Dark Angel became known in thrash metal circles for their ability to deliver some of the genre's most challenging and articulate albums without ever losing touch with its core attributes of pure speed and primal aggression. And although, like many of their peers, the band's appeal would never really extend beyond the metal underground, their recorded legacy has stood the test of time much better than the bulk of their '80s thrash metal peers.
Formed in Los Angeles in 1983, Dark Angel went through countless incarnations before settling on a somewhat stable lineup featuring vocalist Don Doty, guitarists Eric Meyer and Jim Durkin, bassist Rob Yahn, and drummer Jack Schwartz. After having one of their demos, "Welcome to the Slaughterhouse," chosen for inclusion on Brian Slagel's Metal Massacre IV collection in 1985, the group proceeded to assemble their remaining demo tapes into a primitive, but enthusiastic first album called We Have Arrived, released later that year. New drummer Gene Hoglan joined the band in time to be pictured on the album sleeve, but made his performance debut on 1986's much improved Darkness Descends, released by thrash metal-friendly Combat Records, and usually viewed by fans as the band's true arrival. Bassist Yahn would depart shortly after the album's release (replaced by Mike Gonzalez), soon to be followed by original vocalist Doty at tour's end.
Unsure about their next step, the Dark Angel undertook a long hiatus before resurfacing with drummer Hoglan firmly entrenched as the band's major creative force. After drafting new vocalist Ron Rinehart, the band recorded 1989's Leave Scars — the first of two albums which earned them the unlikely label of progressive thrash, due to the longer, more complex songs the band had begun composing. Recorded in April 1989 and released later that year, Live Scars introduced new six-stringer Brett Eriksen, who had recently replaced Durkin, and documented the group's ferocious live energy. Another extended break ensued before the recording of what is arguably their finest effort, 1991's Time Does Not Heal. Hailed by critics for the sheer creative scope of its ambitious songwriting, the album was considered the last word on technical thrash metal, but arrived at the end of thrash metal's time in the limelight and sold poorly. The departure of Rinehart soon thereafter convinced Hoglan to breakup the band, and he eventually joined Florida's Death and contributed to some of their finest albums. Relativity Records issued a collection of Dark Angel's finest moments, Decade of Chaos in 1992.