Dark Angel - Darkness Descends
Brutal Thrash Metal
9 songs (47.07)
Release year: 1986
Dark Angel
Reviewed by Aleksie
The mid-to-late-80s was truly a glorious time for thrash metal around the world. Even though unable to speak coherent words 24/7 at the time myself because of my young age, the audial testimonies left behind for the ages give enough info to respect and praise a great era. Among the more generally acknowledged American West Coast bands like Metallica and Slayer there were several others who where not any worse musically, but didnt receive a mutual level of acknowledgment. One of those groups was Dark Angel, one fucking mean riffing machine. Mid-tempo songs were a quite strange concept to this band in the beginning. The term “ballad” wasn’t a part the vocabulary of these guys. The first and more primitive records were all about tearing up everything in sight (and furthermore within hearing) with blistering, straight-forward, chaos-induced, amp-bursting, moshpit-blazing metal. I haven’t heard many bands that have made entire albums of strong stuff with this simple concept but Dark Angel was one of them.

Darkness Descends was their second album, and a more focused one after the debut We Have Arrived, which was mainly a collection of demos recorded on various occasions. Throwing all ideas of subtlety into the flaming pits of the underworld, it seems that this is about as brutal as catchy metal could get in the day. Because although brutal, the songs and riffs miraculously have enough hooks to get lodged in the head for a long time. Singer Don Dotys admittedly one-sided but powerful screaming is like a brutal and roughed-up version of Anthraxs Joey Belladonnas voice that works with the material very well as the tales of death, destruction, violence, death, the black arts, death, war and…..oh yeah, death attack out from the speakers. The guitar sounds of Eric Meyer, Jim Durkin and bassist Mike Gonzales are simply scorching – literally! I get a burning sensation in my eardrums every time I listen to this record. And the riffing doesn’t pale in comparison to the sounds one bit. Frantic-paced, biting, dark and even catchy for gods sakes – this is pure metal if you wanna start debating the topic. And behind the drum kit playing on his first ever official professional recording was none other than Gene fuckin Hoglan. And this being his first recording does not mean that he already wasn’t the battering monster he became during the coming years. If there is a real star on this album, it’s the drumming, that meets the ultra-speed guitars and vocals in every part necessary with the thrash-beats, incredible double bass runs and furious drum soloish intros like on Death Is Certain (Life Is Not). This all is backed up with excellent production, at least on the re-issued editions of these masterpieces.

Commenting the songs individually that much is pretty pointless as they all mostly stick to the basic blueprint of brutally fast and insanely heavy song after magnificent song. Darkness Descends, The Burning Of Sodom and Hunger Of The Undead beat up even the hardest metal maniacs to a pulp, riff after riff, beat after beat, furiously speedy but melodic solo after solo. The bass intro in Merciless Death gives a quick space to breathe before a blizzard of riffs and Hoglans ball-busting drumming once again take the neck on a propeller-of-a-Spitfire-imitating ride that doesn’t give in one bit with the marvellously unforgiving Death Is Certain (Life Is Not). The eight-and-a-half-minute thrashathon Black Prophecies gives some more time to relocate the spinal chords and brain cells with even some mid-tempo moshing (Ok, you got me, there is SOME mid-tempo stuff here. But NO ballads;) before the closing demolisher Perish In Flames that could even give Raining Blood a run for its money. After this act of musical mayhem of the original recording, the re-issue still offers great live recordings of the songs Merciless Death, Perish In Flames and Darkness Descends, proving that these lunatics could do everything displayed here on the stage as well. A longer, bigger amount of material this exhausting would have taken some power away from this album, but thankfully under ten songs as this album is, it still leaves a craving for more and makes me push the play button back on and inflict the damage all over again.

Short and sweet, for brutal, unashamed but still well thought-out thrash metal Dark Angel is definitely a name you should get to know. A must-have for any fans of more extreme metal, especially after the messianic culture-act done by Century Media Records, as they re-issued most of the long-out-of-print DA albums a few years back. This is a very good starting point with the band and one of the most intense and unforgiving metal records ever made. If there ever was an album made in the 80s that could rival Reign In Blood in not only overall quality but sheer pulverizing force, it would be Darkness Descends.

As Gene Hoglan remenisces in the liner notes inside the sleeve, the band began recording this album on the very same day that the United States began bombing Libya in 1986. And as I quote him from the notes: "I remember us saying: If the U.S. doesnt start World War III, this record sure as hell will! If recording under the threat of global thermonuclear war doesnt bring out some aggro in ya, nothin will!" Hes pretty accurate, this record sounds pretty much like the auditory equivalent of Kubricks Full Metal Jacket. Take a stand for what is right, Time is now so make the fight, PERISH IN FLAMES!

Killing Songs :
Every Second Of The Brutallic Mayhem In Here!
Aleksie quoted CLASSIC
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