Review Summary: The mind knows not what the tongue wants.
Death Angel’s Humanicide
is a direct continuation of everything “the big four” have had to offer this side of the nineties. Just let that sink in a little… For all the hype and hate the likes of Metallica, Slayer, Anthrax and Megadeth have earned themselves throughout the duration of their infamously prestige careers there’s been a continual onslaught of emulators, pretenders, wanna-be’s and copy-catters. Whether you love or hate what those four little bands have done for metal (and music as a whole) there’s little denying the staying power they offer both collectively and individually. I mean sure, it’s probably a little weird that this review has offered very little in the way of discussing Death Angel’s 2019 record, but the fact remains that Humanicide
not only matches the band’s mentioned above, but in some instances stands above what “the big four” of thrash are capable post the year 2000 by providing some of the best Bay Area of old, reminiscent of the eighties fire that drove the band’s of the area.
Now, there’s probably a few purists absent-mindedly shaking their heads at the thoughts of another band matching the prolific nature of Master of Puppets
or State of Euphoria
but the 2019 production on a band that’s kicked thrash out of the same area has all the chops and the fire to present such a case. They simply just don’t have the big names these so-called purists enjoy. Take the album’s opener (and titular track) for example; blistering groove meets well-placed melody inspiring some truly classic NWoBHM insight. Mark Osegueda’s gruff vocal passages meld a perfect tone of Tom Araya and Joey Belladonna, but without falling into direct imitation of the two. Mark’s lyrics may inspire slight the cheese and blistering fire that can only come from a true Bay Area thrash outfit, but it’s hard to imagine the guy screaming without a beer in hand and a cursory leg propped up on a stage amp. The theme continues well into “Divine Defector” while upping both the ante and the aggression. It’s heavy, honest fuc
king thrash defying age barriers and proving longevity is found in talent and beautiful songwriting, hybridizing the core values of which the music is made with the modern advances in production. The rest of the record complies in simple fashion. There’s no over-wrought ideas, no overblown idealism. Instead, the Death Angel we see in 2019 (much like the band’s back catalog) showcase original, yet slightly borrowed soundscapes combining balls-out simplicity with great riffs.
Despite the furor and classic feel to Humanicide
there’s a well-thought slower melody (including piano and somewhat subdued lead work) in “Immortal Behated”. While it’s placement in the middle of the record provides that easement in sound, allowing the casual listener to catch their breath before launching back into a typical reminder of thrash’s heyday, “Alive and Screaming”. Humanicide
isn’t a complete display of gorgeous thrash revival and tracks like “Revelation Song” and “Of Rats and Men” are a proverbial hiccup in the Death Angel formula, failing to achieve the same fire and robust thrash-y landscape the rest of the album offers, either falling into a emotive cliche or an overly recycled ideology that misses the mark completely. These tracks by themselves may not be a bad representation of Death Angel per-se, but they’ve certainly given the avid fan more to cheer about on their last couple of records.
is yet another solid release from a band that should be expected to make them. They may not have the same worldwide branding as “the big four” but their modern day quality is rather unquestionable. Death Angel may not be known for their sonic diversity, but their hybridization of traditional Bay Area thrash, modern studio values and NWoBHM showcase a solid, albeit predictable amalgamation of nostalgia.