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Hey now, Ron ain't that bad after all. - 83%

TrooperEd, September 3rd, 2017
Written based on this version: 2008, CD, Century Media Records (Reissue, Remastered, Limited edition, Digipak, Slipcase)

If you were wondering why the hell I decided to subject myself with a second Ron Reinhart Dark Angel album after having a rather awful experience the first time (Time Does Not Heal), well let's just say my album buying habits necessitated it. All I can say I'm rather glad I did, because this is a serviceable follow up to Darkness Descends.

Is it as good? Hell no. Why this has a 93% average with Darkness Descends 86% is one of the most dumbfounding instances of mathematical mean schadenfreude I've ever seen, but my ranking comes less from a [lame] desire to intentionally lower the average and more from wondering who the hell told Gene Hoglan that cover of Immigrant Song was a good idea, as well as wincing when I hear Ron Reinhart start to sing and getting Time Does Not Heal flashbacks. Reinhart really should stick to what he does best; a thrash bark which, while doesn't conjure the pure evil dulcet tones of Don Doty, suits the chaos of Leave Scars much better than his Chuck Billy's one note impersonation.

Nothing here quite reaches the Mach 71 flash warp of Burning of Sodom or Perish In Flames, but if its speed-thrash you want than oh-ho yes Leave Scars has you covered squarely. The album wastes no time, harboring no wishes to establish mood or atmosphere, rocketing off with The Death of Innocence. An album opener so vile and meteoric Angel of Death and War Ensemble will be crying penalty to the referee for Dark Angel to wait for the starting gun.

Unlike Darkness Descends, Leave Scars has very little darkness or morbidity to speak of, save for the creepy Worms. If there was ever a track that perfectly encapsulates the dread of the album cover's little girl from what's under her bed (Jimmy Swaggart? Jimmy Saville?), this is it. I can see both sides of the argument for this one, on the one hand no its not a proper song, but on the other hand I actually felt this wouldn't have fucked up the proceedings on Darkness Descends too badly (no more-so than the bass intro on Merciless Death, anyway). So long as it was placed between Black Prophecies and Perish In Flames.

Gene Hoglan is once again in fine chaotic form, and we even see flashes of his future technical virtuosity in Death start to appear. Most notably we see this in the slow portion of No One Answers, where he keeps a groove that's punchy with kick drums but you can tell its more complicated than it sounds. No One Answers also features what is likely the albums most memorable riff: around the 6 minute mark this multilayered tooth monster comes in at Slayer speed and just devours your head while imprinting its pattern in your mind. Another high water mark is the instrumental Cauterization; chugging along at a moshing speed with Hoglan sounding he has 300 feet (one foot for every pound of his weight, how the fuck does he stay so fat after exerting all that energy?) with the Jim and Eric proving they can work just fine without a vocalist if necessary. If only they took that advice to heart on the next album.....on second thought, it still probably would have been 40 minutes too long.

If for some strange reason you get sick of Darkness Descends but still want that frenzied warp-factor Dark Angel thrash, Leave Scars is your best option (it's your only option really). A very worthy addition to your thrash collection.

Scars That Were Left and Meant to Last - 97%

ThrashIsCertain92, March 13th, 2016

A little over two years after Dark Angel unleashed their own brand of auditory Armageddon upon the world with “Darkness Descends,” they have returned once again to leave scars on your frayed sanity and auditory canal with their bloodthirsty 1989 release. Here we see the band up their game in the songwriting department – showcasing lengthier, more ambitious songs with more complicated riff-work while retaining the blistering speeds and thrash aggression of the past. As some have commentated, “Leave Scars” is somewhat of a bridge between their raw, visceral past and the more musically and lyrically mature “Time Does Not Heal”. In that instance, “Leave Scars” can be marked as one of the band's best records, housing some of their greatest work. It's fast, it's heavy, it's technical, it's Dark fucking Angel.

Like their previous albums, “Leave Scars” boasts a hefty, lo-fi production whose gritty and fucked up nature makes everything all the more heavier. Dark, obscure, and demented, the atmosphere that the grimy production-value provokes, serves Gene Hoglan's lyrical horrors and guitar assailants Jim Durkin and Eric Meyer's twisted riff mastery to their advantage. People love to complain about it, but let's not forget - thrash is not supposed to be pretty and polished. What it lacks in objective quality it makes up for in its raw thrash spirit, which I feel is most important. If anything, a more sterile and posh production would be nothing but a huge disservice. Newcomer Mike Gonzalez's bass could be higher in the mix, but he does well contributing to the massive wall of guitar sound. For the most part he simply follows the rhythm guitars, however contributes to some unique effects during the track “Worms.” Gene Hoglan's drumming is not as loud as the previous album, but sits well in the mix. Here his performance shows some more unique patterns and variations. The drumming may be somewhat slower here and there on some of the songs, but Gene never loses focus of his coveted thrash aggression and accomplished technical command. (A little odd piece of trivia about this album is the fact that it was produced by Michael Monarch, the guitarist for the Canadian rock band Steppenwolf. Yes, that is the same band that brought us the song “Born to Be Wild.”)

