DARK ANGEL / DEATH / I.N.C.
L’Amour, Brooklyn, New York, USA
March 31st, 1989
Ah, yes! Death and Dark Angel, two of my favourite “bunch of pals” together on a New York stage for the first time since my “controversial” review of the Ultimate Revenge II gig in Philadelphia last October.
So did I get beat up? Did I suffer through extreme physical pain or a verbal slashing at the hands of Mr’s Chuck Schuldiner and Jim Durkin? The answer is: none of the above. In fact, aside from a brief derogatory mention given to yours truly on the part of Mr. Schuldiner during Death’s set, the night was surprisingly friction free, with most of Death and all of Dark Angel not even giving a flying fuck about the fact that I was there (albeit, admittedly, Jim Durkin wasn’t even present at the gig – but more on that later!).
Connecticut’s I.N.C. opened proceedings on this night, and they delivered what I thought was a very average set filled with cuts from their newly released second record, The Visitor, as well as tracks from their Mike Exley-approved debut (Razorback). I’m not gonna say that the crowd liked them, ’cause it was clear that there were quite a few I.N.C. supporters in the audience tonight, but what I saw / heard sounded like third-rate Testament with a singer / bassist (Dennis Gergely) who is probably better off getting someone else to take over the vocal duties. Nuff said.
As Death stormed the stage, it became clear that this was not going to be one of their better sounding shows, with the guitars getting a particularly rough treatment from the L’Amour sound system. Unfortunately, for a band like Death (or any other extreme thrash metal act, for that matter), this usually means that everything turns into total mud and the songs are rendered indistinguishable, and on this occasion, that’s exactly what happened.
Opening their set with ‘Leprosy’, the title track to their second album, Death have visibly become more comfortable on stage, as most of the members are now showing movement a lot more than before and there’s a bit more interaction between the band and the audience.
However, as much as they’re trying to improve in their live delivery, Death are still not a great enough live act to rely solely on their visual appearance for crowd entertainment, and this means that they didn’t come across as convincingly as they normally do with the proper sound and the sheer brutality of their material as the guide.
Anyway, Death went through a 50-minute set largely culled from the Leprosy record, with only ‘Infernal Death’, ‘Zombie Ritual’ and ‘Denial Of Life’ (complete with a “fuck off and die” dedication to yours truly – thanks a lot, Charlie!) making an appearance from the first record (Scream Bloody Gore)! Overall, the band sounded quite tight when they could be heard, and it basically seemed like it would have been a good performance if only the sound had been better.
If you read my review of the Ultimate Revenge II gig a few issues back (Metal Forces #34), you’ll undoubtedly be familiar with my views on Dark Angel as a live act. Albeit a good vinyl band (although the production on the new record, Leave Scars, ruins it as far as I’m concerned), Dark Angel are a messy live act, with their high-speed approach often being likened to that of a bowl of mud when performed in a live situation. Tonight’s performance, albeit an improvement from before, was not much different.
Hitting the stage as a four-piece, with guitarist Jim Durkin back in LA due to “family problems”, Dark Angel were admittedly a bit cleaner-sounding than before, with the drums in particular cutting through with a lot more punch. But, even without one guitarist, I’m afraid that the guitar sound is simply too muddy to make any sense whatsoever, instead rendering the songs tuneless.
Visually, however, it was a different story, with the energy level on stage pretty high all throughout and vocalist Ron Rinehart in particular showing his ability as a first-rate frontman. The band seemed to be having fun despite the problems, and overall, it was another strong visual performance from the group.
Now, if only they could do something about that guitar sound…
Review taken from Metal Forces, Issue 39 (1989)
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