Those who know me know I am a huge fan of so-called old-school thrash. It was the soundtrack of my adolescence and became the outlet for my teen angst and rebel nature. Among the bands who helped destroy my still developing neck was Death Angel. With that background, you can imagine my excitement when the new release from Death Angel, "The Dream Calls For Blood", came across my desk.
The mere mention of Death Angel brought memories of my "Ultra-Violence" cassette flooding into my brain. Seeing a new release from a band who has been around as long as Death Angel brings mixed feelings. It's nostalgia mixed with trepidation. Could this new album live up to the greatness of their original work? Metal, by it's very nature is fueled by anger and angst and thrash in particular requires a certain amount of energy to be good. It's not something you can fake and you can spot the "posers" straight off. Suffice it to say, I was not disappointed by "The Dream Calls For Blood".
For those who are not familiar with the work of Death Angel, they are a California based band and they are one of THE original thrash bands. I've already mentioned their album "The Ultra-Violence" and they followed that one up with "Frolic Through The Park" which contained the classic "I'm Bored" (do yourself a favor and look it up on YouTube). They then released "Act III" and began to have some success but disappeared around the time of the grunge movement, apparently due to a tour bus crash which left their drummer injured. After more than a decade off the radar Death Angel returned in the new millennium and now they have a brand new album.
"The Dream Calls For Blood" is Death Angel at it's finest. Guitarist and founding member Rob Cavestany provides super-shredding riffs and vocalist Mark Osegueda, who has always had a unique vocal style, brings some serious metal chops to the mix. There are a couple of points on the album where Mark hits notes that are enviable to say the least. Add to that some slamming drums and the classic, Death Angel acoustic guitar intros to some of the heaviest metal around and you have yourself a fantastic album that sounds just like Death Angel should.
Since Death Angel is one of the founding members of thrash I will not go into who they sound like. They sound like Death Angel. Other bands sound like them.
Make no mistake, "The Dream Calls For Blood" is not a "throwback" album. There has been an evolution of sorts. Death Angel has successfully walked the tightrope between staying true to their thrash metal roots and utilizing todays technology (which is SO much better than that of the 80's) to create a new classic album.
While they kept a lot of their classic sound, I was pleased that they were able to upgrade it and incorporate some modern-thrash elements to their new material. I was also happy to hear the addition of some groovier, stomp drum beats without morphing into something less thrashy.
The album kicks off with "Left For Dead" and gets better from there. The themes are familiar - "Fallen", Succubus", "Execution" and so on. This is one of those albums where each song is as good or better than the last. There was not a track I felt could be skipped over which is a rarity these days. And, for my money, the best song is "Empty" - machine gun riffs, gang vocals and a SWEET bass breakdown equals awesome!
The guitar playing is INSANE (as it should be). Death Angel has always had good luck with their hooks and "The Dream Calls For Blood" is no exception. It has been a while but I don't remember the bass sound being so full and so melodic. Lets hear it for bassist Damien Sisson.
It's refreshing to hear a band that has been around as long as Death Angel keep the magic that made them great in the first place and persevere over the long haul. Clearly, this is not an attempt to recapture former glory or to put out an album because it's time. "The Dream Calls For Blood" is high-energy and continues the thrash tradition while staying relevant in the modern day. If you're a long time fan of Death Angel then you'll like this new album. If you're new to Death Angel, this is a good place to start building your collection. I may even have a couple of cassettes you can borrow.