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Darkthrone - Preparing For War - 82%

Technogoat, March 23rd, 2007

Since their signing to Norway’s Moonfog label, Darkthrone have quite admirably, yet sometimes tediously, continued to follow their renowned path of reasonably under-produced and all in all rebellious Black Metal. Yet it is undeniable that the band’s absolute best and most legendary material was recorded in the early 90s whilst signed to the English label Peaceville. “Preparing For War” is essentially a collection of some of this early material, yet also includes two tracks from each of the Darkthrone demos as well as three extremely rare and desirable live tracks (especially since they vowed never to play live again after 1996.)

It is blatantly obvious that Peaceville put a considerable deal of effort into compiling this ‘best of’ release, by tracking down and including a selection of more uncommon tracks that fans were somewhat unlikely to own or have heard themselves. Also, with a brief two-page history of the band, written by drummer Fenriz in his customary humorous style, it is apparent to the listener that the band were happy to give their approval to this release, hence giving it a certain sense of credibility within the Darkthrone discography. The music itself is a relatively balanced affair, with the majority of the tracks taken from the band’s four Peaceville releases: “Soulside Journey”, “A Blaze In The Northern Sky”, “Under A Funeral Moon” and “Transilvanian Hunger”. However, the order of the tracks seems a little puzzling and perhaps random. Opening with the title track from “Transilvanian Hunger” and then proceeding with two demo tracks, the order almost seems to slow down the compilation. Evidently, it would have seemed much more logical to use this album as a chronological musical history of the band, starting with the demo tracks and finishing with the more recent ones.

However, the order of the track list is perhaps the only quibble to be had here, as the songs included are utterly remarkable. “The Pagan Winter”, “Natassja In Eternal Sleep” and the live “Neptune Towers” all stand out as true Black Metal classics and demo tracks like “Snowfall” and “Archipelago” allow the listener to hear the very humble, yet exciting, beginnings of one of the most celebrated bands of the genre. Austerely, “Preparing For War” is absolutely necessary for any Darkthrone fan, purely for the rare tracks alone. Yet, this anthology would also be an excellent introduction to the band for those so far uninitiated, as it contains such an impressive variety of music from their earlier years. If you can look past the patchy, minimalist production (probably the hardest task when listening to Darkthrone), then this album is well worth purchasing purely as a basic preface to this phenomenal band.

Originally written for http://www.blastwave.co.uk