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Just short of relentless, but an absolute keeper. - 87%

hells_unicorn, December 9th, 2011

Modern thrash is a concept that is difficult to digest, mostly because it exists mostly in how it avoids a lot of the best aspects of the older sound. For the most part, it seems to want to compromise between the dull, uninspired repetition and down tempo drudgery of the groove scene that was ushered in by Machine Head and Pantera, and the slightly earlier, not quite as slowed down version of it that came right before in the late 80s and early 90s (think "...And Justice For All" and "Horrorscope"). The better albums in this style tend to be the ones that reach back into the earlier of the two ingredients in the mixture and only resemble the later one in the general character of the production, rather than the limp riffing style or over-emphasized vocals.

Old guard Bay Area extraordinaire outfit Death Angel have tended towards the better version of the modern format since their return to the style in "The Art Of Dying", allowing for plenty of speed and fury, but tempering it with a more repetitive and chunky modern edge that is somewhat reminiscent of the melodic approach Anthrax was taking on "Persistance Of Time". They differ in that vocalist Mark Osegueda has a nastier, shout prone vocal style that is, interestingly enough, reminiscent of Blitz Ellsworth. The comparisons with Overkill and the recent output of this fold doesn't end with the vocals, as a good amount of said New York thrash pioneers' post-90s sound can be heard in the riff work and lead activity as well, and it really shows through on this, Death Angel's 6th album "Relentless Revolution".

In a sense, the term relentless is a good one to employ in describing this album, given that the aggression and attitude level on here is comparable to Pro-Pain, though the feel is mercifully much less mechanical. Even when things rest in a mid-tempo stomp as heard on "Into The Arms Of Righteous Anger", a song that probably could have been heard on "Necroshine" or "From The Underground And Below", things are kept animated and interesting. But the band shines their brightest when they bring home the speeding carnage in a manner more reminiscent of "Killbox 13", such as heard on "River Of Rapture" or "I Chose The Sky", oozing out the irreverent rage like vapor from a nuclear meltdown. The only places where things get a bit lame and contrived is the quirky acoustic ballad "Volcanic", which literally flirts with pop/rock territory, and the 2 minute acoustic guitar noodling outro that closes out "Claws In So Deep", an otherwise powerful neck-ruining thrasher.

Of the past 3 albums to be put out under the Death Angel name, this is the best, though only because it distills the stronger elements of the modern formula and doesn't revert back to the groove and balladry mush that has, nevertheless, remained in some form from the 90s. But this is a band that has consistently kept its act together since reforming and has yet to show signs of the disastrous fiasco known to many as The Organization. A good example of another recent studio effort that hits similar stylistic territory is Heathen's latest creation "The Evolution Of Chaos", which presents a clearly modern, though somewhat conservative take on what thrash metal has become outside of the growing number of revivalist acts dubbed "re-thrash". It's heavy enough for the present, yet also PH balanced for the enjoyment of those looking to the past.