Customer Reviews: Darkness Descends
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on July 22, 2004
Oh yes, this is sheer brutalizing thrash right here. The only album that can stand along side Schizophrenia and Beneath the Remains as one of the top 'extreme' thrash album, and definitely the heaviest thrash album your gonna hear that hasn't got any death metal flavoring to it.(And it stands up to lots of old-school DM as well. Listen to Covenant, than this. Darkness Descends absolutely obliterates it) Not quite as endlessly fast as Reign in Blood, but pretty close and definitely heavier.(Possibly the heaviest album in the world at the time of it's release, though Seven Churches is very close) Completely ferocious guitar tone and a true drumming onslaught from the legendary Gene Hoglan. Solid vox from Doty as well. Nice vicious snarling that isn't overly theatrical, though it may take some getting used to for some. Of course, heaviness/intensity are hardly the only, or even one of the main measurements in the quality of a metal album. Fortunately this has got brilliant riff writing, solid songwriting and better than average vocals. A total thrash classic.

Only seven tracks here, but nothing comes even close to being filler. The songs all have tons and tons of different riffs, far more than your average thrash album. Leads are given less emphasis, which is fine as lead work tends to just distract in ultra-heavy and fast thrash.(Though what they do have is pretty good, if not terribly distinctive or memorable) The Hunger of the Undead is definitely the weakest thing here, but it gets the job done. Not filler by any means. The Burning of Sodom is probably the best track despite the very silly lyrics. Probably the fastest thing here as well, but it's got clear, well-defined riffs and a rather catchy chorus. Nice break in the middle too. The title track and Death is Certain are the next best ones, though the title tracks takes a bit too long to get going. Death is Certain has probably the best chorus on the album, which is full of choruses which are surprisingly memorable considering the genre.(they resemble Sepultura in the quality) Black Prophecies is a bit slower and more deliberate than most of the album, but it still keeps up the intensity. A bit too repetitive, but it's still a solid piece. They crank it back up for the closer Perish in Flames, which reminds of the opening 2 tracks.(which, needless to say, is a good thing)

Well, there isn't that much I can say about this. Just track down a copy. Might wanna check out Time Does Not Heal as well, especially if you like proggy thrash.(though it defintely isn't as good as this)
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on May 29, 2006
That's right, the first time I heard this album (and every time after) I get knocked on my f*cking ass and I'm so enthralled by the almighty thrashiness and unforgiving SPEED that is this album I am at a loss for words. When I listen to this album I mean I get sucked into another friggin' world I tell ya! I almost lose touch with reality so much that I can't even physically headbang! Ok ok so I'm exaggerating a tad but you get the point.

I know everyone knows Gene Hoglan and his obvious greatness but honestly he's not necessarily the best part of this album or even what makes the album, it's much more than that. It's the whole band here, the DUAL shredding guitarists Eric Meyer and Jim Durkin (both underrated), the thumping bass that actually IS pretty audible and heavy, and Don Doty is a damn underrated vocalist, I wish we heard from the man more often. He reminds me of a more American version of Mille Petrozza from Kreator, who's certainly one of my favorite Thrash vocalists ever.

As for the songs, I mean these are clearly the fastest songs ever produced by man! You just gotta love the line in the title track "The city is guilty, the crime is life, the sentence is death...DARKNESS DESCENDS!" Just classic...f*cking classic I tell ya! The next track 'The Burning of Sodom' that is a hefty meaty slab of thrash evil enough to satisfy the hunger of even the biggest metalhead. I have to say though that Merciless Death is my personal fave here, it just has that pulsating, burning rhythm that gets my blood flowing? What can I say? Dark Angel throws a little wisdom your way with the song entitled "Death Is Certain (Life is not)" HELLO??? THAT'S SO TRUE! Just listen to the song and you'll find out. See, us metal folk aren't that stupid, we have some intelligence. Another highlight is the multi-faceted epic thrash masterpiece

of Black Prophecies which in its 8:29 min length keeps the song fresh from start to finish baby! Once again I'm not going to get into the nitty-gritty specifics of the songs, you'll have to find that out for yourself!

