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About Fifth Angel
An American heavy metal/hard rock outfit based out of Seattle, Washington, Fifth Angel emerged in the mid-'80s with a hard-charging melodic sound that drew inspiration from the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, and echoed the sonic emissions of Pacific Northwest contemporaries Queensryche and Metal Church. The band issued a pair of well-received LPs in the late '80s -- 1986's Fifth Angel and 1989's Time Will Tell -- before falling prey to the shifting musical landscape of the early '90s and disbanding. They re-formed in 2017 and inked a deal with Nuclear Blast, who issued the group's long-awaited third full-length, The Third Secret, the following year.
Founded in 1984 by high-school friends Ted Pilot (vocals) and Ed Archer (guitar), the band eventually expanded to a five-piece with the arrivals of James Byrd (lead guitar), John Macko, and Ken Mary (drums). Fifth Angel's bombastic classic metal earned the approval of Shrapnel Records, who issued their eponymous debut in 1986; the album was co-produced by Terry Date, who would go on to helm platinum-selling outings by the likes of Pantera, Soundgarden, and White Zombie. While Fifth Angel turned some heads at home, the LP found a sizable audience overseas, and was an early success for then-fledgling label Roadrunner, who handled its European distribution.
It also attracted the powerful Concrete Management, which began shopping the album to major labels and forced the band into a state of limbo while they awaited the protracted negotiations' conclusion. During this time, bandmembers kept busy with various side projects, most notably drummer Mary, who did session work for Alice Cooper and House of Lords. Finally, Fifth Angel was handed a long-term deal by Epic Records, which subsequently reissued their debut album in 1988. By then, Byrd had already left to launch a solo career (beginning with the Atlantis Rising album, also on Shrapnel) and was replaced by prodigious guitarist Kendall Bechtel prior to the sessions for 1989's belated Time Will Tell. The record sold well -- the single "Midnight Love" was picked up as the theme song for Howard Stern's enormously popular radio show -- but the band, like so many of their contemporaries, were unable to stem the tide of the incoming alternative rock and post-grunge scene, and ceased operations the following year.
In 2010, Fifth Angel resurfaced with most of its core members -- Heir Apparent frontman Peter Orullian was brought in to replace Ted Pilot, who had become a successful endodontist -- to headline the Keep It True festival in Lauda-Koenigshofen, Germany. After being asked back in 2017, the group officially re-formed and signed with Nuclear Blast. Now operating as a tight four-piece consisting of Archer, Mary, Macko, and Bechtel, the latter of whom took over lead vocals, the group released The Third Secret in 2018, their first collection of new material in nearly three decades. ~ James Christopher Monger
- Bellevue, WA
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