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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.