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Album Review: Desolation Angels : While The Flame Still Burns

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UK metal legends Desolation Angels was formed back in the early eighties by childhood friends and twin guitarists Robin Brancher and Keith Sharp, as part of the NWOBHM scene.  Drummer John Graham and bassist Joe Larner joined and following an advert in Melody Maker for a vocalist, the line-up was completed with Dave Wall.

The band quickly earned a reputation for their blazing potency as a live act and in 1982 released their debut single ‘Valhalla/Boadicea’ which generated shockwaves in the underground. They were soon signed up for their debut album, but the band were going through a turbulent time with a succession of line-up changes, so it was 1986 before the self-titled album was released, however, it soon became a cult classic in the UK.

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While The Flame Still Burns’ is their second full length album and was recorded at Silvercloud Studios, Burbank, California, in 1990, the band having relocated to the USA three years previously. With an imminent tour across America fast approaching, the album was put on hold. Finally, in Winter 1991, with the sessions back on track, relationships became strained with vocalist Dave Wall, who was promptly replaced by Lee Addison, who with only 2 weeks of rehearsal time, flew out from England, reworked all eight tracks and the album was completed.

The album opens with a single electric guitar, which is slowly joined by the rest of the band as we build into that typical 80’s / 90’s heavy rock vibe for ‘Only Time Will Tell’ and it’s not long before the twin guitars are riffing and we get the first solo on the album. There are several changes of tempo and Addison provides his rasping vocals to give us a solid opening.

‘Soul Of The City’ is next up giving us a hard rock track ideal for those sunny summer days, when you can get the car roof down and turn the stereo up loud, then into the title track which opens with a gentle combination of guitars and Addison’s vocals before ebbing and flowing through to it’s conclusion.

The tempo is picked up for ‘I’m On Fire’ which gives us an out and out heavy rock track with that solid beat once again coming through as Brancher and Sharp have some fun with big riffs and searing solos and the beat is continued into ‘Power Hungry’ which Addison growls his vocals over.

Wings On My Heels’ starts out like the album ballad but soon switches to and fro several times throughout the track.  I found it a little frustrating as I wanted it to get going and just as I thought it might, it changed again. But all is forgiven as ‘Killer’ kicks in and it has a head down, no nonsense hard rock vibe that drives along at a great pace. Plenty of riffs and plenty of solos left me very happy.

The last of the 8 tracks is the longest and ‘Feels Like Thunder’ is definitely a case of saving the best until last. This is probably the track most suited to Addison’s vocal and Scutt gets an almost hypnotic bass line going alongside Palfrey’s steady tub thumping which allows the guitar boys to let loose a little.

This is an album which gives us a throwback to what the heavy rock scene was like in the early nineties and you can hear elements of Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Scorpions and many more.

The band finally split  in May 1994, but was resurrected in 2012 by Sharp and Brancher with a new line up and new material was recorded and released including 2014’s ‘Sweeter The Meat’ EP and 2018’s album ‘King’, but ‘While The Flame Still Burns’ harks back to a time when Desolation Angels were in full pomp and an electrifying part of the NWOBHM.

Definitely an album for the ardent fan and maybe a chance to win a few new fans along the way as well.

While The Flame Still burns was re-released on 20th March 2020

While the Flame Still Burns track listing:
Only Time Will Tell
Soul Of The City
While The Flame Still Burns
I’m On Fire
Power Hungry
Wings On My Heels
Killer
Feels Like Thunder

Desolation Angels are:
Lee Addison Lead Vocals
Robin Brancher Guitars
Keith Sharp Guitars
Dave Scutt Bass
Adam Palfrey Drums

Reviewed by : Howard Whitelaw for MPM

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