While many thrash bands during the late 80's and early 90's were packing on melodic ballads and mid-paced experimental numbers to show a masquerade of progressiveness, Dark Angel were not afraid to show the world that they were a down and dirty thrash band. Additionally, their new found knack for more ambitious songwriting does not get in the way of their raw thrash vitality or energetic live performances. This is heard right off the bat with the pulverizing opener “The Death of Innocence”, whose swirling guitar rhythms set the mark for the rest of the album, and shows a somewhat different riffing style than their previous albums. While “Darkness Descends” presented mostly spastic flurries of trilled and tremolo picked madness, simple yet highly effective, “Leave Scars” seems to bring more riff variants to the table while still retaining that evil, chromatic Dark Angel sound and maddening velocity we all know and love. And much like D.D., the guitar-work on here never reaches to a level of melodic tunefulness, instead focuses on cramming an utterly raw, visceral assault of semi-technical thrash riffs down the listener's throat.

The next noticeable step in Dark Angel's evolution is the unveiling of the vocalist Ron Rinehart, whose induction into the band was welcomed with open arms. Ron continues the Dark Angel trademark of hyper-rapidly shouting Hoglan's vast masses of lyrics, while injecting his own style of dark, melodic undertones. This is best heard on the title track as well as “Never to Rise Again” and “The Promise of Agony”. I don't want to say he sounds like their previous vocalist, Don Doty, as some have stated - a more dramatic and rapid cross between James Hetfield and Tom Araya would be a more fitting description. In some cases, I sometimes even prefer Ron's more deep and pragmatic thrash bark to Don's rabid screeching, although both vocalists are aces at what they do. Gene Hoglan reprises his role as the primary lyricist and songwriter – his lyrics unusually complex and poetic for a thrash band. The lyrics penned on this album drop the thrash clichés, and instead deal with topics that are horrifying real – themes not many bands dared to stray in. Songs such as “The Death of Innocence”, “No One Answers”, and “Leave Scars” deal with the horrors of child abuse, molestation, pedophilia, and the mental scarring psychology behind it – both from the perspectives of the victims and the abusers. The scared child on the nightmarish album cover reflects these views. These topics are further explored and expanded on their upcoming and final album “Time Does Not Heal”.

The biggest cornerstones of the album I feel are “Never to Rise Again”, “No One Answers”, and “The Promise of Agony”, which was the song that sealed me in as a long time fan of the band. I remember the first time I heard that song, I was floored by the electrifying introductory riffs and the soaring vocals. “Never to Rise Again” is a stout, catchy as hell number – as the guitarists shred up and down their bridges, Gene pounds a rather militaristic beat while Ron spouts some infectious lyrics about false prophets predicting the fall of mankind, and you can't help but shout along to them. You hear some more melodically controlled soloing showcased on this song, which is often flaunted throughout the album. The album's binding of dark, minor key shredding with the spastic aggression heard on “Darkness Descends”, you have a formula for masterful guitar soloing perfection.

The pummeling drum roll during the intro for “No One Answers” can't help but bring the listener back to “Black Prophecies”. Unexpected tempo changes and demented riffs abound in this piece, because soon after the hefty intro, the listener is spiraled into a drawn out start-stop section layered with crazed guitar backdrops. The faster riffs conjure the deranged, chromatic trilling heard throughout “Darkness Descends”. Here, all of the band member's talents are crystallized, and is easily one the greatest and heaviest songs the band has ever done. Most notable is the extended bridge section halfway through the song, where the band packs of multiple alternations of crazed tremolo riffs and expressively evil, harmonic minor soloing. The lyrics are especially fucked up – they seem to deal with sick fucks who prey on children at night, or it deals with nightmares from the first person perspective of the nightmare itself. I really cannot tell, that's how horrific they are.

“Cauterization” stands out as the only true instrumental the band has ever done. Luckily it does not mess around with slow acoustic guitar parts or melodic progressive silliness. Instead, it is just as viciously fast, complex, and immensely heavy as the rest of the album; and if it were not for the lack of vocals and solo, it could easily fit in with the rest of the album. On the other hand, the title track blends in nicely, and more or less seems to go through the motions musically at first glance. It proves, however, to be a largely infectious and upbeat song with largely anthemic lyrics – especially during the gang-shouted chorus.

The album is not without flaws, however. “Older than Time Itself” has the unfortunate circumstance of being sandwiched between the Led Zeppelin cover of “Immigrant Song” and the pseudo-instrumental “Worms”; which are nothing more than fluff and are probably the only real weak tracks on the album. The cover is good musically, but it doesn't go with the album at all, and Ron's heavy Californian thrash drawl doesn't really do the song justice. “Worms” sounds cool after the first listen, but it mostly just sounds like a goofy soundtrack for some corny 80's horror movie. Inexplicably, “Older than Time itself” suffers from a production somewhat worse than the rest of the album, which makes its faster riffs sound muddy and hard to discern. This is unfortunate because it is an excellent song and is possibly the most ballistic thrasher on the album; brimmed with demented, shredding riffs, a layered introductory section that recalls “No One Answers”, and an insane Slayer-esque breakdown showcasing gang-shouted vocals. The lyrics are interesting, seeming to be about humanity's innate desire for greed, lust and corruption.

