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Not THAT Bad, Actually - 80%

Agonizer, October 2nd, 2007

"Soulside Journey". "A Blaze In The Northern Sky". "Under A Funeral Moon". "Transilvanian Hunger". "Panzerfaust". "Goatlord", and, arguably, "Total Death". All classics, a catalogue of releases which span a five year gap from 1991 (Soulside Journey), to 1996 (Total Death).

Here it is, some eleven years later, and Darkthrone are still at it. Fenriz and Nocturno Culto are still playing a dirty and controversial form of metal that fans either love or hate, with very little room for middle ground.

Admittedly, I haven't had much exposure to Darkthrone's material post-1996. That is, beyond a few random, and brief listens. Certainly nothing serious, as I am of the opinion that Fenriz and Nocturno Culto could never outdo, or come close to, their work on "Transilvanian Hunger" and/or "Panzerfaust".

In all honesty, if anyone out there is expecting black metal these days that sounds like it did durring the second wave, they're deluded and more than a bit jaded. This goes double when referencing a band who was actually around and recording back then.

No matter how childish some of Darkthrone's lyrics are these days (very!), they're not teenagers any longer. That initial fire in their bellies has long went cold. The only last vestige of those days, is that Fenriz and Nocturno Culto look at making albums from a standpoint of pleasing themselves, not the consumer.

A cop out for Darkthrone? Perhaps, but "F.O.A.D." is hardly worthy to be called Darkthrone's "Saint Anger" either. Although it doesn't live up to Darkthrone's more legendary material, there is at least a part of those greater times preserved here.

Metallica's "Saint Anger" was probably the biggest let down in metal history. Promises were made, and Metallica didn't deliver on one of them. For the most part Darkthrone do deliver the goods here, with "F.O.A.D.".

The vocal tone - the lyrics are proposterous, childish, and just plain stupid - the guitar tone, Fenriz's pattented drums and the all too inaudible bass are all here. Just like in the classic releases, and with much of the same pinache, only done in such a way as to harken back to other (some would say better) bands. Bands such as Iron Maiden, Whiplash, Diamond Head, Holocaust, Motorhead, and Tankard are all given the once over on this album. This album actually has a very Bay Area thrash feel to it because of that. Only "F.O.A.D." is much dirtier, as one should expect from Darkthrone's releases.

If "Panzerfaust" was a Celtic Frost rip-off (you can debate that, certainly), then this one should really come as no great surprise. Especially given that "The Cult Is Alive" was an intentional stab at crust punk. While I certainly found "The Cult Is Alive" to be somewhat of an "Undisputed Attitude", this is actually enjoyable in places.

Again, my biggest complaint over this album is the lyric. I wonder if this is why Varg was such a big contributor to Darkthrone in that department? Certainly, the sound of this album is about as good as one could hope for, beyond the second wave brilliance of Darkthrone at least.

Actually, I'll even venture out and say that some of this album is absolutely brilliant. It's just too bad that an otherwise superb album is tarnished with such a frequently overlooked thing as lyrics. It's not brain science, or rocket surgery, but Nocturno Culto sure makes it look as though this were the case.

As with anything new, I suggest downloading it before you buy it. There's no reason to buy a crap album these days, not when mp3s are so easy to come by anyhow.