• ''Juvenile thrash metal spirit at its best'' - A review of Death Angel's ''The Evil Divide''

    Death Angel - The Evil Divide (2016)

    Death Angel's eighth studio release and fifth output since its reformation fifteen years ago proves that American thrash metal is currently experiencing a high-quality revival. ''The Evil Divide'' isn't a far call from the quality of the last outputs of Anthrax, Megadeth and Over Kill. This authentic and refreshing effort would be considered a classic if it had been released three decades earlier and still sounds coherent and dynamic nowadays. The Bay Area quintet sounds as energetic and energizing, hungry and juvenile as they were when they started playing music as teenagers. Each of the ten homogeneous tracks comes around with pissed-off vocals, bumblebee bass guitar sounds, powerful drum patterns, technically well-executed sharp riffs and melodic mid- to up-tempo guitar solos. The only thing to criticize is that some tunes sound quite alike and that this release is lacking diversity and maybe one truly outstanding tune.

    One of the few slightly different tunes on this record is the longing ''Lost'' where Mark Osegueda delivers one of his most diversified vocal performances ever. From soothing melodic parts in the key of classic heavy metal to passionate high-pitched passages that aren't a far call from power metal to his rawer signature style, he sounds spot on throughout the entire track. This tune is probably the softest and catchiest on the album but it still rocks steadily. This track would have been a perfect single choice and is one of the band's most harmonious compositions ever.

    One of my personal highlights on this release is ''Father of Lies'' with its angry dynamics that shift to a more melodic style in the middle part and later on again in the coda where stunningly beautiful acoustic and electric guitar harmonies supported by a distinctive bass sound give a welcome break from the unchained high-speed base of the tune. This track is perfectly balanced and offers some of the greatest song writing in the band's impressive career.

    Another personal favorite is ''The Electric Cell'' that meanders between heavy metal riffs with a slight extreme metal touch and faster thrash metal riffs in a quite epic way. This is probably the most technical, progressive and creative tune on the album. As a cherry on the top of the cake, the middle part introduces short psychedelic sound samples and weird folk chants that lead into one of the best guitar solo sections on the entire album. 

    The diversified and entertaining album closer ''Let the Pieces Fall'' that mixes straighter up-tempo parts and melodic mid-tempo passages with its outstanding guitar play and that also convinces with another enthusiastic vocal performance ends a great record on a high note.

    It's interesting that the best tracks on the record are the ones where the band experiments a little bit more and either sounds more melodic or more progressive than usual. Their traditional thrash metal monsters are still vivid but sometimes exchangeable. The band definitely has the technical capacities to pull off a genre-transcending output which isn't the case for many of their colleagues such as Exodus, Megadeth or Slayer that fail when they try out something different. I hope that Death Angel's song writing will become even more courageous in the future.

    If you need an authentic, powerful and refreshing dose of thrash metal without many distracting experiments, Death Angel's ''The Evil Divide'' is a truly excellent choice even though the band has the potential for more than that. The new songs are also promising enough to make the band's passionate live shows even more intense in the future, so make sure to catch this quintet on tour this autumn.

    Final rating: 80%

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