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Saturday, December 21, 2013

Calling for some thrash metal blood from Death Angel

EMERGING from the Bay Area of San Francisco on the crest of the thrash metal wave that threatened to engulf all as it crashed across the tepid aftermath of the NWOBHM Death Angel enjoyed a spurt of success until they broke-up in 1990.

However, emerging Phoenix-like in 2002 the band proved that they still had the chops to cut it. But as many of the so-called thrash originals fell by the wayside Death Angel have averted that fate by the simple expedient of producing damn fine records, none more so than the release just a few weeks back of The Dream Calls for Blood.

Taking off from where Relentless Retribution left off, and building upon it, this is an album with thrash credentials firmly pinned to its chest like battle honours, but also with subtlety lurking in its tracks.

Of course we can expect the tortured angry attack of Mark Osqueda's vocals, and we can rely on Rob Cavestany (both founders of the band) to intertwine with Ted Aguilar. And we know that Damien Sisson (bass) and Will Carroll (drums) meld together as a rhythm section. But with this release the alchemy that is Death Angel has produced something well worth banging your heads to.

To take but one track - Succubus - all the ingredients are present, all following the template sure to please thrash fans. And on Execution/Don't Save Me the intervening years since 1982 are stripped away, with no pretence to be something other than what Death Angel is.

However, on Fallen and Detonate there are more varied - and enjoyable - approaches on display. The band have taken on board what is happening in the contemporary metal scene and twisted it into a suitably sick Death Angel vision. Detonate would sit comfortably in the Five Finger Death Punch playlist, just with a bit more aggression than the Las Vegas band can muster.

And Fallen has a chorus catchier than chlamydia and a song structure moving at breakneck pace.

Of course, there are times when the band play it all a little too 'thrash by numbers', such as on Empty; which owes more than a little to Slayer and Testament. But no band is totally removed from its roots.

Bracketing the contents are opener Left for Dead and closer Territorial Instinct/Bloodlust. Both of which showcase what Death Angel can achieve, especially as the closer moves into its second minute with guitar solos and runs underpinning all the parts of the song, while the structure remains intact.

What Death Angel have achieved on The Dream Calls For Blood is a contemporary take on thrash metal that many so-called metal acts should sit down and listen to with a notebook and an open mind. It's not perfect, and sometimes clich├ęs creep in, but overall only the churlish would deny that this is a damn fine album.

Scores on the doors: 4 out of 5.

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