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Style Melodic Heavy Metal

Country USA

Back in the glory days of traditional metal in the 1980’s, with the likes of Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, The Scorpions, Iron Maiden, Deep Purple, Ronnie James Dio, Led Zeppelin and many others as an influence… Ed Archer, Ted Pilot and James Byrd had a vision. This vision was to blend their various musical influences and backgrounds together to form a new version of traditional metal. Thus, the inception of the band “Fifth Angel”. Ken Mary was brought on board on drums, and would later move on to much success playing in bands such as House Of Lords, Bad Moon Rising, and Alice Cooper, to name but a few.

In 1980, James Byrd put together his first original band with original songs. In late 1981 he moved to L.A. and spent a year there playing with various bands at the usual places (Troubador, Perkins Palace etc.). In late 1982, Byrd had had enough of L.A. and wanted to move back to Seattle to work with two musicians he’d heard before he’d gone to L.A. One was drummer Ken Mary, the other was vocalist Ted Pilot. This was to become Fifth Angel. …. Queensrche were recent news in Seattle at this time, so his plan was to follow their business approach of assembling the players he wanted, and concentrating solely on writing, rehearsing, producing an album, and then looking for a recording contract. So that’s exactly what he did. By late 1983, Fifth Angel was in Steve Lawson Productions with Terry Date recording “Fade to Flames”, “Fifth Angel”, “In the Fallout”, and “Wings of Destiny”. With this four song demo, about a hundred tapes went out to record companies on a list. Shrapnel Records was on the list, and Byrd felt that if nothing else, they’d sign him alone. .. .. Mike Varney, (of Shrapnel Records), was on the phone after one listen to sign the project. They got a pittance of an advance, but finished the album by cutting five more tracks. The reviews were stellar, and Byrd began getting endorsement offers and interviews.

From their beginnings in 1984 in Bellevue Washington (near Seattle), Fifth Angel sought to create a musical landscape of their own to express ideas, thoughts, opinions and emotions in the most eloquent form, in the form of music and story-telling through lyrics. Fifth Angel recorded a demo with the now famed Terry Date at the mixing desk and was first signed to independent label Shrapnel Records, which opened the door to an international following and a very positive acceptance of their vision. John Macko was brought on board to become the permanent bass player around this time.
In 1987, Fifth Angel’s reputation as an act got them management with ‘Concrete Marketing and Management’, and a seven-album deal on Epic/CBS. They re-released “Fifth Angel” in late 1987/early 1988. The seeds of destruction for Fifth Angel were sown as soon as large sums of money looked likely. …. Byrd was out of the band he’d created very shortly after the CBS agreement was signed. In his own words, “I was fired from the band without notice, immediately after signing a new partnership agreement which relinquished certain important rights I had in the band. It was a stab in the back, it was done for money and a right to continue using the name without me.”.. .. The band recruited a new guitarist named Kendell Bechtel and issued it’s second album, “Time Will Tell”. Changing tastes in popular music and the band’s failure to crack into the mainstream’s consciousness eventually caused the band to be dropped from it’s CBS contract and into hard rock history… .. Drummer Ken Mary went on to play in Impellitteri, House Of Lords and Magdallan, as well as in the backing bands for both David Chastain and Alice Cooper. He currently owns and produces/engineers at Sonic Phish Studios in Scottsdale, Arizona… ..n 1988/89, Byrd returned to Shrapnel Records under his own name and recorded ‘James Byrd’s Atlantis Rising’. He has since released several instrumental albums and in 1999, formed his own guitar company, Byrd Guitars… ..

In a short period of time the collective musical landscape and listening audience of the world changed…Seattle became a Mecca for a new sound called “Grunge”. Fifth Angel was caught in a grey area that many of the up-and-coming 1980’s/90’s metal bands were in…established enough to be known world-wide to a certain degree, but not established enough to be seen as a profitable investment by record companies when competing against the wildfire known as grunge. The realities of the “business side” of the music industry began to settle in and the writing was on the wall. Ed Archer decided it was time to leave and start a new path in life. Fifth Angel continued on, but as record companies faced the realities of the very profitable grunge music against their bottom line, Fifth Angel was released from their contract with Epic.

The band members went their separate ways, some intertwined with music, some not. Eventually, as fate would have it some of the core band members reconnected and decided it was time to re-visit music and the band became active again in 2010 with a successful reunion gig at the “Keep IT True” Festival in Lauda-Koenigshofen Germany. With “real life” responsibilities dictating progress, it has been slow going….but Fifth Angel is working towards a goal of releasing new music to round out the previous releases from so many years ago. It is unknown if this goal will be reached…only time will tell…

– Fifth Angel [1986]
– Time Will Tell [1989]

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FIFTH ANGEL, 10.0 out of 10 based on 2 ratings
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