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Maybe the crust-era haters have a point. - 42%

ConorFynes, April 23rd, 2016

Darkthrone's descent into "true" metal self-parody still hits me with mixed feelings. There are good arguments on both sides whether to support or condemn the recent years. Ted and Gylve have always gone wherever their hearts led, and if a band has made its reputation on apparently not caring worth the shit of an earthworm what the rest of the world thinks of them, who's to hold an unpopular style change against them? My heart will always be with the material they released up to and including the underrated Goatlord, a change of pace was necessary. The last truly worthwhile black metal album under the Darkthrone banner was Ravishing Grimness, and it was nearing a decade later before they finally made the shift. There's nothing close to an Under a Funeral Moon in these latter years, but it's the first time in years the band sound legitimately excited by what they're doing.

Of course, such a change involved a transition phase. I would like to have heard that excitement on The Cult is Alive, but I didn't. It wasn't really until F.O.A.D. the following year where Darkthrone finally proved the worth of their quasi-crust shift. Should New Wave of Black Heavy Metal be considered as an extended transition after Cult? The EP was released only two months prior to F.O.A.D., and while the style's the same, the effect is like night and day between the two. Somehow even more haphazard than The Cult is Alive (and not in a good way), this rough collection of tracks only goes to prove what a revelation the next album would be.

It would be missing the point of any Darkthrone album to criticize it for being rough. Considering how much better the first two songs here sound in their F.O.A.D. versions however, it begs the question what is weaker here. The vocal performances are mixed poorly like on Panzerfaust, and while there's a naive sincerity to the performances on the best crust-era material, the vocals here sound like they're in on the joke. "Hedninger fra Helvete" is a decent track exclusive to NWOBHM, and could have fit on NWOBHM easily enough, if that's any compliment. It's probably a bad sign that the most exciting track here is a cover. Darkthrone take the Testors' punk rock screecher "Bad Attitude" and sound like they're having more fun with it than any of the three originals.

To its credit, at least NWOBHM gave Darkthrone's new sound a cute name.