Sandwiched between the more famous albums “Darkness Descends” and “Time Does not Heal”, “Leave Scars” is an album that is often forgotten. Being an important stepping stone in their evolution, it is one of their best works, and one of my favorite thrash albums, having regular play in my thrash listening ever since I discovered it. All of their albums with Gene Hoglan are absolutely essential.

"For this I won't apologize, because I Leave Scars..."

Warning: Listening May Result In Fatality - 95%

SetAbominae6, February 4th, 2012

So you found it, huh? The forgotten gem in the underground thrash scene - "Leave Scars" ? Well congratulations, and you'd better fucking enjoy it. Why? Well, don't you know? This album is fucking FATAL! As you listen to this album, you will need

a. A new face [because your face will be melted by the madness that is the solos]
b. A new asshole [because the bass & drums will rip it open, nice and hard]
c. A new pair of pants [because you will shit yourself from fear of the lyrics and consequently, Dark FUCKING Angel]
d. And finally, new eardrums [because you will consequently become deaf as soon as the title track ends from constant ear bleeding].

This album starts off with a nice starter track - "The Death of Innocence". The bass drums pummel your ears just before Durkin & Meyer begin the massive chainsaw ear rape that is the guitars. Gonzalez's bass is quite present in this release, unlike their last album. While I love "Darkness Descends" just as any other DFA fan, I believe it is on their weaker side. But that's just my personal taste. This album basically takes the intensity of "DD" and increases it, tenfold. "Leave Scars" shows both sides of Dark Angel - the nitty-gritty metal-in-your-fucking-ass-thrash side, and the melodic, syncopated, and tight sound they had while playing together. Dark Angel is an experience like no other, and if your friends have recently gotten you into classic Metallica and Slayer, and you think THAT is thrash...

You are fucking missing OUT!!!

While I may not like Rinehart as much as I enjoyed Don Doty's voice, he is a well-fit replacement. At times he almost reminds me of Killian of Vio-Lence fame; at other times he also sounds as if Rob Halford had started smoking cuban cigars on a regular basis. Still other times his voice is indescribable in tone - distinct, nasty and definitely thrash. And what about the fucking lyrics? Fucking evil mind [Hoglan] at work here...

"As you enter your realm of incorruption, the values of morality in their pristine state.
The walls that surround you in a gentle caress protect you from a world of hate.
And the Earth is full of lurid madmen misogynists abound waiting to produce your fall -
But the being you should most fear when you turn out the lights is in no way human at all."

The first time I listened to "No One Answers" I got fucking chills down my spine. The lyrics are absolutely terrifying & down-right balls-out. Same goes with the rest of the tracks. It's an insane representation of evil darkness and brutality - now do you understand why I said Darkness Descends was WEAK SAUCE?!

The song lengths are all over the board in this release - with some songs reaching well up to & beyond 7 minutes. Those are the tracks that kick my ass every time - The first one I'll write to you about is the instrumental track on the album - "Cauterization". The first time I listened to this song, it just sounded like they were wanking on the guitars. Triplet here, triplet there; cool drum licks but I couldn't really tell what was going on. Repeated listens showed my eardrums where the riffs were at and just how complex this release is compared to most thrash metal. Dark Angel have again successfully taken what was done up to 1989 and created their own twisted, sick and disturbed child - the monster that is Leave Scars. Taking many elements of thrash and combining it with the intensity & darkness of death metal - you get a fucking riffage monstrosity.

The downside of the album? The Led Zeppelin cover. That's all I'm going to say.

Then you're right back into fucking nasty riffs with "Older than Time Itself". Pounding bass rips into your skull with these last 4 tracks. If no where else, this is where the bass is present. Counter-melodies are woven around the mastery that is the riffs and the precision of the drumwork. This album has never left my side. Ever since that fateful day in '06, when my friend introduced me to them & I proceeded to buy the album from Amazon. Yes; I too was once unaware of the monster that was Dark Angel. I, too, was once a Slayer/Metallica/Megadeth fanboy. But once I found out about this band... I didn't care about them anymore. I had found what I was missing. Dark Angel prove time and time again - they know what the hell they're doing.

And that's fucking THRASH!!!

The Essense of Thrash Metal - 95%

deathvomit70, June 20th, 2011

Listening carefully the entire album and comparing with the previous releases, I realized that the Dark Angel's style had change and they improved their music. I think that their new thrash metal style are better than the older style but, the older style isn't less important.

First of all, I think that the production of this album is just great. The fast and darkened guitars can be heard during the whole album and the solos have a good rhythm with a very skillful scales and great musicality. The job made by Gene Hogland in the drums was awesome, he have a great pattern and rhythm with the tempos and the vocals are mixed above the music well.

With respect to the structure of the album, I think that the entire album are well-structured and all the instruments and vocals have a great sound. The sound quality is not the best and is poor but, the sound in my opinion is pretty good and all the songs are made and recorded in a great label.

