Death Angel - Humanicide

Death Angel Humanicide cover
Death Angel
Nuclear Blast Records
Although Death Angel moonlighted the mid to late 80s with their particular brand of thrash, which was a tad more adventurous than most of what was on offer at the time, the bad timing of an accident, had em drift apart and disband before the onset of the 90s itself and the change of the music climate would do that to them.
They re-emerged in the early 2000’s for a benefit for the then cancer patient Chuck Billy and having reform even with one of the two Pepa bros involved (the other left a little later) they’ve soldiered on uninterrupted ever since, releasing some fairly solid albums ever since.
“Humanicide” is typical of post millennial Death Angel… solid and “as it should be” bristling with energy and passion. In comparison with a lot of bands that after a brief resurgence seem to have slumped into a “grinding” process, just in order to complete another album, as a preface to a tour, each and every of Death Angel’s releases seem to be purposely created.
Cavestany and Aguilar have forged quite the dynamic duo on guitars and Damien Sisson on bass can be heard amply providing a lot on oomph on the record, on a genre where the bottom end is often minimized and mixed as an afterthought. Will Carroll’s drumming slots in quite nicely, never mudded in the mix and along with the bass providing a mad pulsating grove that threatens to rip your spine out. And of course, there’s Mark Osegueda not quite your typical thrash singer, but a better one than your average, screamer old-school or new inclusive.
While he sounds rather in check on the title track opener “Humanicide”, once “Divine Defector” proceeds a little, he just sounds like a man possessed. Mixing the best of thrash’s classic sound (think Exodus and Testament) with the edgier latter day, streetwise charm of bands that dared to sound quite leftfield, Death Angel manage to avoid being painted in a corner as being “this” or “that” band’s copycats.
“Aggressor”, for instance, drops the speed somewhat getting heavier but keeps on grooving quite hard and includes a pretty cool solo diversifying the album quite a bit.
“I Came for Blood” feels like a nasty Raven meets Motorhead inspired paean and who am I to complain about that fact? I love it in-fact.
“Immortal Behated” is either the smartest or silliest wordplay I’ve heard in a while and while it’s acoustic intro and piano laden outro might throw you off a little, the middle feels like a better sung, more timid Megadeth tune, with some pretty neat soloing going on in there, of course.
Obviously, not put people to sleep a more “traditional” speedier tune is in order and it comes in the form of the nice and pulsating “Alive and Screaming”; that’s one of the better tunes on offer in general. Great solos, smart chorus, nice riff… everything works out great.
“The Pack” is a song dedicated to the fans of the band and is reminiscent of the earlier days of the trash sound, when the lines between speed and heavy metal were blurring and the definitive sound was starting to “manifest”. Great!
“Ghost of Me” tries to pull thing in a rawer but still groovy direction and while it’s not bad, it feels like it’s barely able to keep the momentum going, despite valiantly trying to do so.
“Revelation Song” plods dropping speed even more and despite having an interesting riff that’s pretty cool, also feels unable to pick up the slack.
“Of Rats and Men” is more typical of the experimental style that Death Angel displayed at times in the past and its shape shifting qualities make it interesting enough to keep one from complaining about the apparent lack of punch that it also displays compared to the earlier half of the album.
And “The Day I Walked Away” doesn’t change pace too much as it feels also too concerned with atmosphere and not so much with sounding edgy (which it does at times)… but it’s also a lot more melodic than one would anticipate; its spoken parts give it a haunting quality, and I was reminded a little of how Kreator did something quite similar in “Europe after the Rain”…
Solid and varied enough, “Humanicide” feels like a nice culmination of all the tricks Death Angel have up their sleeves and an album that will likely please longtime fans and newcomers alike.