Marko Tervonen had to do something after the breakup of THE CROWN, right? Why not begin a project called ANGEL BLAKE, play all the instruments (aside from a few odds and ends), grab a dark-toned, melodic singer in Tony Jelencovich (ex-TRANSPORT LEAGUE, MNEMIC), and record a batch of songs that are a major departure from Tervonen's work in the reckless thrash of THE CROWN? And goddamnit, why not make it heavy rock with big hooks that takes cues from the likes of DANZIG, PARADISE LOST, and SENTENCED? Most importantly, why not make it fun for the whole [dysfunctional] family?In addition to instrumental album-opener "The Force", these mostly mid-tempo, mildly gothic, SENTENCED/DANZIG inspired tunes are sandwiched between the up-tempo hard rocker "Retaliate" and the gloom 'n' tromp of album-closer "'Til the End" (kind of reminds me of a Euro gothic version of Glenn's "Pain the World" from "Lucifuge"). Every tune is not a grand slam, but none fall completely flat either. The one minor exception if the one hundred millionth cover of THE ROLLING STONES' "Paint it Black". Yes, ANGEL BLAKE's version is just fine, rocks nicely, and blah, blah, blah…but Christ man, can we please call a moratorium on covers of this song? Enough already! But anyway, in addition to the aforementioned "Retaliate", ode to the wolf "Lycanthrope" and the shout-worthy "Self-Terminate" are the album's gems. And it is not because either of these two is original, unique, or especially creative. It is because both rock hard and features fantastic hooks. Those "whhhooooaaaaaasss" on the better of the two, "Lycanthrope", are damn addictive. Jelencovich's touch-of-English-goth vocals and vaguely DANZIG tones are heartfelt and fun as hell, especially when the material is this catchy. Rather than coming off quite as morose as some of SENTENCED's misery anthems, there is a sense of playfulness running through all of these tunes. And whatever your opinion of the degree to which a DANZIG influence can be heard on the album as whole, the hypnotic main riff on the verse of "Self-Terminate" is John Christ to the core. Definitely one of the more fun albums I've heard in a while, ANGEL BLAKE's debut is a breath of fresh air because it wears its influences on its sleeve. No Grammy nominations here, but a good time should be had by all.
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