The lyrical themes and the job done by Ron Rinehart in the voice are simply great, he gives to the album the 'thrash' voice style. The lyrics in this album are very intersting because some themes are related to death, horror and insanity.

To finish, if you like the fast thrash metal style with great and brutal guitar, bass and drums riffs, you'll like this album. The solos, the riffs, the musicality, the style and the lyrical themes on this album are just awesome. Although the album has poor sound quality, the sound is great. If you're looking for a fast, darkened and killer thrash metal style, you might pick this one up.

I refuse to admit you to my netherworld - 90%

autothrall, March 25th, 2011

Though Darkness Descends was the audio incendiary equivalent of a wing of fighter jets attacking a hot dog stand (aka you, the listener), creating ripples throughout an underground starved for increasing extremity in metal music; the band experienced a period of unrest and a nearly 3-year gap before they could channel its followup. Bass player Rob Yahn and cult screamer Don Doty would exit the lineup, to be replaced respectively by Eric Gonzalez and tattooed man-beast Ron Rinehart, one of the last guys you'd probably want to meet in a dark alley or anywhere else you'd exchange interpersonal violence. Dark Angel had 'arrived' in its most enduring configuration, signed with Combat Records and given further exposure through their live performance on the Ultimate Revenge 2 compilation.

Rinehart is probably the most obvious difference between this album and Darkness Descends, with a more down to earth, shouted tone rifling through the myriad, verbose lyrics that Gene Hoglan drafted up for this album. Seriously, they scroll onward and onward, and not through mere repetition, but plausible, nightmarish revelations of the psycho and sadistic concepts being strewn over the instrumental violation. Let's just say Dark Angel had crafted one thorough epic of mental and musical distortion. The riffing is not unfamiliar to the previous album, but more complex still, almost as if you took other Californian thrashers Vio-Lence and ramped up the volatility levels of their 1988 classic Eternal Nightmare (especially "The Death of Innocence"). Yet, where that album provokes a fresh, bright brawl that leers at you from a street corner or a pile of junked automobiles, Leave Scars is more dark and personal, a Nightmare on Elm Street of technical thrash sans the shitty plot and acting. The stuff of broken homes and bedrooms. Drug addled depressions. Paranoid schizophrenia.

I've often complained about the production on this album, and its my least favorite aspect. Sure, it's workmanlike, fairly balanced and audible, but not entirely adequate for the level of riffs being wrought. As atmosphere, it functions like an overture to dementia, and you'll be so stunned by the constant hustle of the guitars and Gene Hoglan's storming, almost unparalleled battering that you are unlikely to notice so much. The album opens with a three hit onslaught, "The Death of Innocence" a symphony of fists beating an asylum wall before the grimy assailant that is "Never to Rise Again". Rinehart shines here, his vocals creating a manic percussion that perfectly flows astride the sore joints of the guitarists' digits. But as great a momentum as these tracks create, it is the stunning floor work of "No One Answers" and its incredibly evil opening riff that inform us that true greatness has occurred. The ensuing breakdown is one of the finest in all of metal history, with Slayer-like descending melodies that provide more than just a mosh pit, but a one way ticket to personal hell.

"Cauterization" is rather lengthy for an instrumental, and it might damned well have been given lyrics, but then the word count of Leave Scars would have likely surpassed the King James bible. However, the chugging, multi-tiered complex is convincing enough to level you straight in the face, before the unexpected deviation into a cover of Zeppelin's "Immigrant Song". Now, it arguably doesn't mesh well with its environment of psycho-sadistic emotional bombardments, but outside of a video with Viking cat stills set to the original, it's one of the most entertaining renditions I've heard, Rinehart proving he could scream just like Doty if he so chose. "Older Than Time Itself" is another favorite, its intro bearing a stark similarity to "For Whom the Bell Tolls", but the comparison ending there as dire melodies erupt and another intense, early breakdown sequence. "The Promise of Agony" is another classic, the bass pedal so condensed and percussive that it feels like there are 3-4 separate drum kits performing simultaneously in the studio; and neither do the freakish "Worms" 'narrated instrumental, nor the monstrous title track disappoint in the slightest.

Darkness Descends probably frightened a lot of people, and Leave Scars honored the tradition. It honestly would not get a lot more 'extreme' than this album in 80s thrash, without delving into the harrowing and inevitable mutations that were death and black. The combination of poignant, intelligent and violent imagery conjured through the lyrics is a tight fit with the labyrinthine, constant riffing. Despite its scale, there is no real excess here. Like Slayer, when this band wrote a breakdown, you could feel it, and while these aren't necessarily as potent as "Angel of Death" or "Raining Blood", they're both mighty and appropriate to offset the dominant, faster paced surge. The one hurdle I cannot get past is the production, it is simply not good enough for the writing, nor as resonant as Darkness Descends or the cleaner swansong Time Does Not Heal. But the songs themselves, barring the cover, are pregnant with hostility, riven with ideas and in the end I prefer it even to its highly lauded predecessor: it's marginally more interesting, with more consistently memorable riffs and psychological, multi perspective lyrics.

