Death Angel – Humanicide (Nuclear Blast)

As Slayer prepare for their final UK show, on the hallowed turf of Donington, a vacancy has arisen to join thrash metal’s Big Four. And if there’s a playoff anytime soon then don’t bet against Death Angel pipping Testament or Exodus for that coveted promotion spot.

At the time Slayer, Metallica, Anthrax and Megadeth had already ascended to major label megastardom, the baby brothers of the Bay Area scene were growing up fast…just not fast enough. 

And when Death Angel were involved in a serious bus crash in 1990 it seemed as if eight years of relentless ambition would count for nothing. Although the band continued to tour third long player Act III, that career-defining accident marked the beginning of the end for one of the most talented bands born out of the burgeoning thrash scene.

Or so it seemed.

Fast forward almost 30 years and Death Angel are six albums into a quite remarkable second coming. Humanicide, the furious follow-up to 2016’s critically acclaimed The Evil Divide, is another glorious lesson in post-thrash power with long-time vocalist Mark Osegueda – overlooked by Anthrax for being ‘too metal’ as the band sought to replace Joey Belladonna in the early 90s – in blistering form.

If Death Angel has always had the capacity for epic storytelling and meandering musicianship then it’s the shortest song here that leaves the longest lasting impression: I Came For Blood has more than a hint of Motörhead running through its breakneck riffs and biting melody. And it’s easy to imagine Osegueda whipping the band’s fans into a frenzy using the call-to-arms chorus as a golden opportunity for a circle pit singalong.

It’s a great place to start but whether you’re into the title track’s pummelling old school intro., six minute-plus Immortal Behated’s joyous juxtaposition of stripped down six stringing and uptempo metal or the classic thrash underpinning The Pack there’s plenty here for everyone.

Death Angel capitalised on their second chance to evolve into the perfect fusion of past and present – frequent nods to the band’s late 80s heyday mix freely with modern metal at its articulate best on one of 2019’s most absorbing releases.