Well, another thrash album in what has been a promising spell of releases for the genre. Another unsung name and often overlooked thrash band from the 80’s who have a ferocious sound but because they aren’t in the big four, people just shrug at their mention, Death Angel have a rich and storied history from both their first run from 1982 to 1991, and their second, current run from 2001 to present day. Without wasting any more time, lets cross the evil divide!
“The Moth” opens things up as you would expect from this fearsome five piece Bay Area thrash unit. Fast and blistering riffs form a battering ram which smashes through everything. The steadier paced verse with its hypnotic war drum like patterns and chugged riffs gets some groove into the proceedings and the vocals are delivered with anger and venom, harshly spat with intent. Speeding up periodically, it forsakes the groove for full on speed, really ramping things up, especially for the blistering chorus. The break section with its chugs and thundering bass descends into an intricate riff assault before a classic, wild solo kicks in, laced with wah and plenty of whammy bar theatrics to add that extra edge. In all, a fierce opening track.
“Cause For Alarm” certainly lives up to its name. The quick buzzing intro shifts into another full on thrash sized battering ram but with a slight punkish element in parts. As always, it goes into the quick tempo, heavy riffs for the verse, hammering away with rhythmic precision and tasty sounding wild lead fills punctuate the track, adding more urgency to the delivery. The crossover feel in the chorus, courtesy of the gang vocals and raw chord delivery works a treat and as it explodes into the main guitar solo section, a blistering trade off and harmony section, it goes right back to the quick and intense delivery, pounding away with real energy which runs from start to finish.
“Lost” slows things down. With more focus on melodic progression initially, it has a more modern metal feel to it initially and this runs into the verse. Tamer than the previous tracks in all aspects, the melodic vocals over the more subdued instrument section helps lay a steady foundation permeated with musical hooks. The melodic chorus really shines out with the catchy lines and melodic chord delivery and the headbang groove which runs through it really locks it all in place. Near the final third, it really picks up with a real raw vocal section, laced with emotion and it helps build up to the solo which is rather controlled and melodic as it dances across a very uptempo rhythm, setting up a big final run. A surprising and solid track.
Thankfully, if you’re after the speed and aggression, “Father Of Lies” brings it right back. With gratuitous amounts of thrash and speed metal riffery on offer, all tied together by a tight, windmill headbang friendly groove, this track really grabs you by the throat and throws you about. Simplistic but effective with the riff delivery and structure, the music is self explanatory as it offers small sections of melody and complexity to spice it up. With a faster vocal delivery, tiptoeing the line between thrash and modern metal, it has a real cutting edge to it. Tame in the solo, opting for fluidity with complexity as opposed to all out chaotic speed initially, the solo starts slow before really speeding up to that classic, wild thrash feel before going back to the pounding riffs once more.
“Hell To Pay” revisits the classic Bay Area approach of blistering riffs and blistering lead work, really drawing out the spirit of that unmistakable thrash sound. Sounding like something right out of the 80’s but with a modern edge to it, this track just cuts through everything, showing that sometimes all you need is attitude and speed to make a great track. “It Can’t Be This” opens up with a catchy, fast paced bass line before settling into a heavy headbang friendly groove. Raw vocals and powerful bass and drums give an intensity to the buzzing guitar attack and whilst the previous track was a flash of energy, this is a slow and deliberate metal attack.
“Hatred United, Unite Hate” starts off slow and clean before the thunderous chugs come in, leading to a classic, fast paced, windmill headbang demanding groove. Pounding away with speed and precision, it’s got a heavy edge to it and when the raw vocal attack comes in, it really comes to life. With a subtle hint of melody to the riffs, it has that spark you want in a thrash song and as it progresses, adding little lead fills where appropriate, it just brings the cutting edge Death Angel have out for all to see. Steady with its quick pace, solid with its riffs and rhythms, it works well. Round the mid-point, it gets heavier and a sense of entropy begins to surface which ultimately consumes the track when the solo comes in, smashing things apart totally before it finally returns to the solid rhythmic assault to wrap it up.
The urgency rises once again as the building intro of “Breakaway” raises the stakes and as it explodes into a flat out, breakneck pace riff onslaught, you can picture the surging mass of bodies in the crowd as the thrasher’s come to life. Like a jolt of adrenaline to the heart, this track wakes up the speed demon lurking in the album and just ramps it up. Furious riffs, frantic solo’s, gang vocals and anger oozing from every second of it, this is another solid slice of classic thrash designed to make you move.
“The Electric Cell” is the penultimate track and it brings a colossal sound and groove with it. Hammering away with intensity, it has that overwhelming sonic weight to it which just crushes all in its path. The groove doesn’t last too long though as the speed comes into it. Rapid riffs and tight drums provide the foundation again for another scathing thrash assault, spearheaded by intricate melodic leads and venomous vocals. It does slow in parts, allowing the twisting and melodic bassline to surface underneath the buzzing guitars but for the majority of it, this track, like so many others is about speed. The drum and bass heavy breakdown leads to real furious and melodic solo which then signals the start of another blistering run of riffs, growing in urgency before an epic sounding harmony lead section which sets up the final powerful run.
“Let The Pieces Fall” closes the album and much like its title, it does just that. Drawing from elements present in the tracks before it, it closes the album well. The heaviness, the groove, the intensity and scathing delivery all combines to a solid track with a precise rhythmic foundation. Hypnotic drums, thundering guitar chugs and raw vocals wrap it up nicely and this closing track strikes the balance of groove and speed perfectly, bridging that classic thrash feel with the modern heavy edge, giving a solid album a solid end.
Overall, Death Angel have created a fantastic slice of thrash which bridges the two main styles of classic feel and modern heaviness. Staying true to their roots whilst assimilating the modern edge, the fearsome five piece really show just what they have with this release and coming in a year, stacked full of solid thrash releases, this one really stands out as one to acquire.