No. 17

November 01, 2014

After floating around the grapevine for the past few months, it was finally announced that Phil Carnes will return to the recording studio to produce another Desolate Angel album. This comes 20 years after the release of the infamous Desolate Angel album titled No Apology, that took Maryland by storm in 1994 and made a name for the group. I've known Phil for over ten years now and knew earlier this year that he was committing to doing another Desolate Angel album, but the details were kept private even from me until last months announcement. Finally I can say with excitement that the cat's out of the bag.

Ravenhurst Records is currently preparing to release a 20th Anniversary re-issue of No Apology in December 2014, as well as a digial media collection of photos, fliers, ads, and video footage of the band spanning its activity between 1989 and 1996. Following this Ravenhurst will release the new Desolate Angel titled Armageddon in 2015, the exact date has not yet been disclosed. Not only will we get a new Desolate Angel album but we will get two of them, as Armageddon boasts to be a double disc of seventeen new songs that will be released as a Part One and Part Two.

Desolate Angel was founded in 1988 by Phil Carnes who took the name from a book by author Dennis McNally. In 1989 Carnes was joined by drummer Rick Johnson, and they recorded three albums along with various members that came and went throughout the years. In 1989, the group released a two song demo which led to the five song ep titled Rip in 1990, both containing the memorable songs "R.I.P." and "Strychnine". Who can forget the classic line "Flesh burns, singeing hair, enter hell if you dare, make a pact, lost your soul, rot in hell until your old ..." The lineup that year consisted of Phil Carnes - guitars and vocals, Rick Johnson - drums, Dave Soul - guitars, and Sam Kirkendall - bass guitars. Kirkendall was later replaced that year by Sean Mickey - bass guitars when the group began performing shows. Phil Carnes recalled their first show stating "Our first show was at the Highlandtown Mayfest and was rather crazy. It was a hot summer day on an outside stage and the wind was blowing really hard. I was completely nervous about singing lead vocals and playing guitar, something I am not very comfortable doing. I was even more uncomfortable that the festival was largely a family event and I was about to get on stage and scream through a PA system, singing about hell, the devil, and tripping on acid. At one point the wind gusts were so hard that it blew Rick's cymbals off the stage. Our bassist at the time Sean Mickey always had some injury. He had broken his leg in a motorcycle accident and played the show standing on crutches. At one point he fell over, I don't know if that was a wind related result, but he played the rest of that song lying on the stage. It was quite an interesting first performance, not only for the band, but the crowd." In 1991 the group sought new band members, setting its sights on taking things to the next level, and were joined by Allan Snow - vocals and Hot Rod - bass guitars. Desolate Angel went back to the studio with engineer Drew Mazurek that year , where they recorded and released the full-length album Reichsfuhrer. The songs "Reichsuhfrer SS", "Cigarettes", and "The Game of Death" were strong, hard hitting, and showed a real progression in their material. If you have ever heard the song "Cigarettes", no one could forget the memorable lines "There was a man I knew, who showed me how to smoke, to toke, cigarettes he smoked, I'm ready to croak .... cig, cig, cigarettes, causes death." The group began performing regularly at Club K's, Mac's, The Rage, and by the end of the year were voted one of Maryland's top ten bands, ranking at number three in a contest searching for the "Great Unsigned Band". Having a strong lineup at this point, the group returned to the studio with Drew Mazurek in 1992 to record another two song demo called Pirahnafeast, containing the songs "Piranhafeast and "Silent Storm". In 1992, Charlie Gorman (ex-Deadly Aggressor) joined the group on bass guitars and Pat McKinney joined as second guitarist. The Piranhafeast demo was shopped to record labels where the band received a response from Metal Blade Records who showed interest, requesting they submit additional material. Metal Blade turned down the opportunity to sign Desolate Angel and the group was eventually offered a big budget deal with Starship Records.

