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Darkthrone - Goatlord - 54%

Technogoat, January 18th, 2007

Sometimes it truly is best to let sleeping dogs lie. Darkthrone had probably never considered this when approached by new label Moonfog about releasing their second album proper, “Goatlord”. The album was actually shelved at the time of its demo recordings in 1991 to make way for the classic “A Blaze In The Northern Sky” as the band developed a far more extreme Black Metal sound than on their debut, “Soulside Journey”. Judging by the material on offer, it is not entirely surprising that the entire album was abandoned in favour of a different, yet now classic, Darkthrone approach.

The album consists of ten tracks taken directly from a rehearsal tape from 1990 and 1991, with the vocals not recorded until 1994. It is a reminder as to what Darkthrone could have ended up sounding like for their entire lengthy career were it not for the intervention of ex-Mayhem guitarist Euronymous and his encouraging the band to take an alternate musical path. Not unsurprisingly, the style of Metal that Darkthrone played at this time was not a world apart from what they were to become but “Goatlord” definitely shows a band playing a style more akin to mid-paced Death Metal than downright Black Metal.

Production-wise, the tracks have retained a certain natural sound from the rehearsal tapes, yet Nocturno Culto’s latterly recorded vocals sound too removed from the music and not nearly as menacing as would be expected from a leading Black Metal vocalist. Such weak vocal performances are exemplified on tracks like “Pure Demoniac Blessing” and “Black Daimon”. Drummer Fenriz also contributes some frankly embarrassing feminine sounding vocals on tracks like “(The) Grimness Of Which Shepherds Mourn” and “Toward(s) The Thornfields” which sound even more inappropriate and unquestionably should not have been included.

The music itself on “Goatlord” emanates amateurism and an attempt by the band to sound far more technical than their ability would seem to permit. Although the songs are taken from rehearsals, many of the guitar riffs and drum patterns are either dreary and tiresome or over the top and cluttered. Opener “Rex” is the perfect example of such a lack of focus within the music, rapidly but imperfectly changing speed and direction throughout and sounding nothing but awkward and ungainly as a result.

Unfortunately, this is simply a Darkthrone album that did not need to be released and Moonfog’s motives for doing so are quite ambiguous. It is vaguely interesting to hear what the band were originally planning to release as their sophomore effort, yet the music is extremely misleading, sounding more like a third rate 80s Death Metal band in the early demo stages than actually representing the veritable immensity of Darkthrone. This is one for the fanatics and exceptionally curious only.

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