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Death Angel were, back then, one of the most promising ambitious Bay Area thrash groups, formed by 5 young Filipinos who were gonna make a difference from the rest with their admirable abilities and creativity. They were kinda experienced by the time their debut was released, they already shared stage with big bands of thrash in those vintage magic shows of the 80’s. This record was released in 1987 so, fortunately, the subgenre was still outrageous, wild. The melodic power thrash trend didn’t start yet. That means most of thrash bands main intentions were focused on sonic violence, velocity and cool evil lyrical issues. That’s exactly what you will find in this album.
We got here 8 songs of delightful raging thrash, total headbanging and frantic speed. These guys concentrated mostly on aggression and amazingly fast tempos, with an exhibition of intense riffs and hooks that attack so raw and merciless constantly. “Mistress Of Pain” or “Evil Priest” are, for instance, an admirable display of energy, well-defined structures and instrumental brilliance. Apart from the aggression and velocity of the rough guitar lines, Death Angel show certain grace and sophistication in the way they construct the several progressive instrumental passages, bridges and breaks. They are not performing any chaotic inconsistent sequence at all, everything seems to be very planned and prepared, properly executed. The epic title-track proves the splendid skills of the group, featuring remarkable slightly technical arrangements, the result of a competent musical basis and song-writing process. “Thrashers” and “Final Death” are not that impressive, but are superior to the rather primitive ways from most of the bunch of generic subgenre 5 minute wonders. They sound as memorable as their pals from Testament and Forbidden; not that complex, putting not so much attention on melody and harmonies, though. The Filipino thrashers alternate raw straight hardcore influenced cuts with much more polished difficult songs (“Voracious Souls”), so the good variety of tunes here keep this album from being boring or predictable. This stuff has attitude, power, bestiality, but also virtuosism, controlled speed and musicianship. There’s even time for sense of humor and jokes, with the amusing short number “I.P.F.S.”, which reminded me of S.O.D., Wehrmacht, Metal Duck and co.
A very solid record, definitely Death Angel’s greatest. They weren’t just another group of crazy kids obsessed with making the heaviest music possible. These songs are plenty of creativity, inspiration and skills, because the personnel is totally professional and efficient. The guitar combo Cavestany-Pepa define lethal guitar lines, executed with passion that provide the music of consistency. Not incredibly complex nor technical, away from the league of late 80’s uncontrolled shredders (Jason Becker, Richie Kotzen, Jennifer Batten, etc.). Just effective enough for the harsh nature of these compositions. The pickin’ parts are not spectacular, just like most of their peers back then, but avoiding the typical abuse of whammy-bar dive bombs and exhausting pedal effects. Singer Mark Osegueda joins the list of classy thrash singers, along with Belladonna, Russ Anderson and Coburn Pharr. His crazed high screaming is convincing, although the real nature of his vocal tone is obviously melodic and polished. And the rhythmic section humble abilities fit the non-ambitious requirements of these numbers perfectly. Drummer Andy Galeon’s contribution sounds pretty satisfactory in the fastest moments of the album, performing good double bass-drum beatings and changing the rhythms properly. Bass lines of Dennis Pepa are fortunately omnipresent, thanks to the rich balanced production. As loud as guitar parts themselves, avoiding simplicy on his technique to follow both Gus and Rob like a third rhythm guitar in the pack. As I mentioned, the great production contributes essentially to make this LP unforgettable and raw. A completely clear final mix, that doesn’t discriminate any instrument, without modifying the necessarily dirty distortion of the 6 string section either.
Probably this record is not as devastating as its title suggests, but much more relentless than most of the late 80’s American thrash. It would be the perfect soundtrack for some scenes of the “A Clockwork Orange” movie itself, and the 1993 gory shooter videogame “Doom” in its most difficult mode. Sad Osegueda and co. never reached this level again, changing their musical path soon afterwards and disappearing during the whole 90’s (Anybody really found The Organization project interesting?). If you’re an old school thrash maniac, I’m sure you already listened to this thousands of times. For those who didn’t yet, don’t hesitate to check it out. It’s much more remarkable than what these guys are doing now...
There are many different ways to screw up the upper reaches of the spinal column, but few will throw the good old c4-c5 disc out of alignment quicker than an old school Bay Area thrash assault right out of the mid 80s. Something about the raw energy and intensity, combined with a healthy sense of rest and resurgence to allow for elongated assaults on the neck vertabrae separates it from the shorter bursts that tended to go with the German equivalents at the same point and time, and the other related scenes tended to either derive their fury from the Northern California model, or played down the aggression factor for something a bit more technically involved. Death Angel was one of the early adherents tha came to a rather unfortunate, yet all too common disposition of getting an LP out as late as 1987 (though the band had existed for 5 years before the fact) and were soon after bit by the commercial bug, deviated from their core, and were cannibalized by the onslaught of commercial carnage that took place in the early 90s.
