Archangel A.D. – Warband (Self-Released)Thursday, 3rd January 2019
Remembering the roots of thrash as a pissed off amalgam of the sophistication and spirit of NWOBHM and punk/speed, it’s great to see some new blood conjure up that early/mid 80’s spirit like Archangel A.D. have on their Warband EP. Forming in 2015, they jammed on some Metallica and Judas Priest covers before writing originals and recording their first demo the following year. Gaining some live experience prior to recording this six-song effort, it’s evident this quartet can spit out some sinister, tight rhythms and supplementary drop-dead transitions while the venomous vocals tie everything together in a pummeling package sure to cause swirling madness.
Early Bay Area influences along with some latter-day British sophistication appear in the solid twin rhythms and expressive lead breaks throughout – you’ll hear serious, trained chops and fiery finger action for highlights such as “Blightning” and the instrumental “Enter the Temple”. There’s an exotic texture to some of the hooks and chord combinations that pair well to the tight tempo choices, material that wasn’t just created in a single rehearsal and develops over time, bringing Megadeth, Metallica, Evile, and a bit of Holy Terror to mind. The down picking and triplet chunking for opener “Unto the Evil” makes unison windmill activities a prerequisite, bassist Justin Lopez matching the intensity in a rhythm-like word barrage with the right sneer to raspy forcefulness vocally that thrash deserves. Understanding the need to not always play at blazing speeds, the longest track “Evil Dreams” at 6:40 executes a classic doom atmosphere – ringing out bells and morose darker chords in between Dio-era Black Sabbath and older Candlemass that hopefully will continue to be a dynamic card Archangel A.D. use from time to time.
Improvement could be made in the predictable vocal delivery at times for Justin, especially where he tends to mirror the music in the verses which can lead to a monotonous, flat line of emotions (“Evil Dreams” the clearest example) – but these gentlemen are heading on the right path. The production values and musical execution are stellar, bringing this scribe back to a period where the intent and vitality of thrash align with what this genre should be about. Strap on that flying V, fire up the dual leads and wah-wah pedal, and allow Warband to remind you of early thrash glory.