Review Summary: An inconsistent but occasionally great album by the veteran thrash band that ultimately falls on its face too many times to be an essential album for thrash fans.
Death Angel was one of the more popular thrash bands in the 80s, with some strong albums like The Ultra-Violence, and later on Act III. However, after the latter they quickly disappeared, much like fellow thrashers Exodus, due to lack of funding and sales. However, the band soon reappeared at the famous fundraiser show for Testament singer Chuck Billy, along with the also reformed Forbidden. They soon went straight into recording The Art Of Dying
, with some more thrash aggression, then later recorded the somewhat average Killing Season
, which featured less precise playing. However, the band brought back some of the thrash flavor for Relentless Retribution
, a strong yet not particularly outstanding album with some very nice moments but some unfortunately poor ones too.
The band members are, no doubt, very proficient technically. Mark Osegueda does some impressive high range thrash screams, while guitarists Rob Cavestany and Ted Aguilar do an admiral job of the guitar parts. Drummer Will Carroll does a good job too, and Damien Sisson does some decent basslines. Overall, it's a strong album in terms of musical skill; however, one may not enjoy Mark's vocals as they sound as though they have been rather heavily edited.
The album kicks off with the almost-title track, which features some of Damien Sisson's more noticeable fills, and some nice riffs and a decent solo, and serves as a nice and strong opener, but it hardly redeems the song after it, Claws In So Deep
, which makes the band sound as though they're trying a stint as a metalcore song. While the song isn't diabolically awful it is a poor track and doesn't really serve the album very well, and features worse technical skill in places. Will Carroll redeems it from sucking to badly as his drumming is rather impressive through the song, and the solo isn't so bad; however, the chorus is simply so cheesy that the song feels pretty poor.
Luckily, this doesn't stay around for too many songs. Truce
is a solid thrash number with some nice playing and effective use of dissonance, and single River Of Rapture
presents one of the albums better opening riffs and aside from the chorus is a precise thrash number with some rather good riffs. Death Of The Meek
proves to be the best song album on the album with a solid groove between the members and some technical riffing being forefront; the chorus isn't bad either, and has an interlude that should make you think of a certain title track of a certain recent Megadeth album. I Chose Sky
isn't bad either, and is similar to these tracks. However, Volcanic
doesn't really stand out other than the impressive bass work of Damien Sisson, and is mostly just a forgettable ballad, and features the albums cheesiest vocals. Album closer Where They Lay
more or less redeems it and stands strong next to Death Of The Meek due to a more malevolent chorus and some of the better riffs on the album.
So, this doens't sound brilliant, but it seems pretty great, right? Well, no. The choruses are almost subpar, and rather cheesy. Once again, the band sounds as though they had been inflicted with the plague of NWOAHM, and thus the album gets pretty dislikable quickly and seems slightly poorer than efforts by fellow thrash Exodus, and certainly has no chance of matching Overkill's formidable Ironbound. To its credit though, this album is a solid album with some very nice riffs; just be prepared to deal with some cheesy choruses and the occasional metalcore tinged song and you should be able to enjoy this album quite a bit.
Death Of The Meek
Where They Lay
River Of Rapture