Death Angel was an unusual Bay Area thrash band in many respects. At inception the five Filipino cousins and relatives were all teens with the drummer being only twelve years old! The band had opened for Metallica and consequently Kirk Hammett produced the band's second demo Kill As One in 1985. Hammett’s mother is of Filipino descent. The band also added a dose of Anthrax to the Bay Area regimen and was not kidding when they called their debut The Ultra Violence. A video was shot for Voracious Souls for this album in San Francisco.
Unfortunately, as happens with many bands, they were quick to change styles and released a more subdued (featuring a Kiss cover as well) sophomore outing only a year later. Act III had the sound harden slightly. Fall From Grace was a badly recorded live album that the label released against the wishes of the band to fulfill the term of the contract as the band had called it a day following Osgueda's departure. Additionally 1990 had seen the band, particularly Galeon, involved in an accident in Arizona for whose treatment Bay Area bands like Metallica had played a benefit show.
Almost immediately several of the members formed The Organization, and several others acts, though none garnered much success. The band even played the Dynamo Open Air in 1992 although avoided playing any Death Angel songs. The band had reformed off and on for single shows. The band performed a reunion show in 2002 albeit without Gus Pepa who was not available. He was replaced on stage by Sift guitarist Ted Aguilar. The band also played The Thrash Of The Titans benefit for Chuck Billy and did a string of California dates in November of 2002. The band was touring Europe with Disbelief and Mystic Prophecy in the summer of 2003 when it was announced that it has inked a deal with Nuclear Blast Records.
The band's come-back album The Art Of Dying was released on May 4th, 2004. This album featured Mark back on vocals and a new guitarist called Ted Aguilar. The band announced a tour with The Deftones for later that year. Inexplicably the band's European tour was cancelled. Instead the band announced a US tour with Kreator and Vader for 2005. Restless Records issued a Death Angel CD/video box featuring the band's The Ultra-Violence, Frolic Through The Park albums and some unreleased material in 2005. The package was called Archives & Artifacts. The band’s second Nuclear Blast album was issued in 2008. The band was forced to play its Canadian shows in June of 2008 without bassist Dennis Pepa who was denied entrance to the country. He soon thereafter left Death Angel after playing his farewell show in October at the Grand Ballroom in San Francisco, California. Replacements candidates were to email the band firstname.lastname@example.org. The band didn’t wait though and recruited bassist Sammy Diosdado following the departure of Dennis Pepa. The new man was a former member of The Sick and was in All Time Highs with Mark Osegueda. Five years after its comeback album, The Art Of Dying, the band issued a DVD with two full-length concerts that were filmed in Germany. The DVD was filmed live at Rockhard Festival 2007 and in Adelsheim in 2008 and was packaged with a CD. The group performed the song Chip On Your Shoulder acoustically at Eli's in Oakland, California on April, 24th of 2009. Andrew Galeon soon joined bassist Dennis Pepa by leaving the band. Unsurprisingly, the band wished him and nonetheless had already replaced him by the time the announcement was sent. Will Carroll of Vicious Rumors note joined the band for its summer tour obligations. The Inkos was a new band in 2010 featuring former drummer Andy Galeon. The band made its live debut on Friday, January 29th at Blakes On Telegraph in Berkeley, California.
Death Angel picked Relentless Retribution as the title for its next album, due on September 3rd in Europe and September 14th in the U.S. through Nuclear Blast Records. The CD was recorded at Audiohammer Studio in Sanford, Florida with producer Jason Suecof. In the spring of 2011 Death Angel announced a tour of South East Asia including a date in The Philippines where the original members hailed from. The shows occured in late April and May. Bay Area thrash band Death Angel would release a DVD entitled Death Angel: A Thrashumentary in the spring of 2012. Death Angel: A Thrashumentary was a combination live video and documentary. Dark Tranquillity, Eluveitie, Death Angel and Varg hit Europe under the monicker of the Neckbreaker's Ball Tour 2011 in October and November. Exodus, Heathen and Death Angel were among the bands that played at a celebration for Exodus guitarist Gary Holt and his girlfriend Lisa Perticone's wedding. The event took place on Saturday, September 24th, 2011 at Avalon in Santa Clara, California. Anthrax, Testament and Death Angel would play US concerts in January and February of 2012 beginning in Las Vegas. The bands played the first legs of the show earlier in the autumn of 2011. Original Death Angel guitarist Gus Pepa made an appearance on stage with his former band on February 24th, 2012 at Slim's in San Francisco. The group stated that, "We haven't shared the stage with Gus since 1990!" In 2012, Death Angel was reissuing its debut album, The Ultra-Violence, from 1987 as a 25th-anniversary rerelease. The band was also playing the album in its entirety that summer during its European shows. The band might repeat the same set elsewhere later in the year. Death Angel added shows to its tour with Testament and Anthrax. The group would perform its 1987 debut album, The Ultra-Violence, in its entirety at these shows. Death Angel drummer Will Carroll joined AC/DZ, an AC/DC cover band formed by former Exodus singer Steve "Zetro" Souza. Former Death Angel drummer Andy Galeon joined the San Francisco Bay Area punk rock band The Nerv in 2013. Carrol joined Hammers Of Misfortune as well. In 2014, Spiralarms, featuring Craig Locicero (Forbidden and ex-Manmadegod) on guitar recruited former Death Angel drummer Andy Galeon. While its 2014 European tour had been cancelled Death Angel was still