Be all this as it may, "The Ultra-Violence" stands tall even amongst its contemporary competitors in "Bonded By Blood", "Darkness Descends" and "The Legacy" in its ability to still link itself to the older NWOBHM roots of the style while taking in all of the meaner, faster elements that Slayer had introduced to the style by 1984. It can't help but resemble the 3 former albums in varying respects, particularly the Exodus effort in its employment of crushing mid-tempo sections to complement the light-speed moshing and headbanging that goes with the rest of its contents. It even occasionally tries to outdo all of the other bands in its respective scene by pilling in a lot of elaborate, almost lead break oriented riff work that looks ahead to the fret board wizardry of Jeff Waters, but with more of a Razor feel to it, particularly in the case of the wild riff that kicks off "Thrashers", a song that definitely leans back to the early transition from speed to thrash metal that was starting to make way for a heavier and ultimately stricter approach.
But perhaps the most distinct tool in Death Angel's arsenal at play on here is the demolition machine of a voice possessed by Mark Osegueda. Perhaps the only other voice out there at this juncture capable of matching the dual assault of mildly consonant yet gritty tenor yells and primal, mirror shattering screams would have been Blitz Ellsworth. The clearest example of this effective duality is heard on the somewhat outlandish thrash/ballad that is "Voracious Souls", which trades blows between an intense foray of bone-crushing guitar work and a recurring and quite serene acoustic verse that shows Osegueda's rather unique ability to haunt the soul from a perspective of somber gloom in between tearing the body limb from limb. Nevertheless, thrash metal of this variety tends to work best when going straight for the jugular, and a wicked mixture of galloping guitar insanity, fret blazing solos and outright eerie vocal gymnastics manifest in the high speed thrill ride that is "Kill As One".
While a near infinite number of interchangeable metaphors and analogies to demolition and destruction could be used to describe the raw intensity of this entire opus, the most intriguing element is actually found in its peripheral traits and how they relate to a trend in American thrash circa 1987-88. Some have come to understand this point in thrash's history as the period in which the bands that were passed over in the earlier 80s, in favor of the so-called Big 4 and a few other early acts like Exodus and Dark Angel, were finally given their shot. Consequently, albums like "The Legacy", "Eternal Nightmare", Taking Over" and this rather proud display of old school mayhem came off as being heavily similar to the output of already established albums from the 1984-85 era. Particularly in the case of "The Ultra-Violence", one can't help but note the similar blend of treble-heavy mixing and lighter guitar distortion that reminds heavily of the "Kill Em' All" and "Killing Is My Business And Business Is Good" sound that had since been moved away from for something a bit heavier and more polished. This album very well could have been released in 1985 and have been even more time-appropriate.
There is definitely a reason why this album is praised heavily amongst thrash adherents young and old, and it has a lot to do with the reason why Kirk Hammett took an interest in them and ended up producing their 1985 demo "Kill As One". This was a band that had their act together right from the start, though they unfortunately ended up losing it soon after, probably by listening to all the wrong influences from the more punkish New York scene. But this is an album built completely out of a rugged sense of unfettered aggression, tempered only by the typical parameters that defined the moderate killing spree approach of "Bonded By Blood" and the storm of speed and chaos of "Darkness Descends". It doesn't quite outclass either album, but definitely demands the same level of attention and general praise. Any metal movement doesn't happen by itself, and the collective effort of the San Francisco crowd stands as one of the more impressive feats in metal history, one that is still imitated even to this day.
The Ultra-Violence is another of those unripe, ripping West Coast speed/thrash metal experiences so unique to its point and place of origin in the mid-80s. Kill 'Em All. Killing is My Business... Show No Mercy. Bonded by Blood. Darkness Descends. All of these albums shared a distinction in that they felt fresh in composition, limitless in potential, and most importantly timeless in their transgressions. An album like this has simply never lost its luster through the ensuing decades, and in fact it remains a more memorable, grisly and violent gem than anything released later in the Death Angel canon. The groove and funk-inflected subtext of Frolic Through the Park, the friendly and cleanly Act III; neither was bereft of a catchy track or two, but both seemed rather underwhelming when paired off against their malicious predecessor.
What's perhaps even more staggering about this album than many of its peers coming out in 1986-89 is the sheer age of its creators. These guys were jamming and hitting the studio when they were still young teens (their Kill as One demo was recorded in 1985 with Kirk Hammett of Metallica, of all people). While every city and suburb at the time might claim dozens or more metal bands forming between high school friendships and cliques, and gods know later youthful extreme metal acts would surface and impress (Decapitated anyone?), how many in the middle of this particular decade were actually this talented? Death Angel could not only write effective songs that surpassed, but instrumentally proficient. The Ultra-Violence was perhaps the greatest 'teen thrash' album in history, certainly the best of that California rush, and as one who was only 13 myself when first acquiring and experiencing it, in a word: inspirational. We could do this! We pimply, misunderstood, emotive rebels across the States and beyond who dug our consciousness into our earphones to escape the burdens of pending adolescence were also capable of tearing the goddamn house down! Death Angel our living proof!
Not only that, but there was an air of ethnic novelty at work. Certainly there were many Asians and Asian-Americans into metal music, and Japan in particular had produced a good number of acts by this time, but Death Angel was the first band of Filipino descent that I was personally aware of, all its members related. Not a detail that inherently imparts or detracts any value to the music itself, but firm evidence of how wide a cultural influence was capable through this genre. Today, the easy access via internet to essentially ALL extreme music has created a mass exodus towards the fandom for people of all cultures and nations, with Southeast Asia becoming a specialized hotbed for underground brutality, but just imagine how scarce the market might have been in Death Angel's heyday? I can only imagine what a stir these guys must have caused through their homeland connections, what the reaction might have been for better or worse to see these guys whipping their hair around in lethal unison.
