REVIEW: Death Angel – Act III (1990)

ACT IIIDEATH ANGEL – Act III (1990 Geffen)

I am no stranger to Death Angel.  In the 80’s, I knew them as that thrash band from San Francisco, that grew up listening to Love Gun.  I also thought they were a bit too heavy for my hemispheres.  Whatever “too heavy” means, anyway.  Then I received a review request, from Uncle Meat.  “I want this man to review Act III by Death Angel .   I think it’s a good’er.”

Very vintage Anthrax-like is “Seemingly Endless Time”, and excellently produced by Max Norman too.  The vocals are in the Belladonna range, and the pace is rangingly fast, while paradoxically grooving heavily.  However you want to describe it, it’ll slam you right in the face.  It’s that whole Bay area thrash vibe, honed to a killing edge.  The chorus has an Ozzy-like melodic power.  Then, “Stop” chugs like the heavier side of Testament.  Mark Osegueda has a versatile voice, at times recalling young James Hetfied.  There are plenty of time changes and surprises on this track, enough to challenge the meek.

Speaking of surprises, I didn’t expect the acoustic guitar opening “Veil of Deception”.  Singer Mark Osegueda really gets to show off his pipes on this one, but it’s the guitar duo of Rob Cavestany and Gus Pepa that really impress with their ability and diversity.  Then, “The Organization” (also the name of their next Osegueda-less band) is bone-shaking fast and heavy.  There are still the slithering guitars and melodic vocals to sink your teeth into.  This is top notch metal.  Andy Galeon lays down some complicated beats for “Discontinued” on which he has a writing credit.  It’s Dennis Pepa’s funky bass that reminds me of where guys like Mike Muir were going with thrash.

I remember the ballad “A Room With a View” being played on MuchMusic in ’91, so it is familiar.  Ballads seemed to be working for bands like Metallica and Testament at the time, but it seems more fitting for a diverse album like Act III.  Layers of vocals make it special, as does the acoustic guitar solo.  “Stagnant” opens bright and slow, but shortly an avalanche of menacing guitars is upon us.  This transforms into a funky assault that sounds like 90’s stoner rock.  Then “EX-TC” is old-style screaming thrash, as is “Disturbing the Peace”.  The final track, “Falling Asleep” is anything but sleepy.  It returns to the chugging that works so well for head banging.

I understand now why Death Angel was so critically acclaimed back in the 80’s.  Their ability and musical intelligence was off the charts.  Too bad they were one of the bands that didn’t survive the 90’s.  I’m glad I had the chance to check out this thrash metal cornerstone.  The Devil’s metal indeed!

4/5 stars

All songs written by Rob Cavestany, except where noted.

  1. “Seemingly Endless Time” – 3:49
  2. “Stop” (Cavestany, Mark Osegueda) – 5:10
  3. “Veil of Deception” – 2:35
  4. “The Organization” (Cavestany, Andy Galeon) – 4:16
  5. “Discontinued” (Cavestany, Galeon, Gus Pepa, Dennis Pepa) – 5:50
  6. “A Room with a View” – 4:42
  7. “Stagnant” (Cavestany, Galeon) – 5:33
  8. “EX-TC” (Cavestany, Osegueda) – 3:06
  9. “Disturbing the Peace” – 3:53
  10. “Falling Asleep” – 5:54

Credits and art from Wikipedia.

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24 comments

  1. Love this band. I have a few of their records on vinyl (‘The Art of Dying’, ‘The Dream Calls For Blood’) and ‘Art of Dying’ onwards on CD.

    I’m definitely going to check this album out at some point. :)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great review of a great album. This band certainly progressed at a quick rate considering the fairly clumsy debut album and the slightly less clumsy second album. I dont think there is a bad track on this album, and as Mike pointed out, the album contains many diverse styles within it. I was never a fan of any of those thrash ballad songs of that era .. however the two ballads on this album I think are great songs, most especially Veil of Deception. The biggest difference between albums 2 and 3 seems to be production.. however the vocals shine on this album and his previous vocal work i personally found to be sketchy… if not bordering on unintentionally funny. Not to mention that this album is full of great Metal riffs.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. “A Room With A View” — I wasn’t expecting something quite so melodic. I surfed to another track (outside the topic of your post): “River of Rapture” and, more than anything, was taken by their precision.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I know what you mean about bands being too heavy. For me, once the vocalist is mainly growling, screaming constantly or sounds like cookie monster the band has lost me. I think the vocalist is key. You can have wailing guitars, booming bass, and smashing drums but if the singer can’t be understood, I am usually out. If he can, I am in. That is just me.

    As for the song “Stagnant” I didn’t get the stoner rock feel. To me, stoner rock revolves around Tony Iommi style guitar, and Geezer Butler circa 1970-1974 sludge. I didn’t get that. It felt more Metallica thrash to me, but the distinctions of metal are very fine. One person hears one genre, another hears something else.

    Attached is another song I need. Possibly one of the best Dio/Sabbath cover song tributes ever……https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ett5PoJeogw

    (I’m not as big of a fan of the drums on the above track as I feel they are too loud and take away from the awesome bass, guitar and lyrics, but this is a really great cover in my opinion.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I’ve heard covers by Stryper, Manowar and Anthrax. All very good. However, I think that Mark Osegueda was best at channeling the inner RJD the best, so I give Death Angel the very slight edge.
        That Stryper album is another one I need. It sounds great. I think that bridging the gap between Christian rock/metal and normal rock/metal is something more Christian rock bands should do. Most metal fans won’t even give them a chance until they hear stuff.like this.

        Liked by 1 person

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