CD Review of Angels and Devils by Fuel

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Angels and Devils
starstarstarno starno star Label: Epic
Released: 2007
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Record labels and radio stations keep merging and shrinking, making it harder for artists to maintain any kind of longevity at a label. But a few of them keep plugging away, and Epic Records’ Fuel is one of those bands. Angels and Devils is Fuel’s fourth studio release in the last decade, and while the album is consistent with the band’s signature sound, there isn’t any new ground being broken here. What is remarkable, however, is that even after the departure of lead singer Brett Scallions, the band’s new frontman, Toryn Green, is such a dead ringer for Scallions that there is no skipping of any beats.

Angels and Devils is Fuel’s first album since 2003’s Natural Selection, which had limited success compared with the band’s 1998 self-titled debut and 2000’s breakout, Something Like Human (those last two spawned three Top Five singles). Angels and Devils is more of the same melody-and-guitar-driven alternative rock that has been the mainstay on AOR stations for the last five to ten years, and it’s a formula that has worked for Fuel all along. But there are some potential hits on this set, and that’s something that should keep the label suits happy as well as keeping the band together and on the road.

“Gone” kicks things off with a sound reminiscent of Fuel’s debut album, and it’s mildly catchy. But they really kick into gear with the melancholy “I Should Have Told You,” and the first single, “Wasted,” which is already climbing rock radio faster than Joey Chestnut can slam down hot dogs. Guitarist and songwriter Carl Bell lets the riffs lead on the potent rocker “Not This Time,” and “Scars in the Making” is formulaic, but in a good way. The only weakness here is that by the tenth and eleventh tracks, this stuff starts to sound the same. Add a bonus version of “Wasted Time,” and you’ve probably got three songs too many. Keep ‘em wanting more, guys.

Many of you are sick of the music made popular by, in addition to Fuel themselves, bands like Nickelback, Breaking Benjamin and Three Days Grace. True, it all starts to sound the same, but Fuel gets it right most of the time with the actual craft of songwriting. Walls of guitars and powerful-yet-not-too-in-your-face vocals are the window dressing for strong melodies and hooks—and that, folks, is what stokes longevity in the music biz.

~Mike Farley