Three decades into their celebrated career, Death Angel remain as hungry as ever.
As a result, uncompromising urgency and unpredictability define the Bay Area thrash quintet's eighth full-length album, The Evil Divide [Nuclear Blast]. The group-Mark Osegueda [vocals], Rob Cavestany [lead guitar], Ted Aguilar [guitar], Will Carroll [drums], and Damien Sisson [bass]-satiate the appetite for buzzsaw speed riffs, double bass mayhem, and scorching vocals over the course of ten new anthems.
"I want every record of ours to always sound fucking hungry and desperate," declares Mark. "An injured animal is a dangerous fucking animal. We feel that. We're always striving for more and put everything into it until our bodies give out."
"We know who we are," adds Rob. "We're dedicated to this sound for both the fans and ourselves."
In order to siphon that energy, the group re-teamed with producer Jason Suecof [Trivium, Deicide] for the third album in a row. They traded Northern California for Suecof's Florida stronghold, Audio Hammer Studios, during two months in the fall of 2015. Following three consecutive records together, this lineup gelled more than ever while recording.
"You could feel it," continues Rob. "Everything was so much smoother in all regards. We progressed as a unit, and we all got on the same page pretty quickly. It makes recording and playing even more fun."
"We're collectively focused," says Mark. "Rob and I have grown a lot as songwriters, and the entire band is tighter than ever. We knew what to expect sonically with Jason, but we wanted to push things in a different direction. The production and drum, bass, and guitar tones are more organic. He's got such a great ear and nailed it. It's like we confidently hit our stride."
The first single "Lost" intersects a hypnotically haunting refrain with a chugging percussive groove, dropping the melody like a guillotine between fret-burning leads.
"Everybody feels lost at some point in their lives," explains Mark. "It's that sense of self-awareness or lack thereof that comes through in the lyrics. No one's immune to it. That time can be a fleeting week or a matter of years where you don't know what's going on. Music is a way to get it out and a vessel to vent. It's a universal thing." Opener "The Moth" whips from a galloping guitar death march into a battle-cry. Boasting a lyrical contribution from Rob, it name checks the album title in the chorus.
"Mark really breathes life into what I wrote," says Rob. "We have a great time collaborating and bouncing ideas off each other."
"The world is in such an odd state," sighs Mark. "There's always division, but these days it's wild. People are attacking each other for no reason. That's why I love metal. It's an amazing community, and people get into it for no other reason but the passion for music. It's the one thing we can retreat to."
"Cause for Alarm" volleys between a crossfire of six-string prowess, while "Father of Lies" closes on a haunting acoustic outro, illuminating the music's expanse and declaring another creative victory for the group.
The Evil Divide stands out as the culmination of thirty-plus years of music for Death Angel. It kicked off with legendary debut, The Ultra-Violence, in 1987. The classic Frolic Through The Park began to cement their legacy and even earned the distinction of landing on Loudwire's list of the "Top Ten Thrash Albums NOT Released by The Big 4." The group broke up following 1990's Act III only to reunite in 2004 on Art of Dying for the next generation. A powerful trifecta followed. In 2010, Relentless Retribution boasted a cameo from virtuosos Rodrigo y Gabriela, while 2013's The Dream Calls For Blood bowed at #72 on the Billboard Top 200, selling 5,400 copies first-week and earning the group's first-ever entry onto that respective chart. Beyond continued public praise from the likes of James Hetfield of Metallica and Robb Flynn of Machine Head, the band's music has popped up everywhere from Carl's Jr. commercials to Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III. Their fire burns brighter than ever in 2016.
"If you're a casual fan, I hope you really get it on this album," Mark leaves off. "If you've been with us since the beginning, I want you to see we aren't messing around. We're still Death Angel."
1. The Moth
2. Cause For Alarm
4. Father Of Lies
5. Hell To Pay
6. It Can't Be This
7. Hatred United, United Hate
9. The Electric Cell
10. Let The Pieces Fall