Article By: Pat ‘Riot’ Whitaker ‡ Edited By: Leanne Ridgeway
The origins of Bellevue, Washington’s FIFTH ANGEL date back to the band’s founding in 1983.
That initial line-up of the band consisted of Ted Pilot (vocals), James Byrd (lead guitar), Ed Archer (rhythm guitar), Ken Mary (drums), and Kenny Kay (bass). This was their roster when they entered Steve Lawson Productions studios and recorded the four-song ‘1985 Demo‘, with none other than Terry Date (Pantera, Prong, Metal Church) as the producer/engineer.
The music they were creating was a blend of traditional heavy metal influences with a powerful, guitar-driven approach. The quintet possessed a wide spectrum of abilities, enabling them to craft alluring songs with dynamic ranges, both musically and vocally.
The demo helped FIFTH ANGEL get the interest of Shrapnel Records, who signed them in 1985, and financed the recording of five more songs. Those tracks were combined with ones from the demo and altogether, were released as the band’s self-titled début in 1986.
The following year, 1987, would see the first shift in band personnel as bassist Kenny Kay exited and was replaced by John Macko. At the same time, other label interests in the band were growing right along with the band’s fan base. Soon they signed a major label deal with Epic Records in 1988. The label soon re-released the Fifth Angel self-titled album, while the band began preparing to record a follow-up.
Things within FIFTH ANGEL were beginning to fray at that point and founding guitar player James Byrd soon left the band. His replacement, Kendall Bechtel, was brought in while recording continued. Between 1987 and 1988, FIFTH ANGEL was included on two separate split releases, the first for Epic Records saw them joined with Sanctuary, Riot V, and Slammin’ Watusis. The second split, this time for CBS Records, was narrowed down to FIFTH ANGEL and Sanctuary.
1989 would see the arrival of the sophomore full-length from FIFTH ANGEL, ‘Time Will Tell‘, but unfortunately, time was not on the band’s side. Label support was waning, while the region the band called home was well into experiencing the birth of a whole new musical sound and direction, Grunge. These two factors were clear components of FIFTH ANGEL officially disbanding in 1990.
Over the next decade, rumors of a FIFTH ANGEL reunion would routinely appear and then fade. It would eventually occur in 2009. Members from the band’s earlier lineup – Ed Archer, John Macko, and Kendall Bechtel – were joined by drummer Jeffrey McCormack. In 2010, FIFTH ANGEL – with guest vocalist Peter Orullian (ex-Heir Apparent) – played the Keep It True Festival.
McCormack would leave in 2011, along with David Fefolt, who had been announced as the band’s singer but had never actually performed live or officially recorded with FIFTH ANGEL. Nothing much would surface from the guys for a while yet.
That is until last year, 2017. Once more active, original drummer Ken Mary rejoined the group, and vocalist Peter Orullian returned to sing for some of the band’s live engagements. FIFTH ANGEL played live at a few select performances, while they continued to write music for an anticipated new release. Now, almost three decades after their formation, FIFTH ANGEL is on the verge of releasing a new album.
The 2018 edition of FIFTH ANGEL, guitarist Ed Archer, drummer Ken Mary, bassist John Macko, and guitarist Kendall Bechtel – who also now handles vocals for the band – will see their new record, their third studio album, ‘The Third Secret’, arrive to the anxious masses next month.
On October 26th, Nuclear Blast will release the long-awaited studio return of FIFTH ANGEL, ‘The Third Secret‘, and Riff Relevant has some things to share with you related to it. Check out the amazing album artwork and tracklist, along with the lyric video premiere of a new song, “Can You Hear Me“, and hear for yourself why excitement is growing for the release.
The Third Secret – Tracklist:
01. Stars Are Falling
02. We Will Rise
03. Queen Of Thieves
04. Dust To Dust
05. Can You Hear Me
06. This Is War
08. Third Secret
09. Shame On You
10. Hearts Of Stone
‘The Third Secret‘ will be available on CD, digitally, and limited edition color vinyl formats including #500 ct. splatter and #300 ct. silver. Find pre-order options for them all HERE.