Register Forgot login?

© 2002-2019
Encyclopaedia Metallum

Best viewed
without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
or higher.

Privacy Policy

Throwing Down the Gauntlet - 100%

Thrashohol, October 19th, 2007

I don't often buy new albums, even more so, I almost never buy expensive new albums. But somehow I was able to shell out close to $20 for this oddly encased new release by Darkthrone without hesitation. The reasoning for this choice extends far beyond a compulsion to support a band which has achieved legend status, or to critique and compare this new offering. Quite simply, I purchased this album because Darkthrone is a band that has spent more of their career shattering contentions about what black metal should be, than wallowing in the stale arena of blast beats and corpse paint. I had no doubt that they would continue to push the envelope, fan boys and elitists be damned, and I was not disappointed.

For starters, F.O.A.D. IS a black metal record through and through. However, it exists more in the realm of the time before black metal became a thoroughly defined genre, held down by standards and stipulations. True there is no corpse paint, no minimalist stark black and white photos, no cryptic messages in Old English fonts, but the last time I checked, Venom, the band responsible for giving the genre 'black metal' its name, had none of these things. In fact, they could barely play their instruments, their raw evil sound owing more to sloppy playing and poor recording than cold calculated delivery. What did exist then and exists in this album is a fury and desire to play the blackest, most unchained, and yes, most rocking, music possible.

F.O.A.D. razes the church of black metal to the ground and builds it back up with blood, sweat, and beer. I'd be lying if I said this album isn't a bit of a shock to the system, but this album isn't just a change from the traditional, it's a fucking paradigm shift. The guys start out easy on us with 'These Shores are Damned' a fairly "non-blasphemous" tune, straddling the territory between Total Death and The Cult is Alive, before Hellhammering the senses with the ton of bricks that is the opening riff for 'Canadian Metal'. At this point, opinions on this album are sure to split 50/50, with genre purists crying foul, and fans of raw metal mayhem screaming for more. And more they shall receive. 'The Church of Real Metal', with it's almost Dio-like passage into the shouted chorus, followed by far away keys and doomy riffing. 'Fuck Off and Die' fueled by Motorhead and hatred of those who are quick to judge, but too slow to change. I'll spare you a further individual track breakdown. Suffice to say that this is an album filled with many moments that demand double takes, but make more and more sense with repeat listening. The riffs themselves are untouchable, the solos and leads darkly melodic with touches of the psychedelic, but best of all, everything is kept simple and to the point.

Soap box time. This album is a giant fuck you to a large portion of the world of metal as it stands now. The ideas that only the most skilled of players are fit to create good works, that songs must be epic displays of fretboard gymnastics or mind bending mathematical workouts to be considered of worthwhile integrity. An idea of any kind, in music or otherwise, is the most effective when it is kept to the point, undiluted, unbound by useless tangents. Progressive symposiums, impossible scales, songs comprised of a few good riffs sandwiched by dozens of generic or mundane ones. It's like a huge algebraic equation or formula for quantum physics. Sure we can all appreciate it's complexity, but how many among us can actually fully comprehend or relate to it?
This is black metal. Anguished, evil, angry, bleak, disparaging, depressing music, and not all of it must be detached and cerebral. The primal urge of rock appeals to all of us, no matter how above it we try to act.

Darkthrone is giving black metal back to the common man, the outcasts, the disenfranchised, the unprivileged. Destroying the traditional rules of what is and is not acceptable in metal. Releasing an original and refreshing album, that is both tribute and traitor to heavy metal. And why?
Because they are in a perfect place to do so. They have the clout to release what they want, when they want, with the artwork and packaging they want. Nocturno Culto can release a pseudo-documentary dvd of himself just hanging out, and still release it on a recognized label with worldwide distribution. They released an expensive, elaborate, dangerous album, and even the naysayers still purchased it. This is not an album released to fulfill contract obligations, if it was, it would have been bland and predictable. This is a toss of the gauntlet to the old guard, a battle cry to the numerous underground metal bands playing with more originality and passion than technical expertise.
A cry that only Darkthrone could force the world to hear.