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DARK ANGEL first began to spread their wings at suburban L.A.'s Downey High School in 1981. Sophomore students Jim Durkin (guitar), Don Doty (vocals) and Rob Yahn (bass) led the charge, releasing their first demo recording later that year. The tape was a promising assembly of youthful enthusiasm and aggression, though songs like "Demons Domain" reflected only a fraction of the relentlessness to come. The material was heavily influenced by the "New Wave of British Heavy Metal", a sound/ideology that the founding members of DARK ANGEL firmly embraced.
Late '82/early '83 saw the release of the "We Have Arrived" demo, which included songs that would later appear on the bands debut: "We Have Arrived" and "Hells On Its Knees", as well as one that remains in obscurity, "Gonna Burn". The material showed the fierce young band gaining confidence, only beginning to come to grips with it's direction and vision. The songs took a turn away from traditional sounding heavy metal into a more vicious, thrash inspired direction.
By 1984, the band - now including lead guitarist Eric Meyer and drummer Jack Schwartz - received interest from the California-based Metalstorm Records/Azra International Company, as well as Axe Killer Records in Europe. DARK ANGEL set to work on their first album in the Summer of '84 at Track Records in Hollywood, with Metal Blade producer Bill Metoyer at the helm, and by early '85, "We Have Arrived" was unleashed upon the world. The music was brutal, solid thrash with killer tracks like "Merciless Death", "Falling from the Sky" and "No Tomorrow" that would pave the way to the hyper-intensity that would dominate their sound a year later. Metal Blade Records took notice, and included the track "Welcome to the Slaughterhouse" on their latest edition of the infamous compilation series, "Metal Massacre 6".
At this point the band made a crucial line-up change that was highly advantageous in many areas, bringing in ex-Wargod drummer Gene Hoglan to replace Schwartz. Hoglan led the DARK ANGEL crew in an ultra-heavy direction, and contributed significantly - both lyrically and musically - to their new material and sound. Now fueled with rapid fire double bass drums, DARK ANGEL saw their audience size increase dramatically. They were now headlining such important venues as The Whiskey and The Troubador, along with doing support slots with bigger bands such as Slayer and Megadeth.
The release of 1986's "Darkness Descends" introduced bassist Mike Gonzalez and a new label in Combat Records. DARK ANGEL had transformed into a rabid five-headed hydra of monstrous proportions. Combat enlisted the talents of producer Randy Burns (Megadeth, Nuclear Assault) who assisted the group in recording this landmark disc in an amazing 10 sessions. The band were now easily one of the most formidable outfits of the era. Tracks like "The Burning of Sodom", "Perish in Flames", "Hunger of the Undead" and "Black Prophecies" were not only (musically) way more complex than anything on their debut, but also presented lyrical mazes that confounded and perplexed even the most ambitious listener. The band's first real tours followed, including east coast dates with Motorhead and the Cro-Mags, the Hollywood Palladium with Slayer, several dates with Megadeth, and the infamous "Gates Of Darkness" U.S. tour with label-mates Possessed.
The group found it necessary to implement a new vocalist who could handle their rapidly advancing new material. After a 6 month search they found former Messiah vocalist Ron Rinehart, whose deeper, thicker voice effortlessly shifted from screaming to singing as the songs required.
The release of "Leave Scars" in 1989 marked an even greater emphasis on complex song structures, and the lyrics combined apocalyptic and psychological themes as massive as the songs themselves. Material like "No One Answers", "Death of Innocence" and "The Promise of Agony" purely crushed, and were elaborate and complicated enough to more than justify the three year gap between releases.
By this point DARK ANGEL had gained the alliance of many industry heavyweights, their bookings being handled by Andy Somers (Triad Artists) and merchandising by Great Southern. Equipment manufacturers followed as well, with endorsements being given by Gibson, ESP, Pearl, Randall, Samson, Kahler, Dean Markley, etc.
Combat Records was making their 2nd edition of the concert video "Ultimate Revenge II", so they flew the band out to Philadelphia to perform at the Trocadero for rabid fans. The concert's soundtrack was released on CD, as well as VHS video.
The group then embarked on their biggest tours, a massive co-headlining U.S. tour with Death, followed by their first attack on Europe, another co-headliner with Nuclear Assault. Both tours were marked with milestones. Shortly after beginning the U.S. tour, guitarist Jim Durkin abruptly left the group for personal reasons. DARK ANGEL played several shows as a 4 piece before recruiting Viking guitarist Brett Eriksen. When they hit the Country Club in Reseda, CA., the Westwood One mobile recording unit was there to capture the intensity. This recording would later be released as an EP, appropriately titled "Live Scars".
During their European tour, the band was video taped during their insane performance at England's famous Hammersmith Odeon. This compilation video would be entitled "3-Way Thrash" and released by Fotodisk Ltd. It was during these tours that DARK ANGEL became an unstoppable fury of reckless behavior complete with arrests, injuries and ridiculous antics that are truly the stuff of rock and roll legends.
In late 1991 this latest formation of DARK ANGEL recorded the epic "Time Does Not Heal" album. This time the group was accompanied into the studio by top metal producer Terry Date (Pantera, Soundgarden, White Zombie). Becoming increasingly technical, the band offered a mind-boggling orgy of riffs - 246 to be exact! Flawless production together with songs like "Psychosexuality", "Pains Invention, Madness" and "The New Priesthood", would earn the group critical acclaim - a 5k review in Kerrang! Europe's leading music magazine, airplay and interviews on the legendary rock radio station KNAC, and even placement on the Billboard Top 200 album charts.
More touring would soon follow, with the band headlining in Europe for the first time. Unfortunately, the group began having problems with their record label, forcing the cancellation of their upcoming U.S. tour.
Next, guitarist Brett Eriksen would depart, to be replaced by Chris McCarthy from Silent Scream. As their relationship with Combat Records soured, DARK ANGEL would sever their contract with the label, and then headline one more European tour which would sadly end up being their last. Personal conflicts, no record label and inattentive management would all contribute to the breakup of the group in late 1992. Combat would later issue the bands final release, a "Best Of" CD fittingly titled, "Decade of Chaos".
Darkness Returns in 2003! Fast forward to October, 2002. DARK ANGEL drummer extraordinaire Gene Hoglan, vocalist Ron Rinehart, and guitarist Eric Meyer have chosen their time to "Leave Scars" once again. During an absence of nearly 11 years, the underground metal scene has elevated DARK ANGEL to almost mythical proportions. As a direct result of their fans' undying enthusiasm, the group has decided to first embark on a live assault that will level the senses. With new bassist Danyael Williams delivering the sub-sonic low end, First Row Talent booking the U.S., and The Agency handling Europe, DARK ANGEL will be scheduling tours in the U.S. and Europe throughout 2004, including a stop to destroy the legendary Wacken Open Air festival in late Summer.
Now with the release of their new fan-oriented website at www.darkangelmusic.com, the "L.A. Caffeine Machine" is back and ready to re-define metal one more time.
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