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Droning guitars and average songs - 60%

Felix 1666, January 14th, 2018
Written based on this version: 2004, CD, Moonfog Productions

Darkthrone is the most productive unit of Norway and it is therefore forgivable that they did not only record masterpieces. "Sardonic Wrath" belongs to the efforts that remain on a more or less mediocre level. I don't think that many supporters of the duo say that the album from 2004 is their most favourite work. No song of "Sardonic Wrath" can challenge the real classics of the band.

Instead of shooting some poisoned arrows, Darkthrone celebrate themselves. A lot of droning guitars shape many mid- or slow-paced parts and hail the duo's dogma of ugliness, but a comparatively great number of songs falls by the wayside. The pieces suffer from an insufficient flow, but fortunately there is an exception. "Sjakk matt Jesu Krist" has a pushing riff that generates a natural and dynamic form. The throaty vocals and up-tempo approach guarantee the desirable degree of vibrancy. No breathtaking number, but a pretty good one.

Darkthrone have more good riffs in their luggage. "Sacrificing to the God of Doubt" starts with a riff that takes immediately possession of the listener, but it implodes after eighty seconds and a dragging section begins that has not much in common with my understanding of black metal. The riff from the beginning returns at the end of the song, but it is too late to heal the damage the middle section has caused. I still like "Ravishing Grimness" very much, because its songs have a very coherent flow. Here we have the exact opposite and that's not my cup of tea.

Songs like "Man tenker sitt" present a more or less boring mid-tempo pattern. I miss fury, insanity and total dedication. The adequately produced album holds mainly tunes that are too fast to hypnotize and too slow to make my pulse race faster. Due to this situation, "Sardonic Wrath" is caught between two stools. In all fairness, Fenriz and Nocturno Culto did not record uninspired songs, but they forgot to define a clear direction. It feels good to listen to the straight, non-experimental and strong "Hate Is the Law", but this fast torpedo does not shape the album. It is rather an exotic ingredient. Perhaps the band wanted to set the focus on the power of mighty riffs. "Alle gegen alle" seems to indicate this intention. But this strategy failed, because the guitar works lacks inspiration. By the way, the same goes for the completely senseless intro - 150 seconds without any value.

It goes without saying that the album does not hold pure back metal. Elements of punk, doom and thrash also show up. Darkthrone work in their own niche and in view of their compositional skills, it is a pity that the result does not sound better, but they are not able to combine the different components to stringent songs. Already the first regular track suffers from average riffing and poorly executed tempo changes. Bad opener, bad album? This formula sounds easy, but don't jump to conclusions. After all, one can find some positive things here, but the longplayer remains an ambivalent experience that does not reflect the real power of Darkthrone.

The familiar ends to an era. - 65%

ConorFynes, February 24th, 2016

Sardonic Wrath marked the true end of an era in so many ways. While most of the other Second Wave legends had either disbanded or traded black metal for ambient or the avant-garde, Darkthrone stayed remarkably close to form throughout their career. Sure, every album offered up a different experience-- this is something that's made their discography such a compelling listen-- but they were always a band you could count on for reliable, authentic black metal. Of course, all of that changed when Darkthrone traded in the grim for their heavy metal-come-crust punk sound on The Cult is Alive. That's another story for another review. Nonetheless, it has a pretty significant effect on the way this album is looked upon in hindsight.

From their return on Ravishing Grimness to Sardonic Wrath, I think Darkthrone had fallen into a comfortable maturity. The music they were making wasn't a fraction as hard-hitting as the classics they earned their bread by, but far from being has-beens, they gave slightly new shades with this familiar territory. Ravishing Grimness was notably clean and well-written. Plaguewielder attempted to be rawer, but ended up feeling vaguely underwhelming.Hate Them, by contrast, was arguably the most aggressive-sounding Darkthrone have ever been. To me, Sardonic Wrath is the album Plaguewielder tried to be. They're clearly trying to draw upon the old Second Wave atmosphere here, and this is the closest they ever came to reviving it.

The riffs are bleak, and the production is grimy and cold. Most of all, it doesn't sound like the band lost any of their inner rage and contempt. I'll follow the general consensus on this one and concede that while Sardonic Wrath is nowhere close to the grim magic of the trilogy, the album is plenty hard-hitting and worth being heard by all fans of the band. Given their DIY mentality and barebones aesthetic, I've never found Darkthrone to be the band that needed constant innovation to stay interesting. Sure, black metal had grown far past their original vision (Deathspell Omega's Si Monvmentvm Requires, Circvmspice was released within months of this, for instance) but are there many "traditional" acts from past or present that functioned so successfully as a bona fide riff machine? Ravishing Grimness may have been the last black metal album from Darkthrone to have truly timeless riffs (I'm looking at you, "The Claws of Time"!) but the atmosphere this pair manages to create with the bare essentials still feels unique even here.

