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Step in the right direction - 70%

TheStormIRide, April 11th, 2006

So this album takes a lot of flak. I guess it's hard for a band to come up with an album that has the youthful energy and flair of their previous works. This discussion has been made innumerable times. The damn retroists always say "That band will never top their first". While that may happen a lot, it's not always the case.

One thing that always stands a metal head’s hair up is progression. Some of us see progression as an awesome thing, you know, the natural advancement of a band’s ideas. Others see progression as tearing a band’s sound apart: hello Metallica and Megadeth! So as I see it, we have progression as going either of these two ways… for better or for worse! So, many people bash “Frolic through the Park” because it’s not another “Ultra-violence”. Well, you know what I say to you? Cry about it! Not many bands pull off their original sound, ever. Ok, so I’ll get off that pedestal for a little bit.

So on to the album, and why I think it’s a step in the right direction. “Act III”, for me, was a landmark album. Death Angel was just on this new plane of thrash. They played a thinking man’s thrash metal, with some really interesting riffs, at least on that album. On “Ultra-Violence” the band was just an energetic, young thrash band looking to make a name for themselves. So what did they do on the album in between? Well, let’s get it on to it.

“Frolic through the Park” maintains some of the youthful energy displayed on their debut, especially in the riff and drum department. They play some really awesome riffs, especially on “3rd Floor”. There are even some more cross-over/punk influenced tracks (see: “Why You Do This?”). The riffs are definitely high-paced in some parts, like their earlier work, but they aren’t afraid to slow it down (I’ll go into more detail on that later). There are some cool solos, but they just aren’t completely spot on. It’s almost like their randomly thrown together.

The drums are definitely fun on this album. They may not be as fast and furious as the debut, but man, the fit the music so well, it’s hard not to take notice. The drummer comes up some really interesting lines, and at times does let it loose, but it’s more in control than they unrelenting “Ultra-Violence”.

One of the biggest changes on this album, besides the slower pace of the music, would be the vocals. This is the biggest step in the band’s new direction. The singer is much more controlled, and to me, a lot more fun to listen to. He’s starting to show the elements of a great thrash singer (note: I said “singer”, not “screamer”.). He has a very strange delivery, especially when compared with a lot of other thrash bands at the time. It’s midrange at times, and higher at times, but never really out of control (something he perfected on “Act III”). While it doesn’t work throughout the whole album, listen to the strange NYC-HXC shout on “Open Up”, overall the effect is much better than on “Ultra-Violence”. That and the crazy squeal he does on “Cold Gin”.

So yeah, this may not be as good as “Act III”, but I do believe it is a step towards Death Angel topping “Ultra-Violence”. So, this may not have the debuts energy or speed, and it doesn’t have the straight-up originality of “Act III”. So it’s not a landmark, and it’s not their best. It’s still a good album, and pointed Death Angel in the right direction, so for that I commend them.

To tell the truth, I don’t listen to this album nearly as much as “Act III” or even “The Art of Dying”, but it’s still a solid album. This album, like I said has its high points, it has its low points, but it serves its purpose as a stepping stone for greater things to come. My final analysis of the album is that it’s good for the purpose it served, allowing Death Angel to release “Act III”. If you’re a Death Angel fan, you owe it to yourself to own this. If you’re a thrash fan, and looking to buy a Death Angel album, get a different one first.