Death Angel - LIVE: The Underworld, London 2012

The Ultra-Violence Tour
June 28
Capacity 500

Despite being pretty frequent visitors to London, it was starting to seem like Death Angel weren't going to be bringing their The Ultra-Violence anniversary show to the capital. Thankfully the band saw sense, and shortly after performing the same set all over Europe as part of the Metalfest festival tour, the band came to the UK for a short series of shows.

Opening act Shrapnel couldn't fit the bill any better – if any band were perfect to open up for an '80s thrash band, Shrapnel are that band. They don't have an original idea anywhere to be seen, though certainly that's the point. Shrapnel play straight ahead bay-area thrash despite being from Norwich of all places, and they do it rather well. Cynically speaking they aren't all that interesting, just another generic thrash band, but all that was really needed at this point in the evening was some competent thrash with some fast riffs and fast solos. Shrapnel delivered and the response they got from the few that turned up so early would confirm that they were the right band at the right slot – jolly good, thrashing fun.

Cypher16 however are not the right band for tonight, as their djentish tunes falls flat with the thrash crowd. Playing to a much slimmer and far less enthusiastic crowd than the band before them, Cypher16 sound good and have some grooves to them, but are clearly in the wrong place and really struggle. It isn't helped that the singer doesn't entirely endear himself to the crowd, and is noticeably frustrated with the less than eager reception the band received. For what it is worth, the band have some good tunes and are good at what they are doing, but this is clearly a very specific crowd and the band are heavily punished for not being the right fit.

Up until Death Angel take to the stage, one would think this would end up being the poorest attended headline show the band have played in London since they reformed. But as the band come to the stage, the dance floor of the Underworld becomes overwhelmed with people who were presumably at the bar this entire time. That's reassuring; after all, surely the night the band play their entire first album should be the most attended?

There's really little to fault with The Ultra-Violence as an album, you could make comments about the production sure but even then the album still sounds good for its time. Live though, every song off that album sounds crisp and vicious. As ever, Death Angel come across as if nothing has changed in the 25 years since the album was released. Rob Cavestany still talks about the band's first time in London with enthusiasm, and whilst for some this tour might be just a nostalgia trip, the band's performance and the songs themselves still sound vital and relevant. The opening whammy of Thrashers, Evil Priest, Voracious Souls and Kill As One packs an almighty punch – Kill As One in particular is enough that after, you could quite easily call it a night and say 'That was awesome', such is its impact.

Arguably the highlight of the set is the full ten minute rendition of instrumental track The Ultra-Violence, a hyper-kinetic song that is performed flawlessly by the band. Meanwhile, the album's last song I.P.F.S. ultimately descends into the band trading riffs from cover songs to much crowd response, before breaking into a cover of Black Sabbath's Heaven And Hell (not that that song has been overplayed since Ronnie's passing). As the band finish the album, one can't help but remember what a terrific album it really is.

Still, Death Angel's current work is not too shabby either and the band encore with a short set of songs from latest album Relentless Retribution. Opener Relentless Revolution, as well as Truce, are some of the greatest thrash songs written in the last decade, and carry just as much energy and passion as the songs from '87. Ending with Thrown To The Wolves off of The Art of Dying, Death Angel leave the crowd gasping for more.

Another fantastic set from one of the bay area's greatest bands, who are still performing as well as they ever did. Perhaps a chance to see them play their debut in full won't show up again, but given the band are still producing superb albums and playing them with the same intensity, one can still expect plenty of great shows from the band in the future.

“ vital and relevant ”

Setlist: Intro / Thrashers / Evil Priest / Voracious Souls / Kill As One / The Ultra-Violence / Mistress of Pain / Final Death / I.P.F.S / Heaven and Hell // Relentless Revolution / Claws In So Deep / Truce / Thrown to the Wolves

Written by James Donovan
More: 2012, Gigs, Thrash Metal,

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