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NEW KIDS IN TOWN

Thrashin' Cousins

January 24, 1988|JON MATSUMOTO

Band: Death Angel.

Personnel: Rob Cavestany, lead guitar; Mark Osegueda, vocals; Gus Pepa, guitar; Andy Galeon, drums; Dennis Pepa, bass.

History: It's not every day that you find a speed-metal band featuring five teen-age Filipino-American cousins. But that's the profile of upstart thrashers Death Angel. Formed as a quartet in 1982, the group initially featured Cavestany, now 18, Galeon, 14, and Gus and Dennis Pepa, both 19. Bassist Dennis Pepa was also the group's singer until vocalist Osegueda, 18, joined the ranks in 1985. The San Francisco-based group originally represented a more mainstream heavy-metal style. But after the emergence of Bay Area speed-metallists Metallica and Exodus around 1983, Death Angel adopted the ultra-fast and abrasive style. In 1985, it recorded a demo titled "Kill as One," which was produced by Metallica guitarist Kirk Hammett. Last April, Death Angel released its first album, "The Ultra-Violence," on Enigma Records. The LP has sold almost 50,000 copies. Contrary to the speed-metal stereotype, the members of Death Angel come across in interviews as pleasant, unaffected teen-agers--Osegueda was even student body president of his high school and a member of the choir. The band claims its aim is to be an uplifting force and that its songs "Final Death" and "The Ultra-Violence" are anti-nuclear statements.

Sound: There's no mistaking Death Angel for the Jets--pop's other teen-age family act with Pacific ethnic roots. Featuring staccato riffs and wrenching guitar solos, the high-octane tunes on "The Ultra-Violence" come blasting out of the block like twin-engine dragsters. Tracks like "Thrashers" and "Evil Priest" represent rock in its harshest and most aggressive state, with a keen feel for rock dramatics and a high degree of musicianship. The band members cite Metallica and early Iron Maiden and Rush and the Cure as influences. Death Angel has a predilection for lengthy songs that often feature extended, usually involving instrumental passages, and Osegueda is a sinister screecher with plenty of lung power. Along with Metallica's "Kill 'Em All" LP (see Record Rack, Page 78), "The Ultra-Violence" may eventually rank as one of the strongest debut albums to come out of the speed/thrash metal movement.

Show: Saturday at Fender's Ballroom.

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