Angel Sword: Rebels Beyond the Pale Review


There’s something to be said for bands who completely eschew the new and worship the gods of old. I’m not talking about the bands who shamelessly rip off and clone the sound of past bands, such as every local stoner band ever trying to be Sleep or the wave of 70s retro acts aping Black Sabbath. I’m talking about bands who basically pretend nothing has happened musically since a certain style or era and put their own spin on it. Currently, there’s a burgeoning mass of death metal bands exploring ideas left behind by bands like Demilich, Immolation, Incantation, Timeghoul, and very early Bolt Thrower. Power metal is no exception, with a resurgence of the 80s USPM style manifesting itself in many acts not only in the US, but also in Europe, particularly England and Finland.

Angel Sword

Angel Sword started off on the wrong foot with me. I made it about half way through the album before dismissing it as garbage. Due to my obsessive desire to listen to albums fully before rating them on, however, I returned to complete the album start to finish so i could drop that 1.5 star rating and clear it out of my charts. I am SO glad I came back. It’s currently my favorite album of 2016.

If you told me this album came out sometime between 1979 and 1982, I would believe you. The guitars have that lovely warm Marshall amp sound with maybe an overdrive pedal and nothing else. The tone is, for metal, light and pleasing. The bass is audible and supportive in that 70s style, similar to the bass on Riot‘s first few albums. The drums sit comfortably balanced in the mix. Basically, this album sounds like heavy metal from the late 70s. The vocals are where I got thrown off originally. This guy takes a weird Venom/Cirith Ungol/Motorhead/Manilla Road take on singing, with a seemingly forced rasp. The first couple times I listened, it was absolutely a negative thing for me, but with the dozens of repeated listens, they’ve since become extremely endearing to me. As much as I enjoy highly trained singers wailing impossible notes, dirtier and more primitive heavy metal bands like Angel Sword need that gruff, untrained style to pull off the sound, and this guy NAILS it. Raw and earnest, the vocals add another layer of authenticity to the music.

As far as songwriting goes, Rebels Beyond the Pale abandons the punkier speed and aggression of their previous EP, Ripping the Heavens (do yourself a favor and look at that artwork!) As fun as that EP is, the new direction is unquestionably superior. Angel Sword takes more from Thin Lizzy, Riot, and Iron Maiden this time around. Rebels Beyond the Pale is LOADED with feel good jams, mostly because of how often they utilize major keys versus the typical minor keys favored in metal. The songs follow a simple structure, with a typical verse / chorus format broken up by the odd bridge, solo, and/or guitar melody. Every chorus on this album is anthemic, catchy, and practically begging for a room full of sweaty dudes in vests to sing and shout along to. There’s plenty of creativity despite the simple style in which they play, such as the clean guitar on the verses of “Lords of Thunder”. The lead guitar is exceptionally well written, guiding us through every solo with melodic precision, often accompanied by the rhythm guitar to form wonderful harmonies. The album climaxes on “Heavy Metal Night”, with a magnificent chorus and guitar solo. The album closer, “Witches Never Die”, even pulls out some old school doom vibes.

Rebels Beyond the Pale does have a learning curve, which is probably the only negative point I have against it. Like I mentioned earlier, I was immediately turned off by the vocals before I became used to them and started to enjoy them. Angel Sword are playing a very niche style of heavy metal that isn’t really for everyone. For those of us who do enjoy this style, Rebels Beyond the Pale is a huge triumph for old school metal. Angel Sword very clearly adore the legends of the 70s and 80s, and it brightly shines through their lyrics and music. References to Riot, Sarcofago, Manowar, and others are littered through the lyrics. Some songs are bleeding with Riot and Thin Lizzy influences, while Jerry Razors’s vocals are plainly shaped from a devotion to Manilla Road’s Mark Shelton. If you enjoy anything about heavy metal from the 70s and early 80s, you would be making a grave mistake to skip this album.

5 out of 5 Flaming Toilets ov Hell

NEW_TOILETSCALE_5_of_5If I haven’t sold you yet, Dave from Nucleus has this to say about Angel Sword: “If you don’t like Angel Sword, fuck you.” You heard it here first folks. Jump on the Angel Sword train now. Support them here on Facebook and Bandcamp.

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  • Eliza

    This is not just good music, it’s also very fun music. That’s a huge plus.

    • Right? It’s hard to put down once you get into it

      • Ted Nü-Djent ™

        I bought it for 1 whole Euro based on this review. If I don’t get value for my AU$1.47, I’m gonna be pissed.

  • Waynecro

    Nice review, Mr. Thor. The artwork for Ripping the Heavens truly is a sight to behold.

    • Joaquin Stick

      10/10, would look at that album cover again.

      • Waynecro

        Angels without guns can just go home.

  • Howard Dean

    That cover art! Primitive but awesome.

    This is pretty sweet stuff, Randall. Really digging the tunes. Early Manilla Road as fuck. Vocals are fairly Mark Shelton-y, which ain’t a bad thing for me. Nice rec!

