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Jones, Tommy (Director)
Death Angel: A Thrashumentary (DVD)
February 2016
Released: 2015, Nuclear Blast
Rating: 4.0/5
Reviewer: JP

This month I decided to review three documentary films all released on bands anniversary dates in 2015. They are Death Angel’s, A THRASHUMENTARY (30th anniversary), Quiet Riot’s, NOW THAT YOU ARE HERE, THERE’S NO WAY BACK (40th anniversary) and Scorpions FOREVER AND A DAY (50th anniversary). Please feel free to enjoy my reviews of the three films in this feature.

Anniversaries are a great thing. They often give people a chance to pause and reflect on a history of accomplishments and this fact was not lost on Death Angel. In 2015, the band hit the milestone of their 30th anniversary (depends how you count, it is actually a bit longer) and decided to commemorate that with a documentary film called A THRASHUMENTARY. A few years back the band was working with Tommy Jones on a video shoot and the relationship just evolved into the development of this film chronicling the history of the band.

One of my immediate gripes is the packaging. It comes in a jewel case. I get it, physical media is dying and call me old fashioned, I want my DVD’s packaged in DVD cases and CD’s packaged in jewel cases. The cover is really boring and the two- disc set comes with the bonus live album THE BAY CALLS FOR BLOOD. They should have been released separately. Buying this the fans don’t get to see the very cool artwork for the live album which is a rendering of the Golden Gate bridge covered in blood, because they are from the Bay-area, get it? Nuclear Blast should have included the artwork for both.

Tommy Jones of Videohammer studios did a great job the presentation of the actual film is superb. It looks and sounds sharp. A THRASHUMENTARY runs for two hours and comes with a simple bonus feature of one live song. In reality the only way to approach these things is start at the beginning and the doc follows early days of the band. There are some great old clips and a common thread was how young they were when they started. The band says they never really thought of it in those terms but it certainly was a big deal for the media. I recall reading about how young they were quite often and the band even says it helped them but was odd that the music was often secondary. Fortunately for the fans the music was not secondary in the eyes of the band as they progressed rapidly, almost too rapidly to enjoy the ride with a classic case of driven and perhaps unscrupulous management.

The story follows with an extended and very interesting section about how the band imploded after a huge five-year run and a demoralizing bus accident that literally tore the band apart. I really appreciated the fact that Jones and the band did not gloss over the intervening years as Osgueda went off to NYC and did his project Swarm and Rob Cavestany continued on with The Organization neither of which recaptured the sound or glory of Death Angel as both bands were too much of a radical departure from the original thrash sound. However a keen-eared fan could hear how Death Angel evolved on every album and perhaps would not be shocked that the two–post DA projects were a radical departure form the true thrash sound of their earlier incarnation.

True to form the reunion was well-documented as are the numerous line-up changes. I would have liked to get some input from the other long-standing members Andy Galleon (drums) and the cousins Gus and Denis Pepa. As it stands only Mark and Rob from the original line-up were truly featured. I don’t know if that was their decision, the directors or the other guys declined to participate but the doc left me feeling like there was a gap in the story. Fortunately, all the current members (Damien, will and Ted) get plenty of screen time and all these dissimilar personalities make for one cohesive whole. One thing that struck ne was how hard the band works and how they are actually better now (in my opinion) than the early days. I appreciate the fact they don’t just live on former glory and they write record and tour with new music and heavily promote those new, killer thrash tunes. The movie follows them as they frolic through the park or rather grind it out in the trenches all across the planet, touring relentless through North America, South America, Europe and a stronghold of Asia. Needless to say, the soundtrack is superb!

A THRASHUMENTARY can stand shoulder to shoulder with any documentary I have seen. As these films get easier and easier to make, we are seeing more and more band-specific documentaries, some more ‘necessary’ than others. However, Death Angel is a band that is truly deserving and judging from all the testimonials from their peers in the film (Anthrax, Exodus, Testamant etc), I think most people would agree as they continue to kill as one.
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