Death Angel – Still Restless and Relentless

Wednesday, 2nd October 2013

Without having to endure the post-thrash backlash that beset every band not named Metallica, Death Angel have made the best out of the second half of their career with good, old-fashioned hard work. Perhaps it was the 11 years of inactivity (1990 – 2001) that kept the band’s legs fresh, or the fact they formed when most of the members were 14 or 15 years old, but Death Angel hardly has the look and feel of a so-called “vintage” thrash band. Their recent output (2010’s excellent Relentless Retribution and this year’s The Dream Calls for Blood) certainly suggests a band far from entering the twilight of its career; in fact, if you ask the gents in DA, they’ll tell you they’re just getting started.

Fresh off a flight delay from his San Francisco homebase to Nuclear Blast’s Los Angeles headquarters, vocalist (and all-around dude of energy) Mark Osegueda phoned DR to wax about The Dream Calls for Blood, the band’s non-stop touring schedule, as well as now-legendary 2001 Thrash of the Titans show, an event that essentially jump-started the thrash scene all over again. Here’s how it went down…

Dead Rhetoric: Is this the hardest you’ve been working since the 80’s? I can’t recall any breaks from the time Relentless came out to the present day.

Mark Osegeuda: It’s the hardest we’ve ever been working, definitely. If you talk about touring – this is the most we’ve ever toured, including the 80’s. It’s the most productive we’ve been since then as well with back-to-back records, but it’s hard to say “back-to-back” since it’s been three years [laughs].

Dead Rhetoric: I remember reading something from you before to the effect that some of the previous members had commitments that prevented you from touring full-time. Safe to say there are no hold-ups with the guys you have now?

Osegeuda: In a huge way. That was one of the main things that was a crux for us before. With The Art of Dying and Killing Season, there was a great deal of delay because people started having kids, so they could only tour for five weeks at the most. That doesn’t work with modern day with metal, you have to tour and be a touring machine. Slowly but surely, they weeded themselves out and we got people who could tour. As soon as we gained the public’s respect back with this lineup as a band that could tour, and their respect with this lineup that could still write music, everything started to fall into place in a big way.

Dead Rhetoric: Some of these thrash bands – they seem to get stuck with the core, older fanbase, but with the hard work you’ve been putting in, it appears that your fanbase is starting to jump a few generations. Have you started to notice more of that?

Osegeuda: It definitely seems like it from the crowd reaction the emails we’re getting – it definitely makes us feeling younger, which is great. It’s our lifeblood. We’re like vampires [laughs].

Dead Rhetoric: You and Rob [Cavestany, guitars] have been in the band since its formation and serve as the figureheads. What’s the working relationship like? Is there any butting of the heads? Or, has become more of an unspoken thing where you don’t need to say much to each other to get something to work?

Osegeuda: I must say, it’s probably about 90% seamless and the 10% that’s not, it’s just a little hiccup. We don’t butt heads as much – we talk it out and usually see each other’s point and go with what seems the most logical. Our working relationship is great. Our writing relationship is incredible. We work really well off each other. I’m inspired by his riffs and he usually completely digs what I do lyrically and melody-wise. It helps us. I hate to be so cliché – too many cooks in the kitchen. It’s helped us streamline our sound and what we’re coming out with now is more concise than it ever has been.

Dead Rhetoric: Have you ever written an album while on the road? Is the writing of The Dream Calls for Blood while on tour a first for you guys?

Osegeuda: It’s definitely a first for the amount we wrote while on the road. Before, maybe Rob wrote a song and some riffs to work on when we got home, but with this, the majority of the music was written on the road while tightening up the songs during sound checks. It was cool to watch it unravel. Lyrically, I must admit that I wrote all of the lyrics when I was back in San Francisco. Even some of them up to the last point in Sanford, Florida. It’s hard for me to write on the road. I do a little bit, but I need to be completely by myself without distraction.

Dead Rhetoric: Do you work well under pressure?

Osegeuda: I completely thrive off of it. It’s odd – I get this weird studio eye and creative high, which I lacked in the 80’s. Some people have stage fright – I never really had that, but I had studio fright. There was something that made me feel tense and clammed up, but now I like to be pushed and I like to push back.

Dead Rhetoric: Back in the 80’s, you were in major label land. Like, if we talk about Act III. Did you have a lot of “label heads” around during the sessions? Maybe they contributed to you being nervous.

Osegeuda: The one that we really had the major push was Act III. It wasn’t even so much that…by then I was nervous because we were working with [producer] Max Norman. Like, “Oh my God, I don’t know what this guy is going to think of me.” [laughs] It was just too many people in the control room, too many people from the band that had an opinion about something. Now, it’s pretty streamlined. Me, the producer, and hell, Rob doesn’t even come in until we have something for him to listen to, then he throws in his two cents and we start to re-work on something. But also, I’ve worked on my voice for years and years and years, so my ability is a lot stronger than it was in the 80’s [laughs].

Dead Rhetoric: How old were you when you did Act III? Early 20’s?

Osegeuda:  When we recorded, I was 20.

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