Beyond any of these fact, however, The Ultra-Violence simply kicks ass, taking no prisoners in its drive to rack up as many casualties as possible. The foreboding, post-apocalyptic ruin and petrified skull on the cover, when matched to a title derived from A Clockwork Orange, promise a whole lot of pain, and to that extent, these youngsters more than followed through. Harsh and threatening, yet not lacking in a sumptuous dynamic range, the 45 minutes of the debut prove both substantially solid in terms of individual track quality and versatile as a whole. I mean, for fuck's sake, the band has incorporated an 10 and a half minute instrumental component in the title track; and even if the opening, higher register guitar melody is somewhat reminiscent of, say, Iron Maiden's "Wasted Years", there is no disputing the amount of effort that went into its arrangement, from the wild and psychedelic shredding deep in the bridge to the assemblage of concrete neck-jerking rhythms that lead up to it. And this is easily the worst track on the whole of the album...
In general, we were dealing with more restrained, verse-chorus patterned songs in the typical hard rock or trad metal mold, not unlike how Slayer or Exodus were composing but with every bit the same amount of passion and kick. Driving, crisp guitar tones dispensing bladed hostility in the tremolo mutes that introduce "Evil Priest", or rifle through the verses of "Mistress of Pain". There was also some mid-paced, destructive palm mute chugging for mosh pit genesis, but what I found truly distinct about Rob Castevany and Gus Pepa was their penchant for original, screeching guitar effects in both the leads and prevalent spikes of melody that were constantly threaded over the architecture of the rhythm guitars. Sometimes wild and unchecked, others more structured and important to the momentum of the thrashing, but always unique when compared to, say the wilder, unbridled spasms of a King or Hanneman, the dextrous finger exercises of Mustaine or even bluesy bombast that provided a foundation to Hammett. Perhaps one could not chalk this up to the duo's age or cultural background, but unquestionable a very individual tone that was rare among the Bay Area, East Coast or Teutonic scenes.
Another standout here was vocalist Mark Osegueda, who had a spirited, acidic bite to his tone which was both natural and viral, whether dwelling in a mid range or the occasional shrieks he applied to the tail end of his phrasing. About the only person I would really compared him to might be Joey Belladonna of Anthrax, but lacking that same, nasal monotony despite the same tendency to remain with a cleaner voice. He's especially important on the menacing cuts like "Evil Priest" or "Voracious Souls", two of the best in all the band's catalog, for how he comes off like a living scythe in contrast to the thrust of the rhythm guitars. The drums and bass on the album are also noteworthy, if not the most immediately notable factors. Andy Galeon was no Gene Hoglan, but then, the guy was 14 when this album came out, and had a firm grasp of the standard metal beats which he would accent with some double bass and lots of instances of tinny fills on the cymbals and hi-hat during tunes like "The Ultra-Violence". Dennis Pepa's bass breaks were amazing when left to stand on their own like the distorted twist at 4:40 of "Thrashers" or the grooves plugging along under the acoustic in the "Voracious Souls" bridge.
If I had to chart the band closely alongside any one peer, it would likely be Metallica if only because the thunder of the faster guitars often drew me towards nostalgia for Kill 'Em All or Ride the Lightning. For instance, the opening onslaught to "Evil Priest" was similar to that of the post-intro riff in "Fight Fire With Fire", or the steady moshing gait of "Final Death" redolent of "Creeping Death" or Metallica's cover of Diamond Head's "Am I Evil?" However, who the fuck wasn't inspired by those living gods of the 80s, and mindless of this, there is no doubt just how abusive and potent tracks like "Evil Priest", with its little pinch harmonics or "Voracious Souls" with its intensely excellent grooves and verse triplets were, among the greatest that the West Coat EVER produced during the rise of thrash metal to prominence. Nearly everything from the frenetic melody that inaugurates "Thrashers" to the bass-driven instrumental finale "I.P.F.S." and its frenzied, fist pumping climax is enjoyable to this day, with the one exception being the bloated title track that, while not incompetent, might have been better served by a split in size and the addition of vocals to its better riffs.
In the end, though, there is enough charisma to this record that the minor inconsistencies of its minutia are easily cast aside, that it belongs in the collection of any discriminating lover of 80s or later thrash, speed, or even filthier trad or power metal. The lyrics were fairly strong considering the band's age at this time, paeans to psycho killers, gang bangers, sadistic succubi and devil worshipers alike. Granted, beginning your thrash album with a song called "Thrashers" might seem trite now and possibly even in 1987, and later lines like 'the thrashers will put you to shame' ("Kill As One") might seem like a limp, insular promotion of the band's chosen subgenre, but they were not alone in this, and in general the lyrics provide the incessant flood of violent and efficient imagery appropriate for the underlying composition. This is the best Death Angel to date, and its production holds up just as strongly as its songwriting. Semi-accessible like all the stronger West Coast albums of its type, but nonetheless predatory and punishing.
