Ah, thrash metal, perhaps the one sub-genre within metal that garners forth the most nostalgia and good feeling. Flashback to a couple of decades ago and this little offshoot contained some of the biggest bands on the planet. Goliath-sized acts such as Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth, and Anthrax were so highly regarded they even had their own gimmick, that being ‘The Big Four’. Continue reading
Ted Aguilar, six-stringer and resident riff-monger for thrash metallers Death Angel, seems one contented dude. Grinning down the line, he is genuinely stoked that his band, coming off the back of their most successful ever release, are celebrating their history by releasing A Thrashumentary DVD and The Bay Calls For Blood live album; the pair being simultaneously released through Nuclear Blast.
It’s not every day you get to join one of your favourite bands, but fourteen years ago that was Aguilar, stepping in, originally as a one off for the Thrash Of The Titans bill. Now settled in the band, (“Yeh, I’m comfortable, I no longer feel like ‘The New Guy’, that’s for sure!”), he, perhaps even more than remaining original members Rob Cavestany (guitars) and Mark Osegueda (vocals), can see the DVD from both sides of the stage.
“I still feel like a fan, watching it. When I saw the rough cuts, looking at all the early footage from the 80’s, I looked at it as a fan. I saw the band on all the albums, on Ultra-Violence, Frolic Through The Park (both Enigma Records) and Act III (Geffen) and again when they went out to do other projects (including The Organization and Swarm). I was thinking, What would a Death Angel fan want to see? And what would a person who’d never heard Death Angel, what would attract them to checking out the band? I love the evolution of it; it’s a really good story, and, of course, seeing all the photos and footage I’d never seen before was great.”
“We met Tommy Jones, who directed, filmed and edited A Thrashumentory, in about 2010” picks up The Worlds’ Smallest Samoan™, moving on to discuss the origins of the DVD. “He filmed our video for ‘River of Rapture’ and he brought up the idea of mixing live footage and some behind-the-scenes shots. We liked the footage, but pulled a 180 and decided to do something about the band from when it first started until now. It is perfect to release (it and) The Bay Calls For Blood (live album) together.”
Death Angel’s is an interesting story. Their biggest (and perhaps overdue) success has come late; 30 years is a loooong time. Around their split in 1991, the band were frustrated at not making the big leagues, becoming disillusioned with where they saw themselves and had started marketing themselves as D.A. trying to distance themselves from thrash. In the long run, though, the enforced absence may have actually helped the band to reinvigorate itself.
Ted agrees. “I think so. The guys started the band when they were kids, and having to disband in ‘91 and having to explore other musical endeavours, and life in general, helped keep it fresh. Unfortunately the accident happened, but having that break did make Death Angel fresh again.”
Death Angel are nothing if not proof that good things do indeed come to those who wait. Not reaching the status of their peers, despite starting strong with Ultra-Violence, they never possessed that stone cold classic in their arsenal; that head-turning defining album.
Until 2013, and the release of their seventh album overall, and fourth with Aguilar.
“We weren’t thinking about it being big. We were just trying to write a good record” laughs the amiable six-stringer. “When we got the final product, we just felt “Wow! We wrote some good songs! This is awesome!” We don’t write to get an Album of the Year, so the great reviews were a bit of shock, to be honest.”
Released on Nuclear Blast, The Dream Calls For Blood found instant widespread acclaim from critic and punter alike, crashing into the US Billboard Top 100 and would ultimately appear on many an album of year list.
“Dream… got the best reviews and reaction compared to any other since the band reformed” beams Aguilar, proudly. “All the other albums got good enough reviews, but Dream exceeded them all… It hit, and people loved it, which made us feel so good. From the press and fans, who love it so much, reaction, we put 7 songs off that record in the live set. Most bands don’t do that, they usually do one or two. To me, if you love your new record that much, you’d want to put more songs in the set!”
Yet success raises expectations. For the first time in their near thirty five year history, Death Angel have a genuine beast to live up to. What will inspire themselves to better their best? “We do get influenced by our own albums. When we did Dream…, we were influenced by Relentless Retribution (Nuclear Blast) and Ultra-Violence, because towards the end of that tour we were celebrating 25 years of Ultra-Violence and doing that in its entirety. So, that all bleeds into it. Some of Dream… will bleed into this new record, sure.”
Ted seems too chilled to feel the fire of pressure, though. He’ll be metal thrashing mad, looking to kill ‘em all and not at all worried about living up to the legacy, not thinking for one second the next Death Angel opus will a (fabulous) disaster.
“I don’t feel that pressure. I’m not going to try to top Dream…, because you can’t recreate that moment in time, that headspace. Right now is just writing some good songs and putting together a good record”
Which is what they said about The Dream Calls For Blood… Sounds promising, doesn’t it?!