’s one that definitely deserves a spot in the main event.
The shorter, sharper ‘C’Mon’ too sounds great too. It’s almost perfect save for the final track ‘Let The Kid Out’ that closes out the CD. It’s a song that sports some cringy lyrics and comes across as a lite low calorie version of ‘Wild and Hot’ at least in sentiment. If there was one track I could have done without on the entire record it might just be this one. A very odd way to close what is a solid and consistent return.

Angel Mark #3 is delivering again. Some tracks here are on par with the classics, yeah, it’s that good.
Highly Recommended


01 – The Torch
02 – Black Moon Rising
03 – It’s Alright
04 – Once Upon a Time an Angel and a Devil Fell in Love
05 – Let It Rain
06 – Psyclone
07 – Blood of My Blood, Bone of My Bone
08 – Turn the Record Over
09 – Rock Star
10 – Without You
11 – Liar Liar
12 – Daddy’s Girl (Bonus Track)
13 – C’mon (Bonus Track)
14 – Let the Kid Out (Bonus Track)

Frank DiMino – Vocals
Punky Meadows – Guitars
Danny Farrow – Guitars
Steve Ojane – Bass
Billy Orrico – Drums
Charlie Calv – Keyboards


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