Death Angel, a band that never really hit the big time, at least compared to the big four of the time but if you are looking for yet another thrash metal masterpiece you need look no further.
This was the debut album for these guys and holy shit what a fuckin' debut this was. This is album is the perfect example of what is meant by music that will pound you into submission and all the while your teeth are clenched, fist in the air and you feel as though your head may come clean off by the sheer force of the vertebrae shattering headbanging you cant help but fall into. The most amazing thing about this album however has to be the young ages of the band. Almost everyone in the band was only in their late teens and the drummer Andy Galeon was only 14 when the album was released! None this wouldn't matter at all if the album sucked but this album is so good you are simply left speechless when you take into consideration a bunch of KIDS wrote this and I don't think I would be going out on a limb by saying this is certainly in the top 5 thrash albums of all time. The maturity in the songwriting and technicality are something that people in the music industry for years would love to accomplish. This album is filled to bursting with absolutely killer riffs and amazing musicianship overall.
Although they were never able to recapture the spark that was shown on this album the other two do have their moments (Frolic through the Park and Act III respectively). The Ultra-Violence is certainly considered what you would call a buy or die album and simply one of the greatest thrash albums of all time.
While I've always taken a lukewarm reception to Death Angel, their debut album is one I couldn't possibly look down on even if I wanted to. Most of the reviews already here have little if anything negative to say, and while I wouldn't dare break that trend, I wouldn't necessarily call this a perfect thrash album. While it does an great supply of healthy riffs and Mark Osegueda's immense vocal performance, I get the feeling some these songs could have been better. This isn't an enormous complaint, as I tend to enjoy the hell out of this album all the same.
Considering the late 1980's was a time for Metallica clones, its nice to hear a band who didn't have to completely rip-off the sound to get somewhere. This is all too well exhibited in excellent full speed chargers like "Mistress of Pain" or "Kill As One," both of which also give off Osegueda's incredible shrieks. Considering I've heard mentioned the band members were all fairly young, it only adds to their credit. Considering fans nowadays lose their minds because a band like Trivium is young, I'm guessing none of them have actually heard this album, processed the age factor, and then realized this pulverizes "The Crusade" into dust.
With riff cannons like "Thrashers" (with a different guy on vocals) "Final Death," "Mistress of Pain," and "Evil Priest," its hard not to consider this one of the better thrash efforts of the late 1980's. I still say it doesn't get nearly enough attention, largely because of what the band members did after this album. Seriously, going from "The Ultra-Violence" to something like "Frolic in the Park" or even the somewhat interesting "Act III" is next to unreasonable. I guess with "Killing Season" out there as of last year, it shows the band is trying to bring back some of their charm. Needless to say, nothing they've done since can out do this one, especially if you're in the mood for visceral thrash metal.
While it may be the only album worth really checking into by this band, "The Ultra-Violence" remains a complete part of any thrash fan's complete breakfast. It has anything you could really ask for, even a maniacal instrumental in the title track, every song here is absolute killer. Well, every song here is killer except for "I.P.F.S." which is really just an afterthought/throwaway track to make you wonder why the hell its there. In any event, every thrash fan is incomplete without this, and while its not necessarily perfect, its just about everything you really want out of a competent thrash release.
This album is intense all the way through, but the band’s little experiments are the only hindrance in the way of a perfect album. Well, I say “little” experiments, but in this case one of them includes an over-ten-minute-long riff instrumental. The riffs are decent, but I’ve heard this done better before by bands like Defiance. In all seriousness, the duration is downright excessive.
But once we get past the overlong instrumental “The Ultra-Violence,” the unfunny and clichéd joke closer “I.P.F.S.,” as well as the inferior alternate vocalist on “Thrashers,” we have a consistently awesome album. Mark Osegueda’s vocals don’t sound like the snotty little pre-teen that whines in the follow-up, but rather like a scared little girl. With the kind of thrash they play here, this persona works much more effectively.
By the way, isn’t it ironic how the singer ruined the second album, but saves this one from mediocrity? This guy shrieks louder than any human being you’re likely to stumble upon in your lifetime. His voice is piercing at times, and his falsettos are more impressive than those in your typical power metal music. When he screams in songs like “Mistress of Pain” you can almost feel the agony as he is being whipped and beaten by the dominatrix the lyrics tell of. The song really is shocking and captures that sort of a moment perfectly.
I’d love to hear Mark’s vocals on “Thrashers,” but they unfortunately have a less skilled and uninteresting singer doing the job on this track. Such an insane, more-aggressive-version-of-Judas-Priest type of song deserves a more competent singer. The closing track is also a lame attempt at comedy with a boring set of riffs followed by a bunch of random quotes and impressions done in silly voices. Venom had done this infinitely better already.
It’s really hard to condemn and album with 6 superb tracks (“Thrashers” is still amazing; it just would have been better if Mark sang it.) The filler is a nuisance, but there’s nothing that deplorable; it’s just a failed attempt at humor for a closer and a riff-fest that overstays its welcome.
Death Angel's debut "The Ultra-Violence" is one hell of a debut album. It's probably their best album as well. I remember when I first heard this album, it was maybe 2-3 years ago and I totally loved it. Death Angel play a fast and technical kind of thrash metal and it's a little like a mix between Megadeth and Deliverance. The great riffs, drum fills and the pitched vocals that just screams out it's final anger. It's an album that shows why thrash metal is the very best kind of metal out there.
