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So, we enter the contentious area of thrash bands changing their sound, the floor paved with shorn hair and fragments of smashed acoustic guitars. Death Angel didn't exactly stick to the thrash sound for long, only putting out one album on which the genre dominated before turning to other musical influences. Their curse, it would seem, is that of putting out a single good thrash album prior to their maturation, so all of the old-school thrashers (who are about as orthodox as your average Catholic about their chosen music) are more than happy to fling shit towards their more varied efforts.
'Act III' isn't really a thrash album and it really benefits from knowing that before you press play. Anyone who arrives at this release expecting thrash metal is going to be either confused or disappointed, since even the "thrashier" songs (I'll explain those scare marks later) don't have a lot to offer in terms of pace, incisive riffing, or headbanging fodder. What happens for 45 minutes here is a bunch of guys showing that there is a world of music outside thrash and exploring many other avenues besides their original one. I'm quite a sucker for diverse albums, particularly those that come from fairly narrow subgenres (which I consider thrash to be) and continue adding to the generic material in unexpected or unorthodox ways, though without being deliberately dissonant. In that respect, I consider 'Act III' to be a success, diversifying Death Angel's sound with many different colours and flavours, and making that meat and potatoes meal of thrash, thrash, thrash into something more palatable.
The heavier songs on this album are based upon classic metal ideas and the playing style of Death Angel's thrash roots, though mediated through a progressive filter, which ensures that they shy away from the obvious. I can't imagine thrash fans having much but a rather dry production to complain about regarding the likes of 'Ex-TC', 'Stop', and 'Disturbing the Peace', all of which use speed and Andy Galeon's energetic percussion to hit hard and stay memorable. However, for many of the tracks, they not only structurally reject unadultered verse-chorus-bridge mindlessness, but incorporate note sequences and rhythms that would not instantly occur to the more traditional metal bands, actually sounding like a much more eloquent version of Pantera's groove. The most obvious instances can be seen in the likes of 'Seemingly Endless Time' and the spastically rhythmic (it's funky, watch out!) 'Discontinued'. As such, the intention seems to be far from making an album to induce moshing or headbanging, but to detail and emote in a much purer musical way that could please Dream Theater fans as well as mid-period Overkill ones. The lead parts in 'Discontinued' are so loose and lithe that the whole thing sounds at once in keeping with guitar wizards like Joe Satriani, contemporary throwback bands like Soundgarden or Alice in Chains, as well as the twin guitar melodies of Iron Maiden, who are shockingly surpassed at about the 4 minute mark.
There are also several notably softer moments on the album, most obviously 'A Room with a View', which has been buffetted about by alternate praise and scorn. I'm on the supporting team, since I don't think it's a money-grabbing bid for MTV, but a deliberately explorative semi-acoustic song that revels in its ascent into more rocking character, though never loses its melancholy touch. There's something playful about this kind of song, as if the band had recognized what's expected from a sell-out album and kept adding fresh musical ideas until it actually has merit in itself. If you doubt me, compare this to 'Metallica' and tell me which one is trying harder and using more of the musicians' brains. It's also just a bit too early to be a sell-out album, especially when you look at the milder transition of 'Frolic Through the Park' from a couple of years earlier, and - above all - it's just too good to be a sell-out album, really ensuring that no one could accuse Death Angel of laziness by putting even more effort into the softer tracks. 'Veil of Deception' has always reminded me a bit of Sabbat's 'Advent of Insanity' and it totally gets the atmosphere right while maintaining relative simplicity compared to everything else here. 'Stagnant' is a bit of a bummer with those softer chords and a dirth of interesting riffs, but even there the frequent leads are a plus and maintain some interest.
If we break Death Angel down into elements, the lead guitar certainly ranks first among the reasons to watch the third act. Rob Cavestany and Gus Pepa may have dialled back the aggression on the riff front, but they are majestic on melodies and solos, playing with a beautifully clear tone and free style that is unencumbered by any difficulties of technique, rhythm, or boredom. Sometimes close to Alex Skolnick of Testament, though perhaps a little more focused than his occasionally noodling style, they paint boldly and classily across every song, balancing the dryish riffs perfectly and maintaining the listener's attention every time they emerge. Bass is prominent in the funky 'Discontinued' and 'Stagnant', having other moments of creativity, especially in the slower pieces. Dennis Pepa more than earns his bread for the vigour that he gives the opening of 'Disturbing the Peace' and 'Falling Asleep', both of which are given a stamp of authority by his contribution. Drums, as mentioned earlier, are energetic, though vary the attack from typical thrash styles to refresh songs with their presence. The vocals are actually the weakest part, though Mark Osegueda doesn't sound bad, giving plenty of power to the heavier sections and sounding passable during the ballads, which mildly miss the mark of being cheesy.