In conclusion this is indeed the epitome of the soundtrack to the imminent apocalypse and you can bet your sweet ass that you'll see me kickin' back in my shelter with a brew and blasting this album while it's taking place wreaking havoc on humanity.

Recommendation? GET IT NOW!!!! I mean is it the be all end all of thrash? I'm not so sure, however, it is more than essential listening for those of you who claim to be 'metal'. Yeah it only has 7 songs and it's only 35 mins long but trust me, it's amazing to say the least.
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on December 6, 2003
What do you know about Dark Angel? The only thing many metal fans know of Dark Angel is their drummer Gene Hoglan has since pounded the skins for numerous other bands like Strapping Young Lad, Death and Testament.
Dark Angel were once the only band in the world who could scare Slayer. Heavier, at times faster and more technical, and definitely darker than the Slaytanic ones, Dark Angel missed the bus to the relative big time by being too damn difficult for most thrash fans to handle. You see, there were none of the friendly riffs Metallica and their clones produced, no soaring or sing along vocals a la Anthrax or Helloween, and definitely no power ballads like "Fade To Black" or "Armed and Dangerous".
Instead, listeners are assaulted with a maelstrom of riffs, machine gun drumming and straightforward shouts punctuated with piercing screams. On first listen, it's a jarring, caustic blur, almost too daunting to consider a second airing. It's almost impossible to keep up with vocalist Don Doty, even when following the lyric sheet. So many riffs fly past it's impossible to take them all in first time. The drum patterns are what we now come to expect from Gene Hoglan- surprisingly complex for the speed he plays at. And the speed is utterly unrelenting. Each track seems to be faster than the one before.
Speed is also the band's undoing. While there's no doubt they were tight, they were just too fast and too heavy for 1986 production values. A lot of the riffs get lost in the mix because of a sound that is nowhere near thick enough. It gives the finished product a slightly watered down feel.
While Hoglan is now a hired gun of sorts, back in his Dark Angel days he proved himself an excellent songwriter, a rare thing for drummers especially in the 80s. He had a hand in the best tracks on the album, co-writing most tracks with guitarist Jim Durkin. Lyrically, he wrote what would have been 10 minute epics, or they would have been if the band played at a more casual tempo. At a time when the average thrash fare was comic book Satanism or over exaggerated violence, Hoglan was penning more thoughtful works. "The Burning Of Sodom" is a reworking of the biblical tale of the fabled city destroyed because of depravity and perversion, which would scare the hell out of your Sunday school teacher. "Darkness Descends" is a tale of the end of the world, seeing nuclear holocaust as the biblical version of Armageddon. Just when you start to think the album is all bible stories, along comes "Hunger Of The Undead". It's a simple tale. A soul dies, but then finds out there's no heaven or hell, because there is no God. "Black Prophecies" takes an in-depth look at Nostradamus' prophecies, and "Death Is Certain (Life Is Not)" beat Metallica to the punch when it came to a mind trapped in an immobile, uncommunicative body.
If you think "Reign In Blood" is the final word in thrash metal, listen to this and be prepared to have the foundations on which that belief is built crumble.
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on July 15, 2004
There are seven studio tracks listed on DARKNESS DESCENDS. There are actually eight. The intro to the album's title track is actually an instrumental called "Harbinger Of Doom". In an interview I heard years ago on the radio, drummer Gene Hoglan stated that the track's title was left off of the album's jacket when it was pressed. That aside, DARKNESS DESCENDS is, in my opinion, the greatest thrash metal album ever made. Yes, I think it's even better than Slayer's REIGN IN BLOOD. Don't let the album's song titles fool you (i.e. "Merciless Death", "Perish In Flames", "Death Is Certain....."). The lyrics, for the most part, are smarter than anything Slayer could ever come up with. If you're gonna read the lyric sheet, you'll probably need a dictionary. The majority of the songs are very fast. They're also well thought-out. The drumming is amazing. Hoglan and guitarist Jim Durkin were a phenomenal songwriting team. There are tons of great guitar riffs. Rob Yahn's bass guitar can be heard clearly in the mix. If you can pick out Tom Araya's bass playing on REIGN IN BLOOD, you must have dog-like hearing. Rob Yahn chose to leave the band right after the album was recorded. He was replaced by Mike Gonzalez. Each song is a unique entity unto itself, yet the album flows nicely.

