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Back in '06 Darkthrone released an album titled 'The Cult is Alive' and effectively switched musical gears to something entirely different that left their past behind and had me shaking my head and just wondering why. Sure, most of the bands post-90's releases had been just so-so, but I digged 'em for what they were - they were still black metal, and little did I expect icons of the black metal genre to ever compromise their vision as they had done so on Cult. Three more full-lengths would follow without making much of an impact, but perhaps my acceptance of change was coming as I did find some of the songs on 'F.O.A.D.' & 'Circle the Wagons' to be at least fun, which ultimately was where I think the band was going. The black metal days were done for them and they just wanted to embrace the bands and music makers that originally inspired them to pick up their instruments in the early 80's.
News of 'The Underground Resistance' came in through one ear and out the other as I anticipated more of the same. That is until a friend began telling me about how the band had taken a turn towards classic 80's speed metal and more or less that the record was fantastic. Flash forward a few days later and I'm drinking and spinning old NWOBHM records and I suddenly remember to look the album up on youtube and, well, to say the least I fucking loved it!
Throughout six songs and forty one minutes Darkthrone essentially delivers '80's Metal 101,' a total amalgamation of speed metal, Germanic thrash, NWOBHM and proto-black metal-ness and best of all its incredible. 'Dead Early' opens with a driving catchy lead that instantly has me hooked whilst the rest of the song is thick, heavy and hard hitting as Nocturno Culto grumbles out his words. 'Valkyrie' signals towards something more epic in its grand scope, howling high pitched vocals from Fenriz and an utterly memorable main riff that can't be beat. A total fist pumper and head banger right here for sure! 'Lesser Men' shouts Mercyful Fate from the get go with a soaring start eventually Tom G. Warrior styled vocals set the stage and the song moves back and fourth between Fate and early unstoppable Celtic Frost godliness, while 'The Ones You Left Behind' hankers with this sense of teenage ardency and just plain fun that you don't hear in metal these days. Couple that up with some killer ass riffs and a mighty solo mid-way through and you've got a killer on your hands here.
'Come Warfare, The Entire Doom' just drives on and on and gets mightier as it progresses, especially the riff that pops up around the five minute mark is by far one of the catchiest I've heard in a long while and perhaps solidifies it as one of the albums best. The album concludes with the epic beast known as 'Leave No Cross Unturned,' which is no less than fourteen minutes of speedy, thrashy, Celtic Frosty and even doominess that simply can't be touched.
Where most bands progress, change for better or worse, Darkthrone has regressed and they don't go past '85 in their musical stylings. Nocturno's guitar work is undeniably exceptional featuring an innumerable amount of killer, catchy, head bobbin', fist pumping and absolutely immense riffs as well as an assortment of solos that simply can't be touched. Not to mention that guitar tone is thick and oh so vintage that I just can't get enough of it. Fenriz' drumming is surely at its best too, and its impressive the way he took extra measures to ensure it had that vintage feel to it.
Darkthrone spares no expense at raising the middle finger a bit too, for example, the photo on the back finds Fenriz in a psuedo black metal pose, while the photo is credited to 'the hater of lame BM.' Similarly the quote, "This record is 100% free of any cut 'n' paste trickery" is found and "Vintage metal sound, contains non-triggered drums" as well as a few other instances of tongue and cheek humor are to be found throughout the booklet.
In the end I am and will continue to be amazed at just how good this record is. Sure, its not the band we all heard ten or even twenty years ago, but it is without a doubt one of the bands finest outputs, yes vastly superior to their alleged classics, such as, Transilvanian Junker. Darkthrone has always influenced and will continue to do so with this record - watch as more classic sounding metal bands appear in the coming years! Sure, the black metal days are gone, but Darkthrone has taken their music to surprisingly exceptional territories and it will be fun to see where they go from here. Until then, bottoms up and keep no cross unturned!
Originally Publish at Lunar Hypnosis: http://lunarhypnosis.blogspot.com