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Sweeter The Meat EP

Reaper (2014)
Rating: 7/10

In my opinion, UK rockers Desolation Angels were responsible for one of heavy metal’s greatest records in the form of their self-titled opus released back in 1986. They somewhat achieved cult status immediately, in spite of only issuing one further full-length platter, 1991’s While The Flame Still Burns.

Three years later Desolation Angels split-up, but returned in 2012 and this five-track EP is more like a debut offering all over again.The London quartet still features original guitarists Keith Sharp and Robin Brancher, while everything else around them has altered considerably. On the vocals we now have Ian “Curly” Davies, on bass Clive Pearson, and drums Chris Takka.

It would be fair to say that during their career Desolation Angels has gone through more drummers and bassists than most bands, but it hasn’t affected the overall sound which suggests that even if this only a brief stint, Desolation Angels are still intent on making their mark once again. The big question of course is, “Are these power metallers still able to cut it?” Well, for the most part I’d say “Yes”.

Sweeter The Meat is a robust affair opening with a sturdy, galloping title track, which still sounds as if the band is wallowing in that mid-80s glory. Davies has an admirable yelp, although there are times when it becomes more of a strained whine over the barrage of Takka’s fluent drums and that killer guitar sound. That’s the biggest weapon of all, because Desolation Angels has always been a unit able to deliver with fiery leads and strong, driving riffs. The track is standard, weighty metal with a catchy chorus and short but sweet approach delivered direct to the ears.

However, it’s with ‘Metal Man’ and ‘Medusa’ where the EP really comes to life. ‘Metal Man’ is a case of crash, bang wallop with a hard-hitting drum sound, and while I’m still struggling to come to terms with Davies’ high-pitched squeals, it’s still a deep, burning track that rolls like a metallic wave in tandem with ‘Medusa’. ‘Medusa’ begins with a simple percussive heartbeat and bubbling bass before simmering to great effect with that pensive guitar, which heaves in true AC/DC-styled anticipation before Davies barks, “You had me imprisoned, captive in your vision… she with the melting smile”. It’s arguable that Davies is a far greater force with a slower, more thoughtful style where his tone his lower.

The EP is rounded off with the upbeat ‘Archangel’, which is rather standard fair, and the closing ‘Set Your Spirit Free’, which opens with a killer solo before the track takes on a customary effective chug caressed by an uplifting chorus.

Sweeter The Meat is the ideal way for this band to reintroduce itself to the metal community. While some bands may have opted to have released a possibly weaker full-length album, Desolation Angels has gathered together a strong collection of songs which work as a unit, and so it’s good to have these guys back with whatever formation works at the time.

Neil Arnold

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