Bay Area Thrash legends Death Angel return once again after three years releasing their latest record Humanicide out on Nuclear Blast records. Ever since the band made a comeback in 2004 with The Art Of Dying after a whole decade, it was a triumphant return; a return that would go on to be incredibly worthwhile and one that was here to stay for many records and touring cycles to come.
On the band’s ninth studio album, fourth album with the most current lineup and same producer/production team, and the third and final album in what the band calls the “wolf trilogy”, they still have a lot to say and continue to push the boundaries of their sound and capabilities as players and musicians. With this lineup (the first album being on Relentless Retribution in 2010), they prove once again that they’re an undeniable force to be reckoned with that have come for blood, pun most definitely intended.
Songs like the title track “Humanicide”, “Alive and Screaming,” “The Pack,” and “Ghost of Me” (one of my favorites) show Death Angel’s thrashy fury that they’ve displayed on the last three to four records or so. However, with songs like “Divine Defector,” “Aggressor,” and “Of Rats and Men,” the band is taking steps into territories that they haven’t been before or maybe haven’t dabbled in too much and it’s exciting. “Divine Defector” probably being the greatest example of this; it’s easily the most aggressive and heaviest the band has ever sounded on a record to date and almost sees the group go into death/black metal territory. This song is just pure anger, and I love it.
While usually on the last few records the band has been playing at adrenaline infused tempos that have since proven to work in their favor, especially in the live setting, there are also moments in Humanicide where they’re not afraid to slow things down with songs like “Revelation Song.” It gives off a real strong Dio vibe, which is something the band has been showing more influence from in more recent outings. This one I wasn’t so sure about at first, but then it grew on me, simply because it’s a bit of an earworm.
There are also moments in Humanicide where they hark back to earlier records. Like for instance, “Immortal Behated” and even the aforementioned “Revelation Song” remind me of tracks that could’ve been taken off of Killing Season (2008), and the punky “I Came For Blood” reminds me of something that could’ve come off of The Art Of Dying. “The Pack,” while being more in line with what they’re doing in modern day, has moments in it where it reminds me of Act III (1990), specifically with the background vocals in the chorus. This aspect of the record is cool because it shows that Death Angel are still aware of where they came from and have no problems showing the multiple faces they’ve unveiled throughout their career.
Admittedly, this record took a few more listens for me to take in completely, and I would wager that is probably the case for most who’ve listened so far. However, I think that gives this album a bit of its edge and ultimately makes it a more rewarding listen as time goes on. Obviously, there is still quite a fair amount of familiar sounds we’ve been hearing on the last few records. But I’ve been noticing the band getting to the point with this lineup where they’re starting to take in some different paths and bring back that versatility that they were known for when they were a much younger band. There’s no denying that Death Angel has stepped up their heaviness and aggressiveness, but this is probably one of the most versatile albums they’ve put out in a while. It serves as a nice change of pace because I was starting to become a bit concerned around the time they put out their last record The Evil Divide (2016). I feared that they were going to start honing it in and be on autopilot. Fortunately, Death Angel has proved once again that they’re not ones to keep it too redundant, while also still wanting to capitalize on the elements that have been giving them the much-deserved fire and relevancy they’ve needed to forge within the musical climate of the last decade.
I Came For Blood
Ghost Of Me