by Ed RivadaviaExcited by the success of neighboring metal upstarts Queensrche, vocalist Ted Pilot, guitarist James Byrd, and drummer Ken Mary formed Fifth Angel in Bellevue, WA, in 1984. Drafting second guitarist Ed Archer and bassist John Macko, they eventually signed to the Shrapnel label and released an eponymous debut in 1986 -- its bombastic classic metal earning widespread approval within the metal community. It also attracted the powerful Concrete Management, which began shopping the album to major labels and forced the band into a state of limbo while they awaited the protracted negotiations' conclusion. During this time, bandmembers kept busy with various side projects, most notably drummer Mary, who did session work for Alice Cooper, House of Lords, and David Chastain. Finally, Fifth Angel was handed a long-term deal by Epic Records, which subsequently reissued their debut album in 1988. But by then, a disgruntled Byrd had already left to launch a solo career (beginning with the James Byrd's Atlantis Rising album, also on Shrapnel) and was replaced by guitarist Kendall Bechtel prior to the sessions for 1989's belated Time Will Tell. Sadly, Fifth Angel's sound had gone from ahead of its time to positively dated during the ensuing years and the album failed to meet the lofty expectations of all involved. The band quickly fell apart thereafter.