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Possibly the most underrated BM album ever - 95%

KoldVoid, May 1st, 2004

After a long hiatus and silent period after 95's "Total Death" which was only interrupted by the release of "Goatlord" (which as you all might know is of a far earlier recording date) , DarkThrone returned with a very solid, unpretentious, honest, and strikingly mature album in "Ravishing Grimness".

Being that most BM fans often act as a herd unable to appreciate a work on it's own without referencing the band's past or production aesthetics, this little platter has been thoroughly ostracized to no end by the bedroom corpsepaint crowd. But, I assure you this, if this album was in any case released by Satyricon or any other "less true" band in 98 those same diehards would have probably hailed it to no end.

The album kicks off with whipcracks and the suitably sadomasochistic riffing on "Lifeless". Embedded with BM groove only DarkThrone can pump out it switches to a jumpy thrashy ending, but only after excessive repetition literally crushes in this song on the listener. "The Beast" follows, the only track with music written by Fenriz, and this is possibly DarkThrone's weakest song of all time, a thoroughly mediocre paean to Motorhead which still grooves and keeps pulse going rather well, but is a little far too "rockin" to avoid sticking out like a sore toe on an album of this kind. Third in line is the jewel of the album, "The Claws of Time". A depressive, thoroughly touching melody with a wailing sorrowful lyric gives way to an incessant repetitive hammering which ends with no relief following the narrative of the lyrics. Most anybody who has severe problems with latter day DarkThrone will quote this as the worst they have done, yet if it was a song by say Nargaroth or Abyssic Hate I doubt they could find a better work in the rest of the two mentioned bands' catalogue. "Across the Vacuum" lifts proceedings up in a racing fashion and keeps attention focused for another stroker in the title track. "Ravishing Grimness" is classic latter day DarkThrone filled with inertia and vigour, breaking apart in the middle for a round of droning torture only to pick up for final overkill yet again at the end. Closing the proceedings is yet another average track (though not as out there as "The Beast") in "To the Death (Under the King)" which reaches a rather astounding climax to round it all off.

The production on this is weird for DarkThrone to say the least, although similar in style to "Total Death", the bass drum is entirely subdued, while the guitars are a classic wall of sound DarkThrone didnt attempt before or after, apparently according to Nocturno Culto there's three guitars running throughout the length of the album which gives it the fullness this material needs. In content terms, this is very removed from the eerie and evil atmosphere of "Under a Funeral Moon" but the songwriting leanings are rather reminiscent of that album as there are plenty variations in motion within the songs themselves. If no-nonsense stripped down and serious BM is what you seek be sure to avoid the negative rants and give this a listen as it sure does hold value in "Lifeless", "The Claws of Time" and "Ravishing Grimness" to warrant the price asked.