Death Angel - _The Art of Dying_
(Nuclear Blast, 2004)
by: Jackie Smit (
Of all the comebacks that 2004 has played host to thus far, a Death Angel reunion was undoubtedly the one that very few of us could have foreseen. A classic example, if any was needed, of a major label taking advantage of young artists, the furor surrounding the band's acrimonious split from Geffen Records in 1992, and their subsequent decision to part ways, just about sealed the deal on any hope of a follow-up to the critically lauded _Act 3_. But, as if to prove that great things can be born (or reborn in this case) from tragedy, a favor to an old friend by the name of Chuck Billy saw the seminal Bay Area quintet back together once more. As the story goes, a one-off soon evolved into something more substantial, which in turn brings us now, after a fourteen year absence, to the next studio installment in the Death Angel saga.Considering that it's been nearly a decade and a half since the last time Mark Osegueda, Rob Cavestany, Dennis Pepa and Andy Galeon were in the studio together as Death Angel, it's remarkable how comparatively natural _The Art of Dying_ has ended up sounding. Laced with the band's trademark inventiveness and flair for punked-up experimentation, openers "Thrown to the Wolves" and "5 Steps to Freedom" are pure old school thrash metal gold. Mark Osegueda's voice cuts an imposing figure and has never sounded more arresting, while the guitar synergy between Rob Cavestany and newcomer Ted Aguilar is as effective as anything you will find on the band's early efforts. A surprise ballad in the shape of "Words to the Wise" also rears its head, nodding knowingly in the direction of Cavestany and Pepa's post-Death Angel outfit, The Organization.Unfortunately, taking into account the unashamedly early classic flavor of this record, it's to be expected that there are going to be some that will sneer at Death Angel's vintage approach. For the rest of us however, _The Art Dying_ is well produced, neck-snapping rollick, and quite possibly one of the finest old-school thrash albums since _Rust in Peace_.
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