    Not the same sound all, but for some reason this immediately made me think of Outcast from Australia, who released a nice little EP on Heavy Chains in 2014. Probably because that ditty came out of nowhere, too, and I still enjoy spinning the CD.

  • Joaquin Stick

    I haven’t had one of those “garbage to great” reactions in awhile. I try to give things second chances when I can, but usually only when things get crazy acclaim that I just didn’t care for. This is a good reminder to go back through some of listmaina 2014 since my tastes have changes so much. Nice review. DON’T BAN RANDALL.

    • Janitor Jim Duggan

      The last one of those I had was for The Key by Operation Mindcrime.

  • Guppusmaximus

    This, to me, has the same gaping issue that Ghost has. The backing musicians are pretty much spot on while the singer lacks the talent & power to authentically drive it on home. But, it’s just my .02

    • Joaquin Stick

      I was with you for the first few songs, but then I was thinking, do I like it any less than typical power metal vocals (which I don’t hate, but are usually…odd for me), and then I started to almost find the vocals… humorous? which is kinda how I feel about operatic vocals as well. So, in summary, different sides of the same coin.

      • Guppusmaximus

        Fair enough.Not all classic Heavy Metal was good. However, whether you like operatic vocals or not,you should be able to tell the difference between talented & sub-par.

        • Joaquin Stick

          It’s just so friggin odd that I can’t decide which one it is lol.

        • Paddlin’ Rites ov Beargod

          The delivery is lacking in power, and it’s also odd-ish, but sub-par is a huge stretch.

      • Maybe those kind of vocalist, like in Angel Sword, doesn’t want to be technically proficient?

        I mean, here it’s all about the texture and color rather than the range or diction.

  • Randall is back with another killer recommendation!!!!! <3 <3 <3

    Onward to battle, warrior. The first seconds of the first song made me think this was going to be a great listening and I'm enjoying it a lot! With that thunder commanded drumming.

    Thanks, brother of metal!

  • The Tetrachord of Archytas

    In case anyone was wondering what was on the other side of that skull door…

  • Elegant Gazing Globe

    reminds me of melissa era MF without the falsettos

  • Howard Dean
  • tigeraid

    I dig the fukk out of the artwork. I agree the music takes some getting used to though, even for lovers of TRUE metal like myself.

    • You’re a machine!

    • ¡Jajajajajajaja! Spot on, bro!

    • Janitor Jim Duggan

      I still love this show and Guts. The Aggro Crag will never equal Olmec though.

  • Those vocals….is this what Inquisition’s person would sound like if they did hard rock? Huehue

    • Spear

      He sounds like a cross between Udo and Joakim Brodén. I kinda dig it.

    • PostBlackenedWhaleGaze

      I actually listened to Inquisition for the first time the other day and thought the vocals were a joke, or like that for only one song. I soon found out I was mistaken.

      • I went from “is this a joke” to “well the riffs make it OK” to eventually “these guise rule!”

        Even though some folks consider them overrated (all bands must be called that at some point or another) I dig

  • Guacamole Jim

    Not my sort of music, but I am struck by something you said: “I’m talking about bands who basically pretend nothing has happened musically since a certain style or era and put their own spin on it.” Now that’s an interesting approach to throwback music. It’s regressive, in the sense that it’s pretending the past 30 years of musical development haven’t happened, but it’s not unoriginal, as so many throwback bands seem to be. There’s a certain authenticity to it, a genuine element that sets it in a slightly different category.

    Anyway, very interesting article, not my thing, but hey.

    • That’s a cool perspective, bro!

      • Guacamole Jim

        Thanks, bro!

    • That’s how a lot of my friends and bands write!

  • Dubbbz

    This gives me some Diamond Head vibes in some of the song construction/riffs.

    • Janitor Jim Duggan

      It’s like God is telling me to listen to this album.

      • Spear

        Pretty sure that’s actually Randall.

  • sweetooth0

    digging this!

  • BobLoblaw

    Drinking music.

  • Spear

    I feel like the guitars would have a lot more kick with just a little more gain. They sound a little thin as is. Fun stuff nonetheless.

    • Dave Vincent’s Perm


  • Abradolf Lincler

    i know this is OT but this Cheerwine pulled pork sandwich is unfuckwithable


  • Janitor Jim Duggan

    Did someone say Manilla Road? These guys will now get a listen

  • You had me at Demilich, Immolation, Incantation,Timeghoul and early Bolt Thrower but lost me at power metal.

  • Randall’s Sweaty Space Pants

    I like the part where he doesn’t sing.

  • Starts review talking about epic death metal bands>>>power metal

  • Señor Jefe El Rosa

    Glad to see this getting recognition. Popped up in my bandcamp feed after Simon Phoenix bought it. Between the song titles and album art I knew it was going to be right up my alley.

  • NDG

    I agree…album of the year for me so far. I wasn’t taken by it at first but I watched a live version of ‘Lightning Runners’ and from that moment on I couldn’t get enough. All killer.