Review: Death Angel’s The Dream Calls for Blood
Is complacency a good place for an artist to reside? Death Angel keep things eerily similar on The Dream Calls for Blood, the Bay Area thrash band’s follow-up to their successful and quite good 2010 release, Relentless Retribution. Same line-up, producer, studio, even cover artist.
It’s the old “if it ain’t broke…” maxim, which may work as a fortune cookie but restricts as a musician. And that’s the disappointing part about Dream: it’s a good record that takes few chances.
OK, I’m old, and probably in the minority that thinks the band’s 1990 alt-metal, major label one-off Act III was light years ahead of their teen thrash musings of their debut The Ultra-Violence (and I’m definitely more in the minority for remembering all this useless catalog info sans Wikipedia. Look, I said I was old.). But Dream is a stifling affair, repeating an early thrash formula to the death: some melodic/acoustic intro, quickly morphing into a sonic assault that singer Mark Osegueda seems unable to corral.
Let’s talk Osegueda for a second — strong voice. Can shriek like an old-school metal god (as heard in “Son of the Morning”). Can also growl and go Mustaine-y (the sarcastic evil of “Detonate”). In theory, he brings a melodic touch to an otherwise punishing batch of metal. But wow, he cannot buy himself a memorable moment. Forgettable songs, these, and the endless shouted choruses (“Left! For! Dead!”, “Dream! Calls For! Blood!”) does not a hook make.
So why three stars, and not one or two? Rob Cavestany. The guitarist makes the album. Nice acoustic interludes, mind-bending solos, and even a few moments (the intro to “Detonate”) where you may stop and think, wow, this is different.
And then, a minute later, it’s not. But the moments are there, and proof that the band — so willing to give the audience what it thinks it wants — could be giving it so much more.