When it comes to thrash metal there will always for me be one record that can be hailed as a truly great "comeback"-record: The Formation Of Damnation by Testament. This record has become the mark to which to compare the other albums in one of my favorite genres.
Although Death Angel's Relentless Retribution is out only two years after Killing Season it has somewhat of a comeback album over it - internal struggles within the band that didn't end amicably - has resulted in one of the angriest albums from Death Angel in a long time. This is not a bad sign, since all thrash metal has to have some element of frustration in it, and it was with great anticipation that I put the record in my stereo.
The anger is clearly audible, and the band seems to have channeled the bad feelings into the music beautifully. This is the strong point of the record - the rest is, sadly, not as good. I find that no songs seem to stick in my mind - and believe you me that I have dedicated some time to this record. Relentless Retribution has occupied my ears well over 30 times.
Whereas the songs themselves do not reach up to par the playing is very good - the dominating feel is heaviness over speed, and it wouldn't have hurt to have some faster songs on the record as well to break up the more moderately paced songs that dominate the record.
If you're looking for originality you have to look elsewhere than to thrash metal - the genre was original back in the 80's, and thrash isn't about originality anymore. Death Angel has understood this and is sticking to their guns - the high pitched vocals of Mark Osegueda are to me one of the trademarks of this band and I'm thoroughly enjoying each moment of his efforts.
The production is very nice and is very fitting - a nice dry sound that makes it very easy to hear everything played - is very pleasing to the ears. I really wanted to like Relentless Retribution more than I do - but sadly this record does not live up to my expectations.