Death Angel
Relentless Retribution

I’m a huge Death Angel fan, and their last album, Killing Season, was one of my favorites of 2008. So coming into this, I had high expectations. Especially after hearing the various things the band has said in interviews, such as the album being their thrashiest since the debut, or that it was loosely themed around shady situations, scandalous people and all that fun stuff – I figured that should be good inspiration to write a ripping thrash album. So I guess the question is, does it live up to my expectations? Yes and no.

First, I’d like to say that the band was not full of shit when they said it would be their thrashiest album since The Ultra-Violence – I can not contest this, but at the same time, it doesn’t have near the bite that album has. Still, it is a fairly ripping disc. Second, the lyrics are certainly pissed off, for the most part, and match the album title. It’s also well played, and the songwriting is tight.

So what’s the problem you say? Two tracks I just can’t seem to get over. The first of which is “Claws So Deep” which I’m really conflicted about. On one hand, it’s one of the most aggressive songs on the album, and the end features a great guest spot from flamenco guitar wizards Rodrigo y Gabriela, who I’m also a fan of. On the other hand, one of the problems with this track is that guest spot – it feels like an afterthought, as though it was tacked on to the end of the song later on, like they couldn’t figure out what to do with it. It’s a great piece really, and would’ve been fine as a standalone interlude type track, but that’s not the case. Second issue with the song is one specific part of it that features clean vocals. I’m not sure exactly who is doing the vocals here, as I don’t think it’s Mark Osegueda, but I could be wrong, I really do not know. The problem is that the part in question reminds me Matt Heafy of Trivium. There are four lines in a row that all rhyme “er” words; slaughter, daughter, water and hotter – it’s annoying and strongly reminiscent of Heafy’s style, which kinda turns my stomach. It’s also done twice in the song. Ugh.

Moving on, the other track I have issues with is the acoustic track near the end, “Volcanic”. It would have been fine honestly, as I don’t have issues with a well done acoustic track, if it were not for, once again, a single part, or line even – “hate the player, but don’t hate the game” – really? This seems like a serious misfit for a metal band, acoustic song or not. It just rubs me the wrong way. So much so, that I have yet to return to the track, until this review that is. But that’s the beauty of listening to music on a PC or mp3 player – you can edit out all the songs you don’t want to hear from the playlist. Despite this, the tracks, or parts rather, still exist on the album. Maybe I’m just being entirely too picky and jaded as old age creeps up on me.

So as for the rest of the album now that those gripes are out of the way? In short, it fucking rules. Face peeling solos and hard hitting thrash riffs abound. “Truce”, “River of Rapture”, “This Hate”, “Death of the Meek” and “I Chose the Sky” are all fantastic thrash anthems. “Absence of Light” is a great mid-paced respite, and the previously mentioned “This Hate” has some of the catchiest vocal phrasings I’ve ever heard in any thrash song, in both the verses and also in an absolutely infections soaring chorus. It’s also the only song on the album that has that fun, rockin’ kind of vibe that I loved and was so abundant on Killing Season.

So in the end, yes I do quite like the Relentless Retribution, but those two songs leave a foul taste in my mouth, and I can’t quite ignore them. Death Angel are still kicking out quality stuff, despite a couple missteps.

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Written by Larry "Staylow" Owens
October 18th, 2010

Comments

  1. Commented by: Fred Phillips

    You’re getting too picky. >=)

    Seriously, though, I think this is easily their best record since Act III. To me, it blows away the last two “comeback” records, both of which I liked.


  2. Commented by: faust666

    I’ve had this record for a bit, haven’t gotten around to hearing it, gonna remedy that ASAP.

    Good review Cunt Destroyer !!!


  3. Commented by: Blackwater Park

    This album is flat out, full on fucking awesome! I agree that certain parts remind me of Trivium, but thats only because Trivium reminds me of Death Angel. Trivium, despite all the slagging, is a very good band. If they weren’t thrust into the spotlight of the scene crowd, most “TROO” metalheads would probably be singing their praises. And therein is the paradox of Metal culture, it seeks to eschew trends, but in being “anti-trendy”, its actually following its own trend, and is hence inherently trendy too.


  4. Commented by: Dimaension X

    Been getting back into these guys lately (Love the old song “Bored”!) I’ll have to grab this one.

    I also agree that Trivium would be taken more seriously if Matt heafy stopped dressing like such a pansy little Emo-boy. See what happens when you let your sister dress you!


  5. Commented by: Streetready

    To me this is spot on! I have been loving the last CD by those guys, but I have stopped listening to the new one after three spins and for exactly the same reasons. It seems to me that the band wants to “commercialize” their thrash: from the “modern” artwork to the production by the same producer that made Trivium records before to the vocals that in part have this Heafy-feel to them. Maybe they try to lure in the mallthrash crowd a little more, good for them. I dont like those tendencies at all…


  6. Commented by: Evil In U

    Love the album. By the way, Rob sings Volcanic and I’m pretty sure he does those vocals on Claws. There is no guest vocalist listed in the CD booklet.


  7. Commented by: Evil In U

    Oh and my favorite song is definitely Absence of Light. It’s got a nice old-school Metallica vibe going.


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