Despite the greatness of this album, Dark Angel weren't particularly successful. Here's why:

1) They were dubbed "Slayer clones", a tag they did not deserve. If anything, Slayer was influenced by Dark Angel, not the other way around. Slayer mentioned guitarist Jim Durkin on the Thank You list from their 1983 debut album, SHOW NO MERCY (look it up if you have that album). Prior to joining Dark Angel in 1985, Gene Hoglan was a roadie for Slayer. He came up with the idea of the "Evil" gang-shout during the chorus of "Evil Has No Boundaries." Hoglan was also an influence on Slayer drummer Dave Lombardo. Slayer used to play Dark Angel songs during rehearsals. When it came to performing live, Dark Angel were just as aggressive as Slayer. They were clearly scared of Dark Angel, and therefore felt the need to slam them in the metal press. DARKNESS DESCENDS came out about a month after REIGN IN BLOOD, so it would seem logical to assume that Dark Angel were copying Slayer. Nothing could be further from the truth though.

2) They were unable to tour properly behind the album. Singer Don Doty was having personal problems. As the story goes, he got into a car accident and didn't have insurance. Plus, according to Gene Hoglan, Doty had problems with his timing when the band performed live. Apparently, Doty had to watch guitarist Eric Meyer to make sure that he jumped in at the right point of any given song. It seems that Don liked the idea of being in a band (making it easier for him to get women), but he had a bad habit of missing rehearsals. When Dark Angel toured with Possessed in 1987, they had a different singer.

3) They put out two more albums after DARKNESS, and neither one measured up. Constant line-up changes also hurt the band. By the time they put their final album out in 1991, all of the band's founding members were gone.

Don't be discouraged though. With DARKNESS DESCENDS, Dark Angel shined brighter than any other thrash band ever has. By the way, I don't hate Slayer. I just think that Dark Angel put out a better album in 1986.
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on July 2, 2005
Dark Angel was one of those bands that didn't get much respect in the metal world, simply because their name had a bad reputation attached to it. By this I mean, they were considered "Slayer Clones" because this album was released sometime shortly after Reign in Blood. (Somebody already reviewed the reasons for their downfall in another review).

Reign in Blood used to be my favorite speed metal album. After I heard this, that isn't so true anymore. One thing that I believe made this album better was the variety it had. Reign in Blood, got repetitive to me, and forced me to no longer listen to it. This album pretty much took Reign in Blood, added some more riffs, mixed it with twisted and wicked vocals, blended it with chaotic and brutal drums, and spit it back out with pure attitude.

This album is everything speed metal stands for, but Dark Angel brutalizies it to the tenth degree.

Definetly a must for any old school speed metal fan.
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on February 13, 2016

Dark Angel unleashed "Darkness Descends" in 1986 through Combat records. On the sophomore album Gene Hoglan entered the circle of Dark Angel as he replaced Jack Schwartz on drums. Before his membership Gene was an assistant to Slayer as well as Dark Angel. He managed the lights for both groups while they performed live on stage. Gene contributed to Slayer's 1983 song of "Evil Has No Boundaries" and he even tutored Dave Lombardo on how to use the double-bass drum kit. For Dark Angel he wrote the lyrics for the song of "No Tomorrow", from the first album of "We Have Arrived" (1984). Gene is a proficient drummer, clever songwriter, and talented individual. During this time bassist Rob Yahn wanted to depart in order to pursue another career but he still played the bass on "Darkness Descends". Mike Gonzales gets the credit for bass but he was recruited after the recording had been finished. "Darkness Descends" is a ferocious album of Thrash Metal/ Speed Metal. This record is faster, heavier, and more complex than its predecessor. Lightning-rapid velocity, spirit-ripping heaviness, and introspective lyrics about the apocalypse, death, theology, and prophecy make "Darkness Descends" a great record although it tends to be repetitive in tone. While it is a little reminiscent to Slayer's "Reign In Blood" (which was released earlier in the same year) it has its own style of aggression.


