Dark Angel at Hellfest, 2014
|Origin||Downey, California, U.S.|
Dark Angel is an American thrash metal band from Downey, California that formed in 1981. Their over-the-top style (extremely fast, heavy and lengthy songs with lots of tempo changes, lyrics and extended instrumental parts) earned them the nickname "the L.A. Caffeine Machine". Although Dark Angel had never achieved a mainstream breakthrough in their initial career, they are often credited as one of the leaders of the second wave of the thrash metal movement of the 1980s. Dark Angel released four full-length studio albums before splitting up in 1992. After a short-lived reunion from 2002 to 2005, the band reunited once again in 2013. They are also notable for featuring drummer Gene Hoglan, who has been a member of Dark Angel since 1984, and since their initial breakup in 1992, he has played in several notable bands, such as Death, Strapping Young Lad, Fear Factory and more recently Testament.
Dark Angel formed in 1981 under the name Shellshock in Downey, California, right around the time when the Bay Area thrash movement was beginning to take place. They were forced to change their name to Dark Angel in 1983 due to another band using the name. They played in local bars and clubs, acquiring a cult following in the metal underground. The band began recording and releasing several demos before releasing their debut studio album We Have Arrived in March 1985. Dark Angel promoted We Have Arrived with its first ever tour, opening for bands like Slayer, Megadeth, Venom, Savage Grace, Corrosion of Conformity, Possessed, D.R.I., Exodus and Agent Steel.
In November 1986, Dark Angel released their second studio album, Darkness Descends, which is widely considered to be their seminal release. Around the same, several other thrash metal bands such as Metallica also released seminal albums and started to gain more popularity. Although Darkness Descends did not initially reach the Billboard 200 charts or become a commercial success, Dark Angel spent most of 1986 and 1987 touring heavily behind the album. After the Darkness Descends tour ended in August 1987,Don Doty left Dark Angel in to start a family. Don Doty later returned in 2014 and had Michael Gonzales and Eric Meyer on board and scheduled to play the Keep it true festival, however other members of Dark Angel pulled the plug to change the line up and had Ron Rinehart take Don Doty's place. Ron Rinehart, who would stay with the band until their breakup in 1992 and rejoin for their subsequent reunions. Dark Angel performed their first show with Rinehart at the Fender's Ballroom in Long Beach, California on January 29, 1988.
At this time, Megadeth frontman Dave Mustaine asked Eric Meyer to join Megadeth, but he declined in order to stay with Dark Angel. According to an interview in Voices from the Dark Side, Eric Meyer claims he did not feel comfortable with the situation.
In January 1989, Dark Angel released their third studio album Leave Scars, which was their first release with Rinehart on vocals and Mike Gonzalez on bass, and their last with guitarist Jim Durkin, who left the band before the tour and was replaced by former Viking guitarist Brett Eriksen, leaving the band with no remaining original members. Leave Scars received positive reviews from music critics, and was Dark Angel's only album to reach the Billboard 200 charts, where it peaked at number 159. The band toured through much of 1989 and 1990 with several bands, including Death, Nuclear Assault, Acid Reign, Candlemass and Overkill. A live album, recorded at the Country Club in Reseda on April 22, 1989, was released in 1990 as Live Scars.
Dark Angel released their fourth and final full-length studio album, Time Does Not Heal, in February 1991. Time Does Not Heal showed increasingly progressive song structures (famously advertising its "246 riffs") and Hoglan's lyrics dealing with psychological issues and trauma. To promote Time Does Not Heal, Dark Angel embarked on the "Years of Pain" world tour, supporting such bands as Exhorder, Mordred and Re-Animator.
Since 1993, Hoglan had been collaborating on a number of musical projects. He achieved greater attention during the mid-1990s playing with Death, at the same time that bandleader Chuck Schuldiner was taking that group into a more progressive style. Subsequently, he recorded one album with the thrash metal band Testament, and made the acquaintance of Canadian multi-instrumentalist Devin Townsend, forging a lasting friendship. He has since recorded several albums with Townsend, both as part of the speed/industrial/death metal band Strapping Young Lad and under Devin Townsend's name.
By 2005, Rinehart had begun suffering health problems, and an accident that year, which caused a severe spinal injury that was apparently so serious that if Rinehart had continued singing it could have resulted in him being unable to talk, thus ending Dark Angel's reunion.
On August 10, 2013, it was reported that Dark Angel had reunited with original vocalist Don Doty, and would headline Keep It True XVII festival in Germany in April 2014. It was also reported that drummer Gene Hoglan, guitarists Eric Meyer and Justin Zych, and bassist Mike Gonzalez would be involved in the reunion.
On August 16, 2013, six days after the "reunion" was announced, Doty and Hoglan released statements addressing the "reunion rumors" in an attempt to "put any confusion to rest." Hoglan admitted that he and the members of Dark Angel had been "talking about doing something" in 2014, and stated that some shows could be in the works, but "right now it's just speculation." Hoglan also stated that, due to his commitments with Testament and Dethklok, the band is "moving forward s-l-o-w-l-y." Doty also commented on the reunion rumors, stating, "When talks are complete, a statement will be given. We will know more in the months to come. We will let you know as it unravels." Asked on August 21, 2013 about the reunion, Hoglan replied, "The latest is that we are talking about doing one. We will definitely keep everybody posted when there is something solid to talk about."
On September 4, 2013, Dark Angel's management confirmed that the band would be reuniting for "limited number of appearances in the U.S. and select festivals in Europe" in 2014, and added that the dates were "still pending" and had "not yet been booked at this time." Their management also confirmed that the lineup for the "rare and unique, select 2014 shows" was Gene Hoglan (drums), Jim Durkin (guitar), Ron Rinehart (vocals) and Michael Gonzalez (bass). On the following day, it was announced that Dark Angel had been dropped from the Keep It True XVII festival due to multiple issues with the reunion.
On October 13, 2013, Dark Angel confirmed that they are officially active again, and posted a 17-second rehearsal clip, titled "DFA is back!", on YouTube.
On November 1, 2014, it was announced that Dark Angel was working on new material.
On April 5, 2016, it was announced that Dark Angel would celebrate their 30th anniversary by playing a show on October 8 at the Vogue Theatre in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. At that show, they were supposed to play the Darkness Descends album in its entirety as well as songs from their 1991 album Time Does Not Heal. The concert was cancelled "due to circumstances beyond [the band's] control".
By November 2017, the band was still in the process of writing their forthcoming new album, according to Gene Hoglan.