Friday, March 25, 2011

Dark Angel - Live Scars EP (1990)

Though Dark Angel had already been around for some years and released what many consider their most important album (Darkness Descends), many of their fans were probably first exposed to their sound through the Ultimate Revenge 2 live compilation VHS/album, which they shared with up and comers Death and Forbidden, the lesser known Faith or Fear, and the NWOBHM legends Raven. Thus, this initial interaction was of the stage, to which the thrashers return for the Live Scars EP. The cassette of this release was a bit of a ripoff, with only 5 songs in check, whereas the CD had 8 in total, more of a full-length live album. This was not the only such live EP, as Combat also foisted Forbidden's Raw Evil upon us, but Live Scars is far more substantial in either format.

Well, if you'd seen Ultimate Revenge 2, then you already knew the band rocked as hard on stage as in the studio, and at the very least, Live Scars reflects that viral energy, that blazing fortitude that the Californians manifest through their incessant storms of speed. For such a short release, you get a fair mix of material from their first three full-lengths. We Have Arrived is represented only by the title track, but as it was the weakest of the lot, the decision is welcome. To be fair, though, with Ron Rinehart screaming and the band playing the track as fast as their limbs might carry it, it gets a nice face lift here. Otherwise, the selection is pretty spot on. They rip out "The Promise of Agony", "Leave Scars", "Never to Rise Again" and "The Death of Innocence" from their most recent album Leave Scars, and "The Burning of Sodom" and "Death is Certain (Life is Not)" from Darkness Descends. Lastly, they've included a cover of Fear's "I Don't Care About You" (from The Record in 1982). Structurally, this is a huge contrast to the originals, but its delivered with attitude and its fun enough.

Live Scars is hardly one of those mandatory acquisitions like Iron Maiden's Live After Death or Destruction's Live Without Sense, and I've never found myself desiring it over the studio albums at any point in time. The mix is decent, though somewhat repressed. You can hear most of the guitars, vocals, and drums; with some semblance of bass beneath. There's a decent amount of crowd reaction, which makes sense as the EP was recorded in Reseda CA, not far from the band's home base; but they're pretty soft in the recording, even when howling the backing vocals. If you're the sort that maintains a massive stiffy for all things Dark Angel, then you shouldn't be adverse to giving this a go (CD version only). But even then, it's not the sort of live recording to leave a lasting impression, and your money is best spent elsewhere.

Verdict: Indifference [6.25/10]

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