Essen’s Thrash underdogs Darkness return and their new EP XXIX – their first release containing new material since 1989’s overlooked Conclusion And Revival – has been a long time coming. Fortunately, it was well worth the wait!
Opener and brand new song “L.A.W.” rumbles with the immediately recognisable German Thrash style of rolling drums and minor scale riffs. A heads-down Thrash attack with no remorse, it’s instantly apparent that the passing of time has done little to dilute Darkness’ sound; the precision is still there, the speed is still there and Darkness’ gleeful brand of tightly-coiled primal aggression hasn’t been reduced one iota. “Hate Is My Engine”, the second new track on XXIX, also impresses. Its initial Thrash shit-storm locking into a colossal neck-snapping groove, ultimately proving that penning Modern Thrash anthems comes easily to these hardened veterans.
The re-recorded versions of Darkness classics “Burial At Sea” (with almost 2 mins shaved off the original version) and “Death Squad” are surprisingly welcome. Revisited and substantially ‘beefed-up’ these classic Thrashers sound just as vital now as they did 28(!) years ago. Needless to say, “Death Squad” is as much a Teutonic triumph now as it always was; Darkness’ Thrash anthem and then some!
A quick nod to new frontman Lee Weinberg who impressively covers the gamut of thrash vocal styles. From throaty rasp to feral bark, high pitched shout to Death Metal growl (think Master’s Paul Speckmann), his layered vocals on “L.A.W.” easily match the pace of his bandmates barely contained speed and ferocity.
Darkness may have been riding the coattails of Kreator, Destruction and Sodom in the late 80’s but in 2015 their thrilling combination of all three bands should finally see them nestle side by side. Sounding full of life and raring to have another crack at it, XXIX serves it’s purpose remarkably well; we want a full length album boys, Thrash needs ya!! 8/10