Archangel: Tales Of Love And Blood

The horrific genius of Italian composer Gabriele Manzini.

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Behind the Archangel moniker lurks Italian keysman/composer Gabriele Manzini (Ubi Maior, The Watch). After the ‘hard progressive folk’ direction of 2009 release, the Tolkien-inspired The Akallabêth, this takes on a brooding, gothic direction and is all the better for it.

A trio of suites, the album begins with a spectral tribute to the legend of sadistic 16th century serial killer Countess Elizabeth Báthory. If Rick Wakeman ever joined the Sisters Of Mercy it’d sound exactly like this. The suite cleverly incorporates a cover of Blue Öyster Cult’s Nosferatu before guest Damian Wilson chips in with a rather chilling vocal display on the closing gambit Misplaced Love.

Next up, The Night Scythe, is the musical equivalent of having an evil hooded reaper skulking at the bottom of your bed at midnight, and Love And Blood Suite turns the tension down with a trio of melancholic ghost stories. It includes another stunning cover version, this time of Roxy Music’s My Only Love.

If Tales ended here we’d be happy enough, but lo, there’s a bonus track: Wheels Of Confusion re-imagines the Black Sabbath classic in spectacular fashion. Tales is a work of horrific genius.

Geoff Barton is a British journalist who founded the heavy metal magazine Kerrang! and was an editor of Sounds music magazine. He specialised in covering rock music and helped popularise the new wave of British heavy metal (NWOBHM) after using the term for the first time (after editor Alan Lewis coined it) in the May 1979 issue of Sounds.