Review Summary: The infamous debut that took the bay-area by storm
Death Angel is that band you were always meaning to check out, that band that stood behind thrash giants such as Forbidden and Testament, that band that is so often critically overlooked that it makes me sick. Death Angel is a second-tier thrash unit that came from the infamous bay-area. In 1987 they released their debut record, and they were most likely the youngest band at the time to do so. The band wasn’t even old enough to buy cigarettes at the time of this album’s recording, yet the album quickly sold 40,000 copies in less than four months.
Considering their age, the band manages to sound like bay-area veterans, easily standing next to their bay-area brothers Exodus and Testament. The album never lets up; everything is probably ten times faster than it really needs to be, and the guitars sound decidedly angry. This is a very compelling listen from the first track to last, with lots of intriguing guitar riffs and solos that keep the material interesting. It’s easy to get lost in the volatile mix of aggressive instrumentation and angry vocals.
While every track is a heavy and compelling listen, a couple tracks drag on endlessly; killing some of the records momentum. The album also shows little variation from the band’s all-out thrash approach, so progressive elitist beware; this is not for you. Vocals are adequate, but can be a bit rough at times when Mark screams, as his screams are like that of a frightened little girl. The bass can also seem lost in the mix, with the insanely loud guitars dominating nearly every aspect of this album.
The album’s subject matter is typical of the genre, with lyrical content dealing with war and death. However things aren’t always so serious, as the band breaks away from this occasionally with songs such as the closer reminding us of just how old these guys were at the time. The overall mood of the album can be seen in many ways, but to put it bluntly, its raw aggression coupled with intense instrumentation that will keep you listening for hours.
The album draws from the very core of thrash, with fast and tight drumming, fierce guitar riffs and screaming vocals. There is nothing melodic, there are no ballads, and it is in no way progressive. This is simply good old fashioned thrash served up with attitude, so unless you’re a fan of thrash you might want to sit this one out. If you are a fan of the old-school, then this is sure to be the holy-grail of thrash metal.
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