Archangel - The Akallabeth

(CD 2009, 66:32, AMS 159 CD)

The tracks:
  1- Gift of Love(07:07)
  2- The Forbidding(05:08)
  3- Shades of Númenor(05:03)
  4- See Myself in You(04:13)
  5- Rings of Power(04:02)
  6- Raise the Sword(03:24)
  7- Power Within(05:00)
  8- The Faithful and the Faithless Ones(05:19)
  9- Red Clouds War(06:24)
10- The Downfallen(09:43)
11- Lidless Eye(04:12)
12- The Price(06:54)

Archangel Website        samples        AMS-BTF Records

This is the first solo album of Italian keyboard player Gabriele Manzini who was a member of The Watch between 2000 and 2005. Currently he joined Ubi Maior who released amidst 2009 their excellent second album Senza Tempo. Manzini invited well-known singers like Damian Wilson (Threshold, ex-Landmarq, ex-Rick Wakeman), Zachary Stevens ( Savatage between 1993 and 2000) and Ted Leonard (Enchant) along a wide range of guest musicians, including his friends of Ubi Maior and several ex-members of The Watch.

In comparison with his band Ubi Maior, the sound of Archangel on The Akallabeth is more in the vein of heavy prog and melodic rock. The band tastefully arranged the twelve songs on The Akallabeth with strong vocal contributions, splendid hard-edged guitar work and wonderful sounds on a wide range of vintage keyboards. These elements reminded me of the sound of Dutch project Ayreon (Arjen Lucassen), especially the album Into The Electric Castle, but less bombastic and less guitar driven. In my opinion, Manzini is a more elaborate composer. Listen to the strong track The Shade Of Numenor with an exciting blend of sparkling grand piano and protrusive guitar riffs, a sensitive guitar solo and finally biting guitar solos with floods of Hammond organ. In Raise The Sword and Lidless Eye, it is Hammond, Moog and mellotron time. In the wonderful ballad Power Within, you can enjoy acoustic rhythm guitar with violin-mellotron and a great MiniMoog solo. The ballad Red Clouds War has dreamy tender piano sounds, floating keyboards, slow rhythms with an awesome mellotron sound, but also a MiniMoog solo with heavy guitar riffs. The Downfall: 39 Days Of Madness is a varied song with majestic mellotron choirs and a strong contribution of Damian Wilson. The convincing final composition The Price is dreamy with piano and warm vocals, a sensitive guitar solo and finally a bombastic part featuring mellotron choirs, emotional vocals and a moving guitar solo. Goose bumps! If you are into heavy prog and keyboard-oriented melodic rock, The Akallabeth is an album to discover. I’m sure that above all the fans of Ayreon and Uriah Heep will be pleased with Archangel. This band deserves more attention!

***+ Erik Neuteboom (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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