Death Angel_The Evil DivideIt’s tough to avoid feeling one’s age when all the wild, crazy bands you listened to in your youth are approaching 30 year anniversaries. This is particularly true with Death Angel. I remember seeing them open for Overkill and Slayer back in 86 and they looked like little kids on stage. I was a kid myself but they really looked like little kids. 2016 sees them dropping their 8th album after three decades in the business and while they’re older, wiser and much more grizzled, you’d hardly know it from the razor-sharp thrash contained on The Evil Divide. This may be as close as the band has come to living up to the legacy of their brilliantly devastating The Ultra-Violence debut, and as a long time fan, its been a mighty long wait indeed. This channels the same youthful rage and hostility as that mighty debut, while also showing a more mature, thoughtful side, and the combination is pretty damn lethal when everything comes together.

Opener “The Moth” sets the stage with a gripping, ripping piece of modern thrash. It’s aggressive and in-your-face as thrash should be, the vocals by Mark Osegueda are pissed off and savage and the guitars are wild and unhinged. It’s undoubtedly “modern” but retains enough of their classic Bay Area sound to appease the elders. What’s more, it’s memorable and even catchy. From here the band dabbles in different moods and influences, spanning the decades rather adroitly. “Cause for Alarm” has a definite hardcore crossover vibe to the riffs and structure, as does “Hell to Pay” but the thrash roots remain audible and the combination is raucous.

The standout is “Lost” where the band manages to mix emo-rock, metalcore-ish riffing and speed into a song that showcases Death Angel‘s versatility as it toys with traditional thrash paradigms. The varied vocals from Osegueda carry the song over and his raging delivery during the chorus is bound to impress. Other key cuts include the angry grinding of “Father of Lies,” the venomous “It Can’t Be This” which feels like the anthem for the presidential elections here in the U.S., and “Hatred United, United Hate” which is far catchier than it ought to be and features a guest solo by Andreas Kisser of Sepultura fame.

Death Angel_2016

As strong as The Evil Divide is, it does take a bit of a tumble on the back-end, with “Breakaway” and “The Electric Cell” both feeling less impressive despite some excellent guitar-work. They’re by no means bad songs, but with the strength of the other material they do feel overshadowed. At 45 minutes, this is a pretty concise slab o’ thrash, and the songs are all short enough to avoid tedium. The very modern sounding production (handled once again by Jason Suecof) gives the material more of a metalcore sound than I prefer, at times sounding like Trivium or latter day Soilwork. The guitar tone sounds processed and everything feels too polished and clean for my tastes, but since the material is strong, it can be partially overlooked.

Mark OI’ve always been a big fan of Mark Osegueda’s vocals and he really brings it this time out. He’s one of the most talented thrash singers of all time and his pipes have weathered the ages remarkably well. On much as the material he sounds like Furious George, only dialing back the rage to hit well-timed moments of clean singing. He’s definitely a big part of the band’s appeal and this is his best outing in years. Equally impressive are the fireworks from Rob Cavestany and Ted Aguilar. While their riffs are rock-solid and powerful, their harmonies and face-melting solos are something else altogether. They have chops to spare and know exactly when to shred and when to lay back. There’s some highly technical playing across the album and some interesting choices (like the tasteful extended melodic break during “Father of Lies”), but they manage to avoid over playing and losing critical momentum. As a tandem they’re up there with the best and guitar enthusiasts will be foaming at the mouth over some of this stuff.

Act II of Death Angel‘s career shows them improving with each successive release, and though they may never equal the debut they’re crafting vital, vibrant thrash that doesn’t feel watered down or recycled, and that deserves props. The Evil Divide shows there’s still life in the Bay Area sound, even if it’s refurbished with modern parts. Thrashards both old and new rejoice!

Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 272 kbps mp3
Label: Nuclear Blast [EU][NA]
Releases Worldwide: May 27th, 2016

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  • SegaGenitals

    This should keep me entertained until the new Metallica comes out….

    • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

      And most likely, after it comes out as well

      • Matt slatz

        And definitely after you trade in the c.d. for a dollar at your local record store

      • SegaGenitals

        Don’t ruin my hopes for St. Anger 2.0.

    • Carlos Marrickvillian

      Call one of the doctors!

  • schism70

    Just ordered it.

  • Name’s Dalton

    I really enjoyed their last album, the one that makes my 7-year old daughter say, “Play that crazy dog music!” (Because of the cover).

    IMHO, Osegueda is the best singer in thrash.

  • Diego Molero

    The Ultra-Violence is such a great album, and “The Ultra-Violence” is one of my favorite instrumental songs ever. Crazy to think that the drummer was only 14 years old when it was recorded, at that age I was playing Guitar Hero…
    Great review, Druhm. Will check this out.

    • He looked about 12 on stage.

      • Bas

        They were not just young, but also short guys. They were once walking past me and my friends at a festival a long time ago.. and they were very short (compared to a group of tall Dutch guys, that is…).

  • ronin1572

    There has been some really good albums put out by 80’s bands this year. Anthrax is still in my rotation. Have to pick this one up, and I’m looking forward to Testaments new album.

  • Reese Burns

    I can’t wait for this, out of all the elderly thrash bands out there, Death Angel are the only ones I can count on to still knock it out of the park

    • Or at least frolic through it.

      • Reese Burns

        Every rule has an exception.

  • Westpaceagle

    Great review, Death Angel is underrated IMHO- some of their output has not been stellar but in my book they get the 5th spot outside the ‘Big 4’ that usually goes to Testament.
    That embed track is great. If the whole album matches that then I am super stoked right now!

    • PanzerFistDominatrix

      They can have it – err’body knows Anthrax ought to never have been included and Testament should’ve – Death Angel can take the outsider-5th spot. You disagree? Obey! Or I’ll burn you to that cross…

      • Westpaceagle

        “Fire! Hot fire! Purge the world with fire!!”
        I do disagree! You got me. I have always had a soft spot for Anthrax since I got my Aunt to buy me Spreading the Disease when I was in the 7th grade. They had that attitude, slightly different sound and could actually be fun sometimes. Testament never did it for me the same way.
        Steel Druhm a little help before I get burned to a cross…?!

        • I love Testament but they don’t knock Anthrax from the Big Four. They can certainly dump Slayer, Metallica or Megadeth these days though.

        • PanzerFistDominatrix

          Went crying to daddy Druhm, did ya now? That’s, like, soooo typical Anthrax brown noser… :-)

          • Westpaceagle

            Exactly! We Anthrax fans have to stick together after taking sh*t for 30 years!

          • [not a Dr]

            One Man Stands!

          • PanzerFistDominatrix

            … but he’s Falling Fast.

  • Lasse Momme

    I agree with the review, this is about as good as you can expect completely present standardized thrash to be: Competently crafted songs, strong musicianship, a tight, if a bit too sterile, production job, and not long enough to start getting boring.

    Absolutely a record worth checking out if you’re a thrash fan, even if it might not inspire multiple returns and revisits. All in all a damn fine piece musicianship.

  • Baax Brewing

    Osegueda is one of the best metal vocalists ever in my opinion and I was sold on this one after the first track I heard a couple of months ago, great band, great album

  • Dr. A.N. Grier

    Fuck yes. This is exactly what i hoped for. You’re right, there is some modern thrash feel throughout but it’s so goddamned catchy. I’m gonna be spinning this for awhile. Great review.

  • DrChocolate

    Yeah, but the real question is do they sneak in any throwback passages that sound like The Organization? I’d savor that flavor.

    • Bas

      :-) I love the stuff they did as The O. but I can’t imagine they will do that. Great to see that I am not the only one that has fond memories of the Organization (still listening to both albums regularly).

  • OzanCan

    Aaaah Death Angel… great memories. Gotta check it out soon!

  • Bas

    Good review. I will listen to it soon !
    They are also likeable guys, and always enthusiastic at concerts.
    My fav. is still Act III.

  • Who wants to bet me that this mini-80s thrash revival, i.e. bands like Megadeth, Anthrax, Death Angel etc. putting out really solid releases, will come to its tragic end with the release of the new Metallica record (I read somewhere it was due out by the end of the year)? Lars is the ultimate party pooper. Unforgiven X here we come.

    • Carlos Marrickvillian

      Never heard of them…

      • Oh, yeah, well, they were a band back in the 80s that got a lot of press for this thing they did with puppets and lightening on stage. Though, some of the comments even back then didn’t really do them justice as they were a pretty great live act in their own right despite all their stage theatrics. Then they went dark and ever since, I haven’t really listened to them all that much.

        • Carlos Marrickvillian

          Oh yeah I used to wonder what happened to them…they used to be good

          • Sometimes I say a little prayer to St. Anger for them…

    • It’s gonna be so bad….

