Death-Angel_The-Dream-Calls-for-BloodOkay, let’s be totally honest. Death Angel will never top their mind-blowing debut The Ultra-Violence. It’s just not going to happen. Some bands have that albatross hanging around their necks throughout their entire career, but that doesn’t mean they can’t turn out quality music. Death Angel has had a rather uneven run, with some good albums and some that were quite crappy. Act III and to a lesser extent The Art of Dying were good examples of old school thrash moving into the modern era. However, Frolic Through the Park was a perplexing shit show (and one of the most disappointing follow-ups in metal history) and their 2010 Relentless Retribution opus had some cool ideas and a few good tunes, but felt disjointed and confused, as if they couldn’t decide what direction to take. Naturally, as someone who grew up worshipping their debut, I wanted the band to get their legs under them again on The Dream Calls for Blood and that’s exactly what they did. While they don’t reinvent the thrash genre one iota, they return to what works for them and deliver a platter of pissed off, aggressive speed, full of attitude, tight playing and a fair amount of hooks. There are no songs that make you wonder what they were thinking and the material successfully walks the line between the original Bay Area Thrash sound and what has come to be known as “modern thrash.” It’s easily their most consistent release since Act III and I’ll admit, I didn’t think they had a release like this left in them.

Upon being greeted by the harsh, in-your-face rage of opener “Left for Dead,” it’s clear Death Angel is back in the killing business. It sounds more vicious than anything they’ve done in a while and has enough technical flair to make it listenable as more than just anger music. The riffs are razor-sharp and Mark Osegueda sounds furious and mean. Oddly, it also manages to be accessible without any real hooks or attempts at being catchy. They stay in this groove for “Son of the Morning” and “Fallen,” both of which hammer at the listener and sport simple, but catchy choruses (the latter also has extra impressive fret-work flashing in and out). The title track effectively mixes in thick mid-tempo riffing and a slightly more melodic touch to the vocals and the chorus works especially well. “Execution/Don’t Save Me” could almost be an old Anthrax song and Mark sounds just a bit like Joey Belladonna on the chorus.

Deathangel_2013Though they dabble in slightly different approaches on the slower grind of “Succubus” and the more moody and offbeat closer “Territorial Instinct/Bloodlust,” they never take their foot off the go pedal and the aggression stays delightfully rabid almost the whole time. Even when the guitars slow down, Mark’s vocals dial-up and get nastier and more hostile, thus maintaining the constant sense of “Kill you now” that any good thrash album should have. Even “Detonate” works despite having a bit too much of the Trivium vibe their last album had.

Guitarists Rob Cavestany and Ted Aquilar tear the roof off through much of the album, throwing out jagged, thrashy leads and slick, hyper-melodic solos. They have a ton of talent and know exactly when to go heavy and when to lighten the sound up and this has some of the better guitar work I’ve heard on a thrash album lately. They don’t get wanky or over-indulgent, but manage to infuse some nicely old school style to the solos and flourishes.

Osequeda has always been one of my favorite thrash vocalists and he sounds uniformly great here. He delivers a great blend of harsh shouting, clean singing and his ever amazing “baby caught in wood chipper” screams. I also appreciate that he avoids making every chorus an excuse for a poppy, clean-sung hook, as was too often the case on Relentless Retribution. I also spent a fair amount of time being impressed by the back line play since Damien Sisson’s bass is quite involved and Will Carroll’s drumming is technical and impressive. Tight and heavy stuff.

The Dream Calls for Blood is a good, modern-day thrash outing with enough nods to the past to please old timers like me. They back away from the mistakes made on their last album and show they can still pen “go for the throat” thrash. It won’t blow most people away and the whole scene is played out, but maybe, just maybe, this is good enough to knock a bit of that albatross off their shoulders and give them something to build on next time. Keep reaching for that mighty debut, boys. Keep reaching!


Rating: 3.0/5.0
Label: Nuclear Blast [US][EU]
Websites:  deathangel.us  |  facebook.com/deathangel
Release Dates: EU: 2013.10.11  |  NA:  10.15.2013

 

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  • Realkman666

    Great guitar work indeed, but the production is really slushy.

    • Typical modern thrash production. I suppose I’m getting used to it since it didn’t bother me too much.

      • Realkman666

        I’m more power than thrash, so everything has to click for me to really like it. There’s no impact!

    • Kalsten

      What do you mean with “slushy”. I never heard that word before, and the translations that I found do not help very much.

      I think the production is perfect for this kind of album. Everything seems balanced, clear and keep a bit of dirt to make it sound more thrashy.

      • Realkman666

        See above. I’m not really into that style much, so I might just have “incorrect” expectations. xD

      • I think he means muddled, everything runs together. For my tastes, I would have liked it better with a more raw, ugly production like the old days of thrash.

    • RagE

      I kind of like the production. Would like to hear the bass a bit more, but thats just a personal preference. (like Nuclear Assault and even newer Overkill)

      • Realkman666

        On second listen, it’s not so bad. I like less fizz on the guitars, more bottom end and dryer drums, but this is nice enough, after all. Ears, eh? :p

  • Jay Alan Goodwin

    I too started listening to Death Angel on The Ultra-Violence. I thought Act III was a great and mature effort from some talented young musicians and still listen to it regularly even after all these years.

    Unfortunately for me I’ve had no opportunity to listen to this album yet even though I preordered and paid for the vinyl. Nuclear Blast hasn’t even shipped it yet. It took me two emails to even get a lame answer why. Apparently I wasn’t one of the special “people who ordered other stuff from them otherwise mine would have shipped right away.” …so no order updates or bothering to tell me that stuff wasn’t in stock when I placed the order, no download code, and no ethical business practices.

