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Two of Norway's finest releasing new albums at the same time you ask? Why of course, get me involved! While the new Burzum release may have been a more momentous event than another Darkthrone album given the productivity of both bands in recent years, I will always have time for the works of Ted Skjellum and Gylve Nagell. Exposing the kind of attitude that I profess towards elitist (black) metallers, albeit on a more public scale than I, Darkthrone have always been in a league of their own, and none more so than now around the release of their fifteenth (!) studio album. Giving the 'requirements' of BM the middle finger in the vain that the original templates of the genre did to the rest of the music world upon it's formation in the 80s-early 90s, this duo in my mind will forever be a breath of fresh air to the scene, of course ironically conducted through the medium of fetid, dirty punk-infused blackish metal, that has been needed for so many years.
Since 2006's "The Cult is Alive" Darkthrone have been moving further from the field of black metal from which they came, with "Circle the Wagons" merely being another step away from the overbearing sonic limitations of the True Norwegian Black Metal™ sound which they were a key part in forming. The influence of punk and early metal classics has but merely grown through each successive album, to the point of calling these guys black metal an act done through more historical referencing than anything based on this or recent releases. Tracks such as "I Am The Grave Of The 80s" and the albums' title song bleed such verminous dedication to a sound so ancient I doubt even the dinosaurs had died out by then, that it does make you wonder why more acts haven't jumped on this bandwagon (pun intended?).
As has been the case ultimately with all the recent Darkthrone albums, I have never found my appreciation of the music contained within each opus reaching the level of respect I hold for Messrs. Culto and Fenriz. I love Fenriz' clean vocals, however average they may be, in songs like "Black Mountain Totem" and "Those Treasures Will Never Befall You". I love too how stripped down the sound is, allowing the power of the RIFF to do the talking; but I also still believe that in this current incarnation Darkthrone have it within them to release something truly classic. The elements of old punk and classic metal, ala Saxon and Angel Witch, which are all too obvious for anyone listening and so emotionally honest to the sound, have in them the potential for the creation of a great release, if, I can whisper it gently, the Darkthrone guys spent just a little more time honing their songs.
Given the choice however I'd take any day the ethic that Darkthrone propose over the modern and plastic sound that they so vehemently oppose. Supporting Culto and Fenriz these days is as much an act of backing their crusade for the true spirit of metal as it enjoying albums like "Circle the Wagons" or "The Cult is Alive", but thankfully all their recent albums have been positively infectious pieces of dirty and crusty, yet pure, metal. These LPs have been consistently solid in quality, yet "Circle the Wagons" does edge it over 2008's "Dark Thrones and Black Flags", but if you knew that already you'd yourself already be a worshipper at the temple of that darkest of thrones.
Originally written for www.Rockfreaks.net