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Underrated, Strong Debut! - 95%

ThrashFanatic, February 13th, 2018
Written based on this version: 1997, CD, Metal Hammer (Promo, Reissue)

Dark Angel are one of the most brutal thrash bands ever. Their brutal masterpiece "Darkness Descends" left a unforgettable mark on thrash and made Slayer's Reign In Blood sound like a preschool rhythm and rhyme album. Before Dark Angel were brutal however, they played a more old school, primitive form of thrash which took heavy influence from traditional heavy metal. The record I'm talking about is Dark Angel's debut, "We Have Arrived. The record was released on Metal Storm Records in March 1985. Let's take a look at this underappreciated debut...

The title track makes it's presence known almost immediately, with a pretty good riff. You could tell that this record was heavily influenced by early Slayer, but Dark Angel did it even better in my opinion. Guitarists Eric Meyer and Jim Durkin's riffs are straight forward, but they work. The solos are pretty kickass and they are well performed. Vocalist Don Doty is one of the most brutal thrash vocalists ever, but here he sounds slightly less tame, but this isn't necessarily a bad thing. His vocals here fit the traditional metal nature of the record. His best performance is without a doubt on "Merciless Death", in which he sounds the most unleashed. Bassist Rob Yahn is a little hard to hear at times due to the far from perfect production, but you can hear his bass pop up from the mix occasionally. Drummer Jack Schwartz isn't really a technically skilled drummer, but he is far from bad or incompetent. His drumming sounds good overall, but it could of been improved. Now let's talk about some tracks...

"Merciless Death" is the classic, this is one of the ultimate thrash anthems. The main riff is insane, this is an early prototype for death metal without a doubt. The unhinged nature of the performance is what makes it so great. You simply can't go wrong with this track. Amazing track! "Welcome To The Slaughter House" begins with the sound effects of a chainsaw and then the awesome riffs come in to assault the listener's ears. It is an another awesome track which is very reminiscent of something Slayer would of played on "Hell Awaits". This is another excellent track! Moving on... "Hell's On It's Knees" starts with one of the best acoustic intros to any thrash song ever. The acoustic intro then leads into an awesome guitar riff, followed by a kickass scream from Doty. The solos are again very similar to Slayer, but Meyer and Durkin certainly do it better. The fiinal track "Vendetta" also begins with an acoustic intro. This track is another highlight, and it contains some great lyrics...

"The thought of my anguish
Fills you with dread
My soul can not rest
Until I know that you're dead"

This record doesn't deserve the hate it gets. It may sound primitive, but that is what makes it so enjoyable to listen to. The production gives the record some distinctive character. "We Have Arrived" may not be "Darkness Descends", but one can't help but to at least appreciate the effort put into these songs. This debut should be held in the same light as "Kill Em All", "Show No Mercy", "Fistful Of Metal", "Killing Is My Business...", and "Bonded By Blood". I highly recommend this to fans of Exodus, Slayer, Metallica, Megadeth, Exumer, and Morbid Saint.

Highlights: "We Have Arrived", "Merciless Death", "Welcome To The Slaughter House", "Hell's On It's Knees" and "Vendetta"