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Once Upon A Time

Review by Gary Hill

Angel really created an interesting sound for themselves in the 1970s. It was part hard rock, part catchy pop hooks, part glam and a lot of arena rock. This new return for the band includes long-time members Punky Meadows and Frank Dimino. It also includes those trademarks. At times they really bring a modern maturity and harder edge, and even some prog rock, into the mix. Still, this is decidedly Angel. In many ways it feels like no time has passed at all.

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Track by Track Review
The Torch
Keyboards get us going here. From there we get a jam that is more hard rocking, but actually has some hints of progressive rock. It drops to melodic zones with a decidedly melodic prog angle to it. the vocals come in over that backdrop. The track turns out to arena rock zones from there with a powerful motif. Again, it drops down. I really live the light and dark, hard-edged and melodic balance and contrast on this number. There is a seriously proggy instrumental section later.
Black Moon Rising
While there are some soulful vocals built into it, the introduction again brings some progressive rock angles to this. They drive the track out into a more metallic romp from there. This is riff-laden, glam-rock-based and hook-rich. It's a great hard rocking tune.
It's Alright
While this is less complex and more of a pure rocker, it is very effective. While the first couple songs felt to me like an updated and more mature version of the Angel sound of old, this feels like it would have fit quite well into their 1970s repertoire. It does feature a scorching hot guitar solo.
Once Upon A Time An Angel And A Devil Fell In Love (And It Did Not End Well)
There is a really complex arrangement to this. There is an almost musical theater bombast to it. I can see this being called 'rock opera." There are some sound-bites of a woman experiencing pleasure built into this song. It also has a male spoken voice over during that section. There are some neo-classical elements here.
Let It Rain
This is a melodic rocker that has more of that arena-rock thing at play. It's sort of a power-ballad. It has some hints of The Beatles at times to me.
Hard-driving and fast-paced, this rocker is on fire. I really dig some of the keyboard flourishes on this. There is a real heavy metal angle to the piece, and it has some great hooks.
Blood Of My Blood, Bone Of My Bone
This has a pop rock edge to it. This is another that feels like it would have fit really well in the Angel set-list from the old days of the band. It has a pretty involved vocal arrangement and some hints of 1950s rock and roll.
Turn The Record Over
I like this rocker a lot. It's a pretty standard Angel styled melodic arena number, but they do this kind of thing so well. Honestly, they always did. This is catchy and has a lot of style. It's also has some tasty guitar soloing.
Rock Star
A little meatier, this leans toward heavy metal at times. It also has plenty of mainstream pop rock in the mix. Again, this is nothing fancy or unexpected, but it really rocks. That said the arrangement does get some hints of jazz in some of the over layers.
Without You
Now this powerhouse has a lot of heavy metal angles built into it. It's still covered in the kind of melodic arena rock you expect from Angel, too. It's a nice combination. It makes this one of the best songs on the disc. Of course, the scorching hot guitar solo doesn't hurt. I also love the keyboard solo.
Liar Liar
This is another with a healthy helping of metal in the mix. I'd still consider it hard rock, but it's possibly closer to metal than anything here. While there are still some solid hooks bringing the pop rock angles, this is grittier and meaner than the other stuff we've heard on the disc.
Bonus Tracks:
Daddy's Girl

This is more of a straight-ahead rock and roller. It's solid, but not a standout. Then again, this is a bonus track.

A step up from the previous number, this is another that leans toward heavy metal. It's another solid rocker.
Let The Kid Out
This has a lot of classic 50s styled rock and roll in the mix of this song. The track is catchy, but again, I can see why it's a bonus track.
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