|Musical Style: Melodic Metal/Hard Rock||Produced By: Dennis Cameron & Ken Tamplin|
|Record Label: Intense||Country Of Origin: Canada|
|Year Released: 1989||Artist Website: Dennis Cameron|
|Tracks: 12||Rating: 80%|
|Running Time: 42:40|
While Rex Carroll (Whitecross) is often the first name mentioned when discussing the best Christian metal guitarists to come out of the eighties, a legitimate case can be made that Canadian born Dennis Cameron deserves equal consideration. Cameron got his start by playing in Canadian secular bands Antix and Masquerade before striking out on his own after becoming a Christian in 1987. Following the release of two critically acclaimed demo tapes, Cameron faced the option to either join Holy Soldier or Bloodgood or to sign with Intense Records. He chose the record deal and went on to record four full length albums with Intense under the name Angelica.
I might describe Angelica's self-titled 1989 Intense debut as a combination of melodic metal and commercial hard rock certain to appeal to fans of Stryper, Holy Soldier, Joshua or Dokken. Cameron's crunchy rhythm guitar helps to make it the heaviest of the four Angelica studio releases, while his fast fingered lead guitar work cannot help but bring to mind the likes of Joshua Perahia, Chris Impellitteri and fellow Canadian Slav Simanic. When the vocalist originally slated for the project failed to work out in the studio, co-producer Ken Tamplin (Shout) brought in the talented Rob Rock to handle lead vocal duties. Rock, whose resume includes work with Joshua, Impellitteri and Warrior in addition to three solo albums, does not disappoint by bringing out the best in the albums material with his superb classic tenor voice. Bassist Robert Pallen and drummer Scott Ernest (Eternal Ryte) round out the rhythm section.
Producers Cameron and Tamplin were forced to work within the confines of a limited budget, and, as a result, the project lacks the polished sonics one might find on a major mainstream release such as Joshua's Intense Defense or Stryper's To Hell With The Devil. On the other hand, when taking the budget into consideration, the two created a professional sounding album in which the production in no way proves a detraction.
In terms of the packaging, the plain looking album cover displaying the Angelica logo over a black background is not the most flattering. The band photo on the back of the CD insert, at the same time, does not include Rob Rock but rather a vocalist who did not perform on the album.
"There's Only One Hero" opens quickly to a driving guitar riff before slowing to a punchy bass line upon reaching its first verse. After the rhythm guitar returns hard and heavy, it buttresses a catchy chorus carried at an upbeat tempo. Cameron tops things off with a blazing guitar solo. "There's Only One Hero" is literally about that:
The Son of God, the heirs to the Throne
A perfect sacrifice, it's time to make known
There is only one Hero
Beginning to a slowly moving and bouncing guitar riff, "Are You Satisfied" rapidly takes off at the start of its first verse only to slow for a chorus accentuated in a strong manner by Rock's soaring vocal delivery. A minute long lead guitar passage is reminiscent to Chris Impellitteri at his very best.
The melodic hard rocker "I Believe" jumps out of the gate to a fast paced combination of rhythm guitar and double bass. Slowing upon reaching its first verse, the song moves on to a radio friendly chorus underlined by vocal harmonies. Cameron's energetic lead guitar work brings out the best in a song talking about God's faithfulness:
I have come to testify, Lord
You'll always be there
He'll always be there to hold the line
When in despair
The explosion at the start of "Danger Zone" gives way to a bluesy metal flavored guitar riff that drives it forward with a ton of energetic momentum. Following a brief pause, background vocals enter the mix in time to fortify a chorus with a huge infectious hook. Several seconds of gritty lead guitar work perfectly complements the songs pace and feel.
A restrained mix of rhythm guitar carries the lackluster pop metal of "Shine On Me" at a mid-tempo pace until it reaches a chorus I might describe as average at best. I wish the band had expanded upon an instrumental passage limited to several brief seconds of lead guitar.
