Review: Erik Neuteboom
This is the third album from the Italian musical project Archangel, founded by Gabriele Manzini (keyboards, flute and 'stun' guitar), known from the bands The Watch and Ubi Maior. I am only familiar with the debut
album entitled The Akallabeth from 2007, I wrote about this in 2018: "If you like heavy prog and keyboard- oriented melodic rock, I'm sure that especially the fans of Ayreon and Uriah Heep will be pleased with the sound of Archangel, an album to discover,
because this music deserves more attention!".
To be honest, I needed a few listening sessions to get into the music on this new Archangel album. Not only because it is far away
from the 70s symphonic rock sound of Gabriele Manzini his former bands The Watch and Ubi Maior. But also because it is far away from the Heavy Prog on his first solo effort. To be more specific, in general Archangel delivers laidback prog, lots of atmospheres
on the 8 compositions (between 3 and 11 minutes) are mellow. Especially Technological Anguish (slightly distorted vocals and tender piano runs, gradually more lush and dynamic with howling and heavy guitar work), Metal Into Brain (huge tension between dreamy
and sumptuous parts, exciting organ solo in the end), The Last Days of Beauty (soundtrack-like music with wonderful work on piano and piano, pretty hypnotizing), Circle Of Life (atmospheric with tender vocals and a slow and intense synthesizer solo in the
end) and The End Of The World (passionate vocals, soaring keyboards and finally a crying guitar solo, goose bumps).
The other three tracks showcases the more dynamic side of
Archangel, as a balance to the mellow side. Thesis starts with a bombastic keyboard sound, soon blended with melancholical vocals, gradually the music shifts to a more dramatic sound, guitar riffs join, the final part contains a beautiful, very moving guitar
solo. In the composition Storm Over St. Andrew's Curchyard first a dreamy climate with piano and soaring keyboards. Gradually the music turns into more lush, the contrast between the tender piano runs and the bombastic keyboard creates a huge tension. Then
halfway a bombastic atmosphere featuring rock guitar and repetetive piano runs, topped with a swirling Hammond organ solo. Finally a slow rhythm with again a bombastic keyboard sound, that is what we are used to with Gabrielle Manzini his work in The Watch
and Ubi Maior.
The captivating and exciting conclusion on this album is the epic composition When the Eagle Hung His Head, close to 11 minutes. It starts dreamy with wonderful
interplay between a fragile guitar and tender piano, blended with soaring keyboards. Then a slow rhythm and a more dynamic atmosphere featuring emotional vocals and again tender piano runs, embellished with a harder-edged, intense guitar solo with howling
and biting runs. Now the music shifts to mellow with tender piano. The dreamy vocals gradually turns into very emotional, followed by sparkling piano work. Halfway again The Archangel succeeds to create a lot of tension in the music, now due to interplay between
flute and rock guitar. After a dreamy part that contains flute, piano and melancholical vocals Gabrielle Manzini treats us on powerful Hammond organ, dazzling synthesizer runs and majestic Mellotron violins. This is part of a compelling atmosphere, topped
with a short howling guitar solo and emotional vocals, what a conclusion!
Gabrielle Manzini and his outstanding guest musicians have delivered a very fine album, embellished
with wonderful, often intense work on guitar and keyboards, emphasizing the important element emotion on Third Warning.