Sardonic Wrath is arguably less hate-filled than Hate Them, but the difference is miniscule. Although I'd say the songwriting is about the same here as it was there (the grimy "Hate is the Law" stands as a bold highlight) this album stakes its identity in raw terms of its production. Although Darkthrone clearly intended to recall the coldness of their classics here, there's a proper mix and firm meatiness to the bass end of the spectrum. Perhaps it makes Sardonic Wrath feel less like a black metal album in some respects, but it's a great boon to the experience of the riffs themselves. I've always thought the way you could distinguish a solid Darkthrone record from their lesser work is the passion they injected into it. While Plaguewielder felt like Xanax metal by comparison, Sardonic Wrath may be the first time Darkthrone felt close to dangerous since Goatlord. The riffs and drums are played as aggressively as you would expect. The real highlight here are the vocals of Nocturno Culto; the ballsy aggression he wreaked with his voice on Panzerfaust found a far better home in the band's mid-period. I was impressed by his screams even on Plaguewielder, and they're all the better here.

Sardonic Wrath echoes the might of its predecessors, but I wouldn't say it ever unlocks the same essential magic. It doesn't change the legacy of the band all that much, certainly nowhere close to the total shift with The Cult is Alive. No, this is just Darkthrone doing what they do, with passion and experience. I think the amount I've been listening to these guys lately has made it clear that the albums following Ravishing Grimness were probably too comfortable for their own good. But after having listened to Soulside Journey through to Goatlord countless times, it's nice to have these extra records to dive into. Like Hate Them, Sardonic Wrath is a solid piece of black metal. I've had a lot of fun with the tongue-in-cheek parody punk they shifted into with The Cult is Alive onwards, but I can't help but feel that Sardonic Wrath marked the end of a legendary epoch in black metal culture we will never see the likes of again.

Angry and inspired - 85%

U472439, September 24th, 2014

Like the previous year's Hate Them, Sardonic Wrath is part of Darkthrone's 00s rebirth from the dark ashes of Black Metal into something a little less "black", but arguably more "metal". Of course, that doesn't necessarily mean fans welcomed the shift, particularly because the band seemed to embrace an idea of just celebrating metal itself, riffs, booze-y attitude and all, at the expense of all the enigmatic imagery and murky, subterranean evil-ness of their more famous BM offerings.

I, for one, am a big fan of Sardonic Wrath (and 2003's Hate Them too). Where records such as Transylvanian Hunger or A Blaze In the Northern Sky masked their sounds in layers of lo-fidelity, Sardonic Wrath brings all the spiky, cutting sound to the forefront. The guitars fill almost the entire sonic spectrum with glorious, LOUD distortion. The riffs are simple, but effective -- I'd pit the almost Sabbath-y sludge of "Alle Gegen Alle" or the high-speed breakdown in "Hate Is the Law" against most else in the band's catalog. The drums are clearer than on any of the classic BM trilogy records, and while Fenriz probably won't ever go down as one of the truly *great* metal drummers, his style perfectly suits this music. Personally, I'll take the ring of his ride cymbal during the blastbeat that opens "Information Wants to Be Syndicated" (one of my favorite Darkthrone titles) over anyone else's.

The album as a whole sounds angry and inspired, again similar to Hate Them. It's almost as if the band is making up for lost time, which I'd argue they were, considering the limp reception greeted the records following 1995's Panzerfaust. When you compare the sound of Sardonic Wrath with, say, Total Death or Plaguewielder, it's hard not to notice how much more aggressive, confident it sounds. Fittingly, it's also the last record where you can hear "black metal" from Darkthrone, but for my money, they kissed off that style with with a bang.

After this, the band would change up their sound a bit, diving headfirst into a kind of "punk"-influenced black'n'roll (though more accurately, just substituting their love of Bathory for their love of Motorhead). Although you can hear aspects of Darkthrone's classic style on Sardonic Wrath, it's easier to hear it as edging towards something new. Aggressive, no-frills, loud as hell and fun at the same time. Sure, like all Darkthrone records, some of the songs tend to run together in my head, but the best stuff is as good as almost anything they've done.

