Darkness - Death Squad
Gama Records
Thrash Metal
9 songs (36:31)
Release year: 1987
Reviewed by Thomas
Archive review

German thrash bands always seemed to possess something the Bay Area ones did not. The rawness and pure pitch black that were put on display in the early days of Kreator, Destruction and especially Sodom was the main thing that set the two enormous scenes apart. Just like in the United States, there was a second wave of thrash bands that may have formed at the same time as the bigger, pioneering bands, but that wouldn’t emerge out of the shadows with their debut until a couple of years later. Datrkness is one of those, now cult and pretty obscure thrash bands that never got to take the step out of Kreator and Sodom’s increasingly huge appearance. Death Squad was the band’s first of three albums in just as many years, and while not quite as good as Terrible Certainty, Persecution Mania or Vendetta’s Brain Damage, it is definitely one well-hidden gem that definitely deserves to get its dust brushed off.

After everything I had heard prior to getting this album, the intro track actually put me a little off with its melodic acoustic approach. I didn’t quite know what to expect, however, the fierce follower Critical Threshold put me firmly in place with a rotten (in a good way) production, fast and furious skin-blasting, slaying riffs and raw, almost Obituary-like vocals that ripped my face off. Most German thrash at the time was no-bullshit full speed riff-assaults and Darkness is no exception. The short and delightfully sloppy title-track confirms that we got off at the right station with deadly axeman-ship, fearsome drums, and Oliver Fernickel’s, dare I call it, signature shouts. With death in their glance, they continue their rampage for death and glory with a chaotic hurricane of riffs, leads, beats and war-cries as Staatsfeind carries the flag of hate onwards.

The only song that comes remotely close to being slow is the pounding instrumental Tasman of Chor, that really isn’t slow at all, but not quite as speedy as the other shredders on here. This may however prove as a timely break for those of you with weak hearts, because nothing and no-one is spared when the ripping Faded Pictures kicks in and leads into the thrash anthem that is Iron Forces. The following Burial at Sea is a song that maybe lacks a little on speed, but more than makes up for it with galloping heaviness, face-breaking and neck-snapping riffage as well as some rather evil solos. Death Squad ends in familiar fashion with Phantasmorgania which may be one of the best tracks on the album, where they, in my personal opinion take what they have done through the whole album and brings it to another level, and thereby finishes this one of with style. However, if you’re not one of the lucky owners of an original Death Squad cd, the re-release contains some gems, including what I believe is a great re-recording of Critical Threshold sung in German, as well as some demo-quality clips which is fun to put on once in a while.

So what do you do after reading this enthusiastic review of another obscure German thrash band? You go out and try to get a hold of it. It isn’t easy, but if you can, you’re in for a real treat, as this is something every metal fan dedicated to thrash in particular should love and care for. Thraaaaaaaaaaaaaaaasssssssh!

Killing Songs :
Critical Threshold, Death Squad, Faded Pictures, Iron Force, Phantasmagoria
Thomas quoted 87 / 100
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