Texan thrashers Archangel AD make a bit of a blooper by opening their debut full-length album with fast paced rocker Bet On Death; The track, which is certainly energetic enough to open an album, reeks just a bit too much of Motörhead at around the time they re-emerged as a four piece in the mid eighties. If this was a sound the band had intended to pursue throughout the album then fair enough – but it isn’t, and as such it’s a little bit of a false start to proceedings.
Much better might have been the brutal Blasphemer, an old-school thrash anthem that pays tribute to the first two Metallica albums with no apologies made and no quarter given. It’s a rager all right, easily the most immediate track on the record, capturing the spirit of the No Life Til Leather years right down to the ripping wah wah abuse on the solos and wave after wave of Ulrich-style tub thumping.
But this track is itself followed on the album by a soporific, blues-based balladic slow burning doom epic, Door To The Moon, and perhaps here is where the problem lies for this band; maybe there is no track here that is truly representative of Archangel AD at this time, as the guys scramble to cover as much musical ground as possible over the course of ten tracks. This includes everything from Mexican folk music to roaring death metal, with the result being perhaps just a little lacking in focus for the newcomer listening from the sidelines.
Still, the band are very young, and when they hit their straps, as they do so well on Blasphemer and, to a lesser extent, Beacons, which again features some superb lead guitar work, they show that they have the potential to go a long way – but first they need to decide in which direction that ‘way’ is headed. As a fellow Texan I applaud their ambition, and fervently hope they follow the path that’s right for them. Good luck guys!
Casus Belli releases on July 23rd.