Death Angel return with their ninth album Humanicide which is also the fourth with the same line up of Mark Osegueda on vocals, Rob Cavestany on lead guitar, Ted Aguiler rhythm, Damien Sisson bass and Will Carroll on drums. For those who don’t know too much about the band, they formed away back in 1982 in California. They are one of the bands leading the second wave of thrash metal and toured with just about everybody back in the day. The only constant from formation to now is Rob the lead guitarist with vocalist Mark joining in 1984 in time for their first album The Ultra-Violence making them the only 2 members on all studio albums. The band split for quite a while after a bus accident but reformed about 10 years later when they played a benefit show for Chuck Billy of Testament to help with money for his cancer treatment. Thankfully they decided to keep the band going albeit with different musicians.
The new album Humanicide is 10 solid tracks of metal, bit thrashy in places, a little prog and quite a bit of melody as well as brutality. All the things that help make a great album. It starts with the title track “Humanicide” which is a belting way to begin. Starting with a guitar motif with drum rolls floating around it until the drum sections get longer and more powerful until the actual main riff comes in. This has a Maiden feel to it. The vocals open with a long scream, but when the words come in they are nice and clear. The song has a good strong chorus (“This is who I am, despite what you believe… The dark horse black anti-God that lives in you and me”) and there are moments where the riffage is almost Slayer like but the vocals more Anthrax.
“Aggressor” starts acoustically and reminded me a little of Annihilator (“Crystal Ann”) before it kicks into a frenetic riff. The verses are slower with the words sort of spat out in fury. There is a lot of anti-religious lyrics as could be expected, primarily against the leaders of churches such as the line “false prophets preaching only lies” and eventually describing them as parasites. I can imagine the crowd joining in with the chant of “Aggressor” when played live. It is a fist-pumping type moment in the song.
“I Came For Blood” is quite a fast punky thrash track that again is has a slight Anthrax vibe. Again the chorus is strong simple and is ready-made for chanting. Changing tack from that is “Immortal Behated” which has acoustic versus electric guitar beginning with each one coming from either speaker or earpiece. The guitar solo is quite eastern in its sound. This I would say is the proggiest track on the album and even has a piano ending! Atmospheric and interesting with quite an easy chorus to get into. Good to have variety even on a mainly thrash album.
“The Pack” is about the fans and the way that fans of the metal genre and Death Angel fans in particular stick to their bands and beliefs no matter what others say about the music they love. It is a pack mentality. We look after each other and will get old together. We stay true to the music and what we love. It is the kind of riff and chorus that say Priest would do so well. the “woahs” will again be sung loud and proud by the fans when this is played live. It is about us so it is our song. “Loyal to the core, we have each other’s backs… forevermore” they sing. Let’s face it metalheads are the most loyal of fans who stand up for the music they love.
There is light and shade, for instance, “Ghost Of Me” is mostly a thrasher but with a slightly slower chorus whereas “Revelation Song” is more controlled in tempo and is easily the most accessible song on the album. So much so it could get radio airplay (if you live anywhere that has decent rock or metal radio) and not frighten anyone!
Humanicide is another great Death Angel album from a band that makes a habit of hitting the target. If you like them already you won’t be disappointed and if you are one of those that have heard the name but never checked them out then here is a chance to become a fan. They are playing festivals during the summer including Bloodstock Metal Festival in the UK in August. Miss them at your peril!
Out now on Nuclear Blast