» Rob Cavestany - Death Angel
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Interview conducted February 01 2008
Interview published February 04 2008

Death Angel - those Ultra-Violent Thrashers, have finally returned after a four year hiatus; disturbing the peace. The seasoned Road Mutants are primed and ready to kill as one. These voracious souls simply steal the crown away from the Lord of Hate, and the stagnant, confused, modern day thrash throng. This is the second coming of the true word to the wise organization, and they are dying to reconquer with vigilance, dole out carnal justice, and swarm those shores of seemingly endless time, with aspirations of pure angst and vim.

On their new CD: Killing Season, they deliver a dynamic sonic beatdown which dethrones the soulless; so open up your sewn shut eyes, stop being bored! Join me in my candid conversation with Rob Cavestany, when words collide, as he very enthusiastically endorses the recording of the new CD, and I shout accolades to pure Bay Area personification of Devil's Metal.

MettleAngel: Hey brother...Wow what serendipity! I know you are running a few minutes late on this interview, but check this - I was just listening to: A Passing Thought from the Archives & Artifacts collection. I just heard the words, "Sitting by the phone..." being sung by Mark Osegueda, as my phone began to buzz. The chorus "Life isn't fair - you must be strong!" sums up my whole week! Talk about your Divine Timing!

  • Rob: No way, that's totally awesome! Funny, you should be playing that particular song, do you really dig those demos?

Absolutely, I think you have some killer songs on there. I've always been a fan of the band. Being from California, myself, in the early 80's, I was a fan straight away. I can still remember purchasing the Ultra-Violence on cassette the week it came out.

  • Rob: That is so cool man. Thanks for sticking with us over the years!

MettleAngel: Hell Yeah, I love all your releases. I just got my advanced copy of Killing Season yesterday, so I've played it a few times and I'm very impressed - another crowning achievement!

  • Rob: Cool, you actually have the CD?

MettleAngel: I could have opted to obtain the promotional digital tracks, but I wanted the actual CD, as I have all your releases. Funny, it arrived postage due; but, it is definitely worth having. I'll probably get the digipack with the DVD when it's released at the end of the month. My most cherished release by the band, is still - Frolic Through The Park. I celebrate that album's variety and originality! I actually paid a great deal for that on CD, in the early days, just to get the "Devil's Metal" bonus track. Do you ever plan to publish lyrics for this song, or Thrashes or even Kill As One?

  • Rob: You are right, there are no lyrics for these songs available. Once we get our website revamped I'll look into that. When those are posted at our website I'll have to you thank, so keep a look out.

MettleAngel: Thanks man! I mean Death Angel have always written such great songs. Each album stands out on its own. You are one of the original Bay Area thrash acts and, at that time, one of the youngest; yet you never just played thrash. With each new album, you always evolved. Frolic is so diversified with influences from all walks of metal. This is even the first time I heard Cold Gin, as I was just not into Kiss as much back then. I remember reading an interview in Heaven's Metal where you mentioned your punk influences, which were evidenced on tracks like Why You Do This, Road Mutants, Open Up, etc. I always considered you as one of the elite California creations!

  • Rob: Thanks again Man! Wow, we were just kids back then. Andy Galeon and I laugh about it now; but we tried to do our best and just play the music we love to listen and hear, even to this day. We reflect what we are into at the particular time in our individual lives. This is the case with the new album - Killing Season. There are so many layers to it. There is the basic thrash metal vibe; but the deeper you delve, the more you uncover. We are just so truly in love with it, Man.

MettleAngel: I can see that, I've only spun it a few times, but I'm really floored - finally a winner in 2008! So many releases this year have been over-hyped. I really dug The Art Of Dying, and so far this one kicks serious ass, too. I plan to review it later this month, after fully absorbing its essence.

  • Rob: To me, it hits you on the first listen, and some may be content to just remain there. As you play it more, it just gets better; there are so many layers to it. It is a real task to undertake, but I encourage the listener to first casually play it, then continue to listen more and more and dive in to its complexities.

MettleAngel: I agree, already after just a few listens, I keep noticing nuances, not recognized the first time. I guess, with a band as talented as Death Angel, I would not expect less. You have always transcended the norm. This is your first album produced by Nick Raskulinecz, who has worked with Shadows Fall and Rush, but also Foo Fighters and Velvet Revolver. What was it like working with him?

