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Death Angel - Sonic German Beatdown - Live in Germany

Label: Nuclear Blast
Format: DVD
Released: 2010
Reviewed By: Jack Mangan
Rating: 7 /10

Death Angel. Back in the late 80s, these five Asian/Latino California teenagers changed perceptions about how old a thrash band had to be and what a metal band was supposed to look like. Their first two albums are revered as genre classics, but it wasn't until 1990's "Act III" that they even helped to redefine how a thrash band was supposed to sound, seamlessly blending other musical styles without compromising any grit or metallic edge.


‘I lost touch with Death Angel during the tumultuous years that followed, never heard much of their material as "The Organization" and failed to catch their two album releases after their 2001 reunion. So for me, the Sonic German Beatdown DVD is a trip down memory lane and a bit of an education in their newer material. This disc primarily features coverage of two live performances at German venues in 2007 and 2008, plus two official videos. No Organization songs, none of the acoustic stuff, and only ‘Stagnant’ from "Act III" to represent their funkier experimentation. The rest of the material performed at the two shows is hard, raw, aggressive Death Angel.

The first concert recording is from the Rock Hard Festival, May 26, 2007 in Gelsenkirchen, Germany. The guitars and drums sound great, the jams are tight as singer Mark Osegueda's dreadlocks, but I'm reminded here that I usually liked this band in spite of the vocals. Still, Osegueda engages the crowd well with a commanding stage presence and an ability to connect across languages with German-speaking fans, and his onstage reverence for bandmates and audience is beyond classy. This is a solid show. Lots of highlights, including the opening ‘Seemingly Endless Time’, and ‘3rd Floor’. My complaints would be with the long stretch of newer songs in mid-setlist, which aren't all that strong, and which kinda lose me. The rain at this outdoor festival also started to get heavier toward the end, which seemed to affect their performance slightly - - seems like the tempo near the end gets a little slower, especially during the iconic "Ultra-Violence" intro. The biggest flaw in this footage is not the band, it's the visuals. You know how it's said that the best effects and jumpcuts happen without you noticing them? Yeah. . .

The second show is from May 2008, recorded at the Live Factory in Adelsheim, Germany. The video footage and sound is noticeably lower quality than the stuff from the Rock Hard Festival, but damn if this isn't the better of the two. Osegueda sounded great on this night, as did the rest of the guys - -guitarist Rob Cavestany killed his solos like a man inspired. They integrated new and old material better throughout the set, and seemed to have better song selection from the new stuff. Again, lots of highlights, including ‘Lord of Hate’, ‘Voracious Souls’, and the closer ‘Resurrection Machine’.

The disc also contains two official videos for ‘Thicker Than Blood’ (from "The Art of Dying") and ‘Dethroned’ (from "Killing Season"). The latter is a good song and features some intriguing imagery, the former is significantly less interesting, with Osegueda's awful Brett Michaels-style bandana as the most memorable element.

The anal retentive buyer should also be alerted that there are some inconsistencies and errors in the DVD liner notes, which is annoying, but which shouldn't deter fans from this purchase. If you enjoy concert videos and have a penchant for classic thrash, then you should definitely give this DVD a spin. I appreciated the nostalgic trip and the reconnection with Death Angel - - past, present, and future.

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