-autothrall
http://www.fromthedustreturned.com

The best Dark Angel album.... - 92%

avidmetal, December 23rd, 2009

After the so called 'greatest album of all times' in 1986, Dark Angel return, This time with a new vocalist. Despite being heralded by many as being DA's best album, I believe Darkness Descends is a good album, nothing more. Leave scars is where they went a step further and actually produced something really amazing. The biggest difference here is they changed from their usual "Buzzzz and blast beats" sound to something with a little more vision and intelligence. The production this time is good, unlike DD, where Gene Hoglan overshadowed everything else.

Ron Rinehart doesn't sound so annoying this time and his voice can be clearly heard among the rest. The biggest step-up from their previous efforts is 'Timing', Just knowing when to use speed and when to slow down, I think this is where they actually realised that some slower sections in songs doesn't make them less 'brutal'. Hoglan is a great drummer, But this time he uses his full talents a little more sensibly, His drumming is slower when it needs to be and extremely fast when it needs to be. A lot less repetetive than before. There is not much melody to be found here but still an improvement over the last album. Rinehart doesn't sound that pretentious anymore, His choruses are better and the lyrics are a definite improvement. The guitar playing is pushed to the limit as always. The bass is still loud but not as loud as 'We Have Arrived'.

The tracks 'Never to rise again' and 'No one answers' are two highlights on this album, The riffs are blisteringly fast, Ron Rinehart goes along well with his maniacal lyrics. The improvement here over the last album is that we actually have a chorus to sing along to occasionally and the new vocalist does a good job. Some tracks are exceptionally long, averaging about 7 minutes each, But the added variety to dark angel's arsenal makes them much less monotonous. The longer are tracks are less tedious than before. The best track on this album is 'Cauterization', Which is where Hoglan really shines, He uses slower timing based beats and switches to much faster blast beats and switches between them instantaneously, The transition is seamless. The guitar play is a lot more mature, Having a lot more sense of atmosphere and meaning. Ron is absent here, Which i guess makes this track even better. The Instrumental track slows up and speeds up many times, Leaving you breathless, As this track is truly breathtaking.

At about 50 minutes long, This album feels rightly timed and the song placing is good. Overall, It's a great album, Arguably their best and the best that year. This is the only Dark Angel album i recommend to everyone.

After the perfect storm, rage progresses still. - 94%

hells_unicorn, January 11th, 2009

Regardless to what detractors of the style and even some of its champions may say, thrash metal is a multifaceted style. The reason why this is often missed is because everyone either gets hung up on the brutality, the scope and scale of the riff work, or something else that every member of the genre basically shares in common. After the climax of the scene in 1986, several lines were drawn and several different schools within the greater umbrella of thrash emerged, the two most notable being the death/thrash hybrid that Slayer and Possessed (with some help from several notable German acts as well) brought into being which began brutal metal as we know it today, and the other being the progressive/epic road that Metallica took which even less resembled the original style and came to dominate 90s groove metal.

Less remembered due to its near complete disappearance in the 1990s was the technical, riff happy, extreme approach that Dark Angel set forth on their magnum opus “Darkness Descends”, which became the rallying cry for an onslaught of Bay Area bands such as Death Angel and Vio-Lence in the later 80s, as well as inspiring Sepultura’s lone pure thrash release “Beneath The Remains”. But in spite of the influence that the album had in many circles, Dark Angel itself saw fit to leave the perfected archetype of extreme thrash entrenched in 1986 and opted for a less extreme and more epic approach when putting forth their 3rd full length work “Leave Scars”. Perhaps it was for this reason that this album is often shelved in favor of both the one that preceded it and the one that came after it, though I’m sure that replacement vocalist Ron Reinhart sounding even closer to James Hetfield while not doing those high Tom Araya wails on here than Don Doty would have on his worst day might have helped.

One should not mistake an epic approach to songwriting within the thrash genre at it exists here with the softball, pseudo-epic approach that was “Master Of Puppets”. There’s no half-ballads, emotionally driven acoustic sections, or anything else that departs from the character of the style to be found here. Instead, what emerges is a band that isn’t afraid to stretch things out past the 7 minute mark on several occasions, and utilizing a style of riff varying that fits together smoothly and gives the songs a sense of transition rather than the violent jolts and twists of having every riff contrast completely from the next. What results is something that is aggressive and furious throughout, but also something that comes across as a collection of organized songs with a fairly melodic character rather than a group of riff sets that pummel the ears with their ferocity and quantity.

Any of the longer songs on here could be used as an example of the contrast that this album has from the last. My personal favorite is “No One Answers” as it marries one of those really epic as hell minute and a half intros at a lower tempo where things develop slowly and gradually before exploding into a blazing fury of speed and mayhem. You could perhaps draw comparisons to the title track of Slayer’s “Hell Awaits”, but with greater clarity in the tone of the guitars and more riffs loaded into the middle to ending section rather than having them all frontloaded into the intro. In fact, when you take the extended solo section before the last chorus, what emerges is an epic interchange of riff breaks and lead trade-offs that was heard first out of Maiden’s “Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son” and then married to the thrash style on here, and later on Megadeth’s classic epic “Hangar 18”.