Songs like "Evil Priest", "Kill As One" and "Mistress Of Pain" starts off with only guitar riffs and man if they kill your ears or what! DA's songs are heavily driven by fast and raw riffs as well as mind blowing guitar solos. The drumming shows how it's supposed to be done. No fucking drum machine here, this is drumming made by flesh and blood. The bass is sick and the vocals goes along so perfectly with the songs. Man, the singer literally screams his lungs off.
The production is pretty good. You have to remember that this was their first album and it was released in 1987. Everything's alive and no instruments are drowned in another instrument. I also like the guitar sound they've got here. It's like a mix of Metallica / Megadeth with Slayer, or something similar.
The cast is doing a great job and they're all good musicians. The lead guitarist and the drummer are particularly good.
So finally to my last comments on "The Ultra-Violence"...
It's a great album which has a lot of killers. Some might be less killing crazy and some more but it's always like that. I really recommend this great piece of thrash metal and it's defenitely worth to be invested in.
Admittedly their is a lot of nostalgia when it comes to this release with me. It was the album that truly made me realize how much I loved thrash, and more importantly metal in general. This is undoubtedly Death Angels best release, and pretty much their last good one. This album features over the top riffage, and the band showing off their unique sound and talent. This album helped establish Death Angel as the runts of the scene, but despite being young they delivered some killer thrash for 1987. It was Death Angel that was seen as the next generation of great bay area bands in 1987, and its easy to see why. If only we could have prevented their failure as a band on all levels.
Well onto the music. "Thrashers" starts off with a feedback intro and basically was the song that grabbed my balls and never let them go. Its catchy as fuck despite the cheesy "thrash metal" lyrics and displays some truly killer riffage and two guitar solos (Ok the solos aren't that good, but these guys are teenagers give em a break). Its easy to see why this became a staple of their live show. "Evil Priest" explores more in depth song writing then what would be expected of Death Angel at the time, and it features good song writing up to par with the rest of the album. "Voracious Souls" features a stomping groove-like intro used very well and integrated into the music. Its a mostly mid-paced song, but Mark Osuegada starts to show off his very unique vocal style here. "Kill As One" is a very interesting thrash piece featuring solid riffage. Mark really gets going here yelling out high pitched screams that are simply too good to be true almost. "The Ultra-Violence" is a massive 10 minute riff test, and has enough riffs for a Pantera album. The aggressive riffing is stuff that would make Pantera kiddies boil in their own blood. "Mistress of Pain" is intense as fuck, and features more soloing that is sub-par but not terrible. Easily cannot be forgotten. "Final Death" features crushing intro riffs and zooms along at lightning speed again. Its probably the least up to par track here, but theirs nothing bad to say really. "I.P.F.S." is funny, and shows off the bands youth-first attitude to a tee.
Mark Osuedega's vocal work is simply amazing, few have as high pitched a voice as he does. Andy Geleons drumming is shockingly competant for such a young person. He doesn't experiment a whole lot, but he provides a steady beat for the entire album and thats all you really ask for. Gus Pepa and Rob Cavestany's guitar work is solid, and considering they no doubt came up with a load of these riffs they deserve credit for that even if they can't solo. Dennis Pepa is competent as bass and gets the job done. While the band has yet to come into their own it seems, their is an obvious potential to be one of the more legendary thrash bands here. Sadly it was not to be, and most of these people peaked here.
Highlights.. "Thrashers", "Evil Priest", "Kill As One" and the title track all are exceptional. Although theirs not actually a sub-par song here besides "I.P.F.S." and possibly some of "Voracious Souls". Really not much else to add besides the fact that the vocal work by Mark is truly amazing.
Lowlights.. Well the musicianship is far from the best, but they considering they were young this album is rather amazing. But really their is nothing to complain about. Its far from perfect, but Death Angel truly had all the right ideas on how to do a debut album here.
Its a shame in general that this would be Death Angels best effort and that they would never fulfill the promise presented here (like so many thrash bands). I'll admit I have a huge nostalgia trip when I hear this every time (Especially on the chorus to "Thrashers" or "Kill as One"). All the ideas presented here are a solid foundation to what could have been one of the better Bay Area thrash bands. What we got instead was several whiffs in a row with the occasional "oh my god where did that come from!" moment. So in the end cherish this album for what it is, even if it does stand alone.
Conclusion: Buy this album if your a fan of thrash, and even more so if you like Bay Area Thrash. This is essential material for any thrasher and a Bay Area Thrash classic.
Final Grade : 92
The 80’s were a fantastic time for heavy metal. Way out in southern California, a brand new style was being engineered that would lay the foundations for all extreme music to come. This style, of course, was thrash metal, particularly the Bay Area variety. Hundreds of acts would emerge from here over the course of the decade, including many major players (from Metal Church to Vio-lence and everyone in between). But as the decade began to wind down, the quality of music was starting to decay, resulting in a lot of mediocre output. Yet even so, the late-period Bay Area scene did have its fair share of success stories.