In all, 'Act III' is very much not a thrash album, though adds to the genre from pockets filled deep with rock, funk, progressive rock, and classic heavy metal. Constantly diverting, rarely weak or aimless, and high on both creativity and quality, this is one diversion from a band's roots that is well worth your time to witness.
Death Angel emerged as one those many Bay Area thrash metal bands, but after their debut album, "The Ultra-Violence", they began to take a very bizarre, experimental turn with the release of "Frolic Through the Park". Then came "Act III" which I can best describe as Death Angel's black album, since it's not as fast or heavy as their greater (or more interesting) albums of the past. Don't get me wrong, there's still songs on here that have parts faster than any song on Metallica's black album, but that doesn't mean that it's an excellent effort. There's more traces of radio-friendliness than I could ever imagine.
I just wanna get the bad stuff out of the way first. "EX-TC", for example, is basically one of the most formulaic songs I've ever heard. It's got a lick that's so generic and so overdone, that it wouldn't make any difference on what tempo it was on, it all sounds like some thrashers did it before. Just 'cos it's crunching and hard doesn't mean that it's good. It's boring, and it's all due to the band at least wanting to put some aggression into their stuff, as if they didn't know how to do that already. I mean seriously, just listen to it. How have you not heard that kind of riffing with those same power chords before? This is 1990, you could use a little more thought than to make a riff that sounds like something recorded in 1986! "Falling Asleep" also has some pretty stupid elements in it. Now, on it's own, it shouldn't sound bad at all, I mean, it's got the thrash metal pace with some thrash metal riffing, but it's totally ruined by the stupid music box sound effect at the beginning, and the "rock a bye baby" bridge. If they did away with those, "Falling Asleep" could've been a better song, much better.
There's plenty of songs on "Act III" that don't have much of a thrashing pace and are sometimes soft, and those are the reasons why I would compare it to Metallica's black album. Although they play it using a kind of thrash-like edge, much of "Veil of Deception" is done on acoustic guitars. Now, if it was meant to be soft and eerie, I can understand, but when guitars play somewhat intimidating hooks with some drums going on in the back, I'd expect the guitars to be hard and heavy, like they're supposed to be. An acoustic song really doesn't work with that kind of percussion going on in the background, it just throws the song out of balance. Sure, there's some electric guitars in there, but they don't really play anything beyond a few chords. I swear, "A Room with a View" sounds like some rejected power ballad. The way that acoustic guitar is strummed like every generic ballad, the way the melodies are sung during every verse, the way that those wind chimes make that sound, it's totally the next hit from the last hair band!
It shouldn't go to say that this album is devoid of anything that we love about thrash, however. "Seemingly Endless Time", I must say, is practically the only song that we could consider to be a truly thrashing song. Sure, it gets slow at some parts, but at least it's better than nothing. It gets quite fast in some parts, as well, especially at the beginning, where it goes to that circle-pit pace. That pace doesn't last very long, however, but again, it's better than nothing. Come to think of it, the very beginning of this song, along with some instances of "Stop", is practically one of the few, if not one of the only, parts of the album where we get some fast-paced power. The previous album, "Frolic Through the Park" had more instances of speed than this. Seriously.
Okay, to be fair, after hearing "Frolic Through the Park", we're kinda used to hearing Death Angel put together this sort of thing. It shouldn't be that big a surprise that mild songs like "A Room with a View" would pop up on a Death Angel album. Still, it's proof that the band took a step into the direction of the "Load" albums far too early. So early, that it started to show on only their second album! Their third was not much better, and thus "Act III" was the final act of the tortuously boring play that many die-hard thrashers had to endure.
Metallica’s homonym record was the symbol of the sub-genre inevitable decadence by the early 90’s, an album that turned thrash into inoffensive radio rock. Then came the ballads, the accessible sounds, the obsession for groove, and the MTV clips; a prelude to an upcoming disaster. However, we can’t blame it on Hetfield and co. only, and now I’m playing devil’s advocate because it’s obvious they were the true originators of heavy metal’s scandalous decline. But other groups already introduced unreasonable changes and experimented with incompatible alternative styles before 1991. Surprisingly, Death Angel were pioneers on adulterating thrash before “Nothing Else Matters” came out.
