Maybe a second TERRORIZER album wasn't such a great idea. 1989's "World Downfall" is a grindcore classic, influencing scores of bands past and present. On "Darker Days Ahead", original members Pete Sandoval (drums, MORBID ANGEL) and Jesse Pintado (guitar, ex-NAPALM DEATH) join bassist Tony Norman (MORBID ANGEL, ex-MONSTROSITY), and vocalist Anthony Rezhawk in transforming the band from grindcore innovators to something just above a generic death metal band.
Ok, Sandoval's earthquake drumming is unsurprisingly impressive and never lets up, and Rezhawk's growls are competent and intelligible, but there is not much here song-wise that will inspire, including the re-recording of "Dead Shall Rise" (dubbed "Dead Shall Rose 06" here). None of this means that "Darker Days Ahead" is a bad album. In fact, death metal fans will find the album generally satisfying, if not overly memorable. The approach is largely the same from track to track. The moderately groove-based, mid to up-tempo songs largely consist of riding a basic main riff to predictable choruses, as Sandoval pummels away. Songs like "Crematorium", "Mayhem", and "Nightmare" come off as crusty, old school bashers that at times hint at the grindcore origins, though sometimes I think that has more to do with an expectation formed from "World Downfall" listening sessions. By the time you've reached the middle of the album, you've gotten the point. With the exception of Sandoval's instrumental experimentation album-closer, "Ghost Train", which serves little purpose, the intro piece "Inevitable", and the occasional accent and minor arrangement tweak, once you've gotten through the title track and "Crematorium", you'll know exactly what to expect the rest of the way.
Now that I've undoubtedly given the impression that "Darker Days Ahead" is not worth your time, a few qualifying statements are in order. Assuming you're not hoping for "World Downfall" Part II, "Darker Days Ahead" is still an average death metal album at the very least. It is no way a stinker and the songs do succeed from the standpoint of grinding groove and choruses that could almost be described as catchy. I would probably even shell out the bucks for it, but then again, I tend to enjoy a good old school death metal attack. That said, the "6.5" rating is indicative of an album that while disappointing compared to "World Downfall" is a basically enjoyable collection of paint-by-numbers death metal songs.