Death Angel is one of those bands that I’ve just never thought lived up to the hype. Maybe 10 years ago nobody was talking about Death Angel then all of a sudden there’s this air of awe and genius that seems to accompany any conversation about the band. Their past four albums just seemed to me like standard Bay Area thrash and yeah, I’ve enjoyed them for that but they’ve always been that middle of the road band for me. If I’m going to listen to bay area thrash, Death Angel isn’t the first band I go to. Or the second. Or the third…
Most of the worship seems to be based around their 1990 album Act III which is either the greatest thing to ever thrash, or it’s Death Angel’s black album, that is to say, the moment the band lost the plot. Wherever you stand on that, if you even do, that was the bands final album for 14 years, but it all started in 1987 with The Ultra-Violence.
Yeah, I’ll admit it, this album is fucking rad. Even for 1987 when the approaching dusk of the original thrash movement was looming, Death Angel made added a killer album to the mix. There’s a lot of typical Bay Area style thrash going on here. Stuff like the solid NWOBHM influence and that punk rock intensity and vocal sneering. What sets this album apart is just the sheer creative guitar playing and song structures. Death Angel wasn’t afraid of letting the guitars do the work and just letting long passages of time go by with a trillion different riffs and breaks and solos. Take the album title track. This thing goes on for over 10 minutes and is mostly just thrash riffing and dueling solos. And if fucking kills it for every second of it’s length. That’s fucking impressive.
This album is a solid classic and a perfect representation of Bay Area thrash in the 80s. I’d take this over a lot of the more common albums from that time and place. It doesn’t do anything to make me reconsider their output after this, in fact, it makes me wonder what happened to the fire this band used to have, but hey, this album is a monster and the rest (of what I’ve heard) are just ok. And that’s no crime.