The Filipino thrashers definitely go further into the previous record commercial patterns here, showing an explicit intention to move away from their raging thrash past. Although songs like “Falling Asleep” and “Seemingly Endless Time” are still vigorous and energetic and feature competent riffs and loose tempos, the tenuous aggression soon disappears when melody and insistent choruses take control. The nature of guitar lines is no longer thrashy and the musical concept is clearly intended to be accessible on those, that explains the tiring repetition of vocals and the absence of sonic brutality. You have certainly chosen the wrong record if you were looking for something to headband to. Death Angel make themselves perfectly clear already on the third track “Veil Of Deception” and also on “A Room With A View”: this is going to be a totally commercial attempt, after all, what’s the use of playing silly ballads like that unless you want to be on the radio? Musically, those 2 are easy and poor, and they might get touching at times, but they are a reflection of simplicity and cheesiness. There’s nothing admirable on them like on other previous thrash ballads like Metallica’s “Fade To Black” or Whiplash’s “Last Nail In The Coffin”. Luckily, the rest of numbers are more serious and are at least effectively executed. “Stop” or “The Organization”, for instance, don’t make a big difference, but include some solid riff sequences and interesting instrumental passages, though there’s no more progressive tune here than “Discontinued” and its complex configuration of intricate riffs and tempo changes. “EX-TC” and “Disturbing The Peace” follow a quite similar scheme, sometimes getting heavy and rough for a second before the exhausting choir attacks again, making them so casual and cheerful. The final cut, “Stagnant”, is much better arranged than any other in the pack with varied structures, funky riffs, instrumental alterations, and melancholy lyrics defining a decent composition.
The record is enjoyable and has brilliant moments. The technical level of these thrashers prove efficient and their songwriting capacity professional to construct solid music. They’re using once again unexpected elements of funk, AOR, and melodic rock, which make this material so diverse, versatile, and peculiar indeed. Just like what happened on Frolic Through The Park, all those risky experiments meant a resulting adulteration of basic thrash characteristics and the lack of aggression and fury came as no surprise. Melody has now become omnipresent and the vocals take all the attention sometimes while a few compositions get instrumentally simple. However, the band tries hard to keep their technical schemes and find a good balance between commercial simplicity and their innate predilection for complexity. Actually, most of these tunes are remarkably elaborated for a mainstream David Geffen CD.
The combo of G.Pepa & Cavestany guitar society is constantly modifying their lines, introducing rich structures and skilled instrumental parts that achieve some complication and progression and incessantly polished and clean. Yes, there are some harsh riffs that have no rules here. On other hand, they're only an ephemeral exception among the generally mellow songs. And I really mean they’re tender apart from the ballads, and the sweet, classy voice of Osegueda contributes to it and fits ideally these guys’ intentions; mid-range charming vocals more refined than Axl Rose or Sebastian Bach’s, perfect for the radio. Lyrics have suffered a tremendous transformation from evil and violent to sentimental and urban. What a change! Nobody could predict Death Angel had such a sensitive side in 1987, right? The problem is that the lyrical romance gets too comical, melody too exhausting, and the choruses’ repetition excessive after the first 3 cuts already, so the result is undoubtedly disappointing.
Very recommended work for those who could accept Annihilator’s Set The World On Fire and the mid-80’s misleading NWOBHM trend Def Leppard started. If you’re a strict thrash fan, I doubt any of these numbers will satisfy you. Metallica’s 1991 CD is considered “the album that changed rock” and the album that also modified the essence of the sub-genre for good or bad. It definitely did, but don’t forget Act III came earlier. I won’t start a debate about the convenience of those radical sounds changes and their consequences, influence, etc.. It’s clear nothing was the same since all of that, though for Death Angel’s particular case, this record was the beginning (or I should say the maximum expression) of their decline.
I must admit that my first impressions of Act III were mixed, as the album had such a polished, almost pop finish to it that it forced The Ultra-Violence to cry out in agony from its grave. And yet, I don't think that anyone could argue its significance, if not just for Death Angel themselves, then as a symbol of its times, a poster child for the Rise and Fall of Thrash Metal. Here was a young band playing in what at its time was one of the more 'extreme' metal niches. Sure, death and black metal had been kick started well in advance of 1990, but would take some years to reach the same level of popularity that thrash endured in the underground. They were offered a deal with one of the hotter record labels out there, and all portents pointed to their ascent into a massive, smashing success the likes of which we hadn't really seen since Metallica or Megadeth took off years earlier.
