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Blackened Punk 80s Metal? - 80%

Baragon94, May 18th, 2013

Darkthrone needs no introduction; everyone knows about these guys and the tremendous impact they’ve had on extreme metal. While they are largely known as a black metal band with their early albums engraved as milestones in the Norwegian scene, many don’t give their diversity enough justice. That comes to a screeching halt on their latest work however. You just have to love Fenriz and Nocturno; they do whatever they want, however they want, and don’t give a care in the world how anyone feels about it. Throughout the course of their career, they’ve gone from death metal, to black metal, to punk, to this. And what we have in “The Underground Resistance” is a very unique blend of eighties heavy metal and punk rock, all while maintaining traces of their early black metal form. Get ready to headbang to this one!

Listeners may be surprised by what they hear at first listen, especially those not closely acquainted with Darkthrone’s recent punk rock escapades. I personally did not see this coming at all from the same band that released “Under a Funeral Moon” twenty years ago. The riffing is very fast paced and the music is very reminiscent of 80s east coast punk-influenced thrash, much in the vein of Overkill or Anthrax. The guitar work is very nice. You obviously won’t find any shredding, but some of the finest and catchiest riffs in Darkthrone’s discography can be found here, and they are absolutely relentless. Fenriz’s drumming compliments the music very well as usual. As mentioned earlier, “The Underground Resistance” is great headbanging music and will no doubt draw in some listeners from the thrash crowd who typically don’t associate themselves with black metal.

Speaking of black metal, while Darkthrone may no longer play the style as prominently as they used to, there’s no doubt that traces of it remain in some of the riffs and vocals. This certainly makes sense, seeing as they’re pretty much the Godfathers of the whole thing. They mix it up a lot though. And I mean a LOT. There are just so many different genres on display here. Take “Valkyries” for example. It begins with an acoustic piece and slow black metal section before shifting gears into a relentless punk rock assault. Then there’s the thirteen minute long closer “Leave no Cross Unturned” that sounds strikingly similar to Mercyful Fate, with Nocturno singing in a style startlingly akin to King Diamond. That’s the theme of this album really; variety. One minute they’re playing punk, then black metal in another, then heavy metal in another, then, oh, you get the point! Fifteen studio albums in and these guys sound more versatile and interesting than ever.

I’ve always admired Darkthrone for what they do. They’re very uncompromising and self-fulfilling musicians who work hard to produce the music that they want to hear, not what anyone else wants to. Not the fans. Not the record labels. Not the critics. Them. How many bands can honestly achieve such success in doing that? No matter what dark alley Fenriz and Nocturno explore, they never cease to impress. Call their music whatever you want, but the bottom line is that no matter what style they’re playing, whether it be black metal, punk rock, thrash metal, or all of them mixed into one, Darkthrone kicks insurmountable amounts of ass. If only they would play some shows…

Originally written for Dermetalkrieger.com