Death Angel is one of those bands that I count in ‘The Other Big 4’. The band around frontman Mark Osegueda prove once again that they are worthy of that title. Their 8th studio album, The Evil Divide, was released on May 27th, 2016 through Nuclear Blast, is produced by Jason Suecof and it rocks immensely!
The Evil Divide: Song by song
The opener, The Moth, kicks the album off as expected with a dark riff and up-beat feel. The song plays with different cut-time and double-time beats, but is mainly characterised by choirs and second voices, which harmonise perfectly with Mark’s signature singing. The off-beat tom-groove in certain parts of the verses ads a certain unexpected flavour to the song and is simply enjoyable. A very viable opener for what this listener expects to be one of the best Death Angel albums to date.
Cause For Alarm, thrashes its way with a typical 16th-note guitar riff and double-time beat, which at times is astutely played in reverse. A good way to keep the tempo and feel of the opener. The guitar work by Rob Cavestany and Ted Aguilar is exceptional on here (and – spoiler alert – throughout the record!). The song features producer Jason Suecof.
Track 3, Lost, takes down the tempo a notch. The song could be deemed a half-ballad. Mark’s singing strikes a perfect balance between a dark and colourful feel. The harmony vocals ad a further dimension to the song and the higher notes in the third verse open up the song with the double-time beat. One of the best Death Angel songs in their catalog, in my humble opinion. Color me impressed!
Father of Lies introduces a heavier and, therefore, darker guitar riff with a straight upbeat tempo. I can see this song work very well at live shows. Easy for the audience to follow the song, wave their fists in the air and sing along. The instrumental breakdown at around 2:20 gives space to breath to the listener for about 1 minute before diving right into the typical Death Angel double-time thrash mood – which I love! Great song.
Track 5, Hell To Pay, continues in good ol’ thrash manner. Straight double-time beat, 16th-note guitar riff and screaming solos, as well as angry vocals, all served on a tableau of in-your-face lyrics. Another potential live gig-anthem.
It Can’t Be This opens with a melodic bass-only riff by Damien Sisson before sliding into a cut-time groove, which characterises the song. Can’t really explain why, but the mood of the song reminds me of Slayer’s Seasons in the Abyss. It has that laid-back feel. And, the clean guitar at certain passages of the song somehow gives me that vibe, which I find a good thing. Good song with perfect arrangements to breakdown the album for 4 minutes.
Hatred United / United Hate is the perfect continuation with the signature Death Angel guitar riffs and Mark’s voice. The short-but-sweet guitar solo at 2:14 literally strikes a chord with me. It sings beautifully. Also, the cut-time instrumental interlude makes my metal heart scream and shout. The reverse-beat thrashing to exit the song stirs up even more of those emotions. Up to this point, my favourite guitar work on The Evil Divide and one of my favourite songs on the album. I wonder if it has something to do with the fact that Sepultura guitarist Andreas Kisser plays on it.
Breakaway, track 8, spends 40 seconds to build up and kick off what I consider a traditional thrash metal song. But, 40 seconds very well spent. The hearty choirs shouting Breakaway in the chorus ad a sharp spice to the song, and the melodic interlude after 2 minutes drops the mic with the harmony vocals. And, how awesome is that harmonic voice-only finale?! Another instant-classic on this album and favourite of mine.
The Electric Cell keeps the tempo high and the mood dark. The song encompasses arrangement details based on Will Carroll’s drumming that caught my attention right away. Very clever breaks and accentuations here and there make the song another treat on this album.
The closing song of the album, Let The Pieces Fall, is, again, an uptempo song in typical Death Angel manner: dark mood, remarkable guitar riff, and angry-melodic vocals, and, one’s gotta love the harmonised guitar riffs at chosen spots in the song. Let The Pieces Fall reflects the main aspects of the album in its almost 6-minute playtime making it the perfect finale.
Some critics might claim that Death Angel’s eight album release, The Evil Divide, comprises songs which seem to sound very similar to each other. However, I claim that is a misconception – and is, of course, subjective to the listener. The album follows a very clear dark feel and mood in regard to songwriting and a simple, although plausible, production. I love the fact that the album sounds as if all songs came out of the same mould. No fancy sound-modulation or sound-experimentation for any of the instruments or voices. Furthermore, all ten songs make sense in terms of lyrics and music in the context of the album. The Evil Divide is an album that provides maximum listening experience when listened to in chronological order starting with The Moth, through all other songs, until getting to Let The Pieces Fall. After hearing the first few teasers before its May-release, I expected this album to become a milestone in the catalog of Death Angel, and it turned out to be even more than that for me: the best Death Angel album to date, and definitely a contender for heavy metal album of the year 2016.
–> Shopping tip: Get The Evil Divide Digipak Deluxe Version, which includes the bonus track Wasteland.
In case you missed my interview with Mark Osegueda where we talked about their 2015 DVD release A Thrashumentary, here it is again: