It has been a long time since DDP’s debut ‘DDP 4 Life’, although it will see a re-release via Mascot this year but here we have ‘Death Sentence’. This is a second full length album from this Bay Area Thrash collective that features some of the original rager’s of the bay area scene. Willy Lange (Bass – Laaz Rockit), Chuck Billy (Vocals – Legacy and Testament), Steve ‘Zetro’ Souza (Vocals – Legacy, ex-Exodus, Tenet and Hatriot). These well-known individuals are accompanied with the remaining Dublin Death Patrol (a infamous group of people you did not mess with way back when) this includes Chuck’s Brother and a few other mainstays of the “scene” who famously once had Lars Ulrich in a panic after he made some remarks about the DDP on a radio station programme.
‘Death Sentence’ was recorded last year, their promise for this release is to “go out and crush audiences all over the world”, in some respects it does, it’s very brutal, especially Chuck Billy’s vocal parts, other than that, does it live up to expectations? Well, yes and no. Yes by the fact that you cannot deny a classic easy Bay Area sound, aggression and delivery for which the sound is immense. But the reason I say no, well, super groups are all well and good, but I for one would prefer this band to have more staying power in the long run, a real tour (although I did find their Camden gig fucking amazing last time they were over), not simply big festival slots.
Rant over, as I said, musically this kicks pure ass. Opener ‘Mind Sewn Shut; starts out slow and quiet, the atmosphere builds with some sweeping guitar riffs and melodies, then bam… you are hit by their tons of bricks, or rather the DDP band give you a five finger sandwich all at once. It sounds like Exodus with both Zetro and Billy on vocals (it makes me think how instrumental Exodus actually were to the sound of thrash, whilst only now they are getting the recognition they deserve). The next track ‘Dehumanize’ takes some groove laced with some high speed fury and blockades your ears. The solo is great, it almost has a feel of that running fretboard work in the song ‘Cold Sweat’ (Thin Lizzy – a song DDP covered live too) melody.
You hear a little of everything good in thrash over the years on this album, ‘Blood Sirens’ starts off like Overkill, then it is back to Exodus, so as I try to pin down why I am perplexed by this release, I continue to thoroughly enjoy it none the less. Listen to the energy of ‘Conquer and Divide’ at its start, then destroy your neighbours to the utter chaos of ‘My Riot’. This in itself has the potential to move buildings, whilst ‘Macabre Candor’ follows recent Testament melody patterns but falls short as it is a little too repetitive to endure. But if ever you need a big kick in the ass, ‘Butcher Boy’ does this, a little like ‘Sid Vicious’ from their debut release, this infuses a little punk attitude and takes away the frequent a level of caution heard on the former tracks.
For a thrash super group based such a wonderful scene and genre, ‘Death Sentence’ is certainly a bay area master class, but there is a fluttering of caginess about the songs, but they are engineered and delivered in a fashion of what you would come to expect which is the redeeming feature of this album.
(6.5/10 Paul Maddison)