Artist: Angel Sword
Album: Rebels Beyond the Pale
Sometimes, a band will do something deliberately different than normal and throw everyone off guard. A lot of the time this results in utter failure–being weird or abnormal purely for the sake of it often ends in failure. In the world of traditional heavy metal, where the boundaries are well-defined and expectations of certain tropes in terms of vocals, riffing, and production.
Angel Sword seems to have thrown this out the window when they wrote Rebels Beyond the Pale. This is immensely clear within ten seconds of the first track. Angel Sword decide that the clean, powerful vocals are something to be done away with and instead go with a nasally-delivered whiskey-soaked groan delivered by a man named Jerry Razors.
Imagine Mark the Shark, but a bit more wonky and if he abandoned the head voice in favor of bellow. It has that fantastical, magical side of epic metal but delivered by a man with a penchant less for Dungeons and Dragons and more for epic storytelling on a desert highway.
What is surprising is how much it works. These vocals are insane–partially because they have the novelty of never being heard before, but also in the case of fitting a strange middle ground between the leather clad and mythological sides of traditional heavy metal.
It’s complemented by a very bare bones style of strumming and riffing that feels very barren, but in an atmospheric way–almost as if it’s being delivered at sunset across an expansive desert where the horizon is always too far away.
These aesthetics are of course second to the excellent songwriting ability of Angel Sword–huge highlights like “Lightning Runners” and “Lawmaker” are your traditional fist pumping heavy metal anthems, while “Midnight Survivor” and “Heavy Metal Night” are more easygoing pieces.
It’s by no means a perfect album–but the major issue seems to be that some songs aren’t as strong as others. “Break the Chains” especially feels like already tread, hard rock territory by its line-punctuated-by-riff formula. The solos in particular on plenty of songs feel a little undone and repetitive but luckily, the riffs are prominent enough that they are not overly defining.
Still, if your album’s worst issue is that some songs aren’t as good as the best ones, the album is in great shape. This is a listenable album with some serious punch, and some awesome vocals that will probably be divisive–but you heard it here, Mr. Razors has at least one big fan.
Check out Angel Sword at Bandcamp: https://angelsword.bandcamp.com/