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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...