Act III was built to last. It was concocted not only to appease the legions of thrashers who had clung to the Californians' previous, pubescent punishments, but also to exhibit the band's softer, emotional side and introspective lyrics. Death Angel was now something safe to play for your girlfriend (or boyfriend) while cruising in your Mustang. It was simplistic, catchy, melodic and she (or he) could bang their hair spray-petrified curls in between spurts of ...And Justice for All or the Skid Row debut. Your Mom heard you listening to "A Room With a View" one night and then asked where she could get a copy, politely declining once you lent her your disc and she tried to listen from the beginning and ran into "Seemingly Endless Time". Act III was a versatile record, far more than the mildly adventurous Frolic Through the Park. Not only did the band bring forward a bit of that funk-rock influence from "Open Up" and "Bored", but also tempered the heavier moments with a full-on power ballad.
Max Norman, the producer here, was no stranger to tidy metal records, having worked with acts like Lizzy Borden (the excellent Visual Lies), Ozzy's Diary of a Madman, Megadeth, Armored Saint, Savatage and others. His mission here, and that of the band, was clear: put out an album that could be played on the radio alongside all the popular metal and hard rock of the day, without entirely removing the impulsive, thrashing roots from their sound. I think, to that extent, the album works successfully. It's got a 'touching' side to it, but there are also a few tunes that at least strive to beat your kneecaps in. The guitars here are punchier and thicker sounding than the prior albums, but also far less harried or frenetic, something I immediately started to 'miss' once the first few songs had spun past me.
On the other hand, Mark Osegueda is reined in here to deliver only what's necessary and nothing more. Where he might have sounded slightly irritating throughout sections of Frolic, his voice returns to a controlled fragility, falling apart only on the more conversational, silly sounding lines like in the verse of "Stop". The rhythm section sounds incredibly fluid, especially Dennis Pepa who gets to funk his face off with all the slapping and popping in "Discontinued", and I must admit that the guitars are given a lot of creative space, though it's often laid back in the mix, a sure contrast with the more brazen momentum and speed found on the earlier albums. Acoustics are taut and well implemented for "Veil of Deception" and "A Room With a View", and while the leads never really stand out, neither are they an imposition to their surroundings.
That being said, I've always found Act III to consist of about 50% memorable tunes and 50% mediocrity, though the latter is still well performed and featured some of the more accessible choices on the album. For example, while it's not a shoddy first stab at a power ballad, "A Room With a View" is not something that has stuck with me through the years. Not as played out as, say, a "Silent Lucidity", but nonetheless it's smooth, post-Beatles finish just doesn't inspire me emotionally in any direction other than to press [STOP] on my stereo. There was a time when I was far more tolerant of it, as it served as a great 'gateway' to drag friends and squares alike under the thrash banner, but today I'm almost as unlikely to desire it as I am for all the shitty glam power ballads of the late 80s. Also, I don't care much for the funk tracks like "Stagnant" or "Discontinued". They're more mechanical sounding and interesting than "Open Up" from Frolic, with a compelling use of chords and Pepa's percussive and energetic bass-lines, but at the end of the day: I didn't come to disco, you bastards. I don't need another reminder of how open minded of a band you are. I want to thrash.
THRASH. And the album just doesn't give me quite enough of what I need. "Seemingly Endless Time" is a good start, with a nice fit of head hammering aggression after the sample of waves licking some shore, and it has a nice, doomed chorus sequence with a nice flange running through the guitar, Osegueda picture perfect as his melody slices above the haze. "The Organization" and "Stop" both feature some passable riffing, the latter a rather unforgettable pre-chorus in which Mark channels pure Joey Belladonna and then he and the boys explode into the line 'I wanna talk about it' which seems like they're visiting the office of some abuse counselor. I also wouldn't kick a few of the later cuts out of bed for crackers, like "Ex-Tc" or "Disturbing the Peace", but then, they don't really offer much when one dials back the clock a few years and submerges his or herself into an "Evil Priest", "Mistress of Pain" or "Kill as One".
There was a time, many years ago, when I was about 16 when I would have lauded this album more than its predecessor Frolic Through the Park, but after two more decades of exposure I must admit that this takes a dip even below that in its overall resonance. What's more, Act III must be seen as some sort of failure. They released singles and videos, it seemed to be doing quite well and probably even charting somewhere, and yet it just wasn't enough to throw them into the big leagues alongside West Coast titans like Metallica, Megadeth or even Suicidal Tendencies (who, along with Death Angel, also released one of the more polished thrash albums of 1990 in Lights...Camera...Revolution). Perhaps part of the album's crippled success was due to the injury Andy Galeon suffered the following year, which put the band's touring on hold and eventually dissolved them (not a dishonorable disband, since these guys were blood and very close and I rather admire that they wouldn't continue). But I can't help but think that it was the rather gimped fortitude of the songwriting here that stuck the final nail in their coffin.
