"Rise From the Ash" (Set-Fire; 2004)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

Angelstorm's "Rise From the Ash" is an interesting combination of various hard rock styles, including tracks with chunky, Iron Maiden-like riffs ("I Know My Way"), over-sweetened ballads ("Music of the Angel,"), brutal Pantera-ish chuggers ("Genesis to Revelation") and buoyant Bon Jovi radio anthems (the poignant "Jamie's Gone"). 

While never really venturing into today's style of modern heavy metal (i.e., Slipknot, etc.) "Rise from the Ash" is a surprisingly solid collection. Lead vocalist Kevin Poland has a great set of pipes for this kind of music, growling like a demon when necessary and howling like a banshee when the mood strikes him. The guitars of John Shadowlands are crunchy in the rhythm and appropriately blistering in the leads ... all at the right times. Drummer Louis Rios pounds away at the skins, giving the band a huge backing thump. 

The production is a little rough here - a little tweaking could make the whole package sound smoother and more professional. Still, "Rise from the Ash" sounds pretty good.

The real surprise here is that Angelstorm is a Christian band. If you heard their music on the radio, and didn't pay close attention to the lyrics, you'd never know that the band is singing their praises of God. I won't go as far as to say they're subtle but they're not cramming it down your throat either. Actually, what I like best about Angelstorm's lyrics is summed up in the song "Don't Judge a Book by its Cover." Basically, the band's theme is "Don't judge me by how I look but rather by my actions." This theme appears throughout "Rise From the Ash" and it's a good one.

"Rise From the Ash" gets better with each subsequent listen and fans of the metal sound of the 80s and early 90s will find something here to their liking.

Angelstorm: John Shadowlands - lead and rhythm guitars, acoustic guitars, bass, keyboards, backup vocals; Kevin Poland - bass, keyboards, lead vocals, backup vocals; Louis Rios - drums, percussions.

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Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

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Copyright 2004 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.