Death Never Sounded This Good
Death Angel and Descent @ The London Garage, England, 15 July 2004
by: Jackie Smit
Less than a year has passed since my first encounter with the live-powerhouse that is Death Angel, and I will forever recall how on that particular occasion they promptly proceeded to not so much surpass, but completely obliterate any expectations and presuppositions that I had about them. It is mightily disappointing therefore that their second visit to the Capital in less than a year is greeted by an audience that barely exceeds the Garage’s halfway mark, notwithstanding the fact that this time round they're touring off the back off what is easily one of the most convincing thrash efforts of the last decade in _The Art of Dying_.

In stark contrast however, "convincing" is hardly a word that I'd use to describe tonight's opening entertainment, Descent. Their ability to play their instruments with an admirable level of prowess may be unquestionable, but when it comes to piecing together a memorable song, matters are unfortunately not so cut and dried. Tantamount to their shortcomings this evening is their frontman's insipid between-song mumbling, which pretty much sets the tone perfectly for the bona fide yawnfest which inevitably follows. The UK's answer to Machine Head? I don't think so.

Thankfully it's not long after Descent have completed their seemingly endless droning that the acoustic intro track off _The Art of Dying_ breaks the sound of audience chatter and signals the imminent arrival of the Bay Area legends. The reception, despite the poor turnout, is overwhelming. Spearheading their set with the dual-headed assault off "Thrown to the Wolves" and "5 Steps to Freedom", Death Angel very quickly make it clear that regardless of the feeble turnout, they intend to give people their money’s worth. To comment on Death Angel's ability to recreate the magic of albums like _Act III_ and _A Frolic in the Park_ would be like telling Jenna Jameson that she has a nice rack. Rob Cavestany and company take the act of performing on stage to a level that only a precious few are able to attain. This becomes particularly evident when Andy Galleon is handed the microphone to handle vocal duties on "Spirit" -- while playing the drums! Needless to say, his flawless delivery has virtually every punter in the building gasping in disbelief. But it's not only Mr Galleon who gets the opportunity to flex his vocal muscles tonight; as the evening progresses, we are treated to a Rob Cavestany-crooned rendition of "Word to the Wise", and possibly one of my favourite moments of the evening, Dennis Pepa punking it up on "Land of Blood". This is not to say that Mark Osegueda is extraneous to the success of the evening's set though. Indeed, the dreadlocked one is the consummate front man throughout: always energetic, always enthusiastic and spot-on with every bile-soaked line he spits out on classics like "Bored", "Seemingly Endless Time", "Evil Priest" and "Voracious Souls".

If it's not quite clear enough by now, let me reiterate: Death Angel rule. Period. Whether or not tonight's performance tops my first encounter with them is up for debate, but the bottom line is, no self-respecting metalhead should let the opportunity to catch these guys in action pass them by. If you do, you may as well go ahead and admit that you think Linkin Park are "da shit, yo", and Fred Durst is your role-model.

I've often wondered why, with all Metallica's talk of returning to their roots and once again making "heavy" music, they don't put their money where their mouths are and take a band like Death Angel out on the road with them, as opposed to the gang of imbeciles commonly referred to as Limp Bizkit. What's the matter, Lars? James? Afraid of a little competition? Judging by tonight's show they have every right to be.

(article submitted 29/7/2004)


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