Death Angel - Relentless Retribution
Nuclear Blast
Thrash Metal
12 songs (56:40)
Release year: 2010
Death Angel, Nuclear Blast
Reviewed by Goat

Like pretty much every thrash band ever, Death Angel’s latter works have been treated pretty harshly by metalheads in these parts. It’s hard to argue with your average true thrasher when they proclaim that the likes of 1987’s The Ultra-Violence are milestones of excellence in the genre – rediscovering that album the other night has helped get me back into the genre as a whole. But I do take issue with this purist idea that thrash bands have to constantly reproduce their fastest, heaviest, thrashiest output in order to remain of any interest whatsoever. Of all the metallic genres, this is the only one where experimenting with your sound and adding progressive elements is widely frowned upon; either you sound like you did in the late 80s or you fuck right off, seems to be the prevailing philosophy. The only band not held to these ridiculously high standards is Metallica, presumably because we’re so relieved not to be hearing St Anger that we’ll accept faintly pedestrian material like Death Magnetic with joy. Everyone else, either you follow the Tankard/Destruction route and gain applause, or you try and change things up a little, a la Death Angel, and promptly earn yourselves hatred.

Death Angel certainly aren’t helping their case here with that artwork, implying the sort of hellishly brutal attack that breaks necks and fills mosh pits with the blood of children. It’s not like that, in case you weren’t aware! Yet if you enjoyed the past couple of albums from the band, my favourite being the varied and interesting The Art Of Dying, then you’re likely to enjoy Relentless Retribution. Osegueda and co. have always been rather good at inserting non-thrash elements into their music, in my mind – far from the Trivium comparisons that get thrown at them unfairly, there’s more influence audible from the likes of Alice In Chains, giving their music a melodic and melancholic undercurrent that suits it well. That, a good set of songs and a couple of very underrated guitarists in the form of Ted Aguilar and Rob Cavestany, and Relentless Retribution turns out to be a solid album. The opening title track sets the scene, building riffage bursting catchily forth into a classic thrash stomper, complete with gang shouts. A woozily chaotic ending opens the way for the seven-minute Claws In So Deep, starting with a gallop and taking in melodically-sung choruses and technical groove meanderings before ending with a nicely experimental Eastern-tinged appearance from friends Rodrigo Y Gabriela – certainly not what you expect to hear two tracks into a thrash album.

True, it’s hardly anything revolutionary, but still more than enough to make this an enjoyable listen. That thrash itch is certainly scratched, Truce grabbing your attention with some cascading lead work and a typically arresting vocal performance from Osegueda – one of the genre’s best in my opinion. This is one of the heaviest of the post-millenial comeback albums, the aggressive likes of Into The Arms Of Righteous Anger and River Of Rapture being the norm rather than the exception, with plenty of lovely soloing on the latter gaining it especial love from me. Absence Of Light slows things down a little and adds a touch of prog metal melody to the pulsating thrash core, whilst the anthemic This Hate is sure to be a live favourite. Interestingly, if this had Anthrax’s name on it I can see people rapturously declaring it a great comeback from the New Yorkers, but since Death Angel are forever held back by their past glories, the likes of Death On The Meek are dismissed rather than celebrated. True, the band could easily have left the poor ballad Volcanic off the album (which is pushing it at nearly an hour long) but by the time you’ve reached closing track Where They Lay it’s hard to conclude anything but Death Angel are writing very good material even at this stage of their career. A solid and enjoyable album, then, if not one to convince fans of The Ultra-Violence to lay down their arms.

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Killing Songs :
Claws In So Deep, River Of Rapture, This Hate, Death On The Meek, Opponents At Sides, I Choose The Sky, Where They Lay
Goat quoted 75 / 100
Other albums by Death Angel that we have reviewed:
Death Angel - The Dream Calls for Blood reviewed by Goat and quoted 80 / 100
Death Angel - Killing Season reviewed by Marty and quoted 76 / 100
Death Angel - The Ultra-Violence reviewed by Aaron and quoted 88 / 100
Death Angel - The Art of Dying reviewed by Jeff and quoted 80 / 100
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