Death Angel sat out the entirety of the 90’s, and a result they never majorly put a foot wrong. While “The Big 4” were releasing albums like Risk, Reload and Diabolus In Musica, Death Angel never had the opportunity to make a similar severe mis-step. The question remains, had the Bay Area quintet been active at the time, would they have attempted to churn out a more commercial sound? It’s a hypothetical question, but I personally believe the answer would be no.
Since returning in 2001, Death Angel have released a string of incredible albums. Though Killing Season might not have been the greatest of their career, The Dream Calls For Blood and The Evil Divide more than made up for it. With the release of Humanicide, the band go even further towards proving that they are the logical heirs to Slayers throne after that bands retirement.
The album opens with the first single and title track, Humanicide. It’s a fast paced slab of thrash metal perfection – possibly the fastest of the album. Relentless in its delivery, never letting up an inch. Continuing on through Divine Defector, Death Angel ups the anti in the anger department, delivering blackened riffage, a barrage of blast beats and vocals that really cut through as they snarl at you.
Aggressor is an album highlight. Capitalising on the bands thrash metal roots, but bringing in a healthy and welcome dose of modern ideas. I Came For Blood borders on punk rock – lightning fast with a real scaled back production, while Immortal Behated is moody, and somewhat more laid back, relying on crunchy guitar riffs, and some great lead work.
Alive and Screaming demonstrates the thrash metal roots that Death Angel cut their teeth on – another highlight. The Pack features impressive gang vocals, trademark riffing and some fantastic screams/yells from vocalist Mark Osegueda.
Ghost of Me is aggressive, Revelation Song is a little more hard rock than metal – and ultimately falls short of the mark, Of Rats and Men is another moody song, not bad by any means, but definitely overshadowed by the stronger tracks from earlier in the album.
Album closer, The Day I Walked Away, suffers from its use of almost spoken word vocals in the verses, but does redeem itself in the choruses. Again, not as strong as earlier tracks, and leaves the album on a low.
Humanicide starts off strong, never faltering for its first seven tracks, but does sail off course for its final four numbers. Those four tracks aren’t bad enough to destroy the overall experience of the album though, and certainly don’t change my earlier claim of Death Angel being the logical heir to Slayers soon to be vacant throne.
Review by Shayne McGowan