Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Darkthrone: 'Arctic Thunder' - Album Review

The Norwegian Black Metal band Darkthrone shouldn’t really need an introduction. They were pivotal to the Second Wave of Black Metal in the early 1990s and their album’s ‘A Blaze Under the Northern Sky’ and ‘Transilvanian Hunger’ are genre defining. In recent years they’ve been taking interesting artistic directions. Moving away from Black Metal for something a bit more Crust Punk and sometimes akin to NWOBHM. So what are we to expect from their latest album, ‘Arctic Thunder’, due for release October 14th? Darkthrone have shown a lack of restraint with their music, allowing themselves to do whatever they like.

‘Arctic Thunder’ starts with something a bit more evil and almost a call back to their Black Metal sound but ‘Tundra Leach’ takes a strong dive back into something a bit more groovy and akin to Heavy Metal. This song is actually very catchy when it comes down to it. ‘Burial Bliss’ feels a bit more like punk in spirit but demonstrates the perfect union of Black Metal and Punk. ‘Boreal Fiends’ starts us back with some evil atmosphere and moments of both Black Metal and punk. The combination of atmosphere and shear energy makes for a powerful song and before the song is done the Heavy Metal comes back for a bit of melody. ‘Imbred Vermin’ kicks in faster and doesn’t relent till a descent into something quite like early Satyricon. For a band so quintessentially Black Metal, that has gone back to their love of Heavy Metal, this comparison does not surprise me in the least.

‘Arctic Thunder’, the title track, is far more groovy and catchy and recalls Heavy Metal as its strongest influence. Though by Heavy Metal, we must understand that this is early and sludge-like in its raw production and energy. I certainly understand why it’s the title track. ‘Throw Me Through The Marshes’ is one of their slower tracks with a heavy buzz slamming out through the silence. It picks up for a firm thrashing from time to time but generally keep to this slow smashing. ‘Deep Lake Trespass’ immediately feels very melodic, like the kind of song that ends an epic album. ‘The Wyoming Distance’ therefore, feels a bit more like a bonus track. This fun little energy calls out for one final push through hell.

Darkthrone’s recent explorations may confuse some people and take some unexpected directions but one thing is certainly clear. They want to, they’ll kill any in their way and it is always Darkthrone. Perhaps their evil music exists in pursuit of that one final cry: ‘We are Darkthrone’. This album is an astonishing effort by the band and really start to nail in the fact that Darkthrone are worth a listen for anyone in Metal, not just the confines of Black Metal, Crust Punk or Heavy Metal or anything; they are more, they are Darkthrone.

Facebook: /Darkthrone-101075189934422

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