Death Angel - Frolic Through The Park review


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Band: Death Angel
Album: Frolic Through The Park
Release date: 1988

01. 3rd Floor
02. Road Mutants
03. Why You Do This
04. Bored
05. Devil's Metal [CD bonus]
06. Confused
07. Guilty Of Innocence
08. Open Up
09. Shores Of Sin
10. Cold Gin [Kiss cover]
11. Mind Rape
12. Dehumanization [Artifacts and Archives bonus]
13. Silent Killer [Artifacts and Archives bonus]
14. Witches Of Knave [Artifacts and Archives bonus]

After a bright start with The Ultra-Violence, Death Angel show how hard it can be to follow up a success, especially when going through growing pains. While the band wobble, they don't lose their footing completely and the resulting album is a good listen, if easily the weakest of their initial run before breaking up.

The adage sophomore slump is just out of grasp here as a quick label to slap on Frolic Through The Park; where The Ultra-Violence had mixed youthful abandon with the nascent sound of thrash to create something imperfect yet endearing all the same, Frolic Through The Park maintains the youthful sound but never really enamours itself to these ears. Sometimes sustaining momentum can be just as hard as breaking ground in the first act; this would be a hurdle Death Angel faced here on their second album.

The production on this album serves as one of its main points of contention, diluting the impact of the material and turning fine brush strokes into a smattering on a canvas. The vocals, especially Osegueda, sound like he is singing down a corridor from the recording studio, with the resulting reverb of it bouncing off the walls in between becoming an integral part of its sound as a result (see "3rd Floor"). This creates the feeling that these songs are almost like jigasaw puzzle pieces, With Oseguada being separated from the instrumentation, though they may fit together, you are conscious that they are two separate entities rather than a single whole. "Devil's Metal" is a good example of this; while Oseguada has a place, it never truly feels like he commits to it.

Unfortunately it is not Osegueda who suffers from the production issues alone, Cavestany and Pepa are stuck with a guitar tone that sounds paper thin, threatening to unleash some power through their playing but sound like a kitten acting tough rather than a tiger roaring. "Guilty Of Innocence" has a good introduction riff but it sounds so much better when it has that oomph behind it to kick your skull in rather than hint at what is to come. They are however both given temporary reprieves when they kick in their effects, as suddenly the guitar tone firms up and sounds scathing rather than wilting.

Add to these growing pains the level of songwriting seems to have taken a side step rather than any strides forwards, adding to the overwhelming sense that Frolic Through The Park had a frustrated birth. Where The Ultra-Violence became a success, it sounds like Death Angel were then self-conscious of what had brought them success and were wary of not straying too far from a formula they had yet to fully understand. Dipping their toes in experimental waters, the band seem to recoil at the sight of ripples on the surface least they get dragged under the water, leading to an album that hints at change but never follows up on it beyond a few instances.

On the very strong other hand, Frolic Through The Park does produce some fine tracks that show that the band had a wealth of talent but struggled with how to best express it. When it does overcome the restraints, it will kick your ass and make you realize that though they may not be at their best, they're still better than many others out there. The jazzy bass and guitars mixed alongside the thrash in "Why You Do This" serves as the albums highlight. Alongside the out-and-out thrash in "Road Mutants", "Devil's Metal" and "Guilty Of Innocence", while they aren't at their best owing to production issues, they're still some solid tracks.

Start with The Ultra-Violence and Act III before working your way to Frolic Through The Park, it proves the adage of awkward middle child correct.

Rating breakdown
Performance: 7
Songwriting: 6
Originality: 6
Production: 6

Written by omne metallum | 04.07.2020


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