Death Angel - Humanicide - (6/10)
Published on August 7, 2019
Here comes another among the old guard of thrash metal that have been on something of a winning streak recently. Alongside Flotsam & Jetsam, Overkill, Testament and many others, the San Franciscans of Death Angel have released a whole slew of great records since reforming in 2001. The good news is that, being probably the youngest of the veteran thrash acts, Death Angel look set to keep headbanging for years to come. 2016’s The Evil Divide was a tour de force of vicious speed metal which seemed to hit every thrash fan’s collective G spot – therefore I was naturally excited about the inevitable conclusion to the trilogy of albums. The Dream Calls For Blood was grand; The Evil Divide was an all-out assault; now what does newbie Humanicide do?
In reality, not all that much. Generally speaking, this is a messy album with layers missing and a length that drags, despite being shorter than TDCFB. It’s difficult to identify, but there really is a certain X factor that’s absent on Humanicide, making it more of a chore to listen to all the way through. What is certain is that the production quality is noticeably thinner than on the previous opus. Guitars don’t pack as much of a punch, the bass is nowhere near as crunchy, and drums are a tad on the flat side. Thankfully, Osegueda’s voice is still as youthful and sneery as ever. He rules the roost on this album, deftly switching from rough barks to a more melodic tone such as on more sonorous numbers like “Revelation Song”. Speaking of that track, it’s probably one of the more ‘cutting room floor’ songs on the disc – being void of vibrancy and dragging on for far too long.
Humanicide shines on its first three songs. The opening title-track heralds us in with a grandiose intro before slashing our faces with a great thrash riff; “Divine Defector” has a cool mix of extreme irregular groove and extreme speed with some blast-beats here and there and a weird chunky riff under the solo section; then “Aggressor” is an all-out thrash monster with the best riff and shout-along chorus on the record. This is followed by the more punk-influenced “I Came For Blood” – sure, it’s full of attitude and velocity, but the more treble-based riffwork is a step down from the power of the first three songs. After this, the LP gets a little hazy for me. The extended piano outro to “Immortal Behated” is completely unnecessary and has me sleeping before the awesome riff set of “Alive & Screaming” can perk me back up again.
“The Pack” is one of those great mid-paced thrash marches containing a beastly performance from Osegueda. However, the last group of songs really blend into one and my attention completely erodes over their course. Maybe it’s the fact that The Evil Divide made such an impact and hit like a sledgehammer that makes Humanicide feel like a moderate letdown in comparison. The solo sections are all blazing and pretty much flawless; there are some fabulous riffs sprinkled across the whole 48 minutes; Mark’s screams and barks drive the whole momentum…but there’s just a magic element missing that isn’t letting this one gel for me.