by Martin Popoff

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Fresh Metal

Death Angel - The Art Of Dying
(Nuclear Blast)

If ever there was a friendly sounding Bay Area thrash band, Death Angel were it. Through three classic albums, they were funky, casual, effortlessly talented and unconcerned with the rules. Then there was The Organization and even more rules were defied. Now back with a reunion album, metal's most treasured little Philippinos have lived up to their untarnished image, one that strangely lives in the same zone as Metallica's from Kill through Justice, both band's seen as the good guys, smart with their music, sorta classy but loose with it at once. The Art Of Dying is a surprisingly bright, tight and snappy album, almost stingy and punky with its riffs, flat, hard, shiny with its very linear, usually briskly bracing old school speedsters. It all makes for an easier mosh with beer chaser, the band staying very level-headed, not throwing out flashy bits or hooks al that often, sticking to an economical and fastidious sense of business. As a result, this is not an album that blows you away upon first listen, but one of those that slowly reveals favourites and indeed personality, the over-riding trait being one Death Angel has had from the start, this idea of rocking out without second-guessing.
Rating 8

Disillusion - Back To The Times Of Splendor
(Metal Blade)

Around the magic circle (OK, circle jerk, then) of metal journos I pathetically run with, all have been in awe of this album, and frankly, quite stunned at the pioneering next metal Germany's Disillusion have discovered. You may have not seen much written about this masterful record because of that. It quite simply has left a lot of people speechless, under the guise of delaying their response. In effect, Back To Times Of Splendor (the band's debut, after two EPs) is a creatively fecund bridge between melodic death metal and progressive. There is a hint of daring In Flames-styles dynamic shifts, but most of these shifts aren't as predictable as those of Anders and crew have become. Think Hammers Of Misfortune and Finntroll (for... folk?) or Neurosis or Voivod or even Dream Theater. Prong even comes to mind, if only for melodic obtrusion, illusion and extrusion. It's that enigmatic and inscrutable. And it works so well, because of a number of things like oh, the explosive production, the mensa metaller-than-thou riffs, the straight jacket-busting vocals of Vurtox, the guy's intensity of expression something to behold indeed. Man, get this (granted, if the above description floats your vote)... if you think only the Finns are pushing the boundaries, Disillusion will have you re-wiring and inspiring.
Rating 9

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