Act III is by no means terrible, or even bad, and it does exhibit some growth even if for the wrong reasons. For example, the lyrics are better than Frolic Through the Park's childish tripe, and the musicianship, if restrained, is still impressive. However, a glimpse back at some of the legendary records it was facing off against, like Rust in Peace, Painkiller or Seasons in the Abyss reveals a rather shallow resilience. Those albums were dazzling our imaginations, knocking us into kingdom come, and haunting us from the shadows in the corner, but Act III was just sort of buffed, burnished and unassuming, with so little of that unwashed, incendiary potential that Death Angel displayed early on.
First off, I will be utterly frank: I am not much of a fan of Death Angel. The Ultra-Violence went completely over my head. And I wont even get into the later 90's (The Organization.), I will spare you that. But this album, surprised me a little bit. There is quite a bit of good material, although at times it is inconsistent and experimental but not nessecarily in a good way. And one thing I don't undertsand is, why is it regarded as full throttle thrash? Yeah there are thrashy tunes, but it tends to side step into other territory, more like say: Ride the lightning. You cannot strictly class this as thrash, as so many people do.
I can back this up also. A room with a view, is so far from thrash it is unreal. It is a great ballad, and the vocals are truly stunning in places. But it is also predictable, you just know some heavy chugging riffs are going to drop at any moment, in an attempt to make the heavy side all the more err "shocking"? The riffs are good but not outstanding. Remember this was released in 1990 people. Think about it for a minute you had releases such as: Rust in peace, seasons in the abysss, cowboys from hell, slaughter in the vatican. I mean Death Angel being on the more exposed side of thrash, had to really deliver something worth while here. The riffs, songwriting, and general direction fall slightly flat on their ass. And again having gained some notice, they have delivered an album which no metal band thrash or other, would have been peering eerily over their shoulder, having to worry if these guys were the next breed.
Fair enough, these guys were not innovators or genre enhancers. (Thrash would have survived with or without this album, let's face it!) But they have some good material to back it up non-the-less. Some tracks are catchy, EX-TC, Discontinued, and The Organization. But there are just too many sounds thrown in a blender, and the turn out is unique...but it just doesn't work. I have nothing against softer more disciplined metal, but many people in the 90's didn't want to pick up a metal album with, funk slap bass and riffs which just don't provoke much emotion nor creativity. Looking at it from a budding young guitarists point of view, you wont listen to this album and go: "wooah, I need to pick up my chops!" And at times, it almost sounds dare I say: "alternative". Which may have been a good thing considering what was stirring in Seattle.
But for me this album was disappointing. Being told it was a thrash onslaught, only added to the anti-climax. At the end, not only was I disappointed I was confused about the general direction, and sound these guys were striving toward. There are some great songs...but this is the sound of thrash dying. In fact it was album's like this that rendered second tier thrash into irrelevance, in it's mere infancy. The reason why? Because it sounds like a thrash band, who have run out of ideas. (Or you could turn it around and say, they had plenty of ideas, it just sounds confusing and don't work. Either way it's the same outcome.) But this is just my opinion. This album is easy to get ahold of, and countless zines and video bloggers will have this album in their "top 20 thrash albums of all time!" But for me it is slightly catchy, but doesn't open any doors for me. And even if you do disagree with me look at the name: DEATH ANGEL. Fuck, can you blame me for expecting more?
Death Angel pretty well established themselves as masters of the fine art of inconsistency before the close of the 80s. But before they closed their tents and embarked on an excavation into the decrepit swamp of the 90s mainstream rock/metal scene via the short-lived funk metal project The Organization, they reminded us of their dual quality nature with an uneven, stylistically confused release in “Act III” to close out their brief run with the Bay Area scene. There are at times commonalities with recent Anthrax and Vio-Lence releases at this juncture, but in terms of quality this is pretty well comparable to Overkill’s “I Hear Black”.
Naturally the notion that Thrash Metal is no good when it slows down is ludicrous, a fact that is proven by the better material on here. “Seemingly Endless Time” has a classic “State Of Euphoria” vibe to it, as the riffs killer yet highly simplified and given ample time to stick in the listener’s mind. Mark Osegueda’s vocal work has always shared a lot of commonalities with Joey Belladonna’s, though with a bit more edge, grit, and attitude. Combine this with a slightly crazier lead attack than what Spitz would normally dish out on here and you have some classic, head bang worthy Metal to throw your neck out of alignment to.
This winning formula continues to show itself through several other really solid songs that, though not quite up to the insanity level as “The Ultra-Violence”, are well worthy of this band. “Stop” matches up some nice rapid paced riffing with some catchy vocal melodies, just falling short of all out fanfare. Others such as “Falling Asleep” and “The Organization” mix up a lot of thrash and other ideas together fairly effectively, slowing things down a bit for most of the time compared to the other quality material on here, but staying enjoyable nonetheless. Some of the riffs are a tiny bit reminiscent of early Dave Mustaine ideas that ended up on the first two Metallica albums, while little snippets of pre-metal rock and blues ideas filter in and out.