"Darkness Descends" contains seven tracks and has a time length of thirty-five minutes. The 2008 Century Media reissue includes extra material of live recordings from 1988 and 1989. The booklet features photography and lyrics but liner notes are nowhere to be found.

Production/ Sound Quality

"Darkness Descends" was recorded at Music Grinder and Mad Dog studios. The 2008 Century Media reissue of "Darkness Descends" comes in remastered format. The sound quality is decent. The clarity of the guitar riffs is somewhat obscured but the vocals, drums, and bass all have a poignant sound.


According to Eric Meyer and Gene Hoglan the original cover of "Darkness Descends" featured a man lying on a gurney coming out of a hospital or morgue with a malicious arm bursting out from his chest holding a bloody crucifix. The record label prohibited Dark Angel from using that cover as they thought stores would not stock the album due to the macabre artwork. This caused a delay in the release of the album. The second and official cover of "Darkness Descends" portrays a ghastly, emerald-shaded tombstone which stands alone in the darkness of the ominous night. Inhuman zombies are resurrected by some mysterious force as their hideous hands tear out from beneath the grave. Sean Rodgers designed both of these covers using photography and special effects.


"Harbinger Of Doom" is a foreboding prelude that establishes the stage for the apocalyptic title track. "Darkness Descends" annihilates with its extreme rapidity including vicious guitar work from Jim Durkin and Eric Meyer. Don Doty spews out a nefarious story inspired by the four dark judges from the comic book of "Judge Dredd". The vocals of Don are sometimes unintelligible but he still delivers a menacing performance ["...This city is guilty/ The crime is life/ The sentence is death/ Darkness descends..."]. "The Burning Of Sodom" also punishes with its vehement agility. Dark Angel gives their interpretation of the biblical story of the two despicable cities and their abominations. Gene Hoglan does well with the percussion. "Hunger Of The Undead" ponders the mystery of the afterlife as well as the spiritual theories of karma and reincarnation. Sinister guitar riffs and Rob Yahn's metallic bass are rampant throughout. Treacherous guitar solos incinerate the middle section ["I walk through death's door/ I'm frightened to see/ A determined fate is not in store for me/ No light in the tunnel/ Or brimstone awaits/ Return to the Earth/ A reincarnate..."]. The fourth track is a re-recorded version of "Merciless Death", which was originally featured on the 1984 album of "We Have Arrived". This Thrash Metal anthem begins with tranquil acoustic guitar before it erupts with pouncing drums and ripping power chords. "Merciless Death" goes through a series of maniacal time signature changes.

Furious double-bass percussion and raging guitars commence the powerful and relentless "Death Is Certain (Life Is Not)", which supports one's right to euthanasia when in dolorous suffering, regardless of politics and legalities. Don snarls with both frustration and empathy. The chorus is also one of the most memorable ["Respecting your wishes/ My brother, you wish to die/ In a bed surrounded by tubes/ Immobility casts its shadow/ In your body numbness reigns/ You've calculated your demise/ Your future racked with pain/ I'll take the life behind your eyes..."]. "Black Prophecies" exalts Nostradamus and his apocalyptic visions. This progressively structured composition is over eight minutes in time length and has a medium-paced tempo featuring magnificent percussion and shredding guitar riffs. While "Black Prophecies" is not as fast as the previous tracks it is just as dark and heavy ["Back when man had not care for the past/ And little hope for the future/ A man who stood out in the annals of time/ To tell of the actions to come/ The uncanny words of a clinical mind/ Turn of centuries bore his truth/ A mysterious being with a curious gift/ Nostradamus - Chosen one..."]. Dark Angel finishes with the obliteration of "Perish In Flames". Cryptic guitar riffs and double-bass drumming initiate the track as it then explodes into thrashing madness and havoc. Jim and Eric perform a scorching guitar solo in the middle which is easily one of their best on this album. The 2008 Century Media reissue includes extra material of live recordings from 1988 and 1989 of various songs from "Darkness Descends" and "We Have Arrived". Ron Rinehart peforms the vocals on this material as Don Doty was previously fired because of numerous problems such as his drug addiction and habitual absence of rehearsals. The sound quality of these live recordings is not too great but Dark Angel still gives a worthy performance. These bonus tracks do not not add much to the album overall.


