Register Forgot login?

© 2002-2021
Encyclopaedia Metallum

Best viewed
without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
or higher.

Privacy Policy

Giving you merciless death with finesse - 99%

Gas_Snake, March 22nd, 2020

If you know a thing about thrash (or if you've read any other reviews of this album), then "Darkness Descends" needs no introduction, so I'll skip right to the point. No need to say what's already been said a hundred times, right?

There's a common misconception about this album in that it is the most brutal thrash in existence, and that it rides itself solely on said brutality. I can state with certainty that this is not the case. These guys didn't just run on caffeine, they also ran on amazing songwriting. This doesn't just beat you senseless in the style of any old brutal thrash/death metal band - it does so in a way that you will remember it. Even more so than the brutality, your mind will be drawn to the sheer quality of the music here.

As for the examples, well... how about literally everything? How about the intro to the title track, which does an amazing job of building tension, gradually introducing the atmosphere of absolute evil that sears itself into your brain in such an effective fashion... and the perfect release of tension as the song then starts thrashing out in an insanely fast, yet also insanely catchy fashion? How else can you explain the fact that "The Burning Of Sodom", despite its almost unfathomable speed, is still coherent and more memorable than some other bands' entire discographies? Or "Black Prophecies" (quite possibly my favorite on here), which does the idea of riff salad far better than anything on Time Does Not Heal and keeps you hooked for eight and a half minutes without breaking a sweat? In fact, even the technical skill of the musicians is something to be respected, as the music here is rather intricate even without the insane speed at which it is played.

But don't get the idea that I don't appreciate the brutality, because when combined with the great musicianship, it only strengthens the songs and makes them even more memorable. For an example, look no further than "Merciless Death". On their debut album, it was still a good song, but it wasn't quite brutal enough to really hit home, and it sounded rather dorky in conjunction with the lyrics. That extra notch of brutality (and better production) on the rerecording was all it needed to suddenly become an absolute destroyer of worlds and actually make you believe the mad ravings of the vocalist, as if the band is indeed capable of murdering you with just their stage presence. For another example, see "Perish In Flames", which is an anti-war song that actually sounds every bit as brutal as its subject matter and then some. As a bonus, that song is also home to what might just be my favorite thrash break ever. The way it arrives at the perfect moment, how it has that ideal tempo and forces you to submit to its greatness... it just has to be heard to be believed.

And of course, even with such immense brutality, this album still manages to make an emphasis on feel and authenticity. Every single thing here compliments the atmosphere of pure apocalypse so well: the production, the vocals, Gene Hoglan's lyricisms and drumming insanity - everything. The vocalist Don Doty not only pulls off the whole "harbinger of death and destruction" feel in a way that really makes him resonate with the listener, but he even manages to sound rather emotional, too. During "Death Is Certain (Life Is Not)", you can really feel the anguish and disdain in his voice beneath all that evil. Metallica's "One" wishes it could sound so authentic and so visceral. "How can I put my trust in God with innocent people dying?"

When discussing this album, another point is often made - the point that this is the purest, thrashiest thrash to have ever thrashed. And from what I can hear, I have to agree. There are no embellishments or outside influences anywhere on the album. There's a bass intro and a couple of melodic solos to compliment a couple of the tracks, but they're not exactly foreign, being present as early as Metallica's "Kill 'Em All". That's just another testament to Dark Angel's incredible songwriting skill, and another reason why I love this album so much. If you tried it and didn't like it, I can certainly understand why: on first listen this really can give the impression of a monolithic wall of sound that doesn't branch out anywhere, and this may be due to the lack of outside influences. However, beneath that impression is an absolute beast of an album, and one of the greatest metal albums I've ever heard.