These various non-thrash ideas kinds of tilt towards a progressive formula not all that far removed from what Annihilator was starting to do at this time, but unfortunately they overreach quite a bit and end up with some stuff that would be right at home on their previous musical partial-birth abortion “Frolic Through The Park”. “Discontinued sticks out like an absolute sore thumb with a really annoyingly quirky slap bass line that sounds like Les Claypool with Flea jammed up his ass. The riffs surrounding it consist of extremely banal crap that probably helped to inspire Machine Head’s “The More Things Change” and some really goofy early 70s rock riffs. There are also a couple of sappy acoustic ballads that were probably meant to get the band a shot at being on MTV’s unplugged, unfortunately this was around the time that the recording industry was about to get everyone high on Kurt Cobain. Suffice to say, thrash bands should never try to emulate bands like Extreme and Firehouse, as less painful ways of physically emasculating oneself could involve a spork and a sewing machine, for example.
In the grand scheme of things, this is an uneven release by a band that couldn’t quite figure out their own identity. Part of it could be attributed to the recording industry ignoring these guys for several years and the inescapable influence of coming changes in the metal scene, though this wouldn’t account for the great mishap this band had 2 years prior. This falls into the category of bargain bin treasure, as it offers a fair amount for those shopping at $7 or less. Just have that skip button handy once you get past the second song.
Originally submitted to (www.metal-observer.com) on March 15, 2009.
Let's get this out of the way first - Act III sounds nothing like The Ultra-Violence. Textbook thrash this is not, what we have here is a fusion of thrash, funk, and punk. For some people, this is a turn off, but it is my opinion that Act III is a more thought out, more cohesive effort than The Ultra Violence.
Things kick off with with a bang - the crash of waves exploding into a hyperspeed riff fest. Chorus vocals and sufficient riffing are replete with thrash, but the underlying melody has a distinct funk vibe to it.
Funk? That's right kiddies, Death Angel kick your ass not merely with riffs and solos, but with thick bass and plenty of melody! Apparently, this is frowned upon, and I have to admit, it took me a while to get into it, but Act III is a damn catchy album! The two ballads on the album are decent, and showcase the Death Angel's excellent guitar work, but it's songwriting on tracks like "Seemingly Endless Time", and "Discontinued" that really impress me - thrashtacular stuff!
In the end what we have is healthy mixture of old-school thrash with related, complimenting musical styles that give the world of "Kill 'em All" style thrash new life and energy.
While not the best album out there, Act III is fairly memorable and worth a few spins. Reccomended.
Yes this is the first album I've heard by Death Angel and if it weren't for the fact that I found this album for cheap I would have never gotten into Death Angel. I have however read some of the reviews for the other Death Angel albums and can say this right now. If you're expecting the over 1000 riffs song writing and guitar playing on ths album you'll be disappointed.
I however enjoy this album alot. The vocals aren't anything to write home about, as they kind of have a generic feel to them on certain songs. The guitarist on this album however are awesome! There are too many cases where a certain thrash band will only play maybe 5 riffs extremely fast, but Death Angel actually plays between I would guess 100-200 riffs for the entire album. No I am not going to slowdown the album and count the riffs individually. If you wish to do this then go right on ahead.
The guitars aren't limited to the electric guitar either. Veil of Deception has an awesome acoustic part that eventually leads to a clean electric part without distortion. The guitars give this song a dare I say, an almost foreign flair to the song.
The drumming is damn good too and just like the guitars there are more drumlicks than you can shake a stick at...no pun intended. There are some cases of the highhat being used, but the use of it never deters the music.
This album will definately be on heavy rotation for me. It's not perfect, but it's flaws are forgiveable.
Death Angel and thrash fans? Buy this album!
These boys is all grows up now. Talk about maturation, someone taught these thrashers how to write a good song and they fully utilized this knowledge on the classic that is Act III. This evolution is immediately shown with the first track, "Seemingly Endless Time", which incorporates a great riff with more restrained, yet more powerful singing. Almost every song is very memorable, making this a frequent occupant of my CD player. The slower numbers "A Room with a View" and "Veil of Deception" are extremely well done and show other thrash bands how an acoustic ballad-type song is done. "The Organization" not only features plenty of great groove riffs, but also an extremely infectious chorus that gets stuck in my head all the time, not to mention the death metalish bridge riff. Even when the songs have an obvious funk influence ("Stagnant" and "Discontinued"), they don't sound out of place and work well within the context of the album. It's really a shame that they broke up because there really ought to be more albums like this one (I know they reformed under different names but it's not the same sound).