In 1993, Desolate Angel went to Oz Studios and Sheffield Studios in Maryland where they recorded the No Apology album, produced by Mary Mullaney and Ron Ford of Starship Records, and co-produced by Drew Mazurek and Brad Divens (Wrathchild America and Souls at Zero). The eight-song album had an exceptional recording production and was filled with great songs such as "A Sinner Lies", "Wake", "Bull on a Leash", and "Hear The Calling". I recall the great line "Wake, she's a demon in the innocent shape, I'm a victim of a curse I can't shake, just can't relate to the views of an unrealistic rival." Following the release of No Apology in 1994, Desolate Angel toured in support of that album playing at notable venues such as CBGB's and the Lion's Den in New York, and the Electric Banana in Pittsburgh. The group had a string of shows as the opening act for notable bands such as Prong, VoiVod, Pro-Pain, Overkill, and Nuclear Assault.

In 1996, Desolate Angel released a limited edition bootleg titled Live Apology from a show recorded on camcorder at Hal Daddy's - Baltimore, Maryland in 1995. At the conclusion of their record contract that year, the group took an unexpected turn and, to the dismay of fans, they disbanded. Phil Carnes stated that "morale was at its lowest. The record label had made numerous mistakes, there were multiple Spinal Tap moments, the band just came off two years of exhausting touring for the No Apology album, and there was internal friction." Desolate Angel have otherwise been dormant since then, until the recent announcement in 2014 that there would be another album. In 2004, Ravenhurst Records acquired license to the Desolate Angel material and the first two albums originally released only on cassette, were digitally remastered, then re-released on compact disc as a limited edition pressing in 2005. Carnes had purchased the remaining stock of the No Apology album from Starship Records, this was licensed to Ravenhurst for continued distribution, and released with a different album cover. When asked about this Carnes said "I hated the album cover they used on the No Apology album. I had commissioned a watercolor painting by a local artist to be the cover for that album and instead they went with a photograph of the band name and album cover scratched into the hood of a car. I guess the premise of the hood scratching captured the essense of the title No Apology, but it just lacked any real artistic creativity that the painting truly exhibited. They decided to use the photo, it was done, and it went to press that way. I remember having an argument with the record label that the album cover looked like shit and I could have designed something better in five minutes. I sat down at the computer, created the skull album cover in just a few minutes, and said there you go. The label said it hated the skull cover, so when the album was re-distributed by Ravenhurst I had the gall to release it with the skull cover just for spite. Now that almost all of the original stock of that album has been sold, I had the commissioned watercolor painting enhanced so it can be released with the re-issue in 2014. Finally, the No Apology album will have the cover I intended it to have."

Since Desolate Angel disbanded in 1996, its members have moved on to other music projects. Phil Carnes went on the found the progressive rock metal band Delusion, Rick Johnson can be found playing with the motown/classic rock cover band Soundstorm in Maryland, and Charlie Gorman went on to found Gorman's Prophecy, now defunct, and recently can be found in the band The Electric Prophets. There has been no word yet whether all the orignal members from the No Apology period will return to join Phil Carnes on this new Desolate Angel album, but it was already announced on Facebook that Allan Snow has decided not to return. It appears everybody is in different places in life at this point. Who knows yet who will be the voice for this new album, that could be difficult for a group that has been absent for the past 20 years and challenged with delivering another successful release. When asked about the motivation behind doing a new album, Phil Carnes stated "the songs are not as commercial sounding as the No Apology album, instead being more old school metal going back to the bands roots. I am enjoying these new songs though, they are solid, and people may be compelled to drag out their boots again. I can't comment on who will sing this record. Its too early in the process and I don't want to speculate, but the music is strong and can carry itself. It's no secret that I have been dealing with serious medical issues in kidney failure and was hopitalized for most of this past summer. This brought a new level of mortality to my life in which there were things that I wanted to see get done. One of these things was a new Desolate Angel album and if it was ever going to happen, it had to happen now. There are some fans who want to see this happen, so I'm excited to deliver it. With my medical condition it is not likely there will be any live performances in support of this new album, something fans may be disappointed about, something I am certainly disappointed about. I miss the rush of the show." Time will tell at some point next year when Desolate Angel release their new album titled Armageddon in two parts. It has been reported that the release will need to be funded in part from a Kickstarter campaign which is soon to be launched. The album will be available as a digital release and for streaming media but physical cds, shirts, etc. will only be available as limited edition with Kickstarter contributors getting first choice. I for one am excited about this new album and with song titles like "Bloodstained Cloth", "Blind Neurotic Omen", "Single Sided Die", "Lead or Follow", "Rotting Brain", and "Thrash Tactics", this stands to be great.

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