Bay area thrash veterans Death Angel are back with a new record titled The Evil Divide. A lot has changed since I first heard Death Angel at a college party in 1991. Act III is arguably a top ten all time thrash record. A bus crash during the subsequent tour in support of Act III basically ended Death Angel in 1991. Regrouping in 2001 for a benefit show for Testament singer Chuck Billy served as a stepping stone for the band to reunite fulltime.
And now they have a new record for us called The Evil Divide. And you know, it’s not bad. I mean it sounds great. The riffs are thrashing. And the songs are classic thrash with some current production ooomph! But something seems just a bit off. The lyrics and melody.
One of the reasons the Big Four stood out was they spent very little time on meathead island lyrically speaking. Plus a great band grows with time as they find a way to stay true to themselves without trying replicate what they think they once were. So unless you often find yourself drunk and shirtless begging people to kick you in the balls while cranking “Bodies” by Drowning Pool there isn’t much here for a metal fan. There is a certain sense of the lowest common denominator in lyrics like:
“We will fight for honor”
“We will fight for freedom”
“We will fight to have a fucking choice”
As rich as the testosterone is in that poetic verse, it’s hard to take a 50-year-old man singing that seriously. It’s very disingenuous. And it’s not like they have always been this fist pumping ‘I sure hope guys in the military take to this’ type of band. This is a band founded on songs about being adrift in a seeming less endless time. Songs about guiding lost souls to a correct path. Songs about a room. With a view. Where is that band? How could they have been more developed 25 years ago than today? Humanoids?
This record would be more believable if it were Death Angel circa 1989. The Evil Divide doesn’t sound like a late 80’s thrash titan being relevant now. It sounds like a late 80’s thrash titan doing what they think is relevant now. It comes across like a band trying to be Drowning Pool. Isn’t it enough that Drowning Pool is trying to sound like Drowning Pool? Where is the depth? Where is the growth? In “Let The Pieces Fall” we are told that the rubble will bury us as they stand tall. Gentlemen. It’s not 1991. It’s not even 2001. The molly dropping frat boys who crave that kind of “Meathead Metal” have flushed their roofies with their glow sticks and put on a tie.
The Evil Divide isn’t a bad record. It’s just not good. Unless you are looking for tired misogynistic tales of male self-empowerment there is little here. I much prefer a band who’s music matures as they do. It seems as Death Angel has managed to reverse the metamorphosis.