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Black Metal? Are you sure? - 60%

Valleys_Of_Hades, December 2nd, 2005

2003’s Hate Them showed Darkthrone SLIGHTLY returning to their rawer, more minimalistic and aggressive roots after a rather disappointing release in 2001 called Plaguewielder. Either way, this album is still a rare listen for me. It’s either that, or just a few songs that I’ll listen to individually off the album. Let’s face it. Darkthrone remains only a shadow of what and who they used to be. And no, I’m not referring to the band’s image. Sure, it was more interesting to see them in their flamboyant, black and white photos wearing corpse paint, leather, inverted crosses, spikes and bullet belts, but it doesn’t take an image like that to make good and interesting music. Just as their image got watered down into a more “normal” approach, so did their music, and everyone saw that change in direction once the band reformed and released Ravishing Grimness in 1999. Hate Them is merely just an old-school punkish sounding Thrash album with the classic Black Metal influences not as present as on the band’s earlier releases. Fuck, the band was at one point true, Unholy, 100%, no frills Black Metal! Not this time though. That’s not to say that the music is bad, but I have to be in the right mood in order to hear it. Then again, if I’m in the mood for something like this, then I’ll just stick to the classics like Hellhammer, Motörhead, Venom and Bulldozer. Compared to those bands, whom were the main inspirations to Darkthrone, Hate Them is nothing more than good background music to listen to…well, most of the time. Anyway, on with the song by song review now.

1. Rust - The weird sound effects in the beginning of this song were done by a guy called Lrz who plays for the Norwegian electronic/industrial band, Red Harvest. The actual song itself is one of the overall least impressive on the album. It isn’t until halfway through that we get some pretty good riffage and thrashing going on. Despite this track (and album in general) being overall more aggressive than the previous two releases from the band, I still miss that dark, blackened, cold and harsh sound the latter day Darkthrone lacks most of the time. However, one thing was brought back that they hadn’t done in awhile…

2. Det Svartner Na - …the Norwegian song titles and lyrics! Okay, so I’m too lazy to look up the English translation of the title right now, but I guess that’s not really the important thing at the moment. The important thing is that this almost sounds like classic fucking Darkthrone! And no, it isn’t just because Nocturno Culto is using his harsh and evil Norwegian lyrics once again, but it’s more due to the raw, straight forwardness of this song. So I wouldn’t exactly call this Black Metal, but it’s a nice mix of old-school punk and extreme Metal done in a more unique sense. With that being said, I would probably indulge in this album if I were a bigger fan of classic punk from the 80s because that’s pretty much what Darkthrone sounds like now.

3. Fucked Up And Ready To Die - At first, you’ll probably notice the Plaguewielder-ish style that the first minute or so of this song conveys. Still, this material here is raw to the fucking bone, meaning that it sounds better than pretty much anything from that album. The song structural technique is just a bit similar to the previous album. Anyway, the rest of this track is a badass assault of Blackened Thrash Metal at it finest. It’s songs like these that cause me to wonder if Darkthrone are really putting all of their skill into making their later albums. It’s just that if they can make badass songs like this still, then why not make the rest of the album just as good? I mean, they USED TO be able to do that, right?

4. Ytterst I Livet - Well, just like the killer tracks that are present on their later records, you also have your handful of mediocre ones as well. Take this one for example; The majority of the track is just a frenzy of harsh yet boring, mid-paced riffs with a constant underlining of double bass. It’s this kind of sound that caused Plaguewielder to be such a crappy album. Once you get past the first four or so minutes of the song, you’re hit once again with a fast paced, Black/Thrash assault done in a very classic way, yet, the band can’t seem to pull off these assaults the same anymore.

5. Divided We Stand - I was reading some other reviews for this album earlier and I noticed that so many people are hailing this album as the band’s best work since Panzerfaust. “It’s an assault on the modern trendy black metal scene” I read from another fan‘s review. Well, I wouldn’t go that far, because this album itself isn’t exactly raw, old-school Black Metal. Old-school, yes, but as most others have pointed out, this is more along the lines of punk than anything, or…”Black n Roll”? I’ve noticed a lot of people calling it that too. The reason for this is because the later Darkthrone material has more groove to it instead of focusing solely on minimalism. The punk riffs also sound a bit rockish as well, particularly on this song.

6. Striving For A Piece Of Lucifer - “I’ve noticed a certain lack of demons lately, and it really worries me sick” is one of the lyrics to this song. Yes, good lyrics, but sadly, it’s all too true. I guess Fenriz really must be noticing a certain lack of demons, because Darkthrone needs to blacken things up a bit more like they used to. Striving for a piece of Lucifer? Yeah, it seems they’re sure striving alright, yet cease to get the amount of ‘Lucifer’ they want in their music. This track is nothing too different from the previous song, but by now, I am totally bored with this album. Like I stated earlier, this serves more like background music than anything. The overall “evil” feel of the music is barely there. The band seems to also be striving to deliver cold and harsh Black Metal like they used to, but for some reason, only do a half assed attempt at it. Good track, but…I really wish that Darkthrone would get that piece of Lucifer that they’re striving for, because this isn’t the cold and evil Darkthrone that we all know and love.

7. In Honor Of Thy Name - A nice, distorted groove riff opens this song up and from then on, the band manages to deliver a nice slab of aggressive, old-school Black Metal. I mean, after reading the lyrics, I hoped that this would certainly be the most blackened song on the record, otherwise, the music wouldn’t fit a lyric like “Black Metal is the Devil’s fuel”. Aside from the groove based opening riff, this track would actually fit on any of Darkthrone’s earlier Black Metal releases if the production were a bit colder. Still, this is by far the best track on the album. Oh, and those weird sound effects at the end are once again, done by Lrz of Red Harvest.

If you noticed by reading the review, Hate Them is a mixed bag of sorts. Overall, it possesses the same punk/thrash/rock-ish feel with a harsher production job to everything, but still, some songs have more of a classic Darkthrone feel to them than others. Needless to say now, I don’t care much for this album. However, their follow-up album, which is also their latest, is a completely different story.