playing at that year’s Hellfest in France. Death Angel was forced to cancel its show at the Metal Against Cancer event on February 28th of 2015 in Georgia as drummer Will Carroll had broken his foot in a domestic accident while taking out the trash! Death Angel would release A Thrashumentary video on July 24th 2015 through Nuclear Blast. The DVD was directed by Tommy Jones of Videohammer Studio. The release would also come with a live album entitled The Bay Calls For Blood. Death Angel would also enter the studio on October 1st to record a new album for an April 2016 release through Nuclear Blast. Death Angel would further release The Bay Calls For Blood - Live In San Francisco on vinyl through Nuclear Blast mail-order on July 24. It was also be packaged digitally on CD with A Thrashumentary. Death Angel later announced The Evil Divide as the title for its next album, which was out on May 27th through Nuclear Blast. The album was recorded at AudioHammer Studio in Sanford, Florida with producer Jason Suecof. Slayer and openers Anthrax and Death Angel toured North America in the autumn of 2016. Testament would tour Europe with Annihilator and Death Angel in the autumn of 2017. Killian On Command: An Evening Of Vio-lence featured musicians from Testament, Exodus, Mordred, Death Angel, Forbidden and Vio-Lence playing only Vio-Lence material. The band existed between 1985 through 1992. The show was a benefit for Vio-Lence singer Sean Killian who was diagnosed with liver Cirrhosis. Overkill, Death Angel and Act Of Defiance were using Wings Over The USA monicker for a USA tour in May 2019. The band released its full-length album Humanicide through Nuclear Blast Records on 31.05.2019. Testament, Exodus and Death Angel announced they would tour Europe together using The Bay Strikes Back 2020 monicker. Drummer Will Carroll was ill with suspected COVID-19 and critically hospitalized. He was soon released from the hospital. Death Angel’s The Enigma Years 1987-1990 was a CD box set featuring The Ultra-Violence, Frolic through the Park, Fall From Grace and “Rarities disc in one wallet in 2020. The debut album would include the band’s Kill As One demo. Death Angel had an EP called Under Pressure in late 2020. It featured both new songs and cover versions. Testament, Exodus and Death Angel announced they would use The Bay Strikes Back monicker to tour the USA in autumn of 2021.
DEATH ANGEL - THE ART OF DYING - NUCLEAR BLAST
How ironic that the album of the reformed and returning Bay Area band Death Angel is called The Art Of Dying. How many bands could actually use the skill and should Death Angel actually be one of them?
The reformed on-and-off thrashers' come-back album kicks off with an inconsequential intro followed by the song Thrown To The Wolves. Judging by the vicious early Exodus-meets-early Megadeth riffing and the forceful vocals these guys are back and are even better than they were just before disbanding. The Art Of Dying takes a nose dive from here on end though. The music ranges from thrash to hard rock to pop rock and even college indie stuff at one point. The thought that occurs to one again and again is how songs like Land Of Blood and Word To The Wise could have been - should have been - tracks on releases by Swarm and The Organization. Those were the bands the Death Angels migrated to after the demise of their thrash metal band and were considerably less heavy than Death Angel. Of course, expecting anything like the band's debut, The Ultra-Violence from 1987, would have been unreasonable, but one would have made do with something resembling 1990's Act III. Then again, this is the same band that went from delivering one of the heaviest and fastest Bay Area thrash albums with its debut to covering Kiss on its follow-up album! Incidentally, the band's biography omits mention of the act's Fall From Grace CD possible because the band dislikes it so much.
The Art Of Dying is not a bad album. It is however a confirmation that the name Death Angel should have remained in retirement instead of being assigned to a listless album like this. - Ali "The Metallian"
DEATH ANGEL - KILLING SEASON - NUCLEAR BLAST
When I was younger, I found it impossible to understand why some bands go through a mellowing process as they age. I mean, when you’re a teenaged metal super-fan, the subtleties, nuances and idiosyncrasies of being an adult don’t really sink in, even if you’re an astute kid who is aware that such concerns exist. As such, and using that teenage mindset, the thought that maybe one day a metal guy, at 35, could just wake up and not have it in him anymore was laughable at best, and a heinous sell-out to be taken personally at worst. So, like, what does all this have to do with Death Angel? Well, Death Angel has taken the seemingly older guys = mellow paradigm and flipped it on its head, delivering what is probably the heaviest record of the group’s career. This kind of aggression later in a band’s trajectory is impressive and Death Angel has written an album that is guns blazing and fists raised, making sure to outdo everyone’s already elevated expectations. The group’s patented thrash is in full effect, and these Californians have remained true to their signature sound while also making full use of the modern range of possibilities available, which is to say that Killing Season’s production values are stellar. Death Angel may not stuff 200 riffs into a record anymore (as the band used to proudly claim), but the songs are better off for it as they stay in coherent-whole territory as opposed to being technical for technical’s sake. And, man, it’s got to be said again: the fact that Death Angel is getting heavier as time goes on is impressive - the band’s energy and vigour (but not some of those remaining late '80s/early '90s vocal and background vocal mannerisms, if we’re going to nitpick) make it sound like Death Angel is merely at the beginning of its journey into the young man’s game known as metal (which is a compliment no doubt). There’s no need to worry about extinguished metal flames here. - David Perri