You’ve heard of the Big Four of thrash metal. Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth, Anthrax. Four names scratched into history without dispute.
Exodus makes five. Many thrash metal fans would name Testament as number six. Not me. I love Testament. But any hypothetical Big Six of thrash is completed by Death Angel.
Death Angel are Bay Area thrash metal royalty, the San Fran Yoof of the original scene. After a decade out of the game they reformed in 2001 and picked up where they left off.
Since then they’ve released six records; the new one, Humanicide, is their ninth in total. Like Exodus they remain undeniably a thrash band. And when an OG thrash act with Death Angel’s track record puts out an album, it’s always going to get my attention.
Humanicide pulls no punches. It’s a typically Death Angel combination of rippin’ riffin’, technical chops and an ear for groove and atmosphere. The opening title track is a straight-up thrash banger.
Aggression and speed are allied to precision as the excellent ‘Divine Defector’ and the pulsating ‘Aggressor’ tear it up, followed in irresistible fashion by the fat-free brevity and ’80s bounce of ‘I Came For Blood’.
‘Alive And Kicking’ is another little firecracker, and Humanicide maintains its high standards all the way to its final track, every song offering up moments of pace, stomp and headbanging intensity.
Death Angel are a classic band and Humanicide is a terrific example of what they can do. The riffs are great, the vocals drip with spite and the lead parts are some proper guitar icon shit.
They’ve produced an album that’s 48 minutes long, feels much shorter, but somehow packs in enough substance to fill a record much longer than this.
The ace in their pack is their ability to do everything a thrash metal fan wants and be brilliant at it all. The result is an album that’s tight yet varied, technical yet lairy, old-school yet utterly vital.
Humanicide is out now on Nuclear Blast.