Dark Angel - Darkness Descends (1986)Release ID: 1468
1986 was an amazing year for thrash metal. With Reign in Blood, Pleasure to Kill, Peace Sells and Master of Puppets taking extreme metal to a new level. Dark Angel's Darkness Descends can be added to that list easily as another cracking example.
There are literally hundreds of awesome riffs throughout the album and Hoglan's drumming is outstanding. I can really hear how much of an influence this was on death metal to come, particularly on Black Prophecies which sounds very much like how Deicide would about 4 years later. The only place I feel this album is less than perfect is on the vocal front. Don Doty's vocals are decent but considering the excellent musicianship on offer here, something a little more aggressive and memorable would have made this even better.
Overall, a great album from a band at its peak. If you're into thrash, get it!
Dark Angel's Darkness Descends is considered to be a cornerstone of thrash by the metal community. Unfortunately, many would say that about Among the Living, too. Like I do with every album, I'm going to judge this album on my own merits.
Right from the getgo, this album is brutal and villainous to the point of a mental breakdown. The opening title track has Pleasure to Kill level heaviness and some Metallica melody attached to the intro. There is a constant power throughout the whole album that keeps you awake and ready to cause mayhem, and so Dark Angel have mastered exactly what the trash sound needs to sound like. The unfortunate thing is... I was waiting a while for it to get either more melodic or more technical. In other words, most of what the album is doing is thrashing. Thankfully, I got some riffage on the fourth track, which is made even better on the virtue of the first three tracks being shorter rather than longer. So there are moments of creativity that keep the album from just being an impressively heavy album where the production and mixing help the brutality more than the layouts.
This is a cool album for the thrash fan, but considering it one of the greatest of its genre feels a bit too religious to me, like the heaviness can somehow make up for any obvious flaws. Albums like that are rare for me. But this is still well worth listening to, and it has about the same creative and heaviness prowess as Pleasure to Kill.
Dark Angel's second album was released in 1986, the same year as Reign in Blood and it's very much in the same vein as Slayer's classic with it's turbocharged riffs and insane drumming. It's actually a little better on the fret-shredding solos front, although Don Doty's vocals are no match for Tom Araya's evil roar. The production isn't anywhere near as bad as some would have you believe, but it is a little muddy, although not enough to blunt the album's all-out assault on the listener's eardrums.
The four tracks that make up the first side of the vinyl release are a relentless blitzkrieg of thrashing metal mayhem that never lets up, not even for a second, lashing out riffs like laser beams, solos like lightning bolts and Gene Hoglan's thunderbolt drumming might even be better than Dave Lombardo's (I'm just saying). Side two dials the headlong dash back a little and slows the tracks down ever so slightly allowing the listener time to take it in a bit more rather than just trying to keep up. The eight and a half minutes of Black Prophecies shows that they aren't just one-dimensional breakneck thrashers, the uber-chugging of Death Is Certain (Life Is Not) is neck-wrenching and the final sprint through Perish in Flames has everything any self-respecting thrasher needs, crammed into less than five minutes.
Aggressive, exhilarating and evil-sounding this is as near perfect a thrash album as you will hear and one of THE albums that had such a huge influence on the nascent death metal scene. Further proof if it was ever needed that thrash peaked in '86.