Darkane - Rusted Angel
Regain Records
Melodic Death Metal
10 songs (40:30)
Release year: 1999
Darkane, Regain Records
Reviewed by Jay
Archive review

With all the controversy over who is still playing authentic melodic death metal, it is good to know that we can turn to classic albums to get our fix of the good ol’ stuff. At the Gates is no more, In Flames has gone mallcore, and Arch Enemy and Soilwork are off experimenting with more mainstream permutations. There are few left in the scene that are still burning the flame besides Dark Tranquillity and Darkane. So let us step back in time a brief five years. It is 1999. Two albums rocked the Melodeath landscape that year. Arch Enemy’s Burning Bridges and Darkane’s Rusted Angel.

From the opening seconds of this album, you know it is pure gold. It was a good 15 seconds into the opener track "Convicted" that I firmly decided this album had to be in my collection. Was it the frenetic, alacritic and at times psychotic drumming of master Peter Wildoer? The guitar wizardry of Christofer Malmström and Klas Ideberg? Or maybe it was the brutal and panicked screams of Lawrence Mackrory? One thing is for sure. Each element perfectly balances off the others crafting a synergy between parts that makes this album whole. It is a shame, in my opinion, that Mackrory was only a session vocalist on this album. He has a much more chaotic and vicious delivery than his permanent replacement on later albums, Andreas Sydow. Wildoer was fresh from his stint as Arch Enemy’s drummer and along with Malmström formed Darkane in 1998. Their ideas played off each other perfectly and a landmark album was the result.

It is hard to begin reviewing this album since each track is such a masterwork but the only place to begin is at the beginning. Wildoer is a big fan of dramatic introductions to the albums and his strange combination of chorus and industrial noise that is the introduction is no exception. It drops the listener right into one of the most powerful songs this genre has to offer. "Convicted" is a thrill ride of sounds, visions and power. Deriving influence from classic thrash and death metal, the gigantic wall of noise that Darkane push into your auditory canal is unrelenting. Riffs blast from the speakers and Mackrory does his best impression of a mental patient being given electroshock in his wild howling. Young kids wanting to start a melodeath band should focus on this track as lesson one. Each chorus brings in a new melodic part, and the solos and bridges are metal genius. Wildoer and Malmström set the table well with this commanding and bold send off. It only gets better from here on out. "Bound" continues in the same path with ridiculous speed and fury. The crunching of the guitars completely pummels anything in its path. I dare you all not to headbang as hard as you can to these two tracks. You will find it is quite impossible.

Slowing it down a bit, the melody gets its first chance to truly shine on "The Rape of Mankind." Wildoer again shows off his amazing prowess behind the kit, accenting every note with his perfect sounding ride cymbal. If you search out every metal record ever recorded, I don’t think you’ll find a ride cymbal sounding better on any other record. Which brings me to production. Many people have lamented over the guitar sound of this album. Some feel it’s too raw and others just think it’s bad. After hearing Darkane’s subsequent albums, I have to disagree. The edge and unpolished sound suits them perfectly. In fact, I wish their latter albums had a less polished guitar sound like this one does. The dirty aspect does a fine job of getting in your face and daring you to ignore the shredding intensity that the band brings with each note. Especially on the solos. And if there is anything Darkane knows how to do, it’s solo. This album is the equivalent of a lead guitarist’s wet dream. Malmström has such a perfectly attuned songwriting ear and makes each note count. When you hear him play, you think "Yes! That is what the solo should sound like."

The title track brings forth more raw attitude and speed. The mix between mid tempo melodic parts, slower solos, and sound barrier-breaking verses is immensely satisfying. After coming out of the dual lead, they drop us right into a thrash-a-thon of breakdown riffs which you can just see the pit erupting into mayhem during. "A Wisdom’s Breed" showcases more of the band’s ferocity at high speeds while "Chase For Existence" slows everything down a bit and goes into progressive directions with some interesting drumming and an opening solo that sounds almost middle eastern at times. Easily the best solo of the disc is on this track. An extended affair that showcases a pure talent and makes you understand the pure magic that is the metal solo. Closing out the album is another attempt to see if you can keep pace with them. "Frenetic Visions" blows me away since it illustrates the full affect of their sonic assault. It’s a quite fitting end to the fantastic disc. One particularly haunting aspect is the outro which is a chorus singing melodic passages in synchrony with the band. Eventually the metal fades out and we’re left with the chorus singing darkly ominous hosannas. It’s unsettling, eerie and truly magnificent.

If you don’t already own this masterpiece, be sure to pick up the re-issue. The Japanese bonus track is only a minute long victorious-style solo but it’s great listening. Also included are "A Wisdoms Breed" and "Convicted" live in Sweden. Darkane will be remembered forever for this disc. Get your melodic death metal from these thrash heads since they don’t seem to be going anywhere. Rusted Angel must be a part of your collection if you want to call yourself a fan of Melodeath.

Killing Songs :
Every single note on this album is golden.
Jay quoted 98 / 100
Crims quoted 93 / 100
Other albums by Darkane that we have reviewed:
Darkane - Demonic Art reviewed by Thomas and quoted 59 / 100
Darkane - Layers Of Lies reviewed by Kayla and quoted 84 / 100
Darkane - Expanding Senses reviewed by Crims and quoted 92 / 100
Darkane - Insanity reviewed by Danny and quoted 80 / 100
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