The biggest problem with grabbing a thrash promo from a band that references Forbidden, Annihilator and Testament, is that I have no choice but to spend hours listening to some of the greatest metal albums to date. Not that I’m complaining but it is difficult to shut off Annihilator‘s Alice in Hell once it gets started. Personal problems aside, Seattle’s Fallen Angels deliver Bay Area-inspired, hard-hitting thrash that borders on the technicality of Sadus and Coroner, the straightforwardness of Testament and Metallica, and the modern charge of Havok and Warbringer. If you are expecting anything unique or original, you’ve come to the wrong place. However, these gents have some serious skill and their technical approach is sure to crack open an ’80s wormhole in your mom’s basement.
Fallen Angels dropped their first full-length in 2008 with Rise From Ashes: a record that dabbled in a balls-out Slayer riffs and later-career Death progressions that led them to more mature and rounded sophomore offering in Engines of Oppression. With some catchy acoustic work, thrashtastic bruisers, melodic numbers, and impressive instrumentation, Engines of Oppression turned out to be a lovely package of technical re-thrash. Slap on some improved production and some stellar performances in the form of the Toxik-meets-Sadus bass work and the monstrous soloing, and you got yourself a band really coming into their own. World in Decay raises the bar just a touch higher on all levels and delivers an album that expands upon their thrash and heavy-metal foundations.
Fallen Angels mixes up the references on World in Decay like any re-thrasher would; employing multiple Bay Area styles for each song and then driving them home as if it were 1986 all over again. As they hop from Metallica-inspired ditties, like “Lead the Blind,” to the Metallica-meets-Testament accomplishments of “The Hour of the Time” to the Metal Churchy “Into the Abyss,” Fallen Angels infuses each track with their signature brew: technicality, instrumental skill, and a splash of melody. The “melody” can be found in buckets on “Fire at Eden’s Gate,” as it transitions from an acoustic opener to the hard-knocking, emotion-soaked attitude of Death Angel. This song is a good representation of the mid-paced boundaries to Fallen Angels sound.
Perhaps the greatest difference between this release and their sophomore outing is that I find myself returning to Engines of Oppression more frequently than World in Decay. However, the songs I return to the most on World in Decay are some of the best the band has put disc. I love “The Hammers Blow” for the wild guitar work and its Iced Earth-ish chops, “Forsaken Existence” for its massive amount of Steve DiGiorgio-inspired bass work, “Leading the Blind” for its addicting Metallicanations, “Mortis Ex Machina” for its crushing Warbringer delivery, and “Into the Abyss” for housing one of the best choruses I’ve heard in some time. When Fallen Angels nails their mixture of thrash and heavy metal – and then caps it with their signature technicality – the result is difficult to resist.
Though I enjoy Engines of Oppression just a little more (and could live without the vocals on any release), World in Decay‘s production blows earlier releases out of the water. The instruments sound so fucking good and those bass drums are so rich, they require a six-pack to quench your thirst. And while the DR8 doesn’t seem to shabby, we have another album of fluctuating compression from song-to-song (ranging from DR5-12). Overall, Fallen Angels does a fine job of taking “standard” and pushing on its sides just enough to make it fresh but not enough to bust the seams.