I’m currently in Europe, playing with Testament, and we’re on tour with Amon Amarth and Grand Magus, and the tour is going great! Great shows, loads of fun, and a good time all around. A lot of real cool people on this tour.
Y’know, somebody just mentioned that “Darkness Descends” came out 30 years ago TODAY?! Howling Christ, has it been that long? Well Jeez, I guess it has.
I figured I’d take a moment and reflect a little bit about the record, which happened to be my vinyl drumming debut. I was 18 when we recorded it, 19 by the time it was released. I can remember EVERYTHING about this whole period, way too much to fit right here, I tell ya.
We started tracking drums at the world famous Music Grinder Studios in Hollywood (anyone remember that maudlin tune, “That’s What Friends Are For”? by Stevie, Elton, Dionne and Gladys? Recorded there…) on April 14, 1986. The same day that the US bombed Libya. I remember thinking, “And here WE are, recording the soundtrack to the apocalypse (and indeed, I remember using that exact term. Great minds, yo!), yet it might not ever be heard by anybody, ’cause we could be entering WWIII today!”
Squirrel moment: Jeez, how many times have we all had that WWIII thought over these past 30 years? We’re almost desensitized to impending doom now, ’cause we only ever get the ‘impending’, never the ‘doom’. Hey, that’s way fine by me.
I remember having two days to track my drums (fun fact: Did you know that I used the same rented drum kit that Gar Samuelson used on “Peace Sells”? It still ranks right up there with my all time favorite tones I’ve gotten on record), and on that first day, I laid down six of the seven tunes that made it onto the album, leaving only “Black Prophecies”, which was written two days before and played a whole two times at rehearsal the day before that first tracking day. Thereby making the one pass I took at it be the third time I’d ever played it. That thought is now adorable to me. And I guess at the time we didn’t wanna over saturate the material. Oh-and we also tracked a version of “War Pigs” that didn’t make the cut because somehow we left out the entire third verse. Whoops. I tell ya, this was during those nebulous days when nobody but nobody was giving any love to Sabbath, they were just seemingly forgotten by everyone at the time. Except for Trouble (“Psalm 9”-all time classic). Also, this was before the period whereevery thrash band (including us) were putting cover tunes on their albums. Dang, if only there wasn’t that missing last verse…
After the drums were completed, we then moved to Mad Dog Studios, a grimy little place in the Venice area, to get crackin’ on the rest. Randy Burns (Possessed, Megadeth, Death, Crumbsuckers, Kreator) manned the board and he got some good performances outta Jim and Eric, and Robby Yahn, who had left the band a couple months earlier, was kind enough to stick around and track the bass for us. I remember when it came time to track the vocals, Randy Burns was so horrified at the methods Jim and I used to extract a performance out of the vocalist (which involved quite a bit of berating of said vocalist on our part), so much so that he banned me from the control room after he just couldn’t take the abuse that we were piling on the singer any longer, citing the fact that, “You just can’t scream at your singer like that!” To which my reply was, “Look buddy, you got your job to do, and I got mine, which is to NOT have another performance outta this guy like he gave on that last album. So, you do your thing, I’m gonna do mine, ’cause Jim and I know exactly what we’re doing with this guy.” To which of course, we got a way better vocal performance out of the singer. Believe me, nobody wants to have to resort to what we did with the dude, but it was the only way, seriously. The final outcome is enjoyed by a lot of folks, so he did a great job.
I remember listening to the singer tracking the title track as I was writing the lyrics to “Black Prophecies” in the lobby. I went in and cut a guide vocal track for him, and when he was done, so was all the tracking. I remember that being on May 2, and we had a gig at the Troubadour that same night. The next day, we mixed the album in its entirety. And then waited the requisite 6 months to release it.
I remember that our intended original cover was deemed astonishingly too graphic to use, so we had our artist, Sean (pronounced ‘Seen’) Rodgers take another shot at something the record label pussies could deal with, and hence, there’s the cover you now see.
