We Have Arrived

Dark Angel

Azra / Metal Storm, 1985


REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


For every member of thrash metal’s “Big Four,” there were dozens of bands who looked in on the fringes of the successes of Anthrax, Slayer, Megadeth and Metallica. One such band was Downey, California’s Dark Angel, whose greatest claims to fame might be their (as of 2022) last studio effort Time Does Not Heal and the fact that drummer extraordinaire Gene Hogland was/is a member of the group. (Dark Angel is slated to release a new studio album in 2023—their first in over 30 years.)

Honestly, it has been a long, long time since I listened to Dark Angel—and, up until prepping for this review, I had never heard their debut effort my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 We Have Arrived from 1985. (The disc was initially released on Azra, later re-released on Metal Storm with different cover art.)

In a way, I shouldn’t have bothered. While one or two of these became standards for Dark Angel in a live setting, this is fairly formulaic thrash metal with an uninspiring lead vocalist, sterile production and plodding drums.

Ah, I hear Hogland’s fanbase preparing to beat me senseless. Let it be known that this was the only album to feature Jack Schwartz behind the skins, not Hogland. So there.

Vocalist Don Doty (who would remain with the band for one more album) might be able to enunciate his way through the songs—and, believe me, that’s not anything I’m complaining about. But his overall vocal performance lacks the power that even these seven mediocre selections all but demand. Take the song “Merciless Death,” for example—the choruses of this song should be what drives the song home, but behind Doty’s vocals, they fall flat.

Similarly, tracks like “Welcome To The Slaughter House” and “Hell’s On Its Knees” just fall completely flat to my ears. Granted, this was the band’s first recorded effort, but even with only a few years under their belt, one would have thought the end product would have been better. The production work of Vadim Rubin and Mike Siegal doesn’t really help matters much.

If there is any saving grace to We Have Arrived, it is the twin guitar work of Eric Meyer and Jim Durkin, as well as the bass guitar of Rob Yahn. All three provide the spark of hope for Dark Angel, and they make the songs as listenable as they can.

Every band has to start somewhere, and We Have Arrived was that tentative announcement from Dark Angel. But had this been their sole contribution to the thrash metal scene, one wonders if anyone would have even known that they left the party. This one is for diehard fans of the genre only.

Rating: C-

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2022 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Azra / Metal Storm, and is used for informational purposes only.