Death Angel returns from, uh, death

Sacramento never gave Death Angel—or Swarm, the latest incarnation of Death Angel—much love. Even during DA’s heyday on the Restless/Enigma and Geffen labels, when the band was selling out 300-500 capacity clubs around the U.S., attendance was far from stellar in the Valley. Death Angel, five Filipino dudes with long manes and a penchant for speed metal à la early Megadeth, Metallica and Speedway, might have gone completely unnoticed if it wasn’t for such (then) up-and-coming acts as Habeas Corpus, Deftones, Brutal Groove, along with the help of the now-defunct Cattle Club.On the flipside, a recent Friday CD release party for Swarm was nothing short of a heavy-metal homecoming, held in its hometown of San Francisco at a club called the Pound. After the recent success of Chuck Billy’s “Thrash of the Titans”—a benefit for the ailing frontman of Bay Area band Testament—it would seem that the resurgence of late ’80s/early ’90s metal is back, hearkening back to the days of good old thrash metal.

Wingnut, the night’s support act, featured the talents of Dave (ex-High Gain) and Tim Solyan (ex-Victim’s Family), served up a hearty dish of Helmet-like fare from both of their self-produced releases. Eric Lee (bass guitar/backing vocals) prowled around the stage resembling something out of Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are and laid a nice foundation for the plodding rhythms of guitarist Greg Clecak. “Fresh Eggs,” the night’s closing track, was simply crushing and could have been mistaken for a Jesus Lizard outtake (sans Dave’s clean vocals).By the time Swarm hit the stage, at roughly midnight, the Pound’s patrons were ready to implode from anticipation. The evening’s show didn’t disappoint and revolved around the release of the band’s new EP on the Industrial Strength Records, which showcases a more straight-ahead rock sound when compared to Death Angel’s brand of speed metal.

Not even singer Mark Osegueda’s heartfelt dedication to the victims of New York’s holocaust could keep the band’s affable fans from smiling. Such songs such as “Bleed” and “Heaven’s Cage” showed off Osegueda’s pipes and Rob Cavestany’s fretwork. Andy Galeon (drummer) played a slightly scaled-down kit (compared to his Death Angel days); he worked well with bassist Michael Isaiah. The song “Dark Western” was, easily, the night’s showstopper.After a recent, successful national tour with Jerry Cantrell (ex-Alice in Chains), Swarm’s audience should have broadened immensely. Perhaps the new album, a mix of sludgy rock and nu-metal, will get these talented young lads the recognition and kudos they deserve. Interested folks can visit the band’s Web site at or