After nearly 30 years since releasing a studio album, melodic hard rockers Fifth Angel return with a new album, The Third Secret, on October 26th via Nuclear Blast Records. The new album consists of 10 tracks that members of the band promise will please both their die hard fans and new fans alike.
“We are very proud of the new album! We hope the fans will hear the classic threads of the Fifth Angel they know and love, along with the growth and maturity the individuals of the band have gone through over the years,” said guitarist and vocalist Kendall Bechtel in a press release for the new album. “We hope they love the new songs as much as we do.”
In the 1980s, Fifth Angel was signed to a seven-album deal with Epic Records, but released only two albums – Fifth Angel in 1988 & Time Will Tell in 1989. (Click HERE to read a review/reflection of Time Will Tell). With a lack of label support in the early 1990s and the rise of grunge music, the band was released from their contract and went their separate ways.
Fast forward to 2018 and Fifth Angel is back with a lineup that consists of Bechtel, John Macko (bass), Ed Archer (guitars) and Ken Mary (drums). [Original vocalist Ted Pilot was asked to be part of the reunion but declined].
With their highly anticipated new album nearing its release, Limelight Magazine caught up with Macko who discussed recording the album, what it’s like to be back in the band and if we’ll see the band tour to support the release.
LIMELIGHT MAGAZINE: On October 26th, Fifth Angel will release its third studio album, The Third Secret, on Nuclear Blast Records. It’s been nearly 30 years since your last album, Time Will Tell. Why did the band decide to do another studio album after all these years?
JOHN MACKO: We had been contemplating making a new record since 2010 when we played the KIT festival, but for one reason or another, it never happened, then after our performance at the 2017 KIT festival, we had gotten an offer to make a record with Nuclear Blast Records and that really got the ball rolling.
LIMELIGHT MAGAZINE: How long did it take the band to record The Third Secret and how do the songs hold up against your classic late 80s material?
JOHN MACKO: It took about 6 months to record and most of the song ideas were all new within a year or two at the most. We believe these songs stand with the prior records, capturing the style and spirit of the old stuff, but with modern production.
LIMELIGHT MAGAZINE: Fifth Angel released a digital single and lyric video for “Can You Hear Me” (click HERE to watch and listen). on September 7. Why was this song chosen as the lead single?
JOHN MACKO: I can’t really answer this question as our label Nuclear Blast made this choice, but we trust in their judgment and we are sure they had a good reason!
LIMELIGHT MAGAZINE: The album cover for The Third Secret was designed by Zsofia Dankova. It looks absolutely incredible. It also keeps the border art of the past two albums, which fans seem very excited about. Did the band have any input on the cover art or did the artist have free reign on the design?
JOHN MACKO: Zsofia did an amazing job for certain! But she did not make the design, the band crafted the design and we relayed that vision to Zsofia. The boarder was also our idea to keep some consistency and familiarity for the fans.
LIMELIGHT MAGAZINE: Since Fifth Angel has been away from the scene for so long, did you expect to ink a deal with Nuclear Blast Records?
JOHN MACKO: Not at all! It was pretty amazing to us when the offer was made, it was just luck we think that an A&R rep was at our 2017 KIT show and loved our performance, had it not been for that show I don’t think this record would have been made.
LIMELIGHT MAGAZINE: You’re first two albums (Fifth Angel & Time Will Tell) were released on Epic Records. How is it different being signed to a label today compared to back then?
JOHN MACKO: Well, I can’t speak for other labels in today’s market, but I will tell you working with Nuclear Blast is an absolute joy! Night and day between them and Epic/CBS records! They are tremendous to work with and we would recommend them to any band out there. They get things done right away and give us all of the creative freedom we need.
LIMELIGHT MAGAZINE: I’ve read that Fifth Angel originally signed a seven album deal with Epic but was eventually released from its contract. What led to the band’s initial break up in the early 90s?
JOHN MACKO: Basically it was bad timing, the band was dropped from Epic after the rise of “Grunge” music which drastically changed the direction of the music scene. Labels turned their attention to those types of bands.
LIMELIGHT MAGAZINE: When the band decided to record a new album, did you reach out to original vocalist Ted Pilot to be part of the line up?
JOHN MACKO: Yes of course! We have always asked Ted to be a part of anything we have been doing, but he felt his voice was not up to par.
LIMELIGHT MAGAZINE: Was it a difficult transition for Kendall Bechtel to go from being a guitarist to handling both guitar and vocal duties?
JOHN MACKO: I don’t think so, Kendall has been lead singing for many years with his own side projects and also doing guest appearances on other artists records.
LIMELIGHT MAGAZINE: As I was drafting questions for this interview, I read a press release that original rhythm guitarist Ed Archer has returned to the band. Does this mean that Fifth Angel may actually tour the States to support the release? (On behalf of all of your fans, we’d love to see you play some New England dates!)
JOHN MACKO: There are no plans of yet, but it certainly is in the realm of possibility!
LIMELIGHT MAGAZINE: I came across an interview with drummer Ken Mary in the August 1988 issue of Hit Parader where he said, “I don’t want to say that our show will necessarily be Cooperesque [in reference to being Alice Cooper’s drummer at the time as well as Fifth Angel’s], but let’s just say that there will definitely be some surprises, and lots of things that people haven’t seen before.” Interestingly, the band never ended up performing any live dates back then. Out of curiosity, why didn’t the band ever tour?
JOHN MACKO: It was always part of our plan to tour, but it seemed that one situation after another would always prevent us from making that happen, again bad timing seemed to be the issue.
LIMELIGHT MAGAZINE: Lastly, how excited are you personally to see the band back together and doing interviews about a new album again?
JOHN MACKO: Yes of course! Who would have ever thought? I feel truly blessed and lucky to have this second chance; most musicians don’t even get that opportunity once in their life time!
LIMELIGHT MAGAZINE: Is there anything else you’d like to add to this interview?
JOHN MACKO: We just hope the fans love this record as much as we do and continue to keep the faith!