Death Angel

Picture of Death Angel

The Ultra-Violence

Death Angel - The Ultra-Violence ©1987 Restless
1. Thrashers
2. Evil Priest
3. Voracious Souls
4. Kill As One
5. The Ultra-Violence
6. Mistress of Pain
7. Final Death
8. I.P.F.S.

Death Angel, one of the countless Bay Area thrash metal bands, burst onto the scene in 1987 (after a couple years of playing gigs and recording demos already under their belt) with The Ultra-Violence and managed to garner some attention for the more novel aspects of their band. At the time of the album's release, none of the members of Death Angel were over 20 years old and they were all Filipino-Americans. But even as mere tots (relatively speaking), they demonstrated on this debut that they were already quite capable musicians, albeit still trying to suss out their songwriting strengths. Their name, taken from a comic book, might have implied the band was going to head in a death metal direction, but that never was the case. In fact, singer Mark Osegueda possesses a fairly melodic voice and considerably more tuneful than many of his peers in the thrash metal world. To me, the most notable aspect of Death Angel was the impressive drumming by young Andy Galeon, who I think was around 16 when they recorded this album.

The Ultra-Violence, however, is a somewhat pedestrian effort that only seems better once you consider the youth of the members at the time. It has some slightly clumsy moments, but nowhere nearly as uncomfortable in execution as other bands of the era. The songwriting mostly sounds like they were fully influenced by the scene around them and were basing their style entirely on their peers rather than figuring out how to stand apart from the crowd. In many cases, these songs tend to go on far too long. The title track is a monstrous ten minute affair. But when you consider they were certainly influenced by local favorites Metallica, it's not surprising that they were inspired to always add one minute too much to the songs. The Ultra-Violence is decent and listenable, but not many of the songs really stand out all that much. It's competent but not awe inspiring.

No doubt the novelty factor of young kids releasing a solid, though average, thrash metal record helped gain them some attention at the time. What is more amusing to me is that they probably spent half their teenage years lurking outside of various musical venues in San Francisco due to being under age. I can just picture the guitarists smoking cigarettes outside the door of a venue, trying to decipher what Exodus was doing inside. Needless to say, however they went about learning their craft, it did result in the young band displaying some ability early on. I'm 37 as of this writing and I struggle to play Ramones' songs on bass, so let's just say I take my hat off to their musical talent at such a tender age.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 01/2011

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Death Angel - Act III ©1990 Geffen
1. Seemingly Endless Time
2. Stop
3. Veil Of Deception
4. The Organization
5. Discontinued
6. A Room With A View
7. Stagnant
8. Ex-tc
9. Disturbing The Peace
10. Falling Asleep

After two eager but fairly ho-hum releases, the Bay Area's Death Angel matured quite a bit on their third release and first on a major label. Seemingly poised on the edge of elusive success, Death Angel naturally hit the wall as vocalist Mark Osegueda left the band afterwards. The band continued on with guitarist Rob Cavestany taking over lead vocals and they switched their name to The Organization (one of the songs from Act III). Then they immediately spiralled into complete obscurity. Nevertheless, Death Angel (upcoming reunion efforts not withstanding) left on a pretty good note with Act III.

The first two Death Angel albums were enthusiastic, as many thrash records were, but lacking quite a bit on the songwriting front. Considering the youthfulness of the band at that point, it comes as no surprise. However, Act III finds the band presenting new depth to their music. Bassist Dennis Pepa shows a little slappiness to his playing while the guitars offered something beyond simple thrash riffing. The band also showed they could tackle a more somber approach with the acoustically based "A Room With a View" and "Veil of Deception". The interplay between the musicians, particularly in the rhythm section, is quite solid throughout this record. Morever, the songs are quite memorable. The band had graduated from thrash beginnings into something a bit more intriguing and more singularly identifiable. It is a bit of a shame that the band was unable to follow through with any more releases.

While not exactly a masterpiece of the era, Act III is one of those solid metal records that deserve some attention even today. Between good songwriting and strong musicianship, Death Angel left their mark with a very good record.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 12/2003

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