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Desolation Angels - Burning Black

Desolation Angels
Burning Black
by Leanne "Metal Maiden" Evans at 14 November 2022, 10:19 PM

Starting in the mid-70’s and gaining international attention by the early 1980’s, the NWOBHM was a fierce and furious movement that spawned many a great band – some achieving more success than others – attracting legions of fans worldwide. DESOLATION ANGELS was one of many British heavy metal bands to surface in the early 80’s and, whilst it didn’t achieve the same commercial success as the likes of SAXON and IRON MAIDEN, with a little more consistency in its catalogue, DESOLATION ANGELS could have given its NWOBHM counterparts a good run for their money in the underground.

Formed in 1981, DESOLATION ANGELS held back on releasing its self-titled debut until 1986, with the sophomore release, “While the Flame Still Burns” following in 1990, and sadly subsequently disbanded in 1994. Despite a shaky start, the band reformed ten-years later - returning with the EP “Sweeter the Meat” - with a much more focused trajectory and constancy about its direction, rekindling its interpretation of what the NWOBHM stood for in its eyes, in the critically acclaimed 2018 album, “King”.

Now you’re armed with a little backstory on the band, let’s dig into DESOLATION ANGELS’ newest – and fourth – album, “Burning Black”. In true NWOBHM style, the record is packed chock-full with slick, powerful licks, a tight as hell rhythm section, burning solos, and soaring vocals.  Tracks like “Living a Lie” and “Unseen Enemy” stomp with swagger and infectious arrogance, backboned by filthy guitar tones and blistering solos; it’s the sort of music that can thaw frozen hearts in ten-seconds flat with the timeless combination of infectious melodies and mood-soaked musicianship. The throb of headbanger “Hydra” has you drenched from head to toe in oozing riffs and injections of MAIDEN style twin harmonies, whilst the contrasting sultry march of “MOTHER EARTH” takes a more pensive turn for the band, underpinned with a prominent bass line and carried by profound thematic, although still anvil-heavy in execution.

In the spirit of NWOBHM tradition, there’s plenty of incendiary solos to enjoy on “Burning Black”, even the likes of the foot-tapping heady tones of “Walking on Water” breach with a heated, airy fusion of luscious vocals and steady tempo, and cleverly incorporates some fiery guitar solos. The title-track also infuses a sultry rhythm with truly delicious guitar work that’ll make the hairs on the back of your neck stand tall, creeping with a DIAMOND HEAD meets ANGEL WITCH aura about it. There’s a very slight dip in quality with “Eyes of the Assassin” which isn’t punchy enough for my taste, and “Stand Your Ground” sails very close to the winds of plagiarism sounding uncannily alike SAXON’s latest “Never Surrender”. Despite these personal preferences and observations, DESOLATION ANGELS stands firmly on its own two feet with plenty of originality; “Best Served Hot” quickly redeems with kick-ass arrogance and strikes as a very catchy hook-filled earworm, whilst “She Walks in Starlight” softly bookends the record in the proggy vein of DEEP PURPLE.

The NWOBHM fire has always roared ferociously - with stalwarts SAXON and IRON MAIDEN still keeping the flame burning with world tours – and always will. Why? Well, because us metalheads are suckers for the deadly combination of thunderous vocals and powerfully beauteous guitar work. So how does DESOLATION ANGELS measure up to its feisty compeers? Rather cleverly, the band has extracted aspects from the musicianship of NWOBHM favourites, and ultimately created a full-blown NWOBHM synthesis with a healthy fist of innovation. With exception of a couple of tracks that aren’t as organic to the album as I’d personally prefer, “Burning Black” is the optimal contemporary NWOBHM creation and a real joy to listen to; if you want to live the good ol’ days in the twenty-first century, this is the album for YOU!

Songwriting:   8
Musicianship:  8
Memorability:  8
Production:     9

4 Star Rating

1. Living a Lie
2. Unseen Enemy
3. Hydra
4. Mother Earth
5. Walking on Water
6. Burning Black
7. Eyes of the Assassin
8. Stand Your Ground
9. Best Served Hot
10. She Walks in Starlight
Paul Taylor – Vocals
Keith Sharp – Guitars
Richie Yeates – Lead Guitar
Clive Pearson – Bass
Chris Takka – Drums
Record Label: Skol Records


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