Naturally this pioneering thrash outfit hasn’t forgotten the necessity to write wicked, hard-edged, go straight for the jugular thrashers without all of the epic buildup to keep things varied. Between Holgan’s digitally precise, warp speed beats and the equally mind warping blur of Slayer inspired riffs, “The Death Of Innocence” just does nothing but shatter bones and break teeth for almost 4 minutes straight. The album’s title track and closer “Leave Scars”, although one of the longer songs on here, mostly goes for the straight up approach of speed and attitude rather than elaborate idea development. There are a lot of ideas on here, make no mistake, but the presentation lacks the interludes/interruptions/buildups typical of an epic thrash number.

Although the title of the album is intended to depict music reflecting the state of being scarred by some traumatic experience, it also carries an unintentional meaning that contrasts it from its better known predecessor. While “Darkness Descends” offers a perfect sonic storm that would topple the greatest frost giant of Jötunheimr, “Leave Scars” has enough catchy elements woven into its complex overall presentation to invoke a recall of what was heard, similar to the stories told explaining where one got a scar on his body. I still prefer the former album because of its uniqueness, because it didn’t quite derive as many ideas from Slayer and Megadeth as this one did, and that I just prefer Doty’s rawer vocal approach to Rinehart’s. Be this as it may, this album should not be overlooked, as it too often has been.

Originally submitted to (www.metal-observer.com) on January 11, 2009.

Thrash Metal at its purest form! - 100%

AnthologyMetal, December 2nd, 2008

A really kick ass album that Dark Angel made since Darkness Descends, this album is true thrash metal perfection. This album is no where brutal compared to Darkness Descends, but Dark Angel really tried to focus on clear vocals, grinding solos, and kick ass drum roles! This album contains nine songs, five of them of which are over seven minutes long! I could not find one bad song in this album, which means all the songs are worth listening too!

The album kicks off with The Death of Innocence, which has really fucked up in the lyrics but the brutality in this song is followed by a major drum role:

Somebody please stop or kill me!
My actions must be stopped before I strike again
Before, I didn't care what I was doing
But now I know I am an aberration

Obviously not all songs are like The Death of Innocence but I found one intriguing song in this album that had one good break down: No One Answers! The main rhythm of the song happens at the very beginning of the song and during middle, the break down begins after these lyrics:


No one answers!
To the cries in the middle of your dreams
No one answers!
To the cries rapidly becoming screams
No one answers!
Though you're forced to perform against your will
No one answers!
So shut up and accept your fate!!!

Cauterization is another song I found interesting in this album: no lyrics at all. This is quite rare to find in a metal band, but all I have to say is sit back and relax as the beauty of this song carries you away when you hear the perfection of changing drum rolls and guitar rhythms. The Promise of Agony is another song that kicks total ass because the main lyric "AGONY!" is really fitting in this total despair, I felt under the impression that agony was enjoyable. Finally the album song Leave Scars just wanted to go and beat the shit out of somebody because this song long and leaves no forgiveness behind. Aggressive as this song gets, this is the only song that has multi-vocals as I hear the "LEAVE SCARS!"

Overall this album is worth the damn money, you will not regret of what you are going to hear. This is the last pure Thrash Metal album before the shitty 90's metal kicks in, so get off your ass, buy a copy, and enjoy Dark Angel's last great album!

Great, but often overlooked - 95%

Wra1th1s, April 5th, 2008

As evidenced by the number of reviews, this album is often overlooked by fans. Of course being sandwiched between "Darkness Descends" and "Time Does Not Heal" doesn't help things one bit. But eh, I like it. This album may not be as "too fast my ass" as the previous album (here they concentrate on crushing brutality) or as "9 songs, 67 minutes, 246 RIFFS!" as the following album, but it's not a bad album.

This album's production accentuates their newfound heaviness by making it way too bass heavy. Not that the bass is too loud (in fact you can hardly hear it), but they really exaggerate the "heavy" felling of the album. The guitar tone, however, is the best thing in the production. Just hear the solo(s) in "The Death of Innocence", tell me that the production fails there. Oh and let's face it, Ron is no Don, but he's better suited for this kind of thrash (Ron delivers his lyrics at the same breakneck pace though).The songs are phenomenal, they show the band during a transitory period from "too fast my ass" to tech thrash and the songs actually benefit as they receive the best of both worlds.

The album starts with a track that could've been on "Darkness Descends", "The Death of Innocence" from the pummeling riff that opens it you pretty much set your neck on autopilot for the length of the song. The solos, as stated before, are the damn near best thing the song has to offer. 'These can't be the guys who were on "Darkness Descends"!' you say, but they are! Only this time they aren't as concerned about sheer brutality as they were on that album. This is the 'best of both worlds' I was talking about, this song has speed, brutality and technicality! But the absolute best thing this song has is when Rinehart screams "Somebody please stop or KILL MEEEEE!/My actions must be stopped 'fore I strike again!" The riff under it and the riff after it is perhaps the best non-Darkness Descends/Time Does Not Heal riff they have done.