  • Rob: Yes, this was our first experience with Nick, and I can tell you it won't be our last! We just hit it off in a big way. This has been the best experience making an album ever. This dude just gets it! He brings with him the diversity and knowledge of other metal acts, combined with his absolute professionalism. He is at heart a Heavy Metal kid. We hit it off the first minute we met. He's a real headbanger who just cracked us up in the studio, with his air drumming antics, and loose metal flavour. He points out the craziest details. He made my fingers bleed, with insane guitar suggestions. There was no restraint, just total collaboration. He'd play Seemingly Endless Time for us on his guitar, simply to demonstrate his loyalty to the band's effort. His is 100% committed to the deal. He too, is a die-hard fan who also bought the Ultra-Violence when it came out. He worked our asses off, having just finished with Rush!

MettleAngel: Wow, I though he would be another Andy Sneap or Machine, and by modern standards, a dutiful detriment to tradmark Death Angel. I guess he was really working them Angels, but not in a rush?

  • Rob: I must admit, I also thought he might ruin our sound, but we were blown out of the water with his vicious, acute attention to details. We would listen to Loudness in the studio. Akira Takasaki is one of my earliest influences. It was such a joy to work with Nick.

MettleAngel: I love Loudness - old school - Law Of Devil's Land rules! Akira is the Tusk of the Jaguar himself.

  • Rob: I actually introduced Nick to that with Akira singing. Dude we finally found our Martin Birch.

MettleAngel: I'm so pleased to hear that. Listening to the CD, clearly proves that all that hard work has really paid off.

  • Rob: Yeah, we recorded at the Foo Fighters studio. Dave Grohl would even walk in and show his support, screaming, "Death Angel are legends!"

I second that notion! So lyrically speaking what are some of the themes that went into the writing of Killing Season?

  • Rob: Actually, this time around we have taken a real punk attitude - so much so - that we decided to not include lyrics with the actual CD release.

  • MettleAngel: What, no lyrics? But your lyrics are so awesome! Thankfully, Mark's words are easily discernible and quite audible. I can easily understand his range.

  • Rob: Yeah, we just wanted more angst in our approach. We want our fans to figure the words out for themselves, and reach their own conclusions and interpretations.

MettleAngel: I've always been influenced by your lyrics. I still quote them to this day, just ask my wife! I mean I'm a huge advocate of the runes, I studied them for years. Now, with all this Viking Metal overkill, the sacred stones and bones have become cliche'. Hell, even on the new Manowar release, they wrote their entire thanklist in runes; that is just way too pretentious. Yet, when I saw you mention the "runes" on the lyrics for Shores Of Sin, I thought it was a typo for "ruins". What I'm saying is that Death Angel have always written cutting edge lyrics, beyond the norm of everyday political or societal bullshit.

  • Rob: Exactly man, I mean we are metal, so we have to write metal based themes, every now and then; but this time we really wanted to write about what we know - the world we live in! We were reluctant at first, as we did not want to become religious, or pass judgement through our social commentary, but we had to write what was dear to our hearts.

MettleAngel: Oh I know, in the late 80's all these thrash bands wrote about corrupt evangelicals, Reaganomics, war, and saving the environment. Death Angel wrote about mental illness, getting arrested, touring, and being bored! Songs like A Room With A View or Falling Asleep were not your thrash staples, even still, I so love these songs!

  • Rob: We love the ambiquity of our lyrics. It goes back to Pink Floyd, we want our fans to think about them. There are multiple meanings and interpretations out there. I'll level with you.. a song like God Vs. God is really not religious in context at all.

MettleAngel: Yeah, I saw that song and I at first thought Jesus vs. Allah. Then, I realized this is Death Angel, so I felt it was more like an "Us vs. Them" motif.

  • Rob: You got it! God can also be about what controls us, what we experience.

MettleAngel: Yeah like drug habits or addictions. It's like Mindrape, I had no idea that was about Charles Mansen until I really listened to the lyrics. I agree also with you, when you state that Killing Season has a real punk vibe. Such vicious cuts like When Worlds Collide, Soulless, The Noose, and Buried Alive really deliver with that proto-punk D.C. aggression reminiscient of Minor Threat, All, Descendents, etc. Of course, I also hear aspects of Guilty Of Innocence, Disturbing The Peace, and Throne To The Wolves wavering.

  • Rob: Man, you really are a true fan! You just get where we are coming from. It has been a real joy to speak with someone like you, Michael. You are truly dedicated, you understand our motives, the sonic characteristics, the different thrash metal perspective, all the ingredients which contribute to this sound; which some enjoy, and others heavily criticize. We play some whacked out shit, I'll give you that. I'm glad you love it.

MettleAngel: Yes I do, I always have. I am so pleased to have the privilege to speak old school mettle with you. I'll contact you at your myspace once this interview is written and posted. Thanks again!

See also: review of the album Killing Season

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