Sunday, 10 November 2013

Review; Death Angel - The Dream Calls For Blood

Track Listing:

1. Left For Dead
2. Son Of The Morning
3. Fallen
4. The Dream Calls For Blood
5. Succubus
6. Execution / Don't Save Me
7. Caster Of Shame
8. Detonate
9. Empty
10. Territorial Instinct / Bloodlust

Death Angel are one of many 80's Thrash Metal bands that have been party to the genre's revival in the 21st century after having reformed in 2001. Great albums and touring have seen them garner a lot of respect and a new generation of fans, and some could argue that this chapter in the bands history has been more successful than their past was. So far, none could argue that their 2008 album 'Killing Season' has been the greatest since their resurrection, but I was keen to see how this latest effort stood up.

A rather tense clean guitar passage gives way to the pure Thrash attack of 'Left For Dead' that we expect from Death Angel, and my hopes are raised. Always having been one of the somewhat more musically flamboyant bands of the Thrash Metal scene, at least compared to others such as Exodus or Vio-Lence, this edge is still with them. Mark Osegueda's vocals straddle the line between screams and singing with brilliant effect. The album is off to a great start, and the momentum keeps going with 'Son Of The Morning', no doubt a highlight track on the record. The intricate riff sits well between Mark's vocals and Will Carroll's great drumming. One great thing about Death Angel has always been that they're a band that have as many sing-along moments as they have mosh moments. The chorus to 'Son Of The Morning' is one of these, as is the bridge before Rob Cavestany's typically great guitar solo.

If it turns out that by the time 'Fallen' hits your ears you haven't managed to figure out how any Death Angel record goes, you need a slap. There's no frills with this band, which is perhaps they're biggest draw in my opinion. If you want no-bullshit Thrash Metal, you're in the right place. For those who like their metal more experimental, I'd suggest looking elsewhere. 'Fallen' is another great track, though, for those who love old school Thrash. Mark's vocal talents shine through more as the song goes on.

The title track is a tribute to the band's trials and tribulations that have seen them get where they are, while being a sniping shot at poseurs and naysayers. It's also the finest and most furious song on the album. The pace behind the band's riffs never gives up, and the conviction is prevalent here more than anywhere in their back catalogue. 'Succubus' comes across as a fuck-you song to some controlling or overbearing woman or another, no doubt a subject that has been explored countless times before. A good song nonetheless, and yet another of Rob's great guitar solos. Second guitarist Ted Aguilar's rhythm chops are delivered in impressive fashion, keeping the songs from losing their footing as Cavestany breaks out those leads rather wildly.

Enter the acoustic guitar on 'Execution / Don't Save Me'. A melancholy passage is exaggerated by a mournful electric lead over the top of it that then gives way to the Thrashy goodness. The riffs that come out of this song hit like machine-gun fire. Mark Osegueda's vocal delivery never falters and the chorus has the kind of hook that is primed for the band's relentless touring. 'Caster Of Shame' is punchy and concise; yet another good song, but at this point in the album, some listeners could end up suffering from a short attention span. Thrash Metal has never been the stomping ground of progressive music, give or take a few albums. As such, Thrash die-hards like myself will always love it, but a casual listener may have grown weary by now.

That said; the intro to 'Detonate' has a very surprising grandeur that does defy Thrash tradition, so persistent listeners are rewarded by this song. The song does of course go straight into what the band does best, including a few almost Slayer-esque riffs, especially the triplets after the chorus. The chaos that ensues during the guitar solo may also please Slayer fans. Mark's vocals reach new screeching heights right at the end of the song. Another definite strong point on the record. 'Empty' is anything but. It's the obligatory bleak song that gives a negative spin on the world around us. Not exactly original, derivative perhaps, but I wouldn't go as far as to call it filler. The music is still standout and the ability on show, particularly in the short bass solo, is still at Death Angel standard.

Another acoustic intro for 'Territorial Instinct / Bloodlust', and another set of leads that haunt the space around it. As the song begins to take real form, there is a truly memorable lead that shows just how underrated a guitarist Rob Cavestany is. Harmonies on the vocals at select points give the song a sneering, sinister edge to it. The song's lyrical content seems to coincide with the image of blood-soaked wolves on the album artwork.

The tail end of the song, and thus the album, blisters away with instrumental prowess that once again grab you by the skull until you realise just how good these guys are at their craft. That's perhaps what this record puts across most successfully; Death Angel have a great deal of experience behind them. Is their music overly original? No, but many people wont let that trouble them. Nobody could possibly try and tell them what a Death Angel album should be; when they deliver one, they do so with striking proficiency. 'The Dream Calls For Blood' is no exception, and to my ears it stands up to their youthful efforts such as 'The Ultra-Violence' and their more recent masterstroke 'Killing Season' with relative ease.

Rating: 8/10

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