The following song continues the trend, albeit at a 'slower' pace. "NEVAH TO RISE AGAIN!!" now that is a thrash chorus. The rest of the songs ain't bad either, what with riffs galore and the Atomic Clock beating the skins. After this song the rest of the album contains thrash epics, starting with "No One Answers" until "Leave Scars" that is if you discount the horrible "Immigrant Song" cover and the equally, if not more so, horrible instrumental "Worms". It's sad that they had to resort to filler material when they had great songs like "Cauterization", the title track, "Older Than Time Itself" and "The Promise of Agony". Huh, I just listed the whole album there. My point is that these songs are all great, with riffs, drums, and killer vox. However their awesomeness sometimes suffer from the sheer length of the songs and the lack of bass.

Conclusion: Track it down if you need to. Seriously it's good, but suffers from "So Far, So Good, So What?" syndrome because it is sandwiched between two albums that are considered all-time classics of the genre and is often regarded as the bands best works. (Strangely enough, "Peace Sells" and "Darkness Descends" were both released in '86 and "Rust in Peace" and "Time Does Not Heal" was released in the 90s)

EDIT: Fixed spelling mistakes

An Excellent, Mature and Devastating Album. - 95%

CHRISTI_NS_ANITY8, February 10th, 2008

Like Slayer after Reign In Blood, Dark Angel too released a more obscure and, if you want, mature album. It was senseless and risky trying to do another fast masterpiece like Darkness Descends because it could have been not so good or interesting. So our big guys decided to change a bit the style. With a new singer, Ron Rinehart, now their style is more focused on the creation of obscure, suffered guitar lines while the lyrics are more about the human feelings and pain.

The most important example of this are the superb “No One Answers” or the great, gloomy instrumental “Cauterization”; they are both very obscure, doomy in some parts and really suffered. The production contributes to create this atmosphere because all the instruments seem very low in terms of volume. The sounds are essential and quite raw, but I definitely love them.

The opening song is pure thrash fury, like in Darkness Descends. The new vocalist has a different tone than Doty but his voice is more mature and very good for this new direction taken by the group. Anyway he is able to be harsh and bad ass like few others. Hoglan is always inhuman behind the drums and this time, with these new songs, we can really see his most technical side.

“Never To Rise Again” is astonishing for the heaviness and obscurity. It’s like a semi mid tempo with pounding double kick and massive guitar work. “Immigrant Song” is the famous Led Zeppelin cover, made thrash! Here we can really hear the new vocalist's skills. The beginning of “Older Than Time Itself” (what a title…) is immense and murky and in few minutes becomes an up tempo with excellent, intricate, hyper fast guitar riffs.

“Worms” is instrumental with only strange noises and distorted guitars, not remarkable. The mid tempos to “The Promise Of Agony” are, instead, really heavy. The title track puts the exclamation point to an album already great, being a superb, devastating song. Almost 8 minutes of tremendous up tempo, hyper fast bass drum and always suffered guitar lines. Check out the bestial final part where the double bass kicks seem neverending.

Sometimes, this album gives me the idea of being the most death metal oriented one in Dark Angel discography…maybe it’s for the production but who cares? Recommended to every thrash metal fan who wants to know about a milestone on the road to Time Does Not Heal.

On The border Between Thrash and Death - 95%

brocashelm, April 19th, 2006

As awe-inspiring as Dark Angel’s second album, Darkness Descends, was and is, it’s hard not to view this release as their masterstroke. For one, it’s longer, darker, and features far more involved and developed material. Does that mean it’s less intense? No way, bud, if anything it’s a more brute experience, only this time it’s emotionally disturbing on top of being a killer raw thrash album.


First off, the lyrics, which as penned by Gene Hoglan (drummer and professional receptionist) are literate and menacing queries into the nature of innocence and the ugly results of its violation. Second, the sound is bassier and denser, the playing slightly less concerned with velocity than with crushing force. But this is Dark Angel after all and controlled but viscerally fast tempos are their stock in trade. Thus “The Death of Innocence” starts things off in manic fashion. New singer Ron Reinhart possesses a deeper register than the departed Don Doty (whose exit was partially to blame for the three year gap between albums for the band) and he delivers Hoglan’s tale of a pedophile rationalizing his own sick actions with considerable force. Over the course of the album, a few epics are unleashed, “Never to Rise Again” being the most resonant, as well as a mutilated Led Zeppelin cover (“Immigrant Song”) and a slithering, sublime instrumental (“Cauterization”).


But the two cornerstones of brilliance for this album are the savage “Promise of Agony” and the thrashing supremacy of the multi-tiered title cut which closes the album. Complex in structure, brutal in execution and lyrically smart (in the great Hoglan tradition) it’s one of thrash metal’s high points.


Hovering right on the line where the attributes of thrash cross over into the black abyss of death metal, the album and Dark Angel themselves are crafters of some metal’s most skilled examples of how brutal yet utterly musically impressive this music has the potential to be.

