When Fifth Angel re-emerged in 2018 with comeback album The Third Secret, we here at Sentinel Daily HQ openly wept rears of joy; Long revered as a cornerstone of the US power metal movement thanks to their brace of Earthshaking albums released in the eighties, The Third Secret pointed gloriously backwards in style, and re-ignited the metal fervour in all our hearts – or, at least in the hearts of myself, editor Scott Adams and resident power metal guru Ferry Templeton…

However, the band failed to make much headway on a broader scale, so here we are five years later with a second album from our re-cast heroes; and, whilst I’m not prepared to make any grandiose claims on behalf of the band, I’m certainly going to give When Angels Kill my wholehearted recommendation.

Sensibly the band have welcomed original guitarist Ed Archer back to the fold, and he, in tandem with Flotsam and Jetsam‘s Steve Conley, is responsible for some of the downright best trad metal riffage you’ll hear all year on tracks like Blinded and Bleeding, Empire of Hate and We Are Immortal. New vocalist Steven Carlson must also take his fair share of the plaudits, too, turning in a self-assured and hugely appealing performance. Pitched somewhere between Ripper Owens and Ralf Scheepers (indeed the presence of Primal Fear is a constant, sonically, throughout WAK, which is a big plus in my fevered brain), he’s a classy presence, adding a melodic sensibility absent in the voice of previous vocalist Kendall Bechtel.

The album is a double, weighing in at a frightening fourteen tracks in length, but miraculously this is a record that never collapses under the weight of it’s own importance. Drummer and band guiding force Ken Mary has worked with too many metal greats down the years to not have some of that greatness rub off, and on When Angels Kill he presides over the construction of an album that he and the band can be totally proud of. It’s a concept album (I’m always wary of these), but, spoken word excerpts from the story’s protagonist apart, you’d never know; Every track stands proud on it’s own merits, and let’s face it, the world we’re living in is just as bad as the one painted here (a world with corrupt media and leaders? that’ll never happen…) so if you want to just concentrate on banging your head to classy anthems like Kill The Pain or the superb, Savatage-style mayhem of Five Days To Madness you’ll be missing out on nothing.

Whether you buy the band’s storyline or not, there’s a huge amount here that’ll set the pulse racing if you’re a fan of ‘proper’ heavy metal. The band add just the right amount of self-reference to the pot to keep the long term faithful happy, yet offer up enough by way of variety and sheer class to make this a record that’ll appeal to neophytes as well. By turns rattling direct yet pleasingly ambitious, this is an album that quite literally has it all.

I’m genuinely excited by this record; I’m also hopeful that, with this lineup, the band can move forward and produce even more high calibre metal in the years to come. As an antidote to dystopia, that would be a very good thing indeed…

When Angels Kill is out now.