However, to this day, I never could get a proper explanation of what in the world that ‘purple grape dip’ was on the bottom half of our logo that soon-to-be legend Ed Repka had drawn for us. Colorful, deadly, baffling. Well, at least we fixed it on “Leave Scars”, when he gave our logo armpit hair. Man, I’ll take some manly armpit hair in a logo over grape Kool-Aid any day.
*A “THAT’S NOT VERY METAL” SPOILER ALERT*
The gravestone on the cover is of course styrofoam, and the knobs at the two top corners are wooden knobs off a canopy bed.
So now, it’s 30 years later, and the album has had whatever impact it has. Now for the tongue in cheek part. Metallica, you are welcome for the Grammy that the opening moments of “Darkness Descends” won for ya. If only ya didn’t throw in the line, “Darkness, imprisoning me”, I woulda chalked it up to extreme coincidence. Well actually, my bud Mr. Newsted, upon our first meeting at a Flotsam gig, expressed his extreme fondness for Dark Angel, and I returned the same for his recently released, “Doomsday…” record. So I always figured maybe he’d picked up “Darkness..”, cranked it somewhere in the vicinity of the rest of the dudes and perhaps there was a certain subliminality (is that even a word? I doubt it.) that made it through to El Dos Jefes.
And, to my friends in Anthrax, I gotta tell ya, I think I beat ya to the Judge Dredd punch with the title track, six months before your killer, “I Am the Law”.
Throughout the years it’s been a pleasure and an honor to hear from folks from bands like Pantera, Morbid Angel, Slayer, Napalm Death, Suffocation, Deicide, and, Jesus, tons of others on whatever influence “Darkness Descends” has had on some of their action. Not those bands of course, just bands like them. Haha! Jesus, I crack myself up sometimes. I do mean them. But, it is a true honor indeed.
It really seems like yesterday. Thanks to you guys for keeping it around, at whatever level it may be. Pretty sweet to be a part of.
Holy crap, especially as my cherry-popper…
Thanks fer listening,
The current line up of Dark Angel is:
* Gene Hoglan (drums)
* Eric Meyer (guitar)
* Jim Durkin (guitar)
* Ron Rinehart (vocals)
* Michael Gonzalez (bass)
REVIEW AND PHOTOS BY ARTO LEHTINEN AND MARKO SYRJALA
The mighty Jalometalli Open Air Metal festival strikes with an outstanding awesome killer line-up to maintain its true metal status on the Finnish festival map. The festival is known for relying on old school metal to offer everything from traditional metal to extreme metal. Above all, it is also the classic names who have never ever visited Finland before that make this special. The legendary Teatria club is now history as it was torn down. Fortunately the organization of the Jalometalli festival managed to find a new location to arrange a true ass kicking festival. If having Slayer headline last year was a real dream come, then getting King Diamond to headline this year’s event was another jackpot for Jalometalli indeed. Of course getting both Dark Angel and Loudness booked for Jalometalli was also killer. The place was packed. When the second day arrived a merciless rain storm hit the area drowning everything. Unfortunately, Testament suffered from the rain.
Once again the Metal Rules team hit the ground of Oulu to witness several absolutely killer bands. The whole Jalometalli festival is so unique and one of a kind that anyone reading this article should take a glance at the offering of the festival. Here is a brief article on the fest. So the time had come all of us to leave bitter sweet farewells to the old venue where we have enjoyed great music and great company throughout the years.Read the rest of this entry »
Article and pictures by Arto Lehtinen,
Marko Syrjala, and Patrick Clement
Hell yeah! It’s time to enter the mighty Swedenrock Festival. A fantastic and the most enjoyable rock and metal festival on earth. It has to be pointed out that Metal Rules has covered Sweden Rock since 2001! Therefore, it is quite logical to cover the festival again. The 2014 line up presented a wide range of metal and hard rock. Approximately 80 metal and rock bands offered one hell of an experience for attendees. Sweden Rock has been successful during the past decade as the festival has always been sold out. This year wasn’t an exception as the fest was sold out despite a lousy economic situation worldwide. It has become quite logical for us to give an in depth article on several bands performing at Sweden Rock to all the readers out there. The weather was both rainy and sunny during these four days. The Metal-Rules.com team was there to witness the bands, not for some kinda beach party crap. Unfortunately, we are not able to cover every bloody band, but hopefully you will have a pleasant reading experience… Rock on!
