Three-decades into a career that has seen the kinds of highs and lows that most bands that few else could make it through, Death Angel is riding as high as ever. Emerging a mere teens in the second wave of Bay Area Thrash, Death Angel evolved from rambunctious youths to one of the fiercest bands on the planet. Rough life experiences can leave you with scars, but it’s what you do with those marks on the tableau of your psyche that define you, that guide you. For a band, that from the beginning was made up of family members, they have been re-writing the end of that script for over fifteen years.
A Thrashumentary (Nuclear Blast) starts like a standard band DVD with the history and the making of type of things you always want to see. The archival footage of the bands earliest shows, including their very first opening for Megadeth at San Francisco’s seminal metal haunt The Stone, are an amazing look into the genesis of a band. They transformed early from a more NWOBHM sound to thrash over their first few years in existence. One of their earliest and ongoing patrons has been Kirk Hammett of Metallica who produced their first demos. Hearing tales of how the nascent band booked a national tour on the strength of hastily made three song demo tape makes the legends come true. This band was built for greatness from the start. Terrific early accounts from thrash kings such as Gary Holt, Scott Ian, Charlie Benante, Chuck Billy, Scott Ian, Andres Kisser discuss the formation of the group and the legit early hype around them. The story of the band is re-told trough the eyes of the current band, and their continuing story takes shape over the course of two hours. Their awful bus accident that changed their lives forever in 1990, critically injuring founding drummer Andy Galeon, and ultimately leading to the end of the band at that time. The accounts are harrowing, and will shake you to your core.
Reuniting for Chuck Billy’s benefit concert “Thrash of the Titans” in 2001 sowed the seed for the band to reform and stay together. Although only Rob Cavestany and Mark Osesgueda remain today from the early core lineup, the band is as strong as ever with Ted Aguilar, Will Carroll and Damien Sisson. Death Angel are one of the most potent veteran thrash bands around. It’s great to see some of their more modern contemporaries, such as Chris Adler and Michael Amott talk shop about the band too. The more recent live footage of the band is phenomenal and another highlight of the DVD. The CD portion of the package is also a great live document to have for fans. A Thrashumentary is a great way to appreciate one of the scene’s most vital groups, then and now.