On Fallen Angel, Uriah Heep continued the push toward an AOR-friendly style that began with Innocent Victim. The resulting album is too poppy to please hardcore metal fans and too eccentric to fit the bill of an AOR record, but it still manages to be a surprisingly enjoyable listen. Fallen Angel focuses squarely on crafting driving rock tunes leavened with a series of pop hooks: "Woman of the Night" pairs guitar-bolstered verses with a harmony-drenched chorus reminiscent of Queen while "One More Night" cleverly conforms the sloppy good cheer of boogie rock to a pop song format. Other tracks find the band stretching their heavy-AOR ambitions into other genres: the burbling synthesizers and stuttering bassline of "Whad'ya Say" lend that song a disco feel while the insistent, naggingly catchy "la la la" chorus of "Love or Nothing" suggests the group had spent some time listening to old bubblegum pop singles. This surprising diversity points out the problems with Fallen Angel: it goes in so many different directions that it never coheres the way a really good album should, and it strays too far from the group's original sound to really fit in with the rest of their catalog. Nonetheless, it is simply too energetic and well-crafted to be rejected as a bad album. Patient Uriah Heep fans will also be rewarded with some stunning tracks that hark back to the group's gothic metal style: "I'm Alive" is a barnstorming anthem of self-affirmation that layers Mick Box's soaring yet mournful slide guitar leads over a furious, double-time backbeat from Lee Kerslake and the title track is a gothic-tinged ballad about a lost romance that is built on a haunting chorus and an atmospheric backing of acoustic guitar and synthesizer. All in all, Fallen Angel may not please Uriah Heep fans who favor the group's Demons and Wizards-era style, but it offers enough slickly crafted music to please any fan of '70s AOR sounds.
Fallen Angel Review
by Donald A. Guarisco