DEATH ANGEL Guitarist Discusses Making Of 'Relentless Retribution'

Away Team recently conducted an interview with guitarist Ted Aguilar of San Francisco Bay Area metallers DEATH ANGEL. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.

Away Team: On this album ["Relentless Retribution"] you have two new musicians (Damien Sissom on bass and Will Carroll on drums) on it. Has that changed how you guys write?

Ted Aguilar: Well, it definitely changed this time around because we have a new rhythm section. Andy Galeon [drums] and Dennis Pepa [bass] are no longer with the band due to personal and family obligations. They couldn't go out on tour basically so we got a new rhythm section and when we got them, before we even started writing a record, we went out on tour with them. Just played the old songs and we noticed they have a thrashier element. So it was kinda good to go out on the road with them and play some of the old songs and get a feel of what's going on. I've known Damien and Will for awhile, I've played with them, so I know what their vibe is about. But it was good in a sense for Rob [Cavestany, guitar] and Mark [Osegueda, vocals] because it's probably the first time in DEATH ANGEL history they got to jam with somebody who are not family, somebody totally new. So when we came to writing the album Rob kinda knew what styles Will played, he knew Will's a thrash drummer, basically like full-on thrash drummer, Damien's a thrash bass player but with a sense of like, ala Cliff Burton, Steve Harris, all those great players. So Rob wrote accordingly to that. The band's been through a lot of ups and downs in the past couple of years, losing members and a lot of personal things going on internally and externally. So all that influence and jamming with new people helped create this record, which is the most aggressive and thrashiest record since "The Ultra-Violence". You know, a lot of double bass a lot of fast parts and it feels like a new band. When you listen to the record, for us, it seemed like a new band getting its first record deal, excited! Just going out there again you know? It's kinda like they helped bring that excitement back which was kinda tapering off with Dennis and Andy because they just weren't into it any more. You can't really force anybody to be into something when they're not. And it was really hard for the band because those guys had been with the band since the inception and a lot of fans are like, "Oh man! What're they gonna do?" But this album's going to really prove that DEATH ANGEL can go on and we're happy about that.

Away Team: That's one thing I'd noticed with "The Art Of Dying" and "Killing Season". "Act III" to most fans out there was the be-all-end-all DEATH ANGEL album and it was probably the most diverse out of the three original albums, very funky, a lot of different styles woven through the basic Bay Area thrash sound and with "The Art Of Dying" and "Killing Season" and what little bit I've heard of "Relentless Retribution", it's like you have gone more towards the straightforward thrash. Is that more angry or just…?

Ted Aguilar: It's a combination of things. I mean, it was intentionally to do that, and two, it was, like I said... We'd gone through a lot in the past couple of years so all that vibe went into that, and Rob being the sole the chief writer on this one. "The Art Of Dying" was good, you know, it got our feet wet with the band discovering themselves again because it'd been a long time. "Killing Season" was a great record where everyone like pretty much honed in, but then again, like I'd said, in the past couple of years there was tension within the band of collaborating. I mean, collaboration is good sometimes, you know, and it works well when it works well, and the past couple of years with everyone, it was hard in a sense. And when everyone collaborated, it made DEATH ANGEL, but this one was more Rob wrote everything. I mean, he had the ideas, he had the thing, there was no fighting, there was no pushing and pulling. It wasn't like, "No, this has to be that way!" "No, this is that way!" Rob had so much ideas, and so much to let out, that with our new rhythm section and we heard what Rob was writing and we'd go, "That's it!" You know, he was feeling it, he had all this vibe and ideas, we just ran with it. It was easier for Rob to write. There was no pushing and pulling, he had everything, we just added to what he did. It's like I said being a band, being in a first band, someone forms a band, "I got all these songs let's do it, let's do it, let's do it!" And when it came to the lyrics, Mark wrote the majority of the lyrics. There's 12 songs on the record. Mark wrote nine of them and Rob wrote the other three and it's a heartfelt record. Mark finally got to release. Mark had a lot… you know, we all went through a lot of stuff. We were all able to release, and that's why the record's more thrashy, more aggressive. It was purposely done that way. Along with the fact of what we went through, so we're stoked about it. We're just stoked. And it still has DEATH ANGEL elements in there. It doesn't have the sing-along's like some stuff on "Act III", but there's melody. It's just aggressive melody. Who knows how well this album does. We could go on the road even longer. That's something we want to do. It's something a proper band should do. And that's something we never got to do with "The Art Of Dying" and "Killing Season". Due to the fact that a couple of the guys in the band either didn't want to tour… we get booked a tour and go, "I can do that first half but not the second half." It's like we gotta do it all! But now that those roadblocks are not there we are able to just tour and we need to tour to promote the record and to get in people's faces. A lot of people want to see us live and they don't want to wait four years for us to come by. So we want to keep coming and coming around.

Read the entire interview from Away Team.

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