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Is it a coincidence.... - 96%

Antikrist, September 13th, 2004

...that the plants outside my window all withered and died after I got this album? Someone in the neighboring appartement building actually asked me if I needed any help because I had the album turned up and they thought people were robbing and ransacking my flat. This starts you off with one of those evil screeching guitar intros followed by one of my favorite riffs of all time, the intro riff to the title track. That dark-sounding introduction is probably the calmest part of the whole album, and while you slowly nod your head back and forth to it, be thankful for the final seconds of your life where you neck is still healthy. After that, the riffs start pounding unbelievably fast, one after the other, and if you were actually to headbang to the pace of the music there is a very high chance that you would break or strain your neck. Even in your wildest headbanging moods you'll still sort of lag behind the beat of the songs! Part of this is due to the unholy drumming ability of Gene Hoglan, probably one of the best drummers in history. Not only can he demolish his drumkit without breaking a sweat, but he also contributed a lot of the riffing and lyrical ideas to all of the Dark Angel albums he worked on. I think his mission and that of the whole band on here was to push the envelope for how fast and aggressive you can make music while retaining its musical qualities. Yes, there have been faster releases since. Rigor Mortis (the thrash band, not the pre-Immolation band) could shred their riffs a bit faster than any on here, and of course some of you must know the legend of the demo version of Russian speed metal band Kruiz's "The Last Dawn" recorded at a mind numbing 318 bpm (by contrast Darkness Descends peaks at around 250-260). The guitar work is a bit undecipherable at times, simply because it's too fast for the production standards of the time (unless you're a multi-platinum band with a lot of funds at your disposal) to record clearly.

Don Doty's vocals are no letdown by any means. Kind of like Tom Araya, his growl sounds somewhat like a normal voice, as if he's just saying things while trying to sound as fast and intimidating as he can, although he can also peak at some shrill screams from time to time (my favorite is when he screams DARKNESS DESCEEEEEEEEEEEENDS!!! the last time he repeats the chorus of that song). All of the tracks are good but if I had to choose I'd pick the title track, Perish In Flames (even Gene Hoglan's mother loves this song...seriously!), and Death Is Certain (Life Is Not). The only letdown for this is that even as a metalhead, you won't fully enjoy this unless you're in the mood for it. The first time you hear it it will sort of shock your system, even if you're a veteran headbanger. ...And nobody can always be in the mood for this, unless they're on speed or something. There will be times when this album is just too much speed and aggression for you, whether you're a death metal fan, a rookie thrasher, or whatever. But when I get into an energetic mood and have nothing to do, I just put this on and press play and then thrash until my throat is sore, my neck stiff, and my ears ringing louder than the damn liberty bell! Buy or die!!!!

P.S. The version with the two extra live tracks isn't a must, but I do recommend it over the original version (unless you come across a rare first edition of it).