Take Death Angel, for instance. There is perhaps no album that better epitomizes what Bay Area thrash was all about than The Ultra Violence. Every member of Death Angel, despite their young age, was at the peak of their performing capabilities, the production is raw and fierce, and most of the songs can be placed high on the list of thrash classics. Though their career would fizzle over the next few years (not unlike many of their contemporaries), The Ultra Violence still resides at the top of the later period thrash heap
Opener “Thrashers” is a seven minute riff-fest of generally unequalled proportions and, though it makes for a fair archetype of the band’s then-sound, no one song can properly sum up The Ultra Violence, mostly due to the degree of variation employed throughout the album. The most important aspect of any great thrash album is a varied spectrum of ideas. Nothing kills a potential album like innocuous filler (having a shitty bass player hurts too; DA avoid this as well). This is Death Angel’s calling card of quality: a first time listener, no matter how well-educated in the Bay Area thrash tradition, will have no idea what to expect as the album progresses (obviously someone who’s heard it before will know what to expect: this isn’t Spastic Ink or something in that vein that reveals and surprises on continued listens; rather, it’s fairly catchy throughout). “Thrashers” fuses a straightforward Kill ‘Em All or Fistful of Metal kind of NWOBHM vibe with the heavier riff style of Dark Angel. “Voracious Souls” finds vocalist Mark Osegueda exchanging his rougher, aggressive singing style for a melodic one, with the guitars acting similarly. “Kill as One” has the most insanely high shrieking I’ve ever heard on any album anywhere (Osegueda does it in other tracks too, just not nearly as much as on here). Basically, every track is a strikingly different beast from the one that precedes it, maintaining interest with the listener for its entire duration.
It is definitely worth noting the young age of the band members (and I suppose the fact that they’re all cousins). All of them were around 16 at the time of this recording, which means they were even younger when the band was formed. And yet, Rob Cavestany has a slew of fantastic solos (including a lot of great harmonic wankery at times), Mark Osegueda has one of the most powerful and original voices in the scene, Dennis Pepa has a strong and recognizable bass presence, Andy Galeon plays the fiercest skins this side of Lombardo and Hoglan, and the Gus Pepa/Rob Cavestany rhythm team is pumping out some of the most creative, busy riffs not featured on an album with the Megadeth or Watchtower logo emblazoned on the front sleeve. Death Angel are the best example of age meaning nothing in terms of artistry.
The title track is also notable, as it’s one big epic thrash instrumental. So should you expect a long, drawn-out atmosphere-focused track in the vein of “Orion” or “Call of the Ktulu?” Fuck, no (sorry Lar$) this is all riffs all the time, with special attention being paid to Cavestany’s chops and Galeon’s ferocious drumming (Ten points scene cred if you can name the Rush song that intro beat is from!). Closer “I.P.F.S.” is also instrumental, but as a brief, formless thrasher (with a classical intro that’s at least as good as the one from Exodus’ “No Love”), it couldn’t be further from its counterpart.
Easily among the ten best thrash albums ever released, it’s a required purchase for anyone even remotely interested in the genre. So stop reading this shitty review and beg, borrow, or steal your way to one of the finest albums of its kind.
Highlights: “Voracious Souls,” “Kill As One,” “Thrashers,” and the rest, basically
People seem to adore this album mainly because of the huge variety of riffs and the insane vocals. And yeah, they definitely have a point. This record is all riffs, riffs, riffs. They are fast as fuck and really fucking lethal. There are lots of triplets and one note riffs, and they work really great. The guitar tone is also a killer, just about right for thrash. Well, the overall production could be better, but it's not that bad.
So, we cleared that up, let's say something about the vocals. Mark Osegueda is a MADMAN! Yeah, he can be melodic or agressive, but that's not the most imporant thing here. His high pitched screams are out of this earth. Mad. Insane. Deranged. He sounds exactly like I picture a victim of a crime would scream, before he would be slayed. Crazy, I tell you. Boris even measured the frequencies, check those out if you don't believe me. Unfortunately, Mark sometimes sounds a bit annoying, at least for my taste. Again, this is not a major flaw, it's probably just my taste. Oh yeah, Dennis sounds great on Thrashers (he is singing on that song, because it had been on the setlist before Mark came to the band). His vocals are aggressive, just right for that kind of a song.
Drums and bass are standard thrash, with Andy Galeon playing some nice fills here and there.
The album itself is well balanced and consists of 8 songs, with I.P.F.S. being a sort of an outro. Kill As One is a favourite of many DA fans, it's fast and a good singalong. Voracious Souls has that great break at around 3.15 and a mellower middle part. Two songs, Thrashers and The Ultra-Violence are especially worth mentioning.
Thrashers is a full-out thrasher (what else did you expect from a song with that title). As I already said, Dennis handles the vocals here. The song has a great intro riff and it's fast as hell.
The title track is a 10!!! minute thrash instrumental. Yeah, it's 10 minutes long. Boring? NO! It grabs you and it doesn't release you until the final second. Shitload of riffs and tempo changes keep it interesting for the whole time.
The Ultra-Violence is Death Angel's first. Many say, that it's the only one worth getting. I'm not here to review Act III or Frolic Through The Park, so I wil say just one thing: GET IT, you won't be sorry.
