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Breaks Through the Icy Grimness! - 90%

mikeald, November 27th, 2011

Plaguewielder is quite a unique album that features the traditional black metal production but manages to pack a punch. We also see Darkthrone mature as artist, incorporating more complicated song writing without sound too pretentious. Sometimes Plaguewielder sounds like newer Emperor, for example “Command” features some Emperor like riffing around the 6:30 minute mark. The best way to describe the tone of this album would be Satyricon (Rebel Extravaganza) meets A Blaze in the Northern Sky.

Plaguewielder, features six lengthy tracks, ranging from 5-9 minutes. The exciting part is that these tracks feature lots of beefy riffs. Nocturno Culto isn’t the best guitarist but he knows how to make catchy riffs. Check out the chorus’ of Sin Origin and Command, both feature anthem-like riffs that will have your foot tapping. The final track, Wreak features some of the catchiest mid-tempo riffs and tremolo picking ever. During the three-minute mark, begins a build up that eventually hits a minute later. This build up features Nocturno Culto playing a simple lead over some crazy blast beats. At the four-minute mark we get a big Transylvanian Hunter type of tremolo riff, which will hook you on the first listen!

Most of Plaguewielder’s punch comes from the drums. The band’s previous album, Ravishing Grimness (1999) saw Fenriz playing half assed beats that simply kept the pace. With Plaguewielder, Fenriz breaks through the icy grimness and releases a plague upon the ears. This album is full of drum fills that bridge the gaps between riffs seamlessly. His high-hat taping always seems to carry an extra groove, for example the middle section of I, Voidhanger. The snare and bass kick are perfectly mixed with the buzzing guitars, unlike older albums such as Under a Funeral Moon or Transylvanian Hunger. Like A Blaze in the Northern Sky, Fenriz’s drum set takes a beating. Unlike Blaze…, Plaguewielder’s production allows the listener to hear that beating MUCH clearer.

Overall, Plaguewielder sounds much more inspired than their previous black metal albums. The only downfall is that this album seems to be dismissed within the cannon Darkthrone collection. Perhaps this is because it’s more complicated nature, or not so grim production. Recommended for fans that want to hear a more professional Darkthrone. Plus if you buy the album, you’ll get to see Nocturno Culto in some nu-metal baggy jeans!