Metal’s greatest concept LP

The members of Dark Angel are (as featured below): Gene Hoglan (the drummer is wearing shades), Mike Gonzalez (the bassist beneath him), Ron Rinehart (the singer at the top left), Brett Eriksen (the lead/rhythm guitarist beneath him) and Eric Meyer (ditto). This 1991 line-up may have inspired the non-linear narrative style of Quentin Tarantino with this album. There’s a song called Psychosexuality which foreshadows Pulp Fiction by having an intro being a cover of Misirlou. The incorporation of Misirlou into the band’s song is relevant to the lyrics because of the theme of a man who wants to abduct an attractive woman. When reassembled for narrative purposes, the progressive metal album’s tracklist is the story of how a boy grows up to become a menacing male…

1) A Subtle Induction: The boy is subjected to a 1942 family film that has a subliminal influence on his subconscious. Lyrically, the last bridge contains initials which indicate the film is Bambi (this information came from the bassist who once posted a comment on a YouTube upload).

2) The New Priesthood: The boy has grown to be a typical teenager who questions the sanctity of religion.

3) Time Does Not Heal: He can’t forget the abuse which he received as a child.

4) Psychosexuality: As a twentysomething, he becomes demented from the addiction to porn that he has been fostering since he was a teen. The lust that he harbours for sex workers can’t quench his thirst or quell his hunger. It’s because of subjection to gang crime and snuff movies that he has developed a bloodlust. He has become a misanthrope to mainstream society.

5) Act of Contrition: He becomes obsessed with a young woman to the point of stalking her and kidnapping her.

6) Sensory Deprivation: The woman, a university student, is tortured by him. The only positive is that she’s still being fed.

7) An Ancient Inherited Shame: He commits the cardinal sin of raping her. After being medically treated, she wants to avenge herself.

8) Pain’s Invention, Madness: He is imprisoned and declared insane enough to be put in the loony bin. To the horror of no-one, he is lobotomized. However, he is masochistic as well as sadistic. Therefore, his Hell has become his Heaven.

9) Trauma and Catharsis: The rape victim, now middle-aged, struggles to move on with her life. Her victim status has left her ostracized from society. When she was younger, she became a porn star so as to lessen the memory of the rape. She engaged in a variety of self-harming.

In issue 336 of Kerrang (April 1991), Gene talked about A Subtle Induction“Have you seen Bambi yet? Admittedly, it’s one of the more frivolous concepts on the album. Say what you will, that movie gives kids nightmares! Imagine watching your mother get killed, your home and your neighbourhood burnt down then you, plus your friends, become homeless outcasts! Bambi has all those weird friends – Thumper lives to create turbulence, but Flower is a weirdo who’s either gay or androgynous. Some nice kid’s movie, eh? I live to twist stuff like that around.”

The initials of the third verse spell Bambi. Gene used to write short stories. Hell, he even describes his lyrics as short stories. Dan Spitz said the same thing about Anthrax’s Scott Ian. Coincidentally, Gene once boasted that Darkness Descends was a forerunner to Anthrax writing a song about Judge Dredd. Gene’s song is about issue #3. Back to Time Does Not Heal, he would eventually be critically acclaimed by various feminist groups for writing the anti-rape song. The origin of the song was that he looked around and saw how many bands were writing songs from the perspective of the rapist. In his view, they were instigating fans to commit rape. The most prominent example is Anal Lust by Exhorder. The lyrics were so obscene that they couldn’t be printed on the vinyl sleeve. Vio-lence wrote two songs which, while they weren’t about rape, were sleazy enough to be banned from their second album (Oppressing the Masses) before becoming available on their EP (their final record was titled Torture Tactics).

Gene continues with his explanation of writing the anti-rape song: “It was time to take it from the other person’s perspective. It was educational for me to write. About halfway through it, I thought Wait! Is this coming out ignorant? So I went about asking a few friends of mine – women who I was close to who had either been raped or molested and how they dealt with it. Their input helped end the song on a positive yet truthful note about overcoming the horror of rape. If the song is ignorant in any way, I apologize because it was a man who wrote it. Maybe it’ll make people pause and force them to open their eyes a bit wider. That might be a nice change for some sweaty 14-year-old thrasher.”

Coincidentally, this reminds me of what Erasure’s Andy Bell had to say in a 2014 episode of The Wright Stuff (an English debate show where he was asked to explain why he was at the Kerrang award show): “I find that the heavy rock people are more friendly than the regular pop people.”

Back to Gene, he talks about the thinking process behind his favourite song from Dark Angel’s last album of the twentieth century: “Let’s face it – everyone is a misogynist once they break up with their old lady. You might love your girlfriend, you might (in a fit of anger) tell her Don’t you think of leaving me! But, in the back of your head, you’re holding back the part which goes …or I’ll kill you! That’s actually something that we deal with on Act of Contrition.”

Gene explains what compelled (or rather repelled) him to pen the second longest yet catchiest song on the album – Psychosexuality. This is not for the faint of heart: “Last year, I kept my eyes open – just observing a lot of stuff. We always tended to get stuck playing the red light districts of towns, so you’ll find a lot of human extremities getting literally thrust in your face. If you walk into a pornography store in Amsterdam, you’re going to find a lot more than PC porn – animal movies, pain movies and kiddie porn. It’s a real study in human brutality. Extremes are being tested now more than ever. The closest that I’ve ever come to any of this is carving things into my arm. Slitting my penis in two? I don’t know. I’m kind of attached to it.”

Truth be told, it’s a big shame that he never wrote a novel. If he sent short stories to magazines like Marilyn Manson did in his pre-fame era, it would’ve been the launch pad to himself being the most famous author in the world of metal. Coincidentally, Gene touched on this somewhat in the June 1989 issue of Rip“I’m more of a short story writer than a lyricist but, unfortunately, my lyrics are all that I want people to grapple with right now. I wouldn’t publish my stories, since they are my own thoughts – personal demons that I have to look at and be truly frightened of. My short stories are just too personal at the moment. To be honest, these songs are not exactly easy to write. I’m very intimate with my subject matter. I was never physically abused, molested by my uncle or anything like that. However, I was always aware of things going on around me and, at a very young age, I understood a lot of sophisticated aspects of the world. I know what it’s like to have thoughts that don’t totally mesh with the norm.”

Some of the subject matter on Dark Angel’s 1989 LP (Leave Scars) is a precursor to what was heard on Time Does Not Heal, so I will include the following quote from the aforementioned issue: “I’m fascinated by pure and untouched virginal space. There’s a song on the album called The Death of Innocence that started off as a short story that I wrote when I was 15, and the lyrics are extremely graphic. Nobody is going to comfortably walk away from this first-person depiction of the pedophile – the child raper. It’s a song where the voice of the pedophile realizes he is sick, disgusting and can’t control what he’s doing. He is destroying the flesh and minds of his young victims. He feels like a piece of dirt for it. I’m not a pedophile, but anyone who is an artist can interject his own character into what he is creating. Vincent Price isn’t exactly about to burn in Hell because he played the Abominable Doctor Phibes. If they even care about Dark Angel, this is a song where the P.M.R.C. are going to find exactly what they want.”

I would like to conclude by saying that you can learn more about Time Does Not Heal by reading this page. If you ever wondered why Dark Angel folded afterwards, Gene’s quote from Rip might provide a hint: “I have this phobia of not fully being in control. I’ve always been in control of my environment, right down to the very people around me thinking exactly what I want them to think. I’ve even suffered from control mania – a megalomania, if you will.”

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s