Death Angel - The Ultra-Violence - April 23, 1987
Death Angel's debut is a bit of a funny one. One on hand, you have a young group of guys who have grown up immersed in the sounds of Metallica, Exodus, Possessed and the like. They are obviously talented, determined musicians who even caught the attention of one of their idols, evidenced by the fact that Metallica guitarist Kirk Hammett produced their demo, Kill As One. On the other hand, you have a young band so caught up in their hometown scene that they maybe go too far in trying to emulate that sound. The trademarks of the Bay Area sound are there: the vicious yet melodic riffs, the catchy choruses complete with gang vocals, the long and winding song structures.
Yet, there is something keeping this band and album from reaching the heights of those aforementioned bands -- the songs lack true, thoughtful development because it takes a back seat to youthful exuberance and the desire to actually become their idols. A lot of the songs drag on for far too long, cramming riffs together that may not necessarily fit. Songs like "Evil Priest" or the sprawling title track are prime examples of this, most likely going for Ride the Lightning levels of riffery.
The overall sound of the album though, is clear and heavy, especially remarkable when compared to Testament's debut, which came just two days before. Much like Testament though, there are some excellent individual performances here. Then 15-year-old drummer Andy Galleon's probably sticks out the most because well, he's FIFTEEN. Vocalist Mark Osegueda's performance is also notable, as he unleashes some pretty ridiculous screams while singing and snarling his way through songs like some kind of Bobby Ellsworth-Joey Belladonna hybrid.
Is The Ultra-Violence the best classic Death Angel release? Most likely, which doesn't bode very well for their others. The debut is enjoyable enough though and is worth at least a few listens.
Standouts: Kill as One, Mistress of Pain, Voracious Souls