Dark Angel was a vicious ensemble and it doesn't matter if they weren't the most popular or successful group in Thrash Metal/ Speed Metal. Like Possessed's "Seven Churches", Onslaught's "Power From Hell", and Kreator's "Endless Pain" (which are all outstanding releases from 1985), "Darkness Descends" is a significant album that contributed to the genesis of Death Metal. It is possibly the greatest album Dark Angel ever created.



Track Listing And Time Length

Darkness Descends Studio Album 1986
1. Harbinger Of Doom/ Darkness Descends (5:47)
2. The Burning Of Sodom (3:14)
3. Hunger Of The Undead (4:16)
4. Merciless Death (4:02)
5. Death Is Certain (Life Is Not) (4:13)
6. Black Prophecies (8:28)
7. Perish In Flames (4:49)

DFA Live At The Trocadero In Philadelphia, October 23rd 1988
8. The Burning Of Sodom (3:18)
9. Death Is Certain (Life Is Not) (3:37)
10. Merciless Death (3:43)
11. Perish In Flames (5:05)
12. Darkness Descends (3:21)

DFA Live At The Country Club In Reseda, April 22nd 1989
13. We Have Arrived (3:55)
14. The Burning Of Sodom (3:29)
15. Death Is Certain (Life Is Not) (3:52)

Member Line-up

Don Doty (Vocals) - Jim Durkin (Lead guitar) - Eric Meyer (Lead guitar) - Rob Yahn (Bass) - Gene Hoglan (Drums) - Ron Rinehart (Vocals on live recordings) - Mike Gonzales (Bass on live recordings)
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on April 4, 2000
This album ranks as one of the best metal albums of the 80s. It has everything you could ask for - fast furious thrash riffs, insane vocals, manic drums, and a howling twin guitar attack on every track. "Perish in flames" is a real classic - it thrashes along nicely until mid-song when lead guitarist Eric Meyer unleashes the most mind-blowing guitar solo I've ever had the pleasure to hear. But even this can't compare to album highlight "The Burning of Sodom", which lives up to its name with what must rank as one of the fastest and greatest thrash riffs of all time, crazed drumming from Gene Hoglan, and some truly demented screaming from vocalist Don Doty. If Hell has a soundtrack, then this is it!
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on September 19, 2012
Speeding guitars, snarled vocals, and Gene Hogland's stellar drum work combine to place this album in league with Slayer, Kreator, Metallica, and Possessed ! This album is an absolute must have for anyone into classic 80's thrash.
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on May 29, 2011
You can't fault this amazing album on it's musical content, which is ferocious and stands the test of time way better than 90% of old-school thrash albums, BUT the 1999 Relativity Records version of the CD is NOT a remaster as stated on it's packaging and in the title on Amazon. I bought it and checked out the tunes in a WAV file editor as well as using the spectrum analyzer function and there is ZERO difference between this edition and the original cd released earlier.
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on May 1, 2013
Released in 1986, Dark Angel's second full length album "Darkness Descends" is simply put one of the best and most brutal, ferocious, and fastest 80's thrash metal albums that I've had the great pleasure of listening to being that I'm a huge 80's thrash/speed metal fanatic myself. I got this CD here off on Amazon just last month, and I've been listening to it literally almost on a regular basis, and it has quickly risen to be one of my favorite thrash metal albums that I own. It just never gets old no matter how many times I listen to it, I just love it. Whenever I listen to "Darkness Descends", I simply can't help but simply headbang to the sheer unrelenting and vicious take no prisoners thrash attack that this album possesses, it is just absolutely amazing.

