Warband, an aptly-titled work serving as a soundtrack to mayhem and other blasphemous activities, is a bold primary release for the young group down in The Lone Star State. While Archangel A.D.’s work proved to be a fair attempt at the current thrash revival, I personally feel as if their style would lean better towards a traditional doom outfit, an idea which will be elaborated upon below.
While I refrain from publicizing blatantly bashing and critical content on my site, the following is delivered alongside a number of hopeful aspects that will solidify my case.
Archangel A.D.’s Warband EP is a fairly standard, bland, and derivative release. Prior to moving on to the flipside of this article, odd as it may be, I will expand on the aforementioned claim. The release’s instrumentation is the most enjoyable aspect of the EP, but even then the category suffers from unoriginality and repetitiveness. This is mostly noticeable during the numerous guitar solo sections, when the rhythm and percussion additions merely play an unexpansive riff and drum beat ad nauseam. The vocal performance is also unfitting for the aggressive atmosphere desired in the group’s mission statement, as the singer finds himself somewhere in limbo between a melodic and abrasive style (for thrash standards). While this unaggressive and more melody-focused style may work with melodic thrash outfits, Archangel A.D.’s simple and in-your-face attitude on paper doesn’t match the above.
I could expand on the firing squad of statements found prior, but that will not serve anyone at this point. While I attempted to format my remarks in a concise manner, I will elaborate greatly on my proposed solution.
The one gleam of originality and promise I found upon listening to the release came from “Evil Dreams”, the EP’s longer, more expansive, and most importantly slower track. The hooky riffs found on this particular song were really well put together and ended up working splendidly when coupled with the singer’s style. As mentioned above, the vocalist seemed to be unsure about a concrete angle to his performance, and didn’t manage to strike that aggressive nerve, or the melodic and cleaner approach on the other end of the spectrum. He did however approach “Evil Dreams” with a slower, more emotional, and almost ballad-like performance that coupled really well with the slower and hookier pace of the song. Listen below.
So, with as little credential and importance that I have within this group’s career, I promptly suggest that they take a drastic change in style towards the traditional doom metal world. I struggled to find anything of stellar quality within their thrash attempt, which is very much something you need in the modern world of metal. While something like this may fly back in 1986, metal has been around for over forty years, and the genre has seen so much growth in terms of creativity, almost to the point that everything has been explored, way down to the fringes of the term “metal”. So, there really is no hope in pursuing a mediocre thrash sound, as those exceptional stand-out qualities are what draws attention in the current sphere. For example, Power Trip, a newer band from the very same state, has been growing in popularity immensely as of late. The reasoning behind this is because they are expanding on a less popular subgenre of metal, and they are damn good at it. Deathhammer, another similar thrash metal group that only has a few releases under their belt, gets people extremely excited due to their vocalist’s singing ability, who has this incredible dynamic range where he can get these fast, guttural barks out, then transition to a raspier black metal style, and then switch again to a high, almost power metal-like scream; all in the same verse. That vocalist’s ability is absolutely insane, and that is precisely why his group is rising in popularity.
Archangel A.D.’s golden nugget is to be found within their slower, more ballad-like attempt at music. I heard a lot of parallels between Archangel A.D.’s vocalist and Bobby Liebling’s, the well-known singer for Pentagram, a very popular traditional doom metal group. As mentioned above, the lyrics on “Evil Dreams” were more introspective and emotional, which worked well with the vocalist’s performance during that track. The group has also proved they can write catchy, slower riffs, just like the ones found on traditional doom metal works put out by Pentagram, Trouble, and Saint-Vitus.
I suggest that Archangel A.D. change names and pursue a different path. They are a very new band that has only recently found a stable lineup, so there wouldn’t be all that much effort lost in this shift. Warband was an excellent opportunity for the group; they’re now experienced with the process of recording and releasing an album, but it best serves as a trial more than a full-fledged opportunity. On top of that, Archangel A.D. is a shrouded name, even simply looking at search clarity. There are currently nine other metal acts under the name “Archangel” (hence the added “A.D.” to the group’s title for copyright reasons), and that’s not to mention the highly popular thrash group from the late ‘80s, Dark Angel, who’s name sounds extremely similar to the group in question’s. That may not be a coincidence and rather could be a nod by the group, but what’s the point in following in someone’s footsteps.
While they do say that success is paved with unrelenting work and effort, the road does not necessarily go that far for this group. Make a sharp right turn and work towards a different style, one that is proven to function on parts of the Warband EP. There currently is also a high demand for doom metal releases, as Khemmis recently made a big splash in the scene with Desolation, their newest LP which dropped a few weeks ago to critical acclaim.