The 80s thrash legends Dark Angel sold out three nights in a row at the Teragram in Los Angeles when they announced they would be playing their 1986 classic “Darkness Descends” in its entirety. The album is considered by many (including myself) to be one of the finest thrash albums ever recorded and still stands up today. But, unfortunately, these shows were already booked when the universe threw a giant wrench in the mix with the passing of founding member guitarist Jim Durkin.
As the date drew nearer, Dark Angel announced the shows would still go on, and Gene Hoglan’s wife Laura Christine would cover Jim Durkin’s guitar duties. I didn’t know how this would work out, but I decided to withhold my judgment.
We got to the show just before Dark Angel and missed Evil Dead, which I was OK with because I’ve never considered them better than a third-tier thrash band. The Teragram was packed but not oversold, which is nice. The Teragram is a fantastic venue, and I wish they would book more metal shows there.
The band opened with “We Have Arrived” from their debut album of the same name. Unfortunately, this song is from a period of the band’s history when they still needed to find their groove, and it sounds pretty dated now and was an odd choice. They followed with “Time Does Not Heal” from the very disappointing/unlistenable album of the same name, which also missed its mark with the crowd, but all of that changed when they ripped into “Never To Rise Again”, “No One Answers”, and “Death Of Innocence” from the album Leave Scars. At this point, the mosh bit grew, foreshadowing what was to would come.
They began playing the Darkness Descends album in track order, starting with “Darkness Descends”. Interestingly, one of the first beats would be copied almost note-for-note by Metallica two years later on the song “One” on Justice For All. So go back and listen to both songs side-by-side if you don’t believe me.
Three of the musicians onstage (Gene Hoglan, Eric Meyer, and Mike Gonzalez) had all played on Darkness Descends, but singer Ron Rinehart joined the group on the next album. While I much prefer original vocalist Don Doty to Rinehart, Ron did a great job holding down vocal duties and took nothing away from the show, and neither did Laura Christine. Both musicians held their own as consummate professionals.
The band ripped through the seven songs on Darkness Descends like it was still 1986, and the crowd responded accordingly with manic thrashing, moshing, and stage diving. Some of the highlights included “Hunger of The Undead” (which the band had never performed live till now), a smattering of the heaviest riffs from the instrumental “Older Than Time Itself” to break up some songs, and perhaps the most excellent thrash song of all time “Black Prophecies” to drive things over the top.
All things said, this is 80s thrash as good as it can possibly be done, and if you were there, consider yourself lucky, and if Dark Angel ever decides to take this on the road, this show is a must-see!
- We Have Arrived
- Time Does Not Heal
- Never to Rise Again
- No One Answers
- Death Of Innocence
- Darkness Descends
- The Burning of Sodom
- Hunger of the Undead
- Merciless Death
- Death Is Certain (Life Is Not)
- Black Prophecies
- Perish in Flames (with Older Than Time Itself riffs)
This post was edited on 4/30 to correct some mistakes in the setlist that were pointed out on Facebook here: