Death Angel / 3 Inches Of Blood Opera House, Toronto ON February 6

Death Angel / 3 Inches Of Blood Opera House, Toronto ON February 6
Somebody call Professor Peabody. It looks as if his wayback machine is set in some sort of constant metallic loop. While some of that might be the magnetic pull of anodized resurgence, there's also a healthy dose of longhorns just refusing to give up the ghost. Either way, it's a pretty great place to be thanks to new wave of Canadian thrash metal upstarts 3 Inches of Blood and old-school Bay Area brigade Death Angel.

Dousing the crowd with their virulent blasts of power-infused thrash for the better part of an hour, Vancouver's most clangorous export, 3 Inches of Blood, have always been a solid armada musically. While their roster of former members hosts more names than Annabel Chong's little black book, the band's aural attack has never suffered, a point proven during a live set of highlights from their four-album, 11-year career.

Forcing fists to pump along in unison to anthemic tracks such as band classic "Deadly Sinner" was as nostalgically charged as their selection of cover song: Rush's "Anthem." Delivered in vocalist Cam Pipes's inimitable falsetto wail and underpinned by a darker, faster attack, the Rush redo was a rousing moment every aging body in the venue beheld with subdued sentimentality.

Maintaining the theme of wistful revisitation, Death Angel will always be seen as a part of the late-1980s San Francisco Bay Area thrash metal scene they helped create. Taking that point in stride, the quintet did cherry-pick prime songs from their formative years but were clearly out to maintain current relevance, not relive past glories.

Racing through a near-perfect rendition of "Mistress of Pain" before focusing on tunes such as "This Hate" from their latest album, 2010's Relentless Retribution, Death Angel were as commanding, explosive and energized as always, despite facing a crowd oscillating between oddly stoic and excitingly enthused, often within the same song. Floor-engrossing circle pits starting off with fiery grit at a song's onset would peter out before the first chorus, forcing one to wonder: was the median age too old to maintain such a pace? Was the weekend too hard on them, causing an empty Sunday night tank?

Undaunted, the band raged on, incited by local mainstay Danko Jones's guest vocal spot on pummelling "Thrashers" from 1987 debut The Ultra-Violence. Always smooth, confident and refined during his own performances, Jones cut loose and screamed like the very same school kid vocalist Mark Osegueda recalled him as being when they first met years. Let it not go unsaid, though, that Osegueda himself was lacking in any way. Even after 24 years, his voice is a bastion of piercing screams and guttural precision.

Such a prime moment managed to spark a more engaging second half to Death Angel's set, ramping up overall energy and creating a high point seconded only by hearing them tear through trademark tune "Bored" from 1988 sophomore opus Frolic Through the Park. Inciting a collective "wow," the song's flow was pregnantly broken midway in order to hammer out a stunning version of Black Sabbath's "Heaven and Hell." Rich, crunchy and motivating, it was the perfect cap on an evening flirting with reminiscence.

For reviews of the other bands on tonight's bill, head here.