Normally, a 3-song e.p. isn't really worth the effort to obtain, no matter what kind of a fan one might be. "Darkangel", the pre-release single for VNV Nation's third album EMPIRES, is one of very few exceptions to this rule. The first track, "darkangel (gabriel)", is a mildly reworked remix of the album version that adds more bass to the beats and a bit more high end, resulting in a version that is crisper and tighter than the album version. The second track, "darkangel (azrael)", is slightly less successful, though not bad by any means. Longer than the original, it relies on a two-chord arpeggiated synthesizer pulse for most of its length. The sound begins to get repetitious until the very end when the coda kicks in. The coda comes as something of a surprise, giving the listener a little unpredictable jolt and tying this remix back to the original version. Not a bad track at all, but slightly repetitious.
However, "Darkangel" contains the best b-side / non-album track since XTC's "Dear God" in 1986 -- "Tempest". Not only is this song one of VNV Nation's very best (and this is quite a feat), it rates as one of the most touching love songs ever recorded. The nervous twitch of the percussion, the simple three-note chiming motif of the rhythm, and Ronan Harris' soft voice work together flawlessly. There is no soppiness or forced emotion; rather, the story told in the song feels completely pure and utterly heartfelt.
Short-story version: This is one of the very few singles worth purchasing. All three tracks are great, and if there is any justice in this world, "Tempest" will be recognized as one of the greatest tracks not only in the EBM genre, but in the history of pop music. Even the casual fan of VNV Nation should go to extreme lengths to pick this one up.