DESOLATION ANGELS, Feels Like Thunder (2008, Cyclone Empire)
Now here’s a skull that’s seen better days. At the present moment depicted on the cover, the skull is attempting to bite away at manacles that ensnare his wrists. Usually any sign of a skeleton disqualifies a skull from entering these hallowed halls, but even the limbs shown are partial, and not obviously connected to any kind of body. And without any kind of neck or spine bones visible, this skull floats in its imprisoned doom. The nasal hole is of a particularly triangular shape, as if the drawer of the skull lost his skull reference book. The skull also sports quite a bony bulge above his right eye, and that eye is clouded in yellow. You can tell this skull’s been through absolute hell, and he’s trying not to take it anymore.
Feels Like Thunder is a collection of 4 CDs anthologizing this well-regarded NWOBHM band’s studio, demo and live recordings. Their run lasted the entire ’80s decade, and while it’s on the darker, rawer, heavier side of that British metal movement, I’m still left a little cold with much of it. Some of the band’s material sounds like early ’80s Blue Oyster Cult when BOC were attempting a more metallic direction, and generally there’s a very likable vibe here. Lots of NWOBHM is just super-raw pub rock, but not Desolation Angels; this is heavy metal through and through. And although there’s a lot to like from the movement (Diamond Head, Angel Witch, Gaskin, Legend), I personally end up appreciating most of the other bands for what they kick-started without loving the music itself. And what they kick-started were the bands from the U.S. and German thrash movements, and the later speed and power metal also. Sorry, but Desolation Angels aren’t the avatars of NWOBHM perfection that many make them out to be, but to each his own…for my own, there’s still hardly anything better than Gaskin’s End of the World!
— Friar Wagner