Saturday, June 11, 2016

Death Angel – The Evil Divide

Though Death Angel has put out many great albums over the course of their career, the band had a lot to prove coming off of the heels of “The Dream Calls For Blood”, which was both their best and most inspired record since “The Ultra-Violence”. 3 years later, they’ve answered the call with “The Evil Divide”, which is an album that takes a different approach to achieve a similarly effective outcome. Whereas the band’s previous release was incredibly fast and thrashy, this one does show the band mixing faster thrash with their more modern style that dominated records like “The Art of Dying” and “Killing Season”. The primary difference is that on “The Evil Divide”, the songwriting is considerably stronger, so even a song like “Lost”, which never gets particularly speedy, is insanely good. In fact, this song is actually amongst the catchiest on the record, as it is driven by a galloping charge in the verses that induces immediate headbanging.

This doesn’t mean that “The Evil Divide” is lacking in speed. Numerous songs here are just as thrashy as the band has ever been, including the brutal opener “The Moth”, as well as the hateful “Father of Lies” (which later has a more melodic, laid-back section too). The band uses plenty of speedy picking patterns, in addition to some of their classic punkier rhythms. “Cause For Alarm” is an excellent example of how the band seamlessly combines both styles of thrash for a brutal result.

Of course, part of the fun of thrash metal is the fact that these bands have an instinct for writing sections that will make you mosh relentlessly. On “Hell To Pay”, Death Angel achieves that. There is one section where Mark screams “you should have thought this through!”, and the band launches into one of the heaviest sections on any of Death Angel’s 8 records. This song is another one of the faster ones, but this particular part is more about heaviness than speed, as the drums go into a half-time feel.

The element of “The Evil Divide” that impresses me most is the individual performances. After this many albums, you’d think it would be clear what to expect out of Death Angel, but the reason why the musicianship is so enjoyable on this record is because the band knows when to tone things down. The aforementioned “Lost” is a great example; it isn’t Mark’s most aggressive vocal performance, nor the solo with the most shredding, but both are tastefully done. This approach actually leaves a lot of room for the bass to shine on the album, and it ends up coming through on every single track here. Again, it isn’t that Death Angel’s bass player is doing all sorts of weird tapping licks, but he’s instead just driving the songs forward with some truly heavy bass lines. “It Can’t Be This” is another instance where the band doesn’t do anything particularly special in terms of being all that fast or heavy, but it is such a complete song in every aspect that it ends up being one of the more enjoyable tracks on the record.

The Evil Divide” is a record that is about the entire package, rather than one single element. Whereas particular songs on “The Dream Calls For Blood” might have been better than the best tracks on this record, “The Evil Divide” is much more consistent overall. There’s not a single moment of weakness or boredom on this album. The band runs better now than they ever have, and the end result is incredibly satisfying!   

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"The Moth"
"It Can't Be This"

Final Rating
4.4/5 or 88%. 

Written by Scott

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