Competent Bay Area thrashers, Death Angel, released this underground classic in '87 called "The Ultra-Violence". The first thing you notice about this album, from the start of the first song, "Thrashers" is that these guys are all about the riffs. The album is completely guitar driven, most songs only have vocals on them about 30% of the time. The manic guitar riffs give off the impression of youthful rebellion and extreme aggression. And they have that distinct Bay Area tone to them as well. The vocals, mostly done by one Mark Osegueda are pretty top notch, and match the music VERY well, something most thrash bands could never accomplish.
The album kicks off with "Thrashers" it sounds like a lost Bonded By Blood song, even the vocals sound similar to Paul Baloff. The song is very energetic and angry sounding, the vocals on this one aren't done by Mark, but they are decent enough. The next song is "Evil Priest" wow what a diference a great singer can make, as soon as Mark comes in you can tell this guy was made to sing this stuff. This one sounds less like Exodus and more melodic like Heathen. Three's a cool part in the middle where the song gradually speeds up and leads into the solo, great song.
"Voracious Souls" kinda slows things down, but not much. This is probably the catchiest song on the album, that chorus is absolutely infectious. Lots of soloing, and some really inspired riffing to be found near the end. "Kill As One" uses kind of the same formula, another really catchy chorus, also of note is the absolutely blood curdling screams Mike belts out in this song. This is one of the things that got him recognized, these aren't the flowery pansy little screams you hear from power metal singers, these are the kind of screams you expect to hear from someone who just got their heart pulled out of their chest by a giant fire breathing demon. Fucking metal screams.
The title track is up next, and wow this thing is just awesome. Some of the most intense and agressive riffing I've yet to hear. There must be at least 50 different riffs in this song, 10 minutes of pure thrashing metal madness. "Mistress of Pain" is a really neat song, I can't say I've heard anything like it before. The verse is structured really cool, it moves along at about 975bpm but manages to be catchy and memorable, nice chorus too. Some more horror screams are belted out as well. "Final Death" starts off with probably the best riff on the album, some nice harmonics. Constant leadwork throught the song. Some great verses, these guys just really know how to structure a song. "I.P.F.S." is a short little instrumental, that ends the album quite nicely.
Probably one of the better Bay Area thrash albums ever.
Sorry my friends, but that's what I think.
This is without a doubt a good album, but not the impressing masterpiece that everybody claims. Specially because I think that this band was always obviously overrated. This is by far their best effort and they don't manage even in this album to place themselves over the average 80's thrash metal, and the fact is that everybody agrees that this is their best effort and that "Frolic Through the Park" and "Fall from Grace" are weaker recordings, so what do we obtain here? Without any doubt, an overrated band that doesn't deserve the legend made around them.
To make the things worse, I decided to download their new album, "The Art of Dying", to decide if it was worthy of being bought and I just have to thank god (or Satan) for that decision, 'cause the album is a total useless piece of plastic" (with the exception of "Thrown to the Wolves"). I'm just glad that I didn't decide to buy it without hearing it as I do lots of times.
Obviously, The Ultra-Violence can't be compared with that big piece of alternative metal piece of shit because it's a good album recorded back in 1986/87, but I think that it doesn't deserve the attention that it usually receives.
First of all, it has a weak and uni-dimensional production. It is true that this is their debut album, but it was recorded in 1986 and it's easy to find debut albums recorded in the same period of time with a much better production than this: "Doomsday for the Deceiver" by Flotsam & Jetsam, "Ignorance" by Sacred Reich, "R.I.P." by Coroner, "The Legacy" by Testament....
Secondly, all of them are quite good songs, but where are the memorable hymns? Where do we find one of those songs that we find constantly in our mind? Of course there are a couple of excellent songs as "Kill as One" (with some really insane screams from Mark Osegueda) or "Mistress of Pain" where the band really shows what he could have done. But there's a considerable lack of classic killer tracks. And obviously I can't forget the impressive title track with its 10 minutes of instrumental thrash where other bands could have extracted a full album. But I have to say that in metal music, it's not enough to make a huge demonstration of musical skills to become a classic (just see Dream Theater, 4 of the best musicians worldwide and they don't even manage to have one single good song).
However I'm forced to recognize that these facts are not enough to make one album become a classic. I won't say anything bad about The Ultra-Violence, but unfortunately I can't consider it the classic that people proclaim. An overrated band.
Oboy, I remember this with glee!!! Hearing this album along with too many other classics on my college radio station of choice years ago made me rush out and grab it immediately!
Their eccentric riffing and soloing is what makes this album stand out and how, especially considering how young they were at the time this was released. I mean, Andy Galeon was what, 14? And a right little badass drummer he was already, though not as tight in spots here and there as I'd have liked to hear--when he tries for some fills, his time suffers a little for it. Rob Cavestany had a lead style that was all his even at this early juncture, and Mark Osegueda...omiGAWD those shrieks!!! I was stopped in my tracks the first time I heard "Evil Priest" and "Mistress of Pain" out of shock and stunned disbelief!
