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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.