I freely admit that I’ve got a soft spot for Death Angel. I’ve been joyfully battering my skull with their concussive thrash beatdowns for a quarter century. Formed in the early-80s during the explosion of the Bay Area scene, Death Angel have steadfastly delivered a dizzying, speed-driven attack of uncompromising ferocity across seven exhilarating studio albums. Somewhat amazingly, 2013’s The Dream Calls for Blood may well have been their best – a noisy siege of paint-peeling riffs and full-throttle tempos, stopping and turning on quarter notes with breathtaking accuracy. I’ve seen them live many times and I categorically believe that a Death Angel show is the closest you’ll ever come to strapping yourself to a rocket and breaking the sound barrier. When word hit my inbox that the band were releasing a new album, I high-pawed my dogs because everybody knows that Death Angel are the patron saint metal band for homeless and wayward dogs.
Last year I launched a fundraiser for the Rancho Coastal Humane Society called “Rescuing Dogs Is Metal.” I reached out to one of the t-shirt designers at BlackCraft Cult clothing and he put together a design that I uploaded to Teespring for a three-week campaign. All proceeds were earmarked for the shelter — a deeply soulful haven for homeless and abandoned pets staffed by a group of straight-up ass-kickers. Look, if you donate your time to bringing comfort to homeless animals, then you kick big, meaty ass with giant, steel-toed boots. I put the word out about the campaign around the rock and metal circuits and Death Angel’s guitarist Ted Aguilar stepped up pronto and bought one, then he pimped us out on the band page and talked about the fundraiser in an interview (check it out below, starting at 8:08), which metal outlets then shared far and wide. Ted had just lost one of his own dogs and it was pretty damned cool that he was so generous to us with his time, money and goodwill. Because of guys like Ted and a generous horde of social media supporters, we were able to hand the shelter a check for over $1,000. Not bad for a bunch of metalheads.
This week I finally checked out Death Angel’s new material and I literally laughed out loud when I fired up The Moth – the first single from The Evil Divide. I laughed because that’s how I tend to react whenever I hear something so steroidally-invigorating that I can almost feel my spine straighten in response. Admittedly, moths creep me the fuck out and the album’s cover, featuring a cursed horned monstrosity with a skull on its back, has done zero to improve my attitude in that department. But then I clicked “Play” and was greeted by the apocalyptic BOOM of that old familiar power chord — the kind that never fails to bend the mouth of even the grumpiest, beardy, Mastodon-loving metalhead into a brutish grin. I then spent the next ten minutes in my overstuffed reading chair, staring at the speaker and occasionally slapping the armrests as the tempo erupted from a churning, fist-pumping gallop into a full-tilt thrash freakout by 1:30. I sat for ten minutes because I had to play the track twice. Between The Moth and the propulsive second single, Cause For Alarm, I’m exceedingly anxious to dive into the whole record, which comes out on May 27 on the mighty Nuclear Blast records. Check it out.