      • They should do a black metal album. Really troll us.

        • Westpaceagle

          Right? Lars playing crazy blast beats…in corpse paint. Mind would be so blown I might forget the horror of what they have morphed into. Alas I think we are much more likely to get a Country album out of them than we are a real metal album

          • PanzerFistDominatrix

            A corpse painted Lars playing crazy blast beats on a country album would be some progressive shit…

          • Not my tempo.

          • PanzerFistDominatrix

            Gravity blasting 24/7 for a Dolly Parton cover album – working title is “Beat of many blasts”.

          • Beats of Burden?

          • PanzerFistDominatrix

            “I will always blast you”

          • DoublePedalGangstaMetal

            Do I Ever Blast Your Mind?

            My Tennessee Blast Beat Home.

            Silver Beats and Golden Blasts.

            It’ All Wrong, But It’ All Blasts.

          • DoublePedalGangstaMetal

            Blasting 9 to 5.

            But You Know I (Blast) Beat You.

            Blast Is Like A Butterfly.

          • FutureBeyondSatan

            Blast beats take some form of talent and coordination.

    • Lasse Momme

      Hopefully we’ll be able to squeeze out a few more solid releases from the old guard, before the off beat/wah-pedal/yodeling assault reminds us all, just how much we actually wish that Metallica would’ve just stopped being Metallica back in the 90’s.

      • #NotMyMetallica

    • Jeremy Freeman

      I doubt Metallica releases anything, I think the changes are greater that Lars will get hair plugs lol. Even if so,it’ll be the worst of the lot. By FAR.

    • Reese Burns

      Am I really the only one who thought Death Magnetic was any good? I’m actually cautiously optimistic about the new album..

      • sir_c

        the Guitar Hero III rip of that album was listenable in a technical sense, but for me there were no keepers on it.

        I still dig the Creeping Death EP and the first Garage Days album, and Kill ‘Em all for its raw ferocity. But that is just me.

    • Kryopsis

      In other words, Trash Metal will signal the end of the Thrash Metal revival.

    • profrwoland

      Dont forget the killer Flotsam and Jetsam record that was bestowed upon us. Please Metallica, don’t fuck this up.

  • Iliast

    That Andreas Kisser guest solo is amazing.

  • Lars Barres

    Was never a big fan of these guys, but that embedded track is nice. Will definitely check this one out. Also – mad props for hiring Tyrrell to do the cover.

  • Jeremy Freeman

    They’ll never top Relentless Retribution. Also wow Mark Mark Osegueda is looking like a cross between Tom Araya and Cronos from Venom. lol :)

  • Sharp-Blunt Boy

    The nostalgia is strong in this one. I was a massive fan of Act III but haven’t listened to it for many years – will have to dig out the vinyl. I’m very impressed with the embedded track: it’s full of menace, anger and vim, and there is terrible dearth of whammy bar solos in today’s shredding. Definitely going to check the rest of this album out.

    Anyway, back to Act III: I loved the whole album but was strangely drawn towards Discontinued and A Room With A View. It takes balls to go off-piste and even larger cahunas and deft skill to do it so convincingly. Listening to those tracks again made me think of (then listen to) Mordred. Ahhh, halcyon days.

    • Wow, Mordred is a name I haven’t heard much since 92-93.

      • Sharp-Blunt Boy

        The Next Room is still a real blast – definitely check it out again – it hasn’t lost any of the excitement and still sounds really solid. Mordred were actually able ‘tastefully’ include scratching into metal compositions. Go figure.

        • Yeah, they were pretty decent. I listened to their In This Life album a fair amount in college. “Falling Away” is a really cool tune.

  • sir_c

    Pretty decent clips I saw on YT of these guys… Wow, impressed.

  • Aguy

    Oh shit. I have to get that Bernie 2016 shirt from the video.

  • FutureBeyondSatan

    They found their hunger. This is how it is done.

  • Death Angel are the bee’s knees, and “Lost” is an especially amazing song with some of Oseguda’s best vocals ever.

  • Jukka Alanen

    Wait a minute, I can hear the bass!? What new devilry is this?

  • Dead1

    It’s good but seems like a backward step compared to The Dream Calls For Blood due to sterile production that plagues a lot of Nuclear Blast. The Dream Calls For Blood production was modern but had a more visceral edge.