RIO GRANDE VALLEY, Texas (KVEO) – The release of any musical recording is a big deal for artists.
It’s a way of showing listeners what you are and leaving behind a work that will last forever in the annals of the enormous musical archives the world has to offer.
The right outing can push a group into the limelight and finally pay off for all their efforts.
These efforts are amplified on a band’s first record when their ideas are fresh, and the release of that album becomes a milestone in life.
For Archangel AD, releasing album number one was a mission of more than five years.
Getting to this point has been a tumultuous task for the band as they’ve had to deal with shady concert promoters, roster changes, a band name change and a whole host of other issues, but the product finished made the trip even more enjoyable.
The Edinburgh thrash metal band was formed in 2015 by guitarist Matt Karr and drummer Ed Vera when they were in high school at the age of 16.
âEd’s parents told him he could have an Xbox One or a battery,â Karr joked. âHe chose the drums, then we formed the group. “
Karr and Vera mixed up several group names when they first met before moving to Archangel based on a church pamphlet Matt picked up.
The duo regrouped with a singer and another guitarist as they learned songs together in Karr’s garage.
The original Archangel singer left the group and they found themselves with a gap to fill in the position.
Like many people in need of weird services, they turned to Craigslist for a young singer and bassist who could play their brand of metal.
At the same time, a music major from UTRGV was looking to join a band as a vocalist and took a look at the Craigslist listings.
âTheir ad said they were looking for someone under 20 and I was 19,â recalls Justin Lopez, the band’s singer and bassist.
After Lopez’s insertion in Archangel, their original guitarist was replaced by Jake Garcia, who quickly proved to be the guitar virtuoso the group was looking for.
Archangel trained with this formation for a few months before landing his first concerts in the RGV playing songs by Metallica, Judas Priest, Megadeth, as well as some of their first originals.
It was around this time that the group discovered that there were other groups called Archangel and that they were forced to change their nicknames.
Instead of completely changing the name, they added AD to become Archangel AD
âOur plan is to someday become big enough to be able to drop the Archangel name,â Lopez said.
With the new name and a consolidated lineup, Archangel AD faced off against the RGV and performed concerts almost every weekend of 2016.
It was around this time that they learned not to trust everyone in the music scene. The band described a predicament where a local concert organizer repeatedly scammed them and others took advantage of their services by not paying them for concerts.
âIt was our ‘welcome to the music scene‘ phase,â Garcia said. “We learned who we could and couldn’t trust at the time.”
After two years of constant concerts, Archangel AD released their first official music in June 2018 with War band.
The 6 track EP is a burst of electrifying aggression that any thrash metal fan will appreciate with the band taking influences from Metallica, Megadeth, Forbidden, Judas Priest, Candlemass and many other metal bands.
Archangel AD toured Texas and drew many listeners across the state to hear their brand of thrash metal.
A photoshoot the group did at Whataburger for War band was even shared on Instagram by the restaurant chain. The group cited the Texas-founded establishment as a favorite post-concert dining spot.
After the 2018 tour, Karr left the band for personal reasons and was replaced by Roman Torres, a native of San Benito, who previously played drums in another local band but was qualified enough to take on guitar duties in Archangel AD.
The group then set themselves the goal of producing their first album, but scheduling problems delayed the band’s momentum.
Between the exit of War band and when they finally started working on their debut album, Lopez and Vera graduated from UTRGV, and Garcia and Torres took on full-time jobs that took up most of their time.
âWe couldn’t just spend two weeks playing in Jake’s garage like we did when we were at school,â Lopez said. âThe transition to this was tough, but we were still determined to break that record. “
The group entered the studio in early 2021 after a year of inactivity due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Recorded for a few months at the Red Barn Studio in Mission, Casus belli is the product of a group destined for greatness.
Casus belli opens with “Bet on Death”, a fast and catchy piece of a song that takes this record in the right direction for any thrasher.
Things stay the same on âCasus Belliâ before the tempo slows down a bit on âBeacons,â a doom-filled track where Lopez shows his husky voice.
“Celestion” puts things back in style as Vera shows off just how good he can rock his drums.
The sixth song on the album, âSangre de las MontaÃ±asâ, is a Spanish folk song with flamenco notes that helps the band create a completely non-character songwriting theme for their albums.
The track bridges the catchier first half of thrash and the darker, heavier and more experimental second half with “Demonolith” showing a sludge metal side of the band.
But how the slow and maligned attitude on this song is immediately erased with the blazing guitar riffs that Garcia and Torres posed on “Blasphemer”.
“Door to the Moon” slows things down to a slightly psychedelic rock vibe before ending with a distorted instrumental track that explodes in the last track from the album “The Coming of the West Wind”.
The album opus is a 10 minute collection that sums up everywhere this band has stretched out on this album. Elements of death, doom, heavy, thrash and progressive metal are present on this one-song banger.
Globally, Casus belli is a solid debut album produced in a way excellent enough to capture the rawness of this RGV metal band.
Archangel AD released the record on Friday July 23 through their label Horsemen Records and saw unwavering support from fans and metal sites around the world.
Now that this album has been released, the band are looking to keep writing and start playing again on a regular basis.
However, they will have to do this without one of their founding members.
Vera was accepted into the University of North Texas School of Medicine and can no longer play in the squad. The group worked Casus belli farewell for Ed as well as their debut.
But instead of finding a new member to join on drums, they decided to move Torres to play drums and Karr will join the group to get Archangel AD as a quartet.
Each member has high hopes for Archangel AD and is delighted to continue the momentum of this first album.
Archangel AD music is available on Apple Music, Bandcamp, Spotify, and YouTube.
You can follow them on Facebook and Instagram.
The Rio Grande Valley is full of musical talent that deserves to be exhibited. If you know of a musician or band that should be featured on RGV Sounds, send an email to [email protected]