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My ears! They're bleeding... - 92%

Pyrus, July 17th, 2003

...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.