Fallen Angel
Crawling Out of Hell
Style: Traditional/Speed/Power Metal
Release date: September 2010
Playing time: 72:05

For an unsigned band’s self-financed and self-released debut album, Fallen Angel’s Crawling Out of Hell is pretty impressive. Three years in the making, Crawling Out of Hell is a concept CD (the first in a planned trilogy) including a companion novel (sold separately, if you wish) written by guitarist/creator/producer John Cruppe. This unique approach to music packaging has rarely been done before in the world of heavy metal.

Released in September 2010, the word has started to get around about this amazing band and their CD’s unique packaging. Fallen Angel’s Crawling Out of Hell is a pretty involved heavy metal endeavor that needs time for it to soak in to truly be appreciated for the concept album that it is. The songs could stand on their own individually, but were meant to be taken in as a whole.

Album concept:
Crawling Out of Hell
is a tale about lead character Luke, who was involved in a car accident and falls into a coma. He struggles through life and death in a fight for his soul as he finds himself, as the title suggests, crawling out of Hell. It’s strictly fictional and fantasy-based, and the concept is nothing new (Ayreon’s The Human Equation comes to mind). But, there’s a twist at the end of the CD and the book, which leaves you unsure of what actually happens to the main character. On the CD, Luke can be heard saying, “Where am I?” It serves as a cliffhanger by setting you up for Part II, which the band is already working on the CD and the novel, entitled Cast Out of Heaven

Companion novel:
The 250-page companion novel (including a glossary and lyrics to the CD) has a few flaws; awkward sentence structures, jumbled syntax, grammatical errors and some repetitive sections. The abundant use of ellipses (the omission of a word from a sentence) disrupts the flow of the story. However, the written descriptions are vivid enough to picture in your mind the scene as if watching a movie. Excluding the instrumentals, the primary songs on the CD have the same chapter names in the book. 

I tend to read a lot of books, so it only took me three days, off-and-on, to complete the book. The bigger type face and spacing between sentences makes it a pretty easy read. But don’t feel that you have to read the book to understand the music on the CD, as there is a lot going on and can be a bit overwhelming. The story is already pretty well laid out for you in the CD booklet, the novel is just something of a bonus for the listener to experience the full effect. 

Album Artwork:
The artwork that accompanies the CD and the book is also fantastic, created by four or five different artist from all over the world on a somewhat modest budget. The illustrations are mostly, if not all, traditional paintings, no digital renderings as far as I can tell. The description of the characters in the book adequately match the renderings and leaves a lasting impression in your mind. 

The band:
Originally formed in 1983 in Rochester, New York, the band never released any recorded material. Probably the most recognizable name in the band is guitarist Robb Lotta, who played in Joey Belladona’s solo touring band. Fallen Angel’s onstage performance portrays some of the villains in the story. Guitarist John Cruppe stars as The Dark Lord of Democales, guitarist Robb Lotta as The Man in Black, vocalist Steve Seniuk as Caleb The Teller of Tales, bassist Joe Surace as The Lord of the Flesh and drummer Frankie Quaggs as The Darkness. All the band members wear costumes and theatrical stage makeup - not the black metal corpse paint of Dimmu Borgir - but more like Kiss or King Diamond. The image of the band reflects the story and merges the whole concept together. 

The music:
There’s 20 tracks (6 instrumentals) exceeding 72 minutes of traditional/speed/power metal in the old school vein of Mercyful Fate, Cage, Helstar, Agent Steel, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and most notably, Iced Earth. There are obvious moments where the band do wear their influences on their sleeves, but the way they construct the songs and deliver them is in their own style. There’s great trade-off guitar solos, pummeling double bass and drum fills, ear-shattering wails and memorable fist-pumping choruses. There are several cinematic instrumentals that bridge parts of the story together, without actually becoming boring. The production (also handled by Cruppe) is not perfect, but very commendable.

Songs "Sinner's Vengeance," “Dark Lord,” "Leaving it All Behind," "Watching" and “The Neutral Zone” are great examples of Fallen Angel’s use of melody and musicianship. 

There’s even some backmasking on “Ashes To Ashes” and CD closer "Grant Me Peace." Don’t worry though, there won’t be an Ozzy or Judas Priest-like lawsuit or trial on their hands, as it’s a blatant attempt and an homage to early classic rock bands like The Beatles and Led Zeppelin. It only adds to the eerie and mysterious feeling of the album.

To some people, Seniuk’s voice might be a little over-the-top at times, but it’s impressive none the less. But, if you’re not a fan of falsetto vocals, then you most likely won’t enjoy his singing style. It’s hard to decipher what he really sounds like, though, as he morphs into many different types of metal singers. But his high wails, vocal phrasings and harmonies fit the tempo of the music perfectly. He’s not quite ready to be inducted into the elite vocalist circle as Barlow, Tate, Halford or Owens, but he’s not too far behind at all.

Bottom line:
This is a true “record” in every sense of the word, reminding me of the days when buying an album was a special experience, visually and aurally. The feeling you’d get when you could listen to an album uninterrupted from start to finish while reading the lyrics and liner notes and truly ensconcing yourself in the listening experience. With the exception of a few flaws, Fallen Angel’s Crawling Out of Hell is a rather valiant and commendable effort from Cruppe and Co. Do yourself a favor and purchase this CD (and novel) as soon as you can, you will not be disappointed.


01. Crash To Oblivion
02. Sinners Vengeance
03. March Into Hell
04. Blood On My Soul
05. The Grinding Wheels Of War
06. The Reapers Shall Gather
07. Arrival
08. Dark Lord
09. Darkness
10. The One Who Walks Alone
11. The Answer
12. Respiration Desperation
13. The Neutral Zone
14. Life Or Death
15. On And On
16. Ashes To Ashes
17. Leaving It All Behind
18. Watching
19. Sad Wings
20. Grant Me Peace

Label: Independent
Reviewed by: Kelley Simms
Date: 16 February, 2011
Website: www.myspace.com/bandsitefallenangel