Desolation Angels – King (2017/2018) – Review

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Did you know that travel back in time is possible? It is. And this despite all those snazzy theories to the contrary that them scientists like to throw at us measly earthlings. Don’t believe me? Well, forget about all those wildly spinning time machines and fire up your disc player.1) Then, feel that nostalgia and pop in the 2018 piece King from Desolation Angels, and – wham – you’re back in the late ’80s where NWoBHM reigned supreme.

But why now? After all, heard it all before, headbanged it, got a lot of t-shirts, right? Well, it appears that Heavy Metal is on the menu again in 2021.

The maidens just threatened new action after some 6 years of (almost) nothing new. And DA here actually are on the prowl for two records for 2021. They got themselves into a bit of legal trouble with two separate factions sparring about rights and ownership. And both announced a new piece for this year – or more. RMR here is only in it for the music – and the news2), of course.

But let’s return to King.

Desolation Angels formed way back in 1981 during the heyday of the NWoBHM movement. They released a first self-titled full-length in 1986 in the UK and yet another from the lofty perch of Sunset Boulevard in LA in 1990 called While the Flame Still Burned. Well, the piece was actually recorded in Burbank and they apparently liked to hang out at the famous Rainbow Bar & Grill down on Sunset – both former haunts of yours truly. So, forgive me for that bout of artistic freedom.

Decades later, after the return to the UK and much drama, King was self-released in the summer of 2017 on a blue cover. In early 2018, Dissonance Productions re-released the album on their own distribution network, with a red cover. Apparently, management at DP didn’t like the blue one.3) And I quite agree.

The beast in red on this cover perfectly incarnates the Heavy Metal spirit of times long gone. This kind of depiction led many an upright citizen of the late last century to suspect that all these people were Satanists.4) The album art goes down well with Desolation Angel‘s gritty style, high on soaring guitars and vocals that reek of warm black leather and bad whiskey. All of that comes with a healthy swagger and those meaty riffs and solos that comfortably live amongst those typical drum beats.

In short, and as the band rightly stated, King sports Heavy Metal and Hard Rock that didn’t age one iota since the ’80s hit our timeline. And all that goodness comes with a whiff of doom that those records often like to sport. In a way, you get some sort of a mix of Saxon, Judas Priest, and a dose of Krokus of the ’80s5) with a few others for good measure.

Yet, some of the naysayers out there in the press corps were not entirely incorrect. Desolation Angels toe that line of age-old NWoBHM so well, one is tempted to dismiss the record outright. At first glance, King sounds like one of those dime-a-dozen pieces. And it’s only once you really delve into it that the album’s undeniable qualities start to appear.

For instance, Doomsday takes off at a pretty sturdy speed and style that would make early Dio proud. That’s true early metal fare that we like to consume with our breakfast cereals. Or that metal moment when the vocals overlay with a friggin’ great solo in the background on Hellfire. The record is full of those little nuggets.

Oh, and let’s not forget My Demon Inside, the last track. At first, the song takes off with that dime-a-dozen reel and you kind of wonder where the hell this is all going. But at 0:45 they step into that mid-tempo snazzy Doom Metal routine that should let Sorcerer pale with envy. And just wait for the solo towards mid-point and more later on. This is just mana to this metalhead and it puts a smile on my face each time I fire it up.

Yet, sometimes their fare kinda sounds like that soft metal bands like the Scorpions and their ilk tend to produce. And that’s a pity. True, the songwriting is down to a fine point, but sadly the outcome often lacks bite and – indeed – aggression. Maybe the band would need to work on that swagger some, launch a metal scream or two that will awaken those fans. Oh, and get that groove to the forefront a bit better. Right now it often huddles around strange corners – and then disappears again.

But in the end, King turned out to be one helluva underrated album. It is not perfect, no record is. But this band delivers a no-frills metal tune that talks straight to their credo, and they take no prisoners. Heavy Metal is on the menu, and that is exactly what they deliver. The real thing, not those modern-day aberrations that try to please the fan crowd with new inventions just to score a point or two. And then they call it NWoBHM to boot.

So, if you’re up for some real metal, then don your leather jacket and let King rip from your music machine at full tilt. You won’t regret it.

Record Rating: 7/10 | Label: Self-Released / Dissonance Productions | Web: Official Band Site
Release Date: Self – 27 July 2017 / DP – 23 February 2018


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