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Night Attack - Angels

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Genre: Rock / Artist: Angels / Import / Audio CD released 2006-07-10 at Liberation

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      21.01.2008 14:29
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      The Angels' fifth album (1981).

      I was a little wary approaching this album, a 1981 hard rock record from a band calling themselves "The Angels" and thus engendering a nightmare vision of a seventies glam rock band strutting around on stage in white cloaks and face-paint, so I was pleasantly surprised to hear a decent melodic rock album with enjoyable early heavy metal crossover appeal. Now finally defunct after a long, drawn-out career, The Angels were one of the more prominent Australian hard rock bands, after AC/DC of course.

      The dominant style on display here is medium speed, guitar-led rock in its most basic form, without needing to expand the sound through keyboards and other special effects (though there is a harmonica in track six, make of that what you will). Rick and John Brewster's guitars are classic examples of the style, and while not quite producing timeless air guitar material in the spirit of Deep Purple, Status Quo and the rest, each song is led by a distinct and memorable riffs and some brilliant thought-out solos and harmonies reminiscent of Judas Priest's work around this time; in fact, this album bears strong similarity to Priest's consciously melodic 'Point of Entry' released the same year. The guitar tone is fairly raw but not in a dirgey, Black Sabbath way, and Brent Eccles' drums keep the whole thing catchy and upbeat even in the more cynical songs where the band doesn't really have the heart to let scathing lyrics interfere with the fun sound. Doc Neeson is more or less the typical hard rock singer, lacking a distinctive voice or gimmick of his own but leading the way nicely with his gruff-but-soft-when-appropriate style, before the rest of the band joins in for some of the unison choruses. He must have been a big hit with the ladies.

      The greatest praise I can bestow on this album is that at no points does it sound cheesy or reflective of the worse excesses of the eighties, mainly as its sound is still rooted in the hard rock scene of the more respectable late seventies. This means it's dated only in a good way, still being just as enjoyable on all levels over twenty years later, but historically interesting as an example of the times. Although all nine songs are distinctive, most fall into the same general sound that dominated the rock radio stations at the time, 'Long Night' and 'Runnin' Wild' starting things off in a typically melodic, plodding fashion with enjoyable choruses based primarily around repeating the song title, before the rest of the album heads off at minor tangents to greater and less impressive effect. 'Fashion and Fame' is the first song to really impress, taking more time out to focus on the Brewsters' talents with several great riffs from both electric and acoustic guitars and the album's best solo, and my other favourite comes in the harmonious 'Living on the Outside' that owes much to the lighter side of punk rock, from the likes of The Damned (surely The Angels' direct opposites in a theological sense?)

      The two city-themed songs 'City Out of Control' and the titular 'Night Attack' work well together, the second being of particular interest for its uncharacteristically faster and more energetic performance complete with squealing guitar solos at the end (excellent), and the grand finale 'Storm the Bastille' changes the mood completely by deviating into the canon of historical rock war songs, so often a highlight of band's recordings. This is similarly great, opening and closing with a traditional marching drum, between which the verses describe the oncoming attack with all the energy of an eighties heavy metal band, but despite its best efforts with the finest sing-along chorus of the album (it consists of three words, and you can guess what they are), it doesn't match up to something like 'The Trooper.'

      The presumably downbeat 'Nothin' to Win' represents the band's compulsory stab at how rubbish and unfair society and life are, etcetera, but if anything it only serves to demonstrate that they're best sticking to the happier, care-free anthems, particularly as the instrumental side of the song all but abandons any sense of depression. 'Talk About You' is surely the biggest deviation and is entertaining in an odd sort of way, Neeson's paranoid observation that people are always talking about him behind his back that's performed in an oddly lacking style led by the drum and bass without a lot of guitars and makes me wonder just how serious it's all supposed to be - in a way, it reminds me of King Crimson's 'Elephant Talk' from around that era, but in a less manic performance. In any case, if it didn't have these oddities and only stuck to the band's strengths, this would be a far less entertaining album. History may not note it as one of the essential albums of 1981, but The Angels did a fine job of keeping melodic hard rock alive, without including any of the rubbish bits. I just wish they weren't called The Angels.

      1. Long Night
      2. Runnin' Wild
      3. Fashion and Fame
      4. City Out of Control
      5. Night Attack
      6. Nothin' to Win
      7. Living on the Outside
      8. Talk About You
      9. Storm the Bastille

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  • Product Details

    Disc #1 Tracklisting
    1 Long Night
    2 Running Wild
    3 Fashion & Fame
    4 City out of Control
    5 Night Attack
    6 Nothin' to Win
    7 Living on the Outside
    8 Talk About You
    9 Storm the Bastille
    10 Casablanca
    11 Small Talk
    12 Back on You
    13 Chaplin's Drum
    14 Fashion & Fame
    15 Talk About You
    16 Bad Dream
    17 Angel
    18 Desil's Gate