Death Angel – Humanicide review

Bay area thrashers’ rapturous return 9/10Colour band photo of Death Angel. The band are stood in a dark room backlit with green and purple lights. They all look naturally posed, calm, not relaxed nor threatening. Four of the band members are dressed all in black, two in hoodies, two in black leather jackets. The fifth member wears blue jeans and a grey top. All of them have long hair, some of them sport goatees.

Bay area thrash stalwarts Death Angel initially formed in 1982, was a somewhat family affair formed between siblings and cousins, with second cousin Mark Osegueda joining on vocals in 1984. Their debut album The Ultra-Violence which hit the streets in 1987 consolidated their fanbase while the members were still under twenty years old! In the early 90’s a tour bus accident saw their drummer Andy Galeon seriously injured resulting in them being replaced by Alice In Chains for the Slayer/ Megadeth/ Anthrax Clash of the Titans tour and their support slot with Judas Priest went to Pantera. Reforming following the departure of Osegueda as The Organization, with guitarist Rob Cavestany taking up vocal duty it wasn’t until 1998 that the three core members were reunited, forming Swarm. This in turn led to a full reunion for Thrash of the Titans in 2001, a cancer benefit show for Testament’s Chuck Billy.

2019 sees the band return with their ninth album Humanicide with their lineup unchanged since 2010’s Relentless Retribution and their music and energy is as fresh as it has ever been. Adhering to their thrash roots, with speedy and complex arrangements but with new and unexpected surprises to delight the pack (as the fanbase is affectionately known).

The title itself describes a plain in which humans, after generations of violence, regression, and hate, have finally extinguished themselves into dust. The wasteland they left behind is populated only by those creatures that passionately depend on their pack for survival: the wolves. Gnashing their teeth and struggling to survive in an abandoned world, the wolves are back and galloping fiercely across the cover of the album. Adorned in the war skins of their enemies and the creatures they’ve killed together in order to survive, the powerful messages of the songs can be seen in Brent Elliott White’s fantastic piece of art.

 The album was mixed and recorded by Jason Suecof of Audiohammer Studios and mastered by Ted Jensen of Sterling Sound for the fourth time in a row. Providing a crisp and controlled spin on a traditional genre, the band has said of Suecof  “We love the sound he gets. With his style of production and our organic style of thrash… that marriage [is] visceral. He’s very contemporary, but still raw,” explains Osegueda, and “he pulls the heavy out,” Cavestany affirms.

Humanicide and a return to communal survival in capitalistic society is the overarching theme. The title track (and first single) launches the album bombastically, with fast paced guitar and drumwork and a triumphant breakdown. The harsh vocals of Osegueda sound as sprightly as the music

“I wanted to write something that metal fans could really grasp onto. Something dark and intense, that still makes sense. Right now I think it’s so apparent that the earth is in a sickened state.”

You can check out the lead single here:

Divine Defector continues the frenetic pace with darker tones and even greater aggression. The shredding is mesmeric and the wailing sublime. Aggressor commences cleverly, exquisitely, melodically and melancholically before hitting that old school heaviness of Death Angel. Empowering and uplifting while incorporating newer elements (including restraint!)

I Came For Blood is has a punkier and thrashier metal vibe and it’s insanely catchy with a bass line to rival Lemmy at his finest. It’s a riotous and exhilarating delight.

“It’s about the power of music and how the right something gives you that feel; that me against the world ideal. You have to be willing to fight for your beliefs, and take no prisoners when pursuing your dreams!”

Dark awakenings and an ethereal ambience delicately opens the intensely paced Immortal Behated. The tension increases with spacey effects for a heavily atmospheric and thoughtful track which even incorporates piano! Moody, but invigorating and packing a weighty punch it’s incredibly impressive. Alive And Screaming ups the pace once more, after the previous brief respite. It’s a call back to old school thrash with a strong groove. The rhythmical pulsing and primal percussive rhythm continues for the enchanting and anthemic The Pack. Gang chants and shouts, unite in an epic tribute to both Death Angel fans and heavy metal in general.

Ghost Of Me
is an emphatically upbeat vintage styled thrasher to get the adrenaline pumping.

Revelation Song opens with a slightly sleazier groove, a full blown swaggering intent. Taking no prisoners with an track packed with attitude and leaning towards a more diverse audience.

 Of Rats And Men with its glorious harmonies and hard hitting riffs and lyrics is an exciting track seething with the thrill of danger. The guitarwork is intoxicating, do not attempt to drive or operate heavy machinery while consuming this album!

This album is thrilling from beginning to end, the talent displayed is staggering but with the solidity and verve of a true band.

Death Angel designed Humanicide not just for listening pleasure but to awaken the mind and fuel positive ideals. In a world where societal pain is often times too great to stand, the most potent defence we have is to hold fast to our convictions, defend the weak, and open our minds to sensibilities that will be the true key to our survival in this era of the damned.

Humanicide is out now and available to purchase here

Tracklist:

  1. Humanicide
  2. Divine Defector
  3. Aggressor
  4. I Came For Blood
  5. Immortal Behated
  6. Alive And Screaming
  7. The Pack
  8. Ghost Of Me
  9. Revelation Song
  10. Of Rats And Men

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