Death Angel / Descent
12 July 2004
The Garage, London

When Death Angel last visited our shores last November there were four international support acts. Whilst it was good to have the opportunity to check those bands out, it did mean Death Angel`s own slot was limited. This time no supports had been announced and it`s only when we arrive at The Garage that we discover Descent are opening tonight`s show.

This unsigned four piece had just had a feature in the latest Terrorizer and I had been keen to check them out myself. Describing themselves as the UK`s mightiest de-tuned, melodic-death thrashers, their categorization pretty much captures their sound.

Descent lie somewhere between death and thrash metal as emphasised by their choice of t-shirts tonight, left to right being Dying Fetus, Testament and Cephalic Carnage. At times you can add a touch of Machine Head to the mix whilst Ross White`s shouty vocals cross over from death to hardcore.

World Of Dreams sounds uncannily like something from one of the later Carcass albums, heavy but with a definite groove. Marco Dyos` drumming speeds along Death Of The Fallen before breaking it down to a painfully heavy sloth like middle section, all dampened strings save for Tim Spurr`s squealing guitar.

Descent`s t-shirts are emblazoned with "A riff a day helps you work, rest and slay", and there`s plenty of riffs in closer Reveal. Bassist Duncan Mitchell takes over lead vocals mid way through this song, with his style definitely death metal, registering gutturally low.

Descent set list:
Nothing`s Changed / World Of Dreams / Unanswered / Dust Of The Fallen / Blasphemy Reborn / Enemies Closer / Reveal

As mentioned earlier, last time Death Angel were in town there were four supports and it was a one off date. Maybe some of the people at that gig had this time travelled to their local gigs or had previously been there for a support act, but tonight`s attendance was a bit of a disappointment. What worries me more is that perhaps last time there were people there through nostalgia and having had their fix didn`t return, something we definitely noticed across two Anthrax gigs at The Astoria last year.

Its clear Death Angel have a lot of work to do if they`re going to stay reunited for the long run and work they do tonight. If people had turned up for nostalgia they may have been a bit disappointed by the set list. Death Angel have a new album to promote, The Art Of Dying, and half of what is played tonight is from it.

Thrown To The Wolves and 5 Steps to Freedom from that new album open the set in a furious fashion, before we`re taking all the way back to The Ultra-Violence for a storming Voracious Souls which demonstrated that however old the material is it blended well in the set.

Historically Death Angel have an ability to add additional ingredients to their Bay Area thrash. Mark Osegueda is practically singing a mantra through The Devil Incarnate, Veil Of Deception introduces subtlety whereas funk for once works with thrash for Stagnant.

Everyone other than new guitarist Ted Aguilar has a go on lead vocals tonight. Rob Cavestany has proved in the past that he has a good pair of lungs and demonstrates that with Word To The Wise. Dennis Pepa makes no secret of his love of Motorhead and it`s no surprise Land Of Blood on which he sings is like one of their songs. I hadn`t even recognised it was drummer Andy Galleon singing on Spirit on the new album and being one of my personal favourites it`s a high point of the set.

I`ve never been a huge fan of the Frolic Through The Park album and Death Angel tonight limit it`s inclusion to just Bored. It always seemed to me that the album`s experimentation was a stepping stone to the excellent Act III, which aside from the new album, features most frequently. For the first time when I`ve seen them Seemingly Endless Time appears not first, but mid set and triggers a suitably frenzied response from the crowd.

Ninety minutes and fifteen songs later, inevitably, it`s left to a track from debut album The Ultra-Violence to close the set and unsurprisingly that song is Kill As One. Everyone here appears to join in the chorus with horns held aloft.

This was the third time I have seen Death Angel since their reformation and each time they have never given less than 100%. As a measure of how much I enjoyed this gig, Death Angel's enthusiasm was so contagious it encouraged me into the pit for a bit of moshing and stage diving, something I haven`t done for a number of years.

Death Angel set list:
Thrown To The Wolves / 5 Steps To Freedom / Voracious Souls / Thicker Than Blood / Disturbing The Peace / The Devil Incarnate / Veil Of Deception / Stagnant / Spirit / Word To The Wise / Mistress Of Pain / Bored / Seemingly Endless Time / Land Of Blood / Famine / Kill As One