Rob Cavestany of Death Angel: A Firm Grip

"You can turn around at any given moment and the whole thing could disappear"

Death Angel founder, Rob Cavestany has seen it all – from the fundamental days of the Bay Area Thrash Metal movement to the triumph and glory that showered down upon it for decades to the new era in which the genre still reigns supreme; unrelenting and uncompromised. When you think in depth of the period Thrash Metal what do you automatically think of? Speed, veracity, ferocity.... Denim!

Taking turns to see who had the lousiest transcontinental phone connection Metal As Fuck finally got a hold of Rob.... “Of all the things, I’m sweating balls here in Oakland, it’s a hot day, I’m drinking a cup of hot coffee and I’m wearing a thick buffalo leather jacket as I’m trying to break it in, it’s brilliant”.

It was 2001, Death Angel were at that time in hiatus however asked to play Chuck Billy’s Clash of The Titans benefit gig, what was the catalyst behind accepting the offer and what happened during that set that ultimately brought Death Angel back? “Well the catalyst was our friend Chuck having cancer and that he personally called me and asked to be a part of it – that was reason enough for us. We never would have reunited for anything other than that benefit show at the time but we hit the stage and the crowd did it for us, it was something we hadn’t felt for eleven years. It was so intense and so emotionally charging that we couldn’t help but feel it. After that show we were getting some serious offers; one thing just lead to the next and we just needed another taste of it – we had no idea it was going to become this permanent”.  

Death Angel have dedicated themselves to the original Thrash sound, uncompromising in your direction – still, after thirty years in the game – so would you state Evil Divide is a continuation of this? “In some ways yes, but I’m being told by many that upon listening to the new album it’s a conclusive statement that we’ve taken a leap forward on Evil Divide. Evolving and pushing the envelope of our sound stylistically and I think it’s pretty apparent that when you give it a listen it’s still intense and thrash and everything you would expect from us and more. There is a lot more depth on this album”.

You have mentioned that time and experience have assisted Death Angel to mature in the studio for this album – so what have been the most valuable lessons you’ve learnt whilst recording for the band in general over the years “Just how to be more efficient about it really, working within time restraints and more importantly how to get into a good head space for the studio - to the point where you are getting tracks down and the red record light is on and it’s the moment of truth that what you’re playing is the permanent mark. So all these factors take place when you try to record and it can be sterile at times it can be nerve wracking it can uncomfortable at times – so getting yourself into a head space where you’re comfortable; an emotionally comfortable space is essential in order to express yourself through the music while the pressure is on and that is what you’re constantly trying to achieve and in my eyes its experience and extreme focus that will lead you there”.

How long were you working on the material for Evil Divide? “Basically since The Dream Calls For Blood [2013] was released – so I started writing songs shortly after. There were writing gaps, sometimes months at a time due to touring. Finally, I’d say after the last leg of the The Dream Calls For Blood tour in Europe, we came home and within those six weeks of being home 60% of the record was written”. What challenges did you encounter during the recording of Evil Divide if any? “Just the general run of the mill challenges – trying to get the best takes you can. You just have to get there any way possible and I can definitely say that there were no odd or weird, fucked up circumstances surrounding the process this time, it went fairly smoothly – I loved the recording process of this album actually – it certainly went a lot smoother than our last album which was loaded with challenges and crazy personal dealings. In comparison it was a lovely walk in the park and one of the best recording processes I’ve had”.

What would you say the album reveals about the band today? “It reveals everything about the band today, our entire lives, everything we go through, every single emotion we experience is poured out into our music especially within the Evil Divide. It shows the band today as a more confident unit; a team who are very proud of what they do. A well seasoned and well oiled machine that is absolutely on fire and on top of their game - that is what you’re hearing on this record”.

As of 2009 you were the only original member left in the band – how was this time for you and did you have any concerns for the future of Death Angel at this time? “Ohh definitely, there are concerns for the future of Death Angel at every point. It’s a volatile situation being tied to five people musically as well as the support team around you. There are a lot of ups and downs on a daily basis, sometimes on an hourly basis. You just hope for the best, anticipate the volatility of this industry and keep it together as best you can. You can turn around at any given moment and the whole thing could disappear – and you have to expect that, you have to be prepared for that. Make the best of every single moment”.

Now you guys are heading out on the road with Slayer and Anthrax at the end of the year for a run of North American shows – so what has the band got in store to further promote the album? “We look to massive world touring for Evil Divide. We are a band known to tour relentlessly so the North American run kicks off the touring cycle for this album. This unfortunately is the only information I can release right now but I’m sure you’ll be hearing from us no doubt”.