Legendary artist ED REPKA has redesigned the classic DARK ANGEL logo with amazing results!
View the new DARK ANGEL logo below:
Guitarist JIM DURKIN comments on the bands new logo and 2014 return:
“I can’t tell you how happy I am about the return of DARK ANGEL in 2014. These are a great bunch of guys and I wouldn’t have it any other way. We went back to our roots and got ED REPKA involved in the redesign of the classic logo. Dark Fuckin Angel have been working very hard on the music, I cannot wait to bring this monster back to the fans.”
As previously reported, DARK ANGEL will reform for a limited number of appearances in 2014.
The confirmed lineup for these rare and unique, select 2014 shows are:
* Gene Hoglan (drums)
* Jim Durkin (guitar)
* Eric Meyer (guitar)
* Ron Rinehart (vocals)
* Michael Gonzalez (bass) Read the rest of this entry »
Pictures and interview by Arto Lehtinen and Marko Syrjala
Gene “The Atomic Clock” Hoglan needs no introduction as every metalhead has to have at least an album or two that he has played on. The man is currently sitting behind the drum kit for Testament who recently visited the Tuska Open Air festival in Helsinki. We managed to meet the legend before the show and then we sat and listened when Gene Hoglan spoke. Read the rest of this entry »
Formed in late 2010 by former IMAGIKA lead guitarist Steven Rice and drummer Wayne De Vecchi KILL RITUAL is completed by former ELDRITCH guitarist Roberto Proietti, former DARK ANGEL bassist Danyael Williams and Bay Area vocalist Josh Gibson. Steven elaborates on how the band came together.
“After the demise of IMAGIKA Wayne and I decided to form a new band that would bring life to the music we had been working on after IMAGIKA called it a day. We had a goal in mind of writing music that reflected our influences from Thrash, Classic, Progressive, Power, whatever kicks ass Metal and this required bringing in experienced players that have been there and done that. We were lucky enough to come in contact with Roberto and Danyael who had the kind of pedigree and experience we were definitely looking for. Having both been in bands that have released numerous albums worldwide and toured extensively they are a perfect fit for this new band. The missing element was of course vocalist Josh who came into the band with the work ethic, experience and attitude that is essential as a vocalist to help the songs take on a life of their own. His unique and identifiable vocal style is the change we needed from our past projects as we definitely had the idea of Kill Ritual taking a new direction from our collective past bands and I think we have achieved that. I mean what’s the point of rehashing what you’ve already done? I feel the 4 rough demo tracks we’re releasing show this and are only a hint of what’s to come. Enjoy! ”
The band will enter Fang Studios to record their debut “Serpentine Rituals” this summer and expect a late 2011 release on a yet to be determined label. 4 new demo tracks are available on the following sites.
In a career that has spanned over twenty years, legendary drummer Gene Hoglan is a true pioneer of the heavy metal plains. Dark Angel, Testament, Death, Strapping Young Lad?with jobs like this on his resume, chances are you have heard the bludgeoning skinsmanship of Hoglan. Besides the big-name bands, Hoglan also dabbles in several side projects?both metal and non-metal?which allow him to branch out and explore the many facets of drumming. Hoglan?s involvement with Devin Townsend both in his solo work and in Strapping Young Lad has been a relationship coming up on ten years with no signs of slowing down.
Strapping Young Lad unleashed their latest sonic assault, entitled ALIEN, back in March and I got the chance to speak with Hoglan on March 21st?the day before its release. Having met Hoglan on many occasions at local Vancouver shows, our 95-minute conversation was loose and full of laughs but also packed with insight into his many projects both young and old, as well as touching on Internet rumors, ALIEN, the ?real? Devin Townsend, his audition with Slayer, and many other things?.