The Dream Calls for Blood
Nuclear Blast Records/Riot! Entertainment
Reviewed By Peter Zischke
The Bay City veterans have unleashed a thrash metal beast this time around
San Francisco thrash metal titan Death Angel has come a long way since forming as a group of teenagers in the early 1980s. The group has been through breakups, a reformation, line-up changes, side projects, and a tour bus accident in 1990 resulting in life threatening injuries to then-drummer Andy Galeon. The offshoot of the accident was that the band couldn’t complete their tour to support 1990’s outstanding album, Act III, and missed their slot as the opening band in the Clash of the Titans gig later that year. As it turns out, the slot was filled by Alice in Chains, and we all know how that turned out for them.
Given such a tumultuous career, which kicked off approximately 30 years ago, you’d be forgiven for thinking these guys may be all used up and expecting them to be going through the motions with new albums, as seems to be the case for a lot of bands with supposed “longevity” these days. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth.
Death Angel has never been afraid to experiment, there’s no doubt about it. While many consider 1987’s The Ultra-Violence to be a thrash metal classic, forged during the absolute peak of the thrash movement, their follow-up effort, Frolic Through the Park (1988) left most fans scratching their heads and wondering if these kids were a flash in the pan or one album wonder. “Frolic” took a very different direction to the all-out assault of The Ultra-Violence and highlighted the band’s willingness to tackle a range of styles, although not forsaking their thrash roots. Maybe it was the brashness of youth. Who knows?
However, 1990’s Act III was almost the best of both worlds, combining the speed and attack from The Ultra-Violence and some of the softer elements incorporated in Frolic. This was the last of the band’s output before their lengthy hiatus from 1990 and remained, in the minds of many, as their finest album. Until now.
After a string of seemingly run-of-the-mill releases since reforming in 2001 for the Thrash of the Titans gig, culminating in 2010’s generally disappointing and inconsistent Relentless Retribution, it seems the band has again found their mojo. Death Angel’s latest offering, The Dream Calls for Blood is quite simply, blistering, fast, unadulterated thrash metal awesomeness from start to finish. I have lost count how many times I have listened to this album and am not close to tiring of it.
The opening track, Left for Dead, sets the tone for the album - don’t be fooled by the brief intro. This track spits the aggression and speed that will get the heads of most thrash at least nodding along, feet or hands tapping along and fists clenched. The tracks do not let up at any point and in my many spins of the album I have heard, in my mind anyway, the “ghosts” of legendary acts like Exodus, Anthrax and Metallica, among others. That’s not to say I heard any type of excessive “tributes” (*cough* Avenged Sevenfold *cough*), rather, some of the tracks on this album have elements which reminded me of some classic thrash works of different times. And that’s not a bad thing.
It’s a tough task to try to find any stand out tracks on the album. The title track is as fast as anything in the compilation and as mentioned above this is pure, unadulterated thrash from start to finish. The Dream Calls for Blood should give hope to the thrash faithful that the craft isn’t lost in the myriad of cross-genres and “nu” whatevers.
For anyone that finds themselves at times stuck in a musical “time warp”, listening to the old albums because the new stuff just isn’t cutting it, or if you are looking for an outstanding new release to get into, find and listen to this album, loud. The Dream Calls for Blood stands up to comparison with some of Death Angel’s early, classic work and keeps the thrash metal dream alive.