The Death Company is the special unit of the Blood Angels Chapter of Space Marines and all their Successor Chapters whose members are consumed by the permanent, debilitating psychosis known as the Black Rage which is an inherent risk for any Astartes who bear the Blood Angels' gene-seed. Prior to every battle, the Space Marines of the Blood Angels Chapter ritually cut themselves to release blood which is collected into sacred vessels like the Red Grail. This blood is then ritually drunk and the Astartes reflect upon their duty to their Emperor and the lessons of their Primarch in deep meditation and prayer. Some, perhaps as many as one in every ten of the Blood Angels, succumbs to visions of the pain and suffering of their Primarch Sanguinius in his final moments, a terrible and permanent condition called the Black Rage. These afflicted Blood Angels are inducted into the Death Company in order to give them an honourable death before they are totally consumed by blood lust and insanity. This is the blessing and the curse of the Blood Angels. When a Blood Angel falls victim to this Black Rage, their Power Armour is ritually painted black and they are placed into the Death Company. Led by a mighty Chaplain of the Blood Angels, the Death Company has a fearsome reputation for fighting with the savage, berserker fury of a World Eater Chaos Space Marine, attacking enemy and ally alike.
All Blood Angels Successor Chapters that maintain a Death Company, with the exception of the Templars of Blood, use the same black colours as their progenitor Chapter, save for the Angels Encarmine, whose Death Company and Sanguinary Guard are both an alabaster white, with black shoulder trim and backpack. The origins of using the colour black traces back to the latter days of the Great Crusade. When the Red Thirst first began to manifest itself amongst a handful of Blood Angels Legionaries, they would quickly be dealt with -- honoured for their service and then summarily executed, either by the Primarch himself, or Azkaellon, the commander of the IX Legion's Sanguinary Guard. The slain Battle-Brother would then be laid in honourable repose as a slab of inkstone from the night deserts of Baal Primus was passed over the dead warrior's armour, blotting out the crimson colour with a layer of glistening, smoky black. The manner of the Battle-Brother's death would be forever lost to the Legion's chronicles, the existence of the growing Flaw within the Blood Angels' genetic structure kept secret. The fallen warrior would finally be able to find peace, resting in the company of death. All the various Death Companies of the Blood Angels and their Successors have blood-red saltires painted on portions of their battle-plate, to symbolise the wounds of their beloved Primarch Sanguinius after he was slain by Horus during the climax of the Horus Heresy at the Battle of Terra.
- Codex: Blood Angels (5th Edition)
- Codex: Blood Angels (4th Edition)
- Codex: Blood Angels (3rd Edition)
- Codex: Angels of Death (2nd Edition)
- Index Astartes - Death Company (Digital Edition), pp. 2, 4-8, 9-12
- Fear to Tread (Novel) by James Swallow