Death Angel – “The Evil Divide” (Nuclear Blast Records)
Probably one of the most underrated metal bands ever, Death Angel were at the forefront of the Bay Area’s second wave of thrash. When they released their debut “The Ultra-Violence” back in 1987 it was ground breaking not just for its ferocity, but also the maturity inherent in the song writing as well as technical execution – and all this from a Filipino – American band under 20 years of age! Rising fast on both sides of the Atlantic, it was clear that the band’s desire to stretch their legs beyond thrash only served to gain them more support in releasing “Frolic Through The Park” while stepping up to worldwide recognition on “Act III”. As fate would have it, however, drummer Andy Galeon was hospitalized in 1990, during which time vocalist Mark Osegueda decided the leave the band for university, effectively ending the band until 1998, when founding guitarist Rob Cavestany, Galeon and himself would once again be reunited, although it would be another 6 years before an album would be re-issued. During the millennium years the band regained lost ground, issuing steady releases and despite Galeon leaving the band in 2009, the core of Cavestany and Osegueda, along with long time guitarist Ted Aguilar have built a new rhythm in drummer Will Carroll and Damien Sisson on bass. “The Evil Divide” is the band’s 8th release and is the 3rd consecutive release not to see any line up change to the band, or in producer Jason Suecof, indicating solidification in the Death Angel camp. According to the band, there was a desire to 3rd time out to go for another “Act III” in bringing back diversity and increased melody. Well thankfully they didn’t! “The Evil Divide” is not just brutal and intense, but the band themselves have come to realize that melodies and catchy hooks can be comfortably incorporated alongside, especially by a band like this who throughout their history have never been afraid to push the envelope further out. Blasting forth with ‘The Moth’, its clear everyone is firing from all barrels – centered around a catchy monster riff, the licks start to hit from Cavestany and Aguilar as Osegueda’s throat strained drawls spit out lyrics with doom laden harmonies in the background – and then Carroll and Sisson come in – and it really starts to take off! Thanks to Suecof’s organic production, the sonic devastation is made even more clearer (and louder) and as the follow up ‘Cause For Alarm’ comes crashing in amidst a flurry of whirring melodic riffs, the neo classical solos hit home like missiles before the monster catchy chorus finishes you off – and you know that Death Angel are truly back! The 10 tracks here show that the band have truly found their comfort in this mix of brutality and unashamed catchiness, something I suspect reflects the new found harmony between Cavestany and Osegueda themselves, and as the addictive tornado riffing of ‘Hatred United, United Hate’ once again takes possession of your senses, you know that Mark never wasted his education in his intelligent lyrics. Prodigies in the making on “The Ultra-Violence”, “The Evil Divide” almost 3 decades on impressively shows a band come of age and that immense talent.