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The year 1986 is something that any thrash metal fan will bring with him in his heart I think. At the time I was one year old but through albums like Reign In Blood, Master Of Puppets and this awesome Darkness Descends, I can still feel those emotions for a genre that was reaching the top in inspiration, technique and violence. Really, if bands like Metallica, Anthrax and Megadeth were more melodic; Slayer and Dark Angel in that year were like two bulldozers at full speed towards hell. The power of this band is unbelievable, at the point of having lots of discussions about the supremacy of Slayer or Dark Angel in this field.
Me too, I don’t know which one I can choose because they are both great albums. If we talk about the technique, Dark Angel are superior thanks also to their demonstration on Time Does Not Heal, but for the sheer attack, I really don’t know. The Dark Angel’s songs anyway are far more complex and structured, not so short like in Reign In Blood. They don’t have so many punk/hardcore influences and the whole CD sounds more death metal for impact and attitude. Still nowadays it’s regarded as a milestone and inspiration for the extreme movement.
This is also the very first Gene Hoglan album, that after a tour as a simple technician with Slayer, decided to play the drums in Dark Angel. His style is already recognizable and personal with lots of powerful up tempo and fucking fast beats with his double kicks. The title track, after a small dark march is an explosion of anger and malevolence. What always astonished me is the guitars riffage: it’s completely restless and totally intricate. I mean, how could they play lots of notes so fast?! The bass is hammering behind that wall of brutality done by the drums.
The lyrics are about violence, darkness and the music is the perfect soundtrack for a band that doesn’t want to slow down even a bit. “The Burning Of Sodom” is even faster with the main schizophrenic riffage and the Doty’s vocals at the top with lots of screams and rough tonalities. Forget completely the speed metal tones we found in their debut. This is thrash metal with balls. “Hunger Of The Undead” is remarkable especially for the excellent and fast continue bass drum work and the sudden up tempo.
“Merciless Death”, being a song from the previous album, sounds a bit different but not too much, because the group’s new malevolence builds new structures on it to transform this song in another brutal assault with faster drums and less melody. The bass part at the beginning is famous. In “Death is Certain, Life Is Not” Gene is inhuman. The way he play the drums is unreal. To continue the long journey to hell, we can find a tribute to Nostradamus and his prophecies, this time even gloomier and real thanks to this brutal sound.
“Perish In Flames” (Gene's mum favourite Dark Angel song!) is the black seal that ends an album to remember. This song shows different approaches, from the most brutal ones to the gloomiest. The wha wha solo on it is awesome. All in all, a fucking brutal album recommended to those who still don’t know it, especially to the new, younger metalheads that always listen to –core stuff. This is brutal and this is where it all began.