Dark Angel - Darkness Descends

Dark Angel - Darkness Descends

Dark Angel - Darkness Descends

(1986, Combat Records)

Most people consider SLAYER’s “Reign In Blood” to be the epitome of Thrash Metal being the best album ever offered in this malicious genre from the year of its creation. Still, there are some others - myself included here - that fall to their knees and bow to the majesty of another disc released in America in year 1986. It was California’s DARK ANGEL that stepped in with the infamous “We Have Arrived” debut to show their teeth at first but nobody could predict what was up to follow one year later.

From the very first notes you get what you deserve…“Darkness Descends” is a Thrash Metal holocaust that’s played with malice and a fierce feeling few bands have ever demonstrated in this genre. Nearly six minutes of pounding nausea and a hellhammering vibrato that leaves no space for escape. The main riff is a tormenting imprisonment and the drumming of the god himself Gene Hoglan haunts you down in its darkened oblivion. As for the refrain, it says it all: “the city, the crime is life, the sentence is death, darkness descends”! “The Burning Of Sodom” sees DARK ANGEL developing a fast take-no-prisoners harsh thrashin’ songwriting of just more than three minutes that is based on furious riffing and some hardcore screams by singer Don Doty. No place for disgrace is listed here too, with the band scaring the shit out of the listener, no questions asked. The violent solo is another ace in the song’s sleeve while a banging bridge introduces the very first time of mid-pace lunacy for a short period only, haha.

“Hunger Of The Undead” is an up-tempo anthemic track at its first part that allows darkness to step in your mind and hunt you down before bringing again the velocity and malice to take you down. Doty’s singing here is the punishment for your sins, the inquisition for all your fears, the sentence for your death. And then it’s time for the ‘hit’ song of the LP; a re-recorded version of “Merciless Death” that first appeared in the 1985 debut. Still, here it’s the vocals and drums that show the difference and make this number a must-listen-to hammering song. If there’s one DARK ANGEL song you’ve listened to in a Metal club then this must be the one.

“Death Is Certain (Life Is Not)” shows a different profile of the band here. The tempo is galloping, the guitars are reaping and the vocals are possessed and show no mercy at all. The refrain is the guidance to your crematory and the solos strike hard in malignance and vigor. Nuff said… The pattern is altered in “Black Prophecies” though; here we have an 8-mintue epic cut that shows why DARK ANGEL is a force to be considered anyway. It starts with a crawling tempo mania in order to be unveiled through a riff-mania mastery by guitarists Jim Durkin and Eric Meyer until the narrative vocals of Doty start talking about the past and present of the world. The riffs exchanged and the soloing madness that carries on here confirm that these US thrashers knew how to write both fast and slow songs that altogether hail the liberty of pure Thrash Metal craziness and hostility. Wrapping up the album’s tracklist, “Perish In Flames” is the perfect closure to a monumental album in its Speed/Thrash Metal maniacal behavior with Doty singing like there’s no tomorrow. It’s the alter ego of the self-titled track and its existence in this tracklist sequence shows that the malevolent quintet from California had no fear in building up a list of songs destined to put the listener to death by a metallic guillotine.

DARK ANGEL may be mostly known to younger metalheads as the band Gene Hoglan used to be in before he started his illustrious career in the Metal scene but…but…but…“Darkness Descends” is the kind of album you firstly sink your teeth into being unaware of what you’re about to listen to and then find yourself banging your head to the wall and bleeding from head to toes. It’s been 28 years since the album was initially released and it still sounds as fresh and evil as it sounded back then! Really, if it’s not in your Top-5 list of the most exciting Thrash Metal albums of all time then consider you have a serious problem with what nastiness means in your own vocabulary.


01. Darkness Descends
02. The Burning Of Sodom
03. Hunger Of The Undead
04. Merciless Death
05. Death Is Certain (Life Is Not)
06. Black Prophecies
07. Perish In Flames


Don Doty - Vocals
Jim Durkin - Guitar
Eric Meyer - Guitar
Rob Yahn - Bass
Gene Hoglan - Drums