This band's profile is 'invisible', meaning that it's much less prominent on the site - either because it's incomplete, or maybe doesn't entirely fit MS format.
|Fifth Angel was formed in the suburbs of Seattle in late 1983 by James Byrd (lead guitar), Ted Pilot (vocals) and Ken Mary (drums). The group was finalized with the additions of Ed Archer (rhythm guitar) and Kenny Kay (bass). Archer, Mary, and Pilot were in a band called Ridge in high school, which had disbanded after winning a number of "battle of the bands" competitions, but not getting signed by a record label. Hearing about both Pilot and Mary, James Byrd (originally from Seattle, but then down in Los Angeles) wanted to work with the two and moved back to Seattle to start Fifth Angel.
Following the model utilized by Queensrÿche, another Seattle-area metal band that had recently been signed to a major label, Fifth Angel concentrated on songwriting and perfected their original songs, instead of extensively playing the club circuit looking for a record deal. The band's work resulted in a four-track demo at Steve Lawson Productions with engineer/producer Terry Date in late 1983/early 1984, consisting of the songs "Fifth Angel," "Wings of Destiny," "In the Fallout" and "Fade to Flames."
The plan proved fruitful, as Mike Varney of Shrapnel Records, an independent label, signed Fifth Angel for the release of its first record. The original 1984 demo tracks were included on the album, along five cuts recorded in 1985: "Shout it Out," "Call Out the Warning," "The Night," "Only the Strong Survive" and "Cry Out the Fools." Mixed in delivered to the label in 1985, Fifth Angel's self-titled first album was officially released in 1986.
Over the course of two years, a number of high profile rock magazines interviewed the band, including a glowing review from Kerrang in Europe - a magazine that launched the career of Queensrÿche just two years earlier. Fifth Angel was touted by the media as "the next big thing" in metal and a loyal underground fan base quickly developed.
Despite the positive reviews, a line-up change occurred. Bassist Kenny Kay departed the band and was replaced by John Macko. Although information on the departure is scarce, Pilot mentioned in an interview that Kay simply "lost interest" in playing music.
A 1986/1987 "Riding on the Wings" tour was planned to support the debut album, which included an opening slot for Iron Maiden, and a string of headline East Coast dates. Unfortunately, the tours never materialized due to a variety of band-related and external factors. In fact, Fifth Angel never played a public gig. The only two shows the band ever played was a label showcase for Epic Records and a rehearsal/photo shoot at the Paramount Theater in Seattle.
After Fifth Angel's initial album received such critical acclaim, CBS/Epic Records took notice and negotiated a seven-album deal with Fifth Angel and its new management team, Derek Simon and Concrete Marketing and Management. Fans of progressive metal giants Dream Theater may recall that Simon managed them as well, for Dream Theater's debut release (also produced by Terry Date!)
Epic re-released the band's debut album in 1988, to set the stage for a follow-up recording. But as the money and publicity arrived, the band lost another original member - founding guitarist James Byrd.
In an interview with RockReunion, Byrd revealed that the original agreement between the three principal songwriters in Fifth Angel (Byrd, Pilot, Archer) was that no matter who wrote what song, each would receive one-third of the publishing money. But prior to signing with CBS Records, Pilot and Archer told Byrd that either he signed an alternate deal giving up his publishing rights, or the band would let the record contract with both CBS Records and the management company drop.
Byrd signed the deal - and promptly received a letter in the mail two weeks later from Concrete Management, indicating he was "fired" from the group.
Time Will Tell
Seattle guitarist Kendall Bechtel replaced Byrd in the band, as writing and recording began for the group's follow-up album, Time Will Tell, which was released in late 1989. Although Terry Date was originally slated to do the engineering and production on the record, he was bypassed in favour of Terry Brown.
A solid follow-up, the 11-track Time Will Tell featured brilliant guitar leads in the powerful, melodic style found on Fifth Angel's debut release - a testament to the skills of Bechtel. While the band's heavier, fast-paced style was retained with cuts such as "We Rule" and "Midnight Love," a mid-tempo, progressive style was also explored in a number of songs, including the lead track "Cathedral," "Angel of Mercy," and "Seven Hours." A blistering cover of UFO's "Lights Out" was also on the record, and to the delight of fans, a music video for the title track, "Time Will Tell" was released.
With fan and media support behind them, Fifth Angel seemed primed for a successful tour, but the band fractured and dissolved before they could get on the road, right after Time Will Tell hit the shelves.