Death Angel (1982-1991, 2001-present): a Thrash Metal band from San Francisco, California, USA.
orming in San Francisco, California, USA (the home of the so-called "bay area thrashers") in 1982, Death Angel would join a group of bands whose members included the likes of Anthrax, Metallica, Slayer and others. Death Angel was an all-in-the-family affair consisting of five cousins, Mark Osegueda (vocals), Rob Cavestany (guitar), Gus Pepa (guitar), Denis Pepa (bass) and 12-year-old Andy Galeon (drums); all of Filipino descent. After considering several names for the band, including Dark Fury, Cavestany and just 'D'. Pepa settled on the name "Death Angel" after coming across a book by that title in a book store.
In 1983, the band released their first demo, Heavy Metal Insanity, a demo that many considered more of a NWOBHM style than what they would later be known for.
In 1986, a Death Angel demo produced by future Metallica man Kirk Hammett, whom they had met at a record store signing in 1983. That demo, titled Kill As One, sparked the interest of 'Enigma Records'. Their resulting debut, The Ultra-Violence (1987), recorded while all the band members were still under 20 years old, featured a high-speed blast of thrash that sold 40,000 units in its first four months. It was followed-up with 1988's Frolic through the Park. Frolic through the Park showed musical advancement, but their first opus was still preferred by fans. The single from the album, Bored, was used in the 1990 movie Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III. The track also highlighted the cutting-edge band's inventive dynamics, and won a spot on MTV's Headbanger's Ball.
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'Geffen Records' came calling after the band went touring with Motorhead, and seeing the video for Bored. They were impressed enough with Death Angel's television premier to offer the band a deal, and Death Angel became the first band of their breed to appear on the major label's roster.
In 1990, 'Enigma Records', already having sold its interest in the band to the 'Geffen' label, illegally released and distributed a bootleg live album titled Fall from Grace, featuring songs from their first two releases and recorded at the Paradiso in Amsterdam, Netherlands. The album was released without any input from the band members. The band learned of its existence when they stumbled upon it in a record store in Tucson, Arizona, on the night prior to suffering a near-fatal auto accident. For other reasons, 'Enigma Records' declared bankruptcy soon after the release, thus keeping the profits from the sales. It is widely believed that 'Capitol Records' received the illegal album via the bankruptcy auction and continued to manufacture and distribute it with no regards to the band.
Act III (1990) was highly acclaimed and set new highs for the thrash genre; their technical musical skills were matched by few and competed successfully with the likes of Metallica. They also secured the position of being one of the first thrash acts to get the aforementioned major label support. Death Angel's masterful songwriting ability was once again on display nationwide in 1990, as the videos for Seemingly Endless Time and Room With A View saw heavy rotation on MTV. Death Angel's world Act III supporting tour included sold-out shows in Japan, USA and UK. In fact, nearly every date on the Act III World Tour, included sold out storied venues such as The Warfield Theater in San Francisco, The Ritz in New York, and England's Hammersmith Odeon, a remarkable achievement for any band, but particularly stunning for such a young group, not to mention one comprised of cousins.
However, while driving in Arizona en route to a show in Las Vegas, Nevada, the group's tour bus crashed, and drummer Andy Galeon was critically injured, needing more than a year to recover. Following the accident, 'Geffen Records' along with the band's manager pressured the group to hire another drummer and immediately go back to work. The band performed the aforementioned shows in Japan with drummer Chris Kontos, but when they declined to hire a long-term replacement; 'Geffen Records' suddenly dropped them.
Osegueda then left the group and moved to New York to pursue a life outside of music, the remaining members continued on to perform acoustic-only shows in the Bay Area, appearing as "The Past".
In the summer of 1991, Galeon had fully recovered and Death Angel's remaining members, less Osegueda, reformed under the name The organization, a name taken from the title of a song on their previous Act III album, featuring Cavestany on lead vocal duties; the band focused more on funk and alternative rock than traditional metal.
Under the new name the act toured extensively in the USA and Europe. However, when both 1993's The organization and 1995's Savor the Flavor albums, distributed by 'Metal Blade Records', failed to get the record-buying public's attention, Cavestany and Galeon decided to disband.
In 1998, Cavestany and Galeon reunited with Osegueda, along with bassist Michael Isaiah, to form Swarm (USA) and release a four-track self-titled EP in 1999 and the five-song Devour EP in 2000. Swarm would then tour with Jerry Cantrell of Alice in Chains also in 2000. In 2004 the compilation album Beyond the End, which combined the contents of the two EPs and a cover of The Doors' My Eyes Have Seen You, would be released posthumously.
Death Angel officially reunited in August 2001 for Thrash of the Titans, a cancer benefit show for Testament front-man Chuck Billy featuring friend and fan, Ted Aguilar, to handle rhythm guitar duties. Originally planned as a one-off show, the band received such a positive response that they played a string of other well-received gigs around the San Francisco area and a pair of European tours.
The Art of Dying (2004) would appear next on 'Nuclear Blast Records' along with Archives and Artifacts, a box set with remastered versions of the long out-of-print The Ultra-Violence and Frolic through the Park. The Rarities CD and DVD, followed in 2005. Killing Season followed in 2008, that October Pepa would leave. In January, bassist Sammy Diosdado would join.
On May 28, 2009, Andy Galeon had quit the band, leaving Cavestany as the only founding member left. He was replaced by Will Carroll (ex-Scarecrow, ex-Old Grandad, ex-Vicious Rumors). In November, Diosdado would also leave and be replaced by ex-Scarecrow, ex-Potential Threat bassist Damien Sisson. Relentless Retribution (2010) followed, along with The Dream Calls for Blood (2013). The Ultra-Violence would also be re-released.
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