Death Angel - The Evil Divide (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Death Angel

The Evil Divide (2016)

Nuclear Blast America

In the 1980’s, California’s Bay Area was ground zero for thrash metal. Exodus, Testament and later Metallica all called it home. One of the more overlooked and underrated bands from that scene is Death Angel, originally formed in 1982 by guitarist Rob Cavestany. The classic lineup would eventually consist of five cousins, all of Filipino descent. Their 1987 debut LP The Ultra-Violence is considered a masterpiece of the genre. Some bad luck and a lack of commercial success led Death Angel split up in 1991. They reformed a decade later for a one off benefit show for Testament singer Chuck Billy, who was suffering from cancer at the time. They were so well received that they’re still at it 15 years later.

The Evil Divide is the band’s 8th studio album overall, and 5th since reforming. In 2016, only Cavestany and singer Mark Osegueda remain from the vintage version of Death Angel. The two of them certainly prove that they’ve still got a passion for thrashin’. Musically it’s similar to Exodus, and also seems to owe a debt to East Coast contemporaries Anthrax and Overkill. It’s fast and precise with great riffs and plenty of ripping solos. Osegueda has a voice that can reach up and hit the high notes, but he also sometimes uses a hardcore type shout. (Think DRI or Madball.) Lyrically it’s also along the lines of Exodus and Overkill. There’s songs about self-empowerment and lots of scary metal themes about good and evil etc…

All ten of the tracks on The Evil Divide are really solid. Opener “The Moth” is fast and precise and quite melodic. It inspired the LP’s title as well as its cool Silence of the Lambs-esque cover art. Closer “Let The Pieces Fall” is the album’s longest and most musically ambitious. “It Can’t Be This” is one of the record’s strongest songs and is a good example of the more hardcore vocal approach. Other personal favorites include “Lost”, “Father of Lies” and “Breakaway”.

For those of you keeping track at home, 2016 is shaping up to be a great year for classic thrash. We’ve already gotten outstanding new albums from Anthrax and Megadeth, and even a killer new EP from DRI. Soon we will have very promising sounding new LP’s from Metallica and Testament. You can add The Evil Divide to the list of this year’s essential thrash releases. I’ve been a fan of this music since its first wave, but never really listened to Death Angel. Hearing this album definitely makes me want to go and dig into their back catalogue.