posted on 2/2008 By:
Death Angel is a band comprised of members who really don't care what their fan base expects from them. Throughout their career the band has never been able to live up to their debut, The Ultra-Violence, at least in the eyes of many old time fans, but let's face it, Death Angel have never attempted to replicate or exceed that album in any way. The band progresses and changes at their own pace and have no regard for what anyone expects of them, because, let's face it, if they did, they would have released a "proper" successor to that debut album already, and they haven't, nor will they probably ever, and you have to respect that.
While the band isn't going back to their thrash roots anytime soon, they've never abandoned their ability to craft meaningful songs that strike a chord with listeners who aren't simply expecting The Ultra-Violence Part II. From Frolic Through the Park and Act III to the band's 2004 reunion album, The Art of Dying, Death Angel have continued to push the music they want to hear and play what they want to play. Sometimes drifting into funk or acoustic passages, sometimes just hitting on some big rock grooves, but it's always played with conviction. 2008's Killing Season sees no change in the band's agenda. This new Death Angel album is very much the successor to The Art of Dying, pushing the metal meets punk sound, that was only a fraction of what was to be found on that album to a new area, with more aggression and fire. One interesting turn in the album comes from the production, the guitars sounding lower, more modern, yet oddly the drums sound incredibly natural, at least more so than most modern metal releases. The guitar sound is something I had wondered about since hearing the song "Sonic Beatdown" on the band's Myspace page prior to the release date, thinking that it might not work for the sound they were going for, but given a little time I've definitely warmed up to the idea and when listening to the rest of the album it's hard to deny that it doesn't add to the overall feeling.
Killing Season definitely rages, especially with the one-two punch of "Lord of Hate" and "Sonic Beatdown", the band even seeing fit to leave no breather between tracks, jumping from the last line of "Lord of Hate" ("Prepare to meet thy god") into the aggro-punk riffing of "Sonic Beatdown". Opening track "Lord of Hate" follows the same vibe as "Thrown to the Wolves" (from The Art of Dying), giving an acoustic intro before pounding its way around the most thrash-oriented track on the album. Yet while "Thrown to the Wolves" is very much balls out thrash metal, "Lord of Hate" merely gives a thrash metal taste for the pallet, while touching on punk and rock grooves, leaving some nice big melodic gaps in the chorus for vocalist Mark Osegueda. "Sonic Beatdown" is like a modern Motörhead, or at least if Motörhead were to start up today while mixing in some modern influences. Songs like "Dethroned", "Soulless", and "Buried Alive" are built around big, solid rock grooves, of course each sounding quite different. Where "Soulless" takes a much more melodic, laidback approach, "Dethroned" takes a harder, ballsier feeling (good solo too), and "Buried Alive" just rides the groove until taking a very sharp and unexpected turn just before the three minute mark and ends the song on a thrash metal note.
The pairing of "When Worlds Collide" and "God vs. God" nearing the end of the album is impeccable. "When Worlds Collide" comes across as a very sing-a-long type song, especially during the gang chorus, and the faster, up beat, yet very "rock and roll" feeling sits well to oppose the oppressive build-up in "God vs. God" that only gives way to the explosion of screaming and unnerving melodies. The album ends with the rock and roll of "Steal the Crown", a very simple, straightforward rock track that heavies up and doubles up on the riffing before giving nothing but cymbal crashes and simple guitar chords, before giving the epic "Resurrection Machine" a chance to breathe for the end of the album. Mid-paced, and opening with acoustic guitars, "Resurrection Machine" takes on a very sinister vibe, double bass picking up later on but this is all juxtaposed with a very melodic chorus as well as an acoustic and jammy mid-section.
Like it or not, Death Angel have moved on, whether you haven't or not it doesn't change the fact that this band still has it in them to play good, heavy music that doesn't have to be one thing or another. They inject enough variety that things don't get old, they inject enough melody that things stay catchy, and they inject enough anger that it's still the heavy metal we all know and love.
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