This review just needed to be written, because in my opinion, people are being way too critical about this album. Of course there are always those stubborn people who think Death Angel should have stuck to what they started with on 'The Ultra-Violence' (which is, in my humble opinion, the worst Death Angel album to date), but what I always appreciated so much about these Phillippino Thrashers from San Francisco is their will to experiment. On their second album 'Frolic Through The Park', a lot of people found it a little too much. I can come into that, but the only minus for me personally on that album were Mark Osegueda's doubtful vocals. On 'Act III', Mark's vocal efforts have grown much stronger and along with a very strong production and as always the brilliant musicianship of the band members, that makes 'Act III' one of the best albums I think that were ever recorded.
From the moment the album starts out with 'Seemingly Endless Time' to the moment the last notes of 'Falling Asleep' fade away, the album just shows moments of genius. 'Ex-TC' is less memorable, in my humble opinion, but other than that, the album just rips.
Then why do so many people complain about the album? Call it stubborn, call it conservative, call it true, call it good, but I think it's because there are so many different things on this album. Let's not forget that apart from Metal, the members of Death Angel are also big fans of Punk, Funk, Fusion, Seventies Rock and Raggae. That special combination of influences made this album so special.
The Funk and Fusion influences become clear in 'Discontinued'; a strange song, which works amazingly well. A very unusual structure it has in deed, but I love the song. The drum intro shows the true genius of Andy Galeon (who was just 18 years old at the time!).
There are some pure Thrash songs on this album. Opener 'Seemingly Endless Time' (also the first single of the album) makes a great Thrasher (it just has a little more melody than most Thrash songs) and other than that, there is also 'Stop', 'The Organization' and 'Disturbing The Peace'.
The first moment of true genius and goosebumps is called 'Veil Of Deception', this acoustic Rocksong took me away the first time I heard it. Beautiful acoustic melodies, beautiful multivocal parts...truly beautiful.
But the two highlights of the album for me, come right after each other. The first one is 'A Room With A View', most likely the most beautiful song I've ever heard. 'A Room With A View' is an outstanding ballad, which starts out with vocals by guitarist Rob Cavestany and I have always loved his fragile vocals for songs like this. Another song which has beautiful multivocal parts and unbelievable solos. The lyrics are mystical and beautiful. I don't think I can explain it in words, just listen to the song and let the beautiful melodies conquer you.
The other highlight is the experimental stomper 'Stagnant', which follows up 'A Room With A View'. 'Stagnant' is another duet between Rob Cavestany and lead singer Mark Osegueda and both deliver a great effort on this song. The song has a strange structure; a clean guitar intro, then a stomping Metal part...it has melodic and heavier parts, funky, Raggae and Metal parts...and all of this together makes 'Stagnant' a unique song, of which not one band ever made a "copy".
I can't help to think that 'Act III' is one of those few moments of pure Thrash genius. Don't get me wrong, I love Thrash Metal, but there are few bands (actually...none) who reach the level of what Death Angel did on 'Act III'. Listening to Metal now and taken the fact that 'Act III' still sounds fresh and alive nowadays, is only just another proof for my hypothesis that 'Act III' was way ahead of its time. Maybe that's why a lot of people don't understand the album?
This is not the Ultra-Violence, and it is not Frolic Through the Park, it is some sort of confused album trying to be both. There is plenty of thrash to be found, but it lacks the punch of the first album, but for the most part this is a decent offering of thrash.
Seemingly Endless Time has a killer opening set of riffs, the a slower part that leads into a nice break, and a decent solo, and then another break. Great song.
Next is Stop, nice opening riff and tempo change. Great mid-paced thrash.
Next is the one of the ballads, and its actually well done. They don't drag it on, and have some cool ideas on this one.
The Organization is next, killer thrash riffs open this one. Killer vocals, damn this guy sounds alot like Belladonna, and alot better on a few songs like this one. Great punkish- thrash in the vein of early Anthrax. Plenty of breaks.
Discontinued follows, I dont know what the hell they were thinking on this one, it is totally out of place from a thrash band, but I like it. Eventually the intro section turns into a nice mid-paced song that sounds alot like something the Red Hot Chili Peppers would release. You'll have to have an open mind on this one.
A Room With a View is next, this is the second ballad on the album, and honestly it made me cry. It is so cheesy and horrible that I cried. Skip this...before it spreads.
