Death Angel – A Thrashumentary
Directed by Tommy Jones
Review by Chris Galea
As Metal evolved beyond the New Wave of British Heavy Metal (NWOBHM) into something rawer and more visceral, several young bands on Los Angeles’ Pacific coast embraced this embryonic sub-genre dubbed ‘Speed Metal’ or ‘Thrash Metal’. Testament, Metallica, Exodus and Forbidden were a few of the emerging crowd-pullers. Death Angel was another…notable for having within its line-up a family of cousins and brothers of Filipino descent. The members of Death Angel were young (their drummer was just 11 years old when the band recorded their seminal debut album) but they were bursting with energy and determination.
“Death Angel – A Thrashumentary” is a documentary chronicling the band’s history via interviews with its members and acquaintances, numerous live excerpts and candid footage. It takes a look into the very beginnings of Death Angel, the band’s first live performance (supporting Megadeth), their first demos (produced by Metallica’s Kirk Hammett) right up to the writing and recordings of their recent albums. And it revisits all the joys, tragedies and notable live shows in between all that.
By 2001 Death Angel had already been laid to rest for about a decade when a benefit show was put together for Chuck Billy (Testament) and Chuck Schuldiner (Death), who had both been struck by cancer. Death Angel were invited to play and the crowd reaction to their performance convinced the band to reunite. Chuck Billy later recalled: “I had to go and get cancer to get Death Angel back together. See how much I love you guys.” Of course, he said that jokingly, but it illustrates the bond and respect that Death Angel enjoyed amongst its peers…something that emerges from this documentary.
“Death Angel – A Thrashumentary” is at once hilarious, sad, intriguing and exciting. The regret of Death Angel’s band members when recounting the departure of previous members highlights their internal bond. But they’re not always so staid…the same guys prove to have a wry sense of humour, such as when their two guitarists ‘complain’ (tongue in cheek, of course) about being harassed by fans.
At over 2 hours’ duration the documentary is quite long. Sometimes it meanders….it becomes a little repetitive. Fans of the music genre and of the band, however, are bound to enjoy it. I know I did. Doubtlessly it provides quite a comprehensive insight into the life of Death Angel.
“…Thrashumentary” ends with Death Angel performing the song ‘Thrown To The Wolves’ in the Philippines and shows the band’s willingness to interact with fans. An appropriate conclusion to this very interesting documentary.
Watch the trailer here:
Death Angel’s latest Acoustic EP “Under Pressure” has just been released digitally via Nuclear Blast!
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