Death Angel
Killing Season

Not many could have been happier about the return of Bay Area legends Death Angel than me – since I first truly discovered metal and immediately fell in love with thrash, Death Angel has always been a band that really stuck out to me, not miles away from their peers, but truly keeping their own sound and standing out from the pack. If there’s one thing you can count on from them, is that their always gonna give you a high octane thrash album that’s just a bit different, and their latest, Killing Season, is certainly no exception.

While their official ‘comeback’ album, The Art of Dying, wasn’t really what I, or anyone else I would assume expected – light on the thrash, starting strong but gradually losing steam throughout – it was nice to hear new recorded output from them after a 14 recording absence. Now in 2008, that ‘comeback’ album can be viewed as merely a warm up session to the real comeback, Killing Season – a mean slab of rollicking and fun as hell to listen to rock n roll tinged thrash.

Killing Season continues style wise and is the perfect follow up to 1990’s Act III. The best way to describe it I think is to take Act III and streamline it – cut out all the ballads and ‘lighter’ moments (you won’t find any of that here), and give it a nice dosage of heaviness while retaining that dirty rock n roll vibe it had throughout – that’s Killing Season in a nutshell, but there’s more than that. Vocalist Mark Osegueda is the star here, outshining the fantastic riffs and solos of Rob Cavestany and Ted Aguilar with some of the best and most impassioned vocal work I’ve heard on a thrash album. This guy has always been a great vocalist, but he’s only improved over the years, displaying a great range from throaty screams and gritty cleans, to some awesome highs that bring to mind an almost hoarse Bruce Dickinson at times! The way he belts and carries out some notes here really stick with you.

The opening combo of “Lord of Hate” and lead single “Sonic Beatdown” is as thrash as it gets, and really sets the stage for the album. They take things down a step or two for “Dethroned”, which brings that dirty rock n roll sound more to the forefront, but is no less punchy, then come right back into upbeat thrash territory with the almost punky and personal favorite “Carnival Justice”. The next pair of “Buried Alive” and “Soulless” bring things down into a slower, groove based traditional metal sound then hit with a killer, thrashy rocker in “The Noose”. “When Worlds Collide” and “Steal the Crown” are definitely the most gritty and ballsy rock n roll sounding tracks, while “God vs. God” touches on some almost funky sounds. By the time album closer “Resurrection Machine” rolls along, you think “well here’s that slow burning ballad I expected” with it’s misleading intro, but soon unleashes itself as the albums heaviest track, sporting a mid paced stomping groove in the verse offset by a highly memorable layered chorus, and insanely spectacular yet mellow soloing.

I maybe a fanboy, but Killing Season should go down as one of, if not the thrash album of the year simply because it’s got something different to offer than the hordes of new school thrashers and the go for the throat mentality that thrash generally carries with it, and truly pushes the boundaries of thrash without meandering to far from what thrash is all about.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Larry "Staylow" Owens
February 25th, 2008


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