Once seen as the babies of thrash metal (ex-drummer Andy Galeon was only 11 when he recorded their first demo, the rest of the band not much older!), the ever-reliable Bay Area quintet have returned with their 9th studio album. And reliability is the key word when discussing Death Angel – their consistent high quality has been prevalent since the classic debut “The Ultra-Violence” in 1987. However the band broke up in the early 90’s following a serious tour bus crash, reforming in 2001 for a benefit gig for Testament’s Chuck Billy and releasing the superb “Art Of Dying” three years later.
Fast forward another 16 years and “Humanicide” is where Death Angel are currently at. Another exercise in precision thrash, intelligent song writing, Mark Osegueda’s vocals (Death Angel’s jewel in the crown that separates them from every other thrash band) – y’know, another reliable, solid effort. It’s certainly not the best Death Angel release from their repertoire, and some fans may rise a few eyebrows at some of the curveballs on offer here, but an immensely enjoyable metal record this certainly is.
The whole affair kicks off with the blistering title track, full of thrashing guitars after a slow build up, evidence they have no real intention of slowing down – well, not much anyway. Because there are a fair share of mid-tempo grinders on offer – “Immortal Behated” oozes atmosphere in-between the chunky riffs, “The Pack” welds heavy groove-laden drumming with a stomping riff and one of the biggest surprises on the album in “Revelation Song”, sounding very unlike Death Angel with heaps of melody and hook lines and wouldn’t sound out of place on either of the last 2 Anthrax albums.
The thrashers are still evident though – “Divine Defector” is great frenetic work-out, “I Came For Blood” displays Rob Cavestany’s trademark punky, loose riffage and “Of Rats And Men” closes the album in style.
Death Angel were always so close to attaining the success attained by the big 4 of thrash but sadly things were not to be. They would arguably attain the number 5 spot contested by Exodus and Testament and “Humanicide” is yet another fine feather in a cap already brimming with quality releases. They may be a bit too old to ‘frolic through the park’ anymore, but as a snapshot of metal in 2019 goes Death Angel still have enough gas in the tank to get the adrenaline flowing. And with 2019 seeing releases from classic thrash acts such as Flotsam & Jetsam, Dark Angel, Overkill, Acid Reign, Coroner and Sacred Reich this is really turning into the year of (old fart) thrash!
Death Angel – “Humanicide”was released via Nuclear Blast on 31st May 2019.