Now let's talk about the musicianship by the band themselves on this album, and let me say it is just amazing beyond words, I mean everyone is in fine form on here. First let's start off with drummer Gene Hoglan aka "The Atomic Clock" who has pounded the skins for other numerous bands including Death, Testament, and Strapping Young Lad. His drumming on this album is just utterly fast and unrelenting as he lets loose and proceeds to attack the listener's eardrums with an onslaught of fast, hammering, merciless drum beats and machine gun-like double bass patterns. He is also very surprisingly complex especially for the speed that he plays at too. There is simply no question that Gene is truly one of metal's best drummers, no question about it. The guitar work on this album courtesy of both Jim Durkin and Eric Meyer is nothing short of amazing as the duo engage in a combination of fast, energetic, and unrelenting riffs and blazing, screaming solos that will have the listener's blood pumping like crazy. The bass on this album is actually performed by Rob Yahn even though Mike Gonzalez is credited on this album, and the bass on here is actually audible, and heavily thumping throughout, and of course vocalist Don Doty is in fine form here with his fast, vicious, maniacal and sometimes high pitched snarling screams. I would definitely have to say that Doty sorta reminds me of an American version of Mille Petrozza from German thrashers Kreator (who are another one of my favorite thrash bands as well).

Now as far as the songs go, "Darkness Descends" is just chock-full of great thrashing songs, and some of the most fastest thrash metal songs that I've ever heard I might add too. The title track "Darkness Descends" is the opening track, as well as my favorite song on here. The song begins fairly slow, and is followed by some haunting and menacing riffs and rolling machine gun-like double bass kicks, and then BAM!!! The song suddenly kicks straight into high gear with a vicious full throttle thrash attack loaded with rapid, merciless riffing, savage blasting drums, and frantic maniacal vocals. You just gotta love that addicting chorus: "The city is guilty, the crime is life, the sentence is death...DARKNESS DESCENDS"!!! It is just classic, trust me, and I also love that screaming solo section after the second chorus as well. The following two tracks "The Burning of Sodom" (which features a hellish, piercing scream in the beginning) and "Hunger of the Undead" are both intense and unrelenting thrash monsters that keep the album's savage attack going, both being highlighted by more relentless riffs and screaming, shredding solos, pounding drums, and ripping vocals that will bring a sonic rush of adrenaline to your body. Another one of my favorites on here "Merciless Death" is another brutal and merciless thrasher which opens up with an awesome bass solo which is followed by a cyclone of rapid machine gun-like guitars, maniacal screams, and blasting drums. Track five "Death is Certain (Life is Not)" is another favorite that is highlighted by straight up, no holds barred, pounding double bass drumming, plus more barn burning riffs and snarling vocals, as well as more great soloing too. "Black Prophecies" which lyrically deals with Nostradamus is an epic 8 minute and 29 second mid paced headbanger which is highlighted by machine gun-like riffing and double bass patterns throughout, meanwhile track seven and the album's closing track "Perish in Flames" is highlighted by an all out merciless, unrelenting and unforgiving thrash metal onslaught of rapid blasting drums, full throttle riffs and wild soloing, and mad frantic, ripping, and maniacal snarls, screams and shrieks throughout. An excellent album closer this is. And being that this is the Century Media edition of "Darkness Descends", we are also treated to eight bonus live tracks that were recorded and performed live around 1988 and 1989.

So, in the overall conclusion, "Darkness Descends" is an all out awesome, no holds barred, take no prisoners thrash metal essential that shows absolutely no mercy from start to finish. It is just chock-full of awesome, killer songs and absolutely no fillers whatsoever, and it is definitely right up there with the likes of Slayer's "Reign in Blood", Kreator's "Pleasure to Kill", Metallica's "Master of Puppets", Exodus's "Bonded by Blood", Megadeth's "Peace Sells...But Who's Buying?", Sepultura's "Beneath the Remains", and among other 80's thrash classics. Bottom line, Dark Angel's "Darkness Descends" is a serious must have for any fan of 80's thrash metal...Buy it now!!!

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