    I think they’re even shipping it all the way from Germany FFS because, even though I ordered from Nuclear Blast America’s webstore, my invoice has words in German on it. I’m not sure I even want to do business with this company again. Maybe someday I can listen to the music that I paid over $25 for.

    …this is all a shame because I really love Death Angel and am buying music and supporting the band. Wish I could hear the damned album.

    • And they wonder why people illegally download the music, right?

    • Jay, be glad that you didn’t order other items in addition to the DA vinyl. I am STILL waiting for my Carcass boxset that has been delayed twice and as a result, the other CD attached to that order has been in limbo. Really ridiculous.

      Sorry for the thread crap guys…

      • Jay Alan Goodwin

        That’s funny because here’s the word-for-word reason I eventually got for why my preorder still hasn’t shipped:

        “…the stock in the warehouse is for customers that ordered other pre-orders along with their Death Angel vinyl.”

        Apparently I wasn’t one of the special people or something who deserves to get my preorder like others or get an explanation without multiple emails.

        I don’t know what it is with labels like Nuclear Blast lately. It’s like they don’t want your business. They expect us to just dump cash into their laps while they provide no basic level of service in return.

        I’m sorry to post this here too. I really wanted to talk about the album but it seems the only way I’m going to hear it anytime soon is if I go download it….even though I preordered and paid out the ass for it.

        • Realkman666

          I’m sure many of us like to know about these things.

          • Jay Alan Goodwin

            What’s even more ridiculous is that I just checked Amazon and the back cover of the vinyl LP has all of the tracks listed on Side A and Side B and specifically as a 1-disc vinyl release. Yet the preorder falsely advertises it even now as a 2 LP release (which normally improves the sound quality considerably.) They charge a 2LP price and cheap out and put it on one…all the while lying to purchasers. This has to be the most unscrupulous label I’ve ever dealt with.

            I don’t think I’m ever getting this album just on principle. I love Death Angel so it’s a shame and it’s not their fault but I’m having a hard time wanting to support this label. Maybe one day I’ll get it from iTunes that way Apple will get a 40% cut. At least Apple provides an acceptable level of customer service.

  • Nice review! I wasn’t too sure about this one, I thought the last album was ok but I ended up listening to it probably a total of three times. The Ultra-Violence and The Art of Dying are some of my all time favorites.

    This will keep me very entertained until I get my hands on the new Ayreon.

  • Tom Busler

    :: Just to help me contextualize the jumping off point of what is generally being referred to when the term ‘modern thrash’ is used… Evile? Warbringer? Havok? Where do bands like Suicidal Angels, Fueled by Fire and Toxic Holocaust fit in? All three are modern, relatively young bands, but their styles and (most of) their production are clearly throwbacks to a bygone era. Also, for my money, Suicidal Angels is the best thrash band that didn’t originate during the original heyday. THEY ARE SO RAD. If you like prime-Sepulturan / unholy triptych-Slayerian thrash, Suicidal Angels are your dream band.

    I guess I ask because I have always thought of the term ‘modern thrash’ as somewhat of an oxymoron. Thrash is the most archetypical, staid, defined sound in metaldom, IMO. If you deviate from the script too much, crossover excepted, you end up pretty quickly “not playing thrash metal.” Thrash very quickly defined itself in the mid-to-late 80s and, aside from some production techniques and (I guess) some additional technicality / thematic stuff, it has largely stayed the same. To me, ‘modern thrash’ has less to do with sonics / songwriting / style and more to do with chronology. WHAT SAY YOU, AMG dudes?

    • Well, to my mind, there are bands that do all they can to sound retro (Toxic Holocaust) and some bands that take the basics of thrash and try to bring it into a modern framework via production and blending other influences like metalcore. Trivium and Lazarus A.D come to mind, as does Skeletonwitch.

      • Jay Alan Goodwin

        As much as I love Toxic Holocaust I have to agree. TH does go pretty far out of the way to be retro. Trivium, Lazarus AD and Skeletonwitch definitely do advance the state of the art in their own respective ways.

        Municipal Waste/Iron Reagan are some more examples of throwback thrash/crossover that, while really good, are doing the late-eighties-thing.

  • RagE

    I’m late to the party, and didn’t really discover DA until Killing Season came. Found that to be a pretty fantastic album, and worked my way back from there. The Ultra-violence is a great thrash gem, but maybe because it was my first, Killing Season is still the best for me.

    I liked a few songs on Relentless Retribution, but found it very easy to forget. The songs were kind of all over the place. Don’t think i have listened to it more than once the last year.

    This however, is way more solid! The riffs are there, and very reminiscent of Killing Season. Marks voice keeps getting better and better, and I’m really stoked to hear those high screams! Hope this means he will be doing the highs on Mistress of Pain live! The songs themselves are very fun and i found most of them interesting and memorable. Robs solos are great as always, and both the drumming and bass playing have some great moments. Seems like they finally found out what they want to sound like.

  • Kalsten

    I had time to give two listenings to this album and hell, i like it a lot! I have never heard anything from Death Angel before, but I think I should dig a bit in their discography.

  • Wuchak

    Re: “let’s be totally honest. Death Angel will never top their mind-blowing debut The Ultra-Violence.”

    I agree with you that FROLIC was a disappointing second album, but ACT III blew it out of the ball park and is easily their magnum opus. But that’s just me.

  • Here’s Johnny

    really good album , they are firing on all cylinders here compared to the last couple of albums that had some filler or forgettable songs. i think it deserves a 3.5 at the very least.

  • Carlos Castro

    Act III is their best album. And the new release is a notch below Relentless Retribution.