"Evil Priest" and "Mistress of Pain" scald with frenzied thrashing and frequent time and tempo changes that run over you like a herd of berserk rhinos. Mark's vocals really stand out on these tracks in particular, as he is a total character in and of himself who sounds only like himself. The title track is one of my faves on this album also, with its attention-grabbing intro that really does remind one of "Tubular Bells" (the Exorcist theme, as another reviewer pointed out). But then, when the first of too many fuckin' riffs rears its ugly head to whoop your lulled into security arse into pulp, you know it's OVER. With snotty teenage attitude and energy behind it, you know this is going to own the moment you hear it. They navigate numerous riffs, tempo changes, and feels perfectly throughout all ten minutes of this instrumental, and it never fails to impress me how well is all flows together. I could have done without "IPFS", but I guess some bands just had to show they had a sense of humor back then. Especially after that final bloodcurdling "ZAAAAAAAAAAAAOOOOWWWWW!!!!!!!" at the end of "Final Death"--what the hell was Mark smoking at that time to make him be able to go that high, the obvious age issue aside?
"The Ultra-Violence" has earned its classic sobriquet over the years and still holds up after all this time. And when I heard last year they not only have reformed but have released a new album as of recently, you better believe that I will jump on it straight away! I was unhappy with "Act III", so I hope the new one makes up for that embarrassment.
...from the shrieks. And the riffs.
There ain't much else to say, is there? Death Angel's first album is a relentless 45-minute barrage of riffs, melodic thrash vocals, riffs, mind-blowing shrieks, riffs, vicious double bass, and riffs. And did I mention all the riffs? Cause I feel it's important that you know that there are a SHITLOAD OF RIFFS on this album. And they all rule.
Okay, first things first - "Kill As One." It's fucking great. Shredding gallop, intimidating I-eat-bolts-shit-out-nails-and-crucify-you-with-them vocal lines, and one of the top singalong choruses in thrash. The high-pitched screams on "Come through your neighborHOOOOOD!" and the chorus resemble nothing so much as a teakettle boiling while a chipmunk gets its nutsack boiled inside and shrieks about it. One more extended chorus on the end after the solo/riff-fest would promote this song to OWNS YOUR SOUL status, but thankfully, that's how they play it live. As is, quite kickass.
Only slightly less awesome are "Voracious Souls" and "Mistress of Pain." The former is a galloping tune, slightly slower than the rest of the album's frenetic thrahing, with a great chorus that goes from heavy to clean to even heavier and keeps up the same catchy vocal lines throughout. "Men without anguish, men without fear, men chosen to rid the earth, evil confrontation nears!" You'll be singing along by the scond chorus. Meanwhile, Mistress of Pain is just fucking INSANE - as mentioned before, the screams on this song are, like, really high. I dunno about mathematical equivalents or anything, but basically, they're higher than Chuck Billy and Devin Townsend after two hours hotboxing the Relapse Records boardroom. And the riffs rule, but you knew that already, didn't you?
"The Ultra-Violence" is a ridiculously cool 10-minute thrash instrumental that has enough riffs for four Soilwork albums. "Evil Priest" and "Final Death" are basically really good thrash tunes, whereas "Thrashers," despite the lack of Mark Osegueda's badass vocals, is another solid song with an opening riff that sounds like early (read: non-suckass) Def Leppard. "I.F.P.S." is the thematic equivalent of Venom's "Aaaaarrgh" (did I spell that right)?, but funnier.
So in the end, you have an incredible example of Bay Area Thrash with great melodic sensibility balanced out by a deep and abiding love for the disembowling, spine-snapping, headbreaking power of the Badass Thrash Riff. Then there's some really good shrieks. And did I mention the riffs?
It's a bit hard to find this album, but it is definitely worth your while. Very, very high recommendation.
This is easily the best Death Angel album. (Hell, it's the only one worth getting!) Although the songwriting isn't quite the cream of the crop, the riff work is just incredible. Also, Mark Osegueda pulls off some really fucking insane screams.
We begin with "Thrashers", which has Dennis Pepa on vocals. This is one of the first songs they had ever written, and it was a setlist staple even before Mark joined the band. Thus, they kept Dennis on vocals all the time, including subsequent live performances. Nice fucking riffs, but it's really "Evil Priest" where things start to really get going. Mark comes in, and he sounds fucking menacing.
"Kill As One" shows the extent of this. One of the shrieks is an incredible 1820 Hz. I can't be bothered to convert that to a musical note (if it even is one), but I know Rob Halford topped out at 1610 on a 1975 version of "Dreamer Deceiver". Also, the chorus completely rules, and so does the main riff.
Then, the title track. This is what you get when you could either write 40 more minutes of music based on these riffs, or you just throw them together for 10 minutes of fun. Yep, it's a thrash instrumental - 10 minutes, and at least 70 riffs. Conservative estimate. I've never bothered to go through, but it's something like that.
Then, the greatest song on here, "Mistress of Pain"! Another insane set of shrieks, even more incredible than before (2000 Hz exactly on "SCREAMS!!! in the night!", which is a B that is nearly 4 octaves above middle C) and the intro riff is, while completely simple, maybe the overall most effective one here. Also, the main break with the solo is damn cool too, especially when they put the intro riff in again.
"Final Death" is really the album closer, since "IPFS" is kind of a throwaway track. Overall, a great fucking thrash album!
[edit: re-measured high shriek, correctly this time, and adjusted frequencies appropriately]