Sound — 7
Thrash myth-and-legend Death Angel come back at us with their eight album "The Evil Divide," an album built upon their previous effort "The Dream Calls for Blood" and the most stable band line-up since their early '90s period.
In some ways and in some spheres, it's seen as a strangely momentous occasion whenever Death Angel release an album. Being a bit late to the thrash party when they first started in the mid '80s, with some of the members barely being actual adults at the time, it's almost as if each post-2000's album is a figurative sign of maturity on their part. Certainly one that flows into the band history like a pre-destined storyboard.
The being said, it is sometimes puzzling as to how a band with as varied a signature-sound history as Death Angel have managed to reign in consistency as well as they have done on "The Evil Divide." "Act III" and "A Frolic Through the Park" are, historically speaking, curveballs that have little baring their modern work. But this isn't even describing what the album even sounds like.
On the surface of things, none of this really feels invigorating. Perhaps tens or hundreds of bands could drum up a genre concept in the same way to this. But like most things in metal, it's the details that really matter.
While completely distanced from their pre-2000 work, the amount of influence infused within "The Evil Divide" really does add enough to make this quite a bit above "decent." If it's the Swedish death metal hints and flirtations in opener "The Moth," the crossover/hardcore riffing in "Cause for Alarm" and "Hell to Pay" or the strangely progressive, arpeggiated sections and bass harmonies in "Father of Lies," when put on top of a thrashy base as solid and driven as this, then heads do turn. Even the more obvious singles - "Lost" for example - have enough of an edge to puncture any notions of mediocrity.
It may sound as if there's a certain note of surprise in the tone of what's being written here. Given how over-saturated most genres are these days, being able to stick out within the notoriously conservative thrash genre is a feat in itself. Doing so while being so historically grounded in the earliest period of thrash's existence is also note-worthy.
So, stripped down to a point, "The Evil Divide" just sounds significantly more interesting than most thrash preconceptions would dictate but it's not the sort of thing that jump-starts evolution within the genre. There's certainly a lot to like, the riff style, melodic details and harmony writing is pretty top class, but it's still at the heart of things, a little bit too familiar.
Lyrics — 8
Having been the vocalist since the inception, Mark Osegueda has evolved away from his earlier style much like the overall direction of the band. Utilizing his Mille Petrozza-style vocal technique, the punchiness and aggression needed for this kind of thrash is very much felt through Osegueda himself.
Although his performance is, rhythmically, a little bit on the basic side, dispersed within the harsher performance are the soaring cleans that stick out within the thrash sphere, adding to the albums character by a large margin. Fitting, well-executed, bish-bash-bosh.
Lyrically, "The Evil Divide" is themed around the flux of world and the goings on around it, about an observers view of the myriad conspiring forces of instability and the "evil" that divides it. In some ways, relatable, while in others, a concept that doesn't do much to fire the neurons.
Sounds as if that was meant with derision but instead it works for the album: a well executed lyrical baseline can add a lot to an albums personal value but consider that this is a mostly straight-forward thrash piece, large, open ended and vague viewpoints distract from the enjoyment of the thing. The power of the lyrics don't quite match the power of the music.
Overall Impression — 7
With final observations, "The Evil Divide" is strong, enjoyable, avoids pit-falls, shows credible evolution and adds enough unique flair to be interesting. For a thrash album, that's a very good place to be. However, there is a certain "basic" quality to compositions that just can't quite be removed. Considering that actual trailblazing albums like "Terminal Redux" keep reinventing the thrash standard, this sort of modern brand of thrash shared by Death Angel, Feared and even Kreator are dangerously close to becoming "the new bog standard."
That said, it's not going to do you wrong in terms of sheer fun.
Songs to look out for: "The Moth," "Lost," "Father of Lies," "It Can't Be This," "Breakaway."