Fast and furious anthems, dark mid-tempo songs, austere lyrics and endless stamina. This is how high-quality Thrash Metal should always be done.
1. beat (a person or animal) repeatedly and violently with a stick or whip.
“she thrashed him across the head and shoulders”
1. a violent or noisy movement, typically involving hitting something repeatedly.
“the thrash of the waves”
2. a style of fast, loud, harsh-sounding rock music, combining elements of punk and heavy metal.
In case you didn’t know the meaning of the word “thrash”, this is the official definition of both the verb and the noun for you to memorize anytime someone asks you why Thrash Metal has such a peculiar name. However, if this is too much for you to remember during a conversation (or if you’re too drunk to make long and complex sentences), simply keep two words in mind, those being Death Angel, and it will be extremely easy for you to explain exactly what Thrash Metal is all about. Those thrash metallers from Daly City, the largest city in San Mateo County, California, in the United States, might have gone through several line-up changes and a huge hiatus during the 90’s, but after their resurrection in 2001 they have been delivering nothing but top-notch heavy music to the world.
After the release of the excellent The Dream Calls for Blood, in 2013, one of the key bands in the Bay Area Thrash movement of the 80’s returns at full force in 2016 with their eighth studio album, the also amazing The Evil Divide. Featuring a distinct artwork by American tattoo artist Bob Tyrrell, The Evil Divide is a feast of fast and furious Thrash Metal anthems, dark mid-tempo songs, austere lyrics and, of course, flawless performances by all band members, especially frontman Mark Osegueda who displays a wider-than-usual vocal range throughout the entire album, providing a special taste to each one of the ten songs masterfully played by the band, turning The Evil Divide into one of the best albums of the year and a must-have for lovers of old school Thrash Metal.
Get yourself ready for a high-octane onslaught, because the opening track, named The Moth, offers those piercing riffs and overpowering drums we truly love in this type of music, being melodic and polished but keeping the overall violence at a high level. Moreover, as already mentioned, Mark Osegueda is getting more demonic (and consequently more awesome) through the years, bringing more dynamism to Death Angel’s musicality. Right after that solid start, the sick bass lines by Damien Sisson kick off the circle pit-generator Cause for Alarm, where guest guitarist Jason Suecof (Charred Walls of the Damned) fires an amazing solo while drummer Will Carroll paves a path of devastation behind his drum kit. Honestly, there’s no way a real metalhead can stand still to this hurricane of Thrash Metal.
Then it’s time to slow things down a bit in Lost, a powerful heavy ballad by Death Angel with Mark stealing the spotlight with his passionate performance on vocals, while guitarists Rob Cavestany and Ted Aguilar make sure the band’s aggression keeps burning nonstop through their riffs and solos; followed by Father of Lies, a belligerent Thrash Metal tune that reminds me of the golden years of Bay Area Thrash. All you have to do is grab a beer, slam into the pit and enjoy this excellent song, paying good attention to the outstanding job done on guitars and singing along with the band its catchy and vicious chorus.
In Hell to Pay, not only its lyrics and chorus couldn’t be any thrashier (“Lurid speaker, you toxic feeder / There’s no damage on the way / Selfish user, trust abuser / There will be hell to pay”), but the overall performance of the entire band is superb. Mark leads this sonic havoc with his sharp screams, while the rest of the band keeps “feeding the beast” with all their strength. Holy fuckin’ shit, what an amazing Thrash Metal anthem! And Death Angel keep blasting their fantastic music in It Can’t Be This, another tune to sing along with the band with highlights to the amazing riffs by Rob and Ted, as well as the rumbling bass lines by Damien, which increase the song’s impact on the listener. And there’s still a lot more to come, as Hatred United/United Hate is yet another song born to be a Thrash Metal classic of modern times. Guest guitarist Andreas Kisser (Sepultura) provides an excellent guitar solo that sounds like some of his classic creations from the early days of Sepultura, whereas Mark effectively follows the lines crafted by guitars and drums with his enraged screams.
In Breakaway, an intro keeps growing until the music explodes into cataclysmic Thrash Metal, with pure electricity flowing through all instruments in one of the best tracks of the album. This is an ode to everything we admire in the music by Exodus, Testament, Slayer and so many other icons, bringing forward the speed, melody and heaviness of most classic Thrash Metal anthems. The Electric Cell, with its old school lyrics (“A cold deathly grip on the shovel of greed / You dig a mass unmarked grave / Just know your bones will be the first to lie / At the bottom of the masses betrayed”), is a good exhibit of the endless stamina present in all band members, especially Will who doesn’t seem to know the meaning of the word “soft” while playing drums, before the cutting tune Let the Pieces Fall closes this superb album. It’s heavy and thrilling just like the rest of the album, with the vocal lines by Mark transpiring hatred. Thus, when it’s over you’ll go back to the beginning of the album and start listening to it all over again, and probably repeat that a few (or even a lot) more times until your body collapses due to unstoppable moshing and slamming.
In a nutshell, what Death Angel (or maybe I should call them “Thrash Angel”) offer us in The Evil Divide might not be a revolution in music, but it is exactly how high-quality Thrash Metal should always be done. And that seems to be an easy task for them due to the refined skills of each band member, a good sign of the bright future that lies ahead for the band and also for traditional Thrash Metal without a shadow of a doubt. No one knows if they’ll be able to top what they have achieved with The Dream Calls for Blood and The Evil Divide in recent years, and while we wait for their next release there’s plenty of awe-inspiring metal music from this iconic band in The Evil Divide to keep us banging our heads and raising our horns to the unparalleled and unrelenting sound of Thrash Metal for a good while.
Best moments of the album: Cause for Alarm, Hell to Pay, Hatred United/United Hate and Breakaway.
Worst moments of the album: None.
Released in 2016 Nuclear Blast
1. The Moth 4:38
2. Cause for Alarm (feat. Jason Succof) 3:22
3. Lost 4:57
4. Father of Lies 5:05
5. Hell to Pay 3:12
6. It Can’t Be This 4:16
7. Hatred United/United Hate (feat. Andreas Kisser) 5:17
8. Breakaway 4:01
9. The Electric Cell 4:38
10. Let the Pieces Fall 5:47
CD/DVD Digipak bonus track
11. Wasteland 5:18
Mark Osegueda – vocals
Rob Cavestany – guitar
Ted Aguilar – guitar
Damien Sisson – bass
Will Carroll – drums
Jason Suecof – guitar solo on “Cause for Alarm”
Andreas Kisser – guitar solo on “Hatred United/United Hate”