REVIEW: DEATH ANGEL – “Humanicide”
David Byrne wrote in his book How Music Works “Something about music urges us to engage with its larger context, beyond the piece of plastic it came on-it seems to be part of our genetic makeup that we can be so deeply moved by this art form. Music resonates in so many parts of the brain that we can’t conceive of it being an isolated thing.” Creating music that resonates to the core of those who love heavy metal is what Death Angel have done with their masterpiece called Humanicide.
The opening title track screams “I am a metal anthem”. Stadium-sized riffs which are guaranteed to incite fists flying into the air. This tune quickly accelerates setting the tone for much of Humanicide; electric imagery glowing within songs that project the fierce power of metal. Death Angel are at the top of their game on this album and you can feel it.
Once again, Death Angel worked with Jason Suecof at Audiohammer Studios in production and Ted Jensen at Sterling Sound for mastering. This winning combination gives you clear articulation of each musician. In particular, you can hear the nifty fretwork of bassist Damien Sisson which is a treat. Too many metal albums end up losing the bass behind the chugging guitars. Here the unique voice of each player is given an equal punch. Whether it is the brilliant guitars of Rob Cavestany and Ted Aguilar or the driving percussion of Will Carroll, you get it all in spades.
As I’m screaming my head off in the car with Mark Osegueda on “Divine Defector”, I’m sure passersby were thinking “Man, that dude is having a rough day”. Veins bulging and spit flying, I felt the indignant rage that Mark channeled in this song. His voice is razor sharp emanating strength and viciousness. Where other veterans in the metal arena are losing their edge with time, Mark sounds better than ever.
A key feature of Humanicide is the diversity of the songwriting. You get wonderful cascading arpeggios, beautifully heavy chords and a shredding solo on “Aggressor”. Then Death Angel recalls the glory days of speed rock kings such as Motorhead and Saxon on “I Came For Blood”. Turning the page, we enter the haunting chapter of “Immortal Behated”. This mid-paced song features plaintive guitar as bookends for the heavy fist-pumping riffs within. The end offers a frenetic guitar solo that wanders off into somber piano and acoustic guitar.
Heavy metal is known for the loyalty of its fans. This is especially true for fans of Death Angel. The fan club is rabid for all things Death Angel and the band has paid tribute to them with a song called “The Pack”. The tribal beat and pummeling chanting chorus forecast scenes of fans with faces glowing from the house lights and mouth stretched wide open in screams of approval.
One of the most intriguing songs on Humanicide is the bonus track “The Day I Walked Away”. Echoed guitars and spoken lyrics give this song a futuristic Blade Runner feel. You can feel the consuming toxic rain wash away the person you use to be and exposing the carapace of tomorrow’s self. This exquisite song is a marvelous way to wrap up this album. Now flip that bad boy over and give it another spin.
Humanicide by Death Angel is easily a candidate for best album of 2019. I will go further by putting this album into the top 10 all-time metal albums. Death Angel have tenaciously kept the torch of metal music lit through their last four albums culminating in this masterpiece. What every metal fan wants is compelling songwriting that invites you to cleanse your soul in the purifying fire of rage or lose yourself in the space between each note. Death Angel have painted a completely satisfying soundscape of furious music that will enthrall you for life.