Relentless Retribution

Death Angel

DEATH ANGEL is one of those bands who, after reuniting, have been getting progressively more […]
By Mike Novak
September 1, 2010
Death Angel- Relentless Retribution album cover

DEATH ANGEL is one of those bands who, after reuniting, have been getting progressively more popular. This is due in part to their touring with a wide variety of Metal acts, tending to lean more towards modern bands, although perhaps in part because their live show is supposedly extremely intense (I've never seen them perform). Also, they have been more successful at melding their classic sound with the sounds of popular Metal trends like Metalcore than others. Perhaps this will be their highest charting album yet (currently that distinction goes to "Frolic Through The Park")?

DEATH ANGEL was formed in 1982, back when the members were just young teenagers (drummer Andy Galeon was only ten or eleven at the time!). They received a lot of publicity when their "Kill as One" demo was produced by Kirk Hammett. They seemed to be ready to lead the 3rd wave of Thrash bands with the ferocious debut "The Ultra Violence," but seemed to taper off with the disappointing (and mostly boring) "Frolic Through The Park." They broke up in the early 90's but reunited in 2001 and have been releasing albums since.

So let us start with the good. Mark Osegueda has really come together as a fine vocalist, especially since his voice has matured in age. He can mix his tough-guy vocals with clean singing and crooning for a surprisingly effective combination. Rob Cavestany and Ted Aguilar open up more on guitar and write some fine solos. "Claws in So Deep" has potential to be the finest song that DEATH ANGEL has written since reunited, but they damper it with 3 minutes of acoustic and classical guitar noodling courtesy of RODRIGO Y GABRIELA tacked on at the end. It ruins the momentum of an otherwise fine song. "Relentless Revolution" and "Truce" are both heavy songs that fans of the post-reunion band will enjoy a lot. "Where They Lay" will doubt be an absolute killer live, perhaps being a great encore piece.

The biggest downside is the tempo. Pretty every track is mid-paced with only a few riffs per song. There is absolutely no thrash here, and what little comes close is watered down to appeal to the masses. Having songs or sections that groove without some intensity to break up the monotony leaves the album with a same feel after a while.

DEATH ANGEL tries to walk a thin line here: they include a few elements of their previous Thrash days to please their older fans while incorporating modern trends (like breakdowns) in order to appeal to a wider audience. Some people will eat this stuff up, but to me it is just another example of the band changing their sound in order to fit in with what is popular. To an extent, this is a commendable trait (we do not need more bands copying AC/DC's formula and writing the same songs album after album) but DEATH ANGEL has changed their sound to fit in with nearly every album that they have released. As a result, musically they lack their own distinctive sound.

What we see here with "Relentless Retribution" is another example proving that good ideas are not enough to make a good album. "Claws in So Deep" could have been such a good (but still not "great") song if it had not been for that acoustic guitar nonsense tacked on at the end. Other songs that show promise are ruined from being watered down to appeal to the masses. I find it hard to recommend this when there have been so many better albums by HEATHEN, OVERKILL and even EXODUS released just in this year.

6 / 10

Had Potential

"Relentless Retribution" Track-listing:
  1. Relentless Revolution
  2. Claws In So Deep
  3. Truce
  4. Into The Arms Of Righteous Anger
  5. River Of Rapture
  6. Absence Of Light
  7. This Hate
  8. Death Of The Meek
  9. Opponents At Sides
  10. I Chose The Sky
  11. Volcanic
  12. Where They Lay
Death Angel Lineup:

Mark Osegueda - Vocals
Ted Aguilar - Guitar
Rob Cavestany - Guitar
Damien Sisson - Bass
Will Carroll - Drums

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