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The Dream Calls For Blood

Nuclear Blast (2013)
Rating: 8.5/10

Now this is some serious thrash metal. Any self-confessed fan of real thrash metal will no doubt know who Death Angel is; a band responsible for some of the greatest ever thrash releases, namely The Ultra-Violence (1987), Frolic Through The Park (1988) and Act III (1990).

These San Francisco Bay Area thrashers weren’t content with churning out that recognisable crunch – far from it. In fact, these guys should have been part of that “Big Four” invasion. Fate prevented such success however, and so over the course of a few decades these guys have had to slowly but surely find their feet again.

It’s hard to believe these guys were rarely into puberty when their debut record emerged in 1987. The Ultra-Violence just blew the competition away, while on Act III they had the gift to create a ballad as stirring as ‘A Room With A View’. Over the last decade Death Angel has felt the need to batter us again, resulting in three solid albums – The Art Of Dying (2004), Killing Season (2008) and Relentless Retribution (2010) – all of which were received well, despite not boasting all the original members.

The Dream Calls For Blood is Death Angel’s seventh full-length studio album and harbours the ferocious vocal sneer of Mark Osegueda, who has been with the band from day one. Osegueda is aided by the fret-master Rob Cavestany, who is accompanied on guitars by Ted Aguilar, with Damien Sisson (bass) and Will Carroll (drums) responsible for those hectic rhythms of dread.

Any Death Angel release gets me excited, and each time I’m never disappointed, immediately finding myself wrapped up in those timeless thrash master classes. This time round the quintet introduce themselves via the manic rattling of ‘Left For Dead’, a rampant thrash workout that separates itself from the countless imitators by way of sheer know-how and devilish melody, made all the more formidable by some of the best guitar playing you’ll hear this side of the 1980s.

Death Angel have always been a breath of fresh air, evolving with their sound but never once letting up in their energy. As those solos flail and drums race we know we’re in for a real treat here. The panic sets in as ‘Son Of The Morning’ pummels, which once again features some killer guitar work. This masterful display continues with the drum-lead assault and battery of ‘Fallen’, and the chugging rattle of the title track. This brace of tracks is simple proof that Death Angel rules the thrash scene, combining those Slayer-esque attacks with their own distinct magical melodies.

The militant chug of ‘Succubus’ is a formidable stomp to the ribcage, while ‘Detonate’ begins by suggesting a hard rock melody and distant echo of gunfire, before it lays waste with effortless melody, and this is why Death Angel impressed yet also bemused so many.

Despite being a hardened thrash band nowadays, Death Angel were never afraid to experiment with their sound, with past releases embedding a funky, punky and progressive quality. And while The Dream Calls For Blood is more of a straight-laced record, a track such as ‘Detonate’ combines several of those qualities, especially with those harmonious structures and effortless vocals which slip between choppy raps, melodic strains and thrashy rasps.

Elsewhere, the band showcases their punk-fuelled edge with the chaotic noise of ‘Empty’, and yet album closer ‘Territorial Instinct / Bloodlust’ provides a progressive edge with those jarring arrangements, double vocal attack and clever lyrics.

The Dream Calls For Blood is a killer record from a band who refuse to die. The boys are back, and it’d take a brave and extremely stupid person to attempt to stop this wild river flowing into town.

Neil Arnold

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