When DEATH ANGEL reunited to release their album “The Art Of Dying” in 2004, I couldn’t have been a happier Metalhead. Despite the mixed reviews of the back catalog I have always been a fan of DEATH ANGEL and have eagerly devoured every release. And since 2004, I have eagerly been awaiting this album. I had very high expectations from DEATH ANGEL and “Killing Season” not only matched them but surpassed them in many ways.
DEATH ANGEL has returned towards a more focused and straightforward Thrash Metal sound with “Killing Season”. There are still moments of some of their funk influence and groovier times but most of this album is straight for your throat. What I really enjoy about this album is that the band resisted to just go back and play 80s Thrash like the trend for newer bands. They still have their signature sound and they keep their Thrash pretty modern and unique. They don’t play the nostalgia card for older fans. That makes this album even more exciting.
Musically, the band is on top of their game. Fun and catchy riffs intermixed with dueling melodies and solos are the main focus of the album but the entire band is playing together with equal ambition and ferocity. Of course you still get some of those funk inspired bass lines (“Carnival Justice” comes to mind for a particularly awesome bass break) and not to mention that the drumming is tight and compliments every other instrument and really drives some of the energy of the album. “Killing Season” will have you headbanging seconds into the first song.
Whether it’s the groove focused riff on “Buried Alive” or the acoustic intro to “Lord Of Hate”, “Killing Season” is full of awesome variety too. There are some super Thrash tracks like “Steal The Crown” and “The Noose” but the band really keeps the sound fresh from song to song and never lets the grip over the listener go. Having the slower parts mixed in allows the listener to breath before it tears off again and really makes every song worth the time spent listening to it (if not a multitude of times). Even vocalist, Mark Osegueda really keeps it fresh. Hitting every vocal for it’s worth from the opening shriek of “Lord Of Hate” to the whisperings of “God Vs. God” he nails everything. It helps they include some kick ass group chants into many of the songs too.
With all the focus that has been placed on Thrash Metal in the last year or two its still nice to see that bands like DEATH ANGEL are still throwing down the with best of them. “Killing Season” isn’t only a great album – it may in fact be their best album to date. It’s catchy. It’s Thrashy. It’s fucking DEATH ANGEL at their best.
Songs to check out: Every one of them.
(Online March 25, 2008)