Stagnant follows, nice drum intro, then some nice mid-paced thrash riffs. Then it slows down into a boring alternative sounding song. Eh, similar to Discontinued, but not good.
EXTC opens with a nice crunching set of riffs, and some great vocals. Very cool chorus, catchy as hell with a great sound to it. Alot of nice riff changes. And some nice lead work.
Disturbing the Peace opens with some bass and riff work very similar to several songs off of Anthrax's Spreading the Disease, and develops nicely. Then comes a great thrash riff, this sounds totally like an Anthrax song. Great song.
Falling Asleep opens with a music box...then some "Run to the Hills" sounding leads bring about a mid-paced headbanging set of riffs. Some great tempo changes, come later as the song picks up. A pretty decent closer.
The only horrible song on here is A Room With A View and Stagnant is mediocre at best. Still the rest of the album is solid average thrash. So if your into punkish thrash like Belladonna era Anthrax you'll dig this album. The two experimental songs, Discontinued and Stagnant will take an open mind and musical taste, but there are still solid thrash to be found.
"The times are a changin..." if I'm not mistaken, this was the title of a Bob Dylan song and many early 90s music pundits applied it to the situation that was happening when 'Act III' was released. The whole grunge rock scene was on the rise and even long time thrashers such as Exodus or Megadeth took a shift in their songwriting and even image. Remember how Megadeth all of a sudden were wearing flannel shirts? This was also the time when bands like Faith No More, Mindfunk, and Mordred were releasing albums that were hybrids of metal and funk and/or other musical styles.
Enter Death Angel's 'Act III', an album that was no doubt a product of it's time. Now before anything, this is definitely not my favourite Death Angel album but it is one that could have been something. Starting off with the no mistake thrasher of 'Seemingly Endless Time' it goes through a variety of moods, riffs, and tempos that were previously not in common use among thrash metal circles. 'Seemingly Endless Time' alone indicates the direction and tone of this album where it starts off with a pummelling riff that breaks down and segues into groove laden riffs pulled out of 1970s car chase movies and then finally topped off with melodic vocal lines.
Other worthy mentions are 'Discontinued', 'Stop', 'The Organization', 'Veil of Deception', and 'A Room With A View.' I must say that the last song mentioned was, for a long time, a favourite drinking song amongst my friends and I. Now innovation is a good thing, but despite how much of it was displayed on this album, it just didn't work. To my way of thinking, the songwriting approach here should have been a real breakthrough but there was just something missing.
Well... as you can gather from other reviews, opinions on Act III are pretty erratic... some love it and the rest don't get the point. Rather than put out another Ultra Violence and imitate themselves, Death Angel incorporated more "accessible" song structures and the occasional funk bassline into their thrizzash on Act III, which I believe to be their finest hour.
There is plenty of thrash riffage abound, as songs like Stop and (my fav) Seemingly Endless Time prove. The songwriting is about 2,000 steps up from their old shit, and Mark Osgueda seriously never sounded better. Excellent production, too. For Death Angel virgins, they were an incredibly young band that played bay area thrash w/ clean vocals ala Flotsam and Jetsam... around Act III they had matured (think Thrax on Persistence of Time).
Veil of Deception and Room With A View add a mellow flavor, the former being an excellent latin acoustic piece which manages to be quite brooding in spite of it's flamenco trappings. Discontinued is the song that will blow the puny minds of most metalheads, with it's slapped funk bass lines and frenetic riffing that recalls Primus in their prime. Overall an excellent, diverse album that will keep the listener interested throughout.
My one irk is the fact that XTC IS THE SAME SONG AS TESTAMENT'S SINS OF OMISSION WHY AM I THE ONLY ONE WHO NOTICES THIS. Ahem. Still a good track anyway. Standouts: the organization, seemingly endless time, veil of deception, discontinued
This album just has way too much "fluff" and too many ideas that just do not work at all. There are some songs that have good riffs, but then they are mixed in with crappy riffs and the overall song is diminished in quality.
"Seemingly Endless Time" starts off pretty nicely, but the chorus just completely kills it. I mean completely. "Stop" is also okay. The riffs are just so watered down compared to "The Ultraviolence".
Oddly enough, the highlight of the album is the ballad "Veil of Deception". Not a moment of thrash to be found here, but the song is very very effective. Oddly enough, the other ballad, "Room with a View" is utter crap. Funny how that works. Or, doesn't.
There are a few more songs here and there that are okay. There is only one outright abortion here, which makes this album less crappy than "Frolic Through the Park". "Disturbing the Peace" is also okay, as is "Falling Asleep", but overall, the riffs lack punch and the whole album has a very soft underbelly, which is not something to be had in a thrash band.