Ownage, but not quite another Darkness Descends - 93%

Terminvs_Est, December 9th, 2003

And just so you know, no the production of this album does not matter as much to me as the previous reviewer's opinion though I do have to agree that the guitar sound is a bit muddy and the vocals stand out a little too much. However this does deserve a good review with me because despite the production I just as happily bang my head to the maelstrom of riffs that is most of this album as I do when listening to Darkness Descends.

Now onto what else makes this album a step downward from it's predecessor. These three tracks; Cauterization(instrumental), Immigrant Song(Led Zeppelin cover), and Worms(small instrumental interlude). I mean what's the deal with Cauterization? I really don't care for instrumentals too much. And Worms, no guys there is no need for such things. And the Led Zeppelin cover. What the fuck is that? That cover is just too musically fluffy for Dark Angel standards. Nothing that sticks out as much as your typical awesome Dark Angel song.

Now onto the better tracks in this album. The Death of Innocence, Never to Rise Again, No One Answers, and The Promise of Agony are all pretty much like hot steaming sex. Truly continuations of Darkness Descends. But my favorite track of all in this album is the goddamn title track! This track rivals the shit out of DA's previous album's title track. "For this I won't apologize because I leave scars!" But the most memorable moment in the song is around 3:54 when Ron is shouting and screaming "I'm loooord and massterrrr. Of myy own future!!!" Yep that's something right there.

As for the sixth track, called "Older than Time Instead" it is a bit unmemorable for some reason. Though quite DAish and better than my least favorite three songs in this album, it just doesn't stick out in my head as much as the aforementioned tracks that are my favorites. Though the first-minute intro of the song is pretty tight.

So to sum it up, we have a thrash album that you either almost love as much as Darkness Descends(such as myself) or find rather dissapointing because of the somewhat questionable production(previous reviewer). I wonder if Boris, who's opinion on Darkness Descends I strongly support and share would fit into one of these two categories. I'm interested in his opinion on this third full-length release by these demigods(or demi-Satans) of thrash.

Solid thrash, worthless production. - 69%

Nightcrawler, November 19th, 2003

Three years after the thrashterpiece Darkness Descends, Dark Angel are back with a new album and also a new vocalist. Replacing Don Doty is Ron Rineheart. I was hoping Rineheart could maybe slow down the vocals somewhat, as Doty's incessant hyper-speed singing gets kinda ridiculous at times. But no, Rineheart is pretty much a weaker clone of Don Doty, singing if possible even faster than his predecessor on some songs, and is also notably somewhat cleaner (I am now referring to Don's performance on Darkness Descends obviously, not We Have Arrived). Most notably on the closing track, Leave Scars.

The actual music here hasn't progressed much from Darkness Descends. It's mostly tons of angry and fast riffs topped off with fast and heavy bass and drumming blended together into a massive wall of sound. But this one features a much weaker production than Darkness Descends, and loses quite alot from this. The riffs have a somewhat higher and more sinister tone, which in itself isn't good but it doesn't go well with that wall-of-sound idea they're still trying to create, so it sticks out too much and doesn't work with the other instruments as well as on the previous release. And the bass just isn't loud and powerful enough, so what we have here is basically a wall of sound with bricks that are falling apart. And the vocals are too damn high in the mix. We want riffs, not ridiculously fast sung vocals! Also, another production miss is in No One Answers at about 5:45 or something where the volume just gets way lower all of a sudden. No big deal, but it still annoys me quite a bit.


The actual songs are also somewhat weaker than on Darkness Descends. The riffs seem to blend into one another at times (most notably on the boring 7 minute instrumental Cauterization), though that also has to do with the production mainly. The riffs themselves are not quite as vicious, and the songs just don't sound as evil and overwhelmingly brutal as monsters such as Death Is Certain (Life Is Not). Also, sometimes they feel a bit too vocal-based.
Most songs have some pretty good moments, and there isn't really anything bad on here, except Cauterization. Songs like The Death of Innocence and Leave Scars still sound pretty fucking lethal, but it's like they've lost the sting in the songwriting.
Fact is, my favourite song on here is probably the cover of Led Zeppelin's Immigrant Song, even though it's not even 2 minutes long (then again, that's better than most of the overlong 7 minute tracks on here). Monstrous galloping riffs and powerful vocals- check out those fucking screams! Ron Rineheart should do less incoherent fast singing and more insane high screaming, then he'd actually be a good singer. But this, unfortunately, is not the case.

So while not in the slightest a bad album, Leave Scars definitely left me kinda disappointment. The worthless production and boring, monotonous vocals both feel incredibly unnecessary, and the album could've been so much better. Darkness Descends had an incredible production job, why the hell didn't they go with the same producer? And on Immigrant Song, vocalist Rineheart shows some insane range, but he doesn't use it anywhere else on the album. So, this album could have been better. It should have, but unfortunately, it's not.
If you like angry, fast and brutal thrash with lyrics featuring inconsistent usage of unnecessarily long words ("His avidity is dominant, covetousness to prominent..."), then you should definitely enjoy this. However, it has quite a few flaws that leave it's mark on the songwriting. You'd be better off with Darkness Descends.