Thirty seconds of fiery riffing initiates "Only A Man" before it slows at the start of its first verse. Once a punchy bass line takes the song through its bridge, a driving riff pushes it to an energy laden chorus underscored by a crunchy rhythm guitar. Cameron's over-the-top distorted Oz Fox-like guitar solo ranks among the albums best.
The catchy "One Step At A Time" moves the album in a commercial melodic rock direction. Advancing through its verse portions at a slower more mid-tempo pace, the song picks up speed for a chorus backed by an abundance of Stryper-like vocal harmonies. A fast fingered guitar solo only adds to the songs appeal.
The vocal harmonies introducing "Will I Ever Learn" give way to a near perfect blend of rhythm guitar and bass, the two conveying the song to a pop flavored chorus resonating a good commercial feel. Cameron punctuates the song with more of his lightning like lead guitar work.
A quietly played guitar line slowly propels "Take Me" through its first verse before a crunchy rhythm guitar steps forward in time to bolster a chorus with a catchy refuse to go away hook. The song slows following its final verse as Rock delivers a message of how God comforts us in out time of need:
Out from the cold
That warmth, Lord, You offered
No longer am I lost at sea
God give me the strength
In my times of trouble
Thank you, thank you for saving my life
"Ahh!", a first-rate instrumental allowing Cameron to show off all his licks and chops, invites a comparison to Joe Satriani, Chris Impellitteri and Slav Simanic. The solo he cuts loose with at the 2:30 mark is simply jaw dropping!
Getting underway to several seconds of open air rhythm guitar, the groove-laden hard rocker "S.O.S." is shored up by an upfront mix of rhythm guitar upon reaching its first verse. Slowing in tempo, the rhythm guitar plays a reduced role in the mix as the song attains a good melodic flavored chorus. A very well done blues flavored guitar solo proves the final piece to the puzzle.
Tamplin recorded a rough track of the vocals for "Face To Face" when Rock was given a break after putting in twelve hour shifts. Tamplin's vocals turned out so well they were kept for the final mix. Moving in a straightforward hard rock direction, "Face To Face" proceeds at a guitar driven mid-tempo pace until it attains a chorus in which the band makes a simple statement of faith:
Face to face Lord, I could never
Want for more when I’m
Face to face
You’re all I need
There is a ton of very good material on Angelica's self-titled debut that I would characterize, for a lack of better words, as "eighties hooks galore": "There's Only One Hero", "Are You Satisfied", "Danger Zone", "Only A Man" and "Take Me" all stand out with strong choruses and noteworthy melodies. Dennis Cameron and Rob Rock prove an unbeatable combination, and any problems with the albums production (which are minimal) are more than offset by the combined talents of the two.
Please note that Cameron and Rock went their separate ways following the project and never worked together again. Cameron made several attempts to form a full time band that in the end did not work out. Angelica, for all practical purposes, remained a project with the songwriting, direction and financing all provided by Cameron.
Review by: Andrew Rockwell
Track Listing: "There’s Only One Hero" (4:05), "Are You Satisfied" (3:30), "I Believe" (3:45), "Danger Zone" (3:42), "Shine On Me" (3:05), "Only A Man" (3:40), "One Step At A Time" (3:31), "Will I Ever Learn" (3:20), "Take Me" (3:32), "Ahh!" (3:00), "S.O.S." (3:50), "Face To Face" (3:23)
Dennis Cameron – Guitars
Rob Rock – Lead Vocals
Robert Pallen – Bass
Scott Ernest – Drums
Ken Tamplin – Lead Vocals
Mark Hugenberger - Keyboards
Arnold, Christy. "Angelica Interview." Take A Stand (September 1989):4.
Arnold, Christy. "Angelica Interview." Take A Stand (November 1990): 1-2.
Mutillo, Dave. "Rock, Stock & Dennis Cameron." White Throne 11 (1992): 48-50.