Brazen Angel - s/t 3.5/5
1. The reaper
5. Metal for eternity
6. Evil of the night
7. For the world
8. Nothing this evil dies
9. The Devil went down to Georgia
10. What’s out there
11. Figure it out
12. No raincheck on evil
13. Brazen angel
The independent U.S. metal bands sweating it out in their basements and garages have my eternal respect and admiration, especially those who are old enough to have experienced the glories of 80s metal when they happened. After all, they’re the ones whose belief in metal runs so deep that they endure all manner of hardship and indignity just to keep the faintest flicker of the dream alive. They juggle families and day jobs, mortgages and electric bills, side by side with their music, making sacrifices that most of us never see just to give life to the molten metal that runs in their veins, all the while knowing full well that most people will never hear this music. Georgia’s Brazen Angel are one such band.
I first heard of Brazen Angel when I witnessed them perform at Atlanta promoter Hoyt Parris’s Metal MayDay shindig in 2010, as one of a slew of local/regional acts opening for Cage. Although the visual aspect of Brazen Angel’s performance left something to be desired, musically they caught my ear with their catchy songs, strong vocals, and classy, powerful riffs. So when their debut CD, ‘Metal for eternity’, saw the light of day a few months ago, I had to check it out. The 13-track affair reminded me of much that I had enjoyed about their Metal MayDay gig, starting with the emotive, clear voice of Reese Martin and the exuberant 80s U.S. metal riffing assault attack of guitarists Chris Cannon (also the chief writer and bandleader) and Doug Neal. Overall, the vibe and feel of the music are akin to Division (circa the Scott Stewart days) albeit with fewer harmony guitars and more overt influences from the likes of Dio, commercial Judas Priest, and even swatches of hair metal here and there.
Not every song is a winner, but some of the good ones are tremendous classic metal anthems. Track 4, “Crusaders”, sends shivers down my spine every time I hear it, as the gentle vocal-and-guitar intro softly previews the chorus before the rest of the band kicks in and turns it into a full-fledged gem. I must look like a fool driving to work singing along at the top of my lungs: “In the thunder and the lightning/We live life by the noose/In the darkness/You will find us/Crusaders of the truth.” I woke from a dead slumber at 4 a.m. the other night and sat bolt upright with that glorious chorus ringing through my head. My poor, long-suffering wife must have thought I was nuts. Other must-hear tracks include opener “The reaper”, the unstoppably catchy “Nightmare” with its gang-sung “woooahhhh – oooohhhh” line repeated in the chorus and the sly wink to “Breaking the law” in the outro riffing. “Metal for eternity” is the band’s rallying cry and ode to the power and might of heavy metal music. “Nothing this evil dies” couples a melodic verse with some mean riffing in the chorus. And Brazen Angel’s metalized cover of the iconic Charlie Daniels staple “The Devil went down to Georgia” (sung by lanky bassist Joey Phillips live and, it appears, on CD as well) goes over quite favorably as a homage to the band’s home state.
All of that said, ‘Metal for eternity’ is a self-released CD and bears many of the warts associated with that medium. The sound job is by no means awful, but it does veer off into dodgy and muddy territory from time to time, sapping some of its power, and the CD could benefit from a remix. No doubt, Brazen Angel could desperately use an editor to cull out some of the extraneous moments and ideas from this 13-song, 59-minute platter. If the band had focused on their 10 best songs (okay, 9 originals plus the Charlie Daniels novelty cover) and maybe tightened up a couple of those songs a bit (a few tunes drag on more than they should), ‘Metal for eternity’ would have been much stronger for it.
At the end of the day, this Brazen Angel CD is not recommended to those who demand slick, ultra-professional production and buffed-to-a-shine songwriting. But for those with a little more tolerance, a little more willingness to venture beyond what the Nuclear Blasts and AFMs of the world are releasing, ‘Metal for Eternity’ just may be a worthy diamond in the rough. After all, the songs and performances capture a certain heart-on-the-sleeve naivete and devil-may-care enthusiasm that are sadly absent from so many of today’s calculated precision, ProTooled-to-death recordings. Those with the patience and the diligence to seek out this CD and listen to it for what it is (rather than harping on it for what it is not) may find themselves pleasantly surprised.
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