Different year, same story. - 65%

hells_unicorn, June 1st, 2010

Just before the cult was reconfirmed as being alive, Darkthrone managed to make one final statement of uncertainty, culminating in the pretty damned uneven opus dubbed “Sardonic Wrath”. Essentially before deciding fully on their new direction, Nocturno and Fenris decided one more attempt at partially drawing from the well of the black trinity would be a good idea, in spite of how unsuccessful this approach was on the last 2 albums. This release sees a few better ideas getting thrown out, a greater plurality of ideas making for a generally smoother listen, and one or two pleasing surprises here and there, but a similar sense of wanting what I was induced with when listening to “Hate Them” comes up here.

Although the new production practices employed here have not robbed the album of any rawness, this just comes off as a really stale attempt at straddling the distance between the rugged simplicity of “Ravishing Grimness” and the 2 previous Moonfog efforts before it, which is largely where this album tends to draw its similarities to their older and more widely acclaimed albums while on Peaceville. These influences essentially climax right near the beginning of the album on “Information Wants To Be Syndicated”, which brings forth a singular theme comparable to select classics off of the black trilogy, but with a less crackled and frosty guitar sound, and contrasts it against a series of Celtic Frost inspired ideas that work quite well as a point of contrast. When combined with the darkened ambient intro “Order Of The Ominous”, the greatest moments of this album are realized in this single song, and it’s all downhill afterward.

The bulk of the contents that follow the first two songs are largely made up of mid paced to faster works in more of the punk direction, ranging in quality from satisfactory to tedious. Some of the riffs that filter in and out of the songs with Norwegian lyrics sound like they were lifted off of “Hate Them” and reworked a little bit to avoid outright self-plagiarism, while the overall presentation comes off as overly predictable. Things shape up a little better with “Sacrificing To The God Of Doubt”, which has a catchy little Speed Metal riff out of the Venom department that spiced up what is a stylistic continuation of this really plain approach to mixing black metal sensibilities with punk inspired riffs. “Hate Is The Law” sees a full out attempt at recapturing the droning mysticism of “Transylvanian Hunger”, but doesn’t really come that close to measuring up just sort of coasts along like a b-side reject off of said album. The album closes off with a sort of extended jam-like song in “Rawness Obsolete”, which takes a few ideas from Burzum’s playbook on “Filosofem” here and there, and succeeds in ending things on a fairly positive note.

Although I would qualify this as the greatest of Darkthrone’s latter trilogy with Moonfog’s insignia on their album jackets, it is still pretty lukewarm and not really fit for blowing 2 ½ hours of minimum wage work on. This isn’t a return to the glory of “Under A Funeral Moon” as some may erroneously argue, or even that of “Panzerfaust”, and at best can be summarized as yet another failed attempt at partially resurrecting that era. But if one were to have a few bucks to blow at a local bargain bin offering this up at $7 or less, I can’t say I’d loudly oppose the investment provided that said person liked what was heard on “Hate Them”. But for the older fans who are a bit more picky, things improve when Peaceville comes back into the picture.

Originally submitted to (www.metal-observer.com) on June 1, 2010.

Hail fucken' darkness - 90%

autothrall, January 28th, 2010

Sardonic Wrath is the 11th album from Norway's beloved bastards, an extremely strong showing which bridges the morbid taint of the prior Hate Them with a blast from the past, namely a return to the overall sonic aesthetics of the 'unholy trinity' which brought them into prominence (A Blaze in the Northern Sky, Under a Funeral Moon, and Transilvanian Hunger). It is astonishing to me that a band remains so strong so late in their career...think of how many other black metal artists, or metal artists in general, that you listen to, and how solid they were by the 11th album? Most have fizzled out by that point or gone in some direction to polarize their fan base, 'selling out' or whatever hogwash terminology is being used to sate the stubborn feelings of alienation fans can feel when they are no longer the 'only' fans.

Darkthrone have faced such prosecution, and survived, but Sardonic Wrath is the type of album that probably recalled a lot of the fans that left them on Ravishing Grimness, safely nestled in with their earlier sounds, but not ignorant of the minor progressions they have made with each album starting at Panzerfaust. That said, this safety net is just about the only complaint I can make for this album, because truth be told it is phenomenal, thick as thieves with classic Culto riffing and interesting lyrics that see Darkthrone in their transition towards the more bitter political and social criticism that lit the punk fire under their asses in recent years.

"Order of the Ominous" is a drawn out dark ambient void, which unlike the intro to Hate Them, is a track until itself. Distortion buzzes off in the background over swelling black noise, with no warmth or melody, and it is this aesthetic which breeds throughout the metal tracks. "Information Wants to Be Syndicated" is a cold blast of holocaust, the vocals almost lazily placed at the back end of the measures, floating off into the sick violence of the break at about :30. The breakdown in the track is surefire, slow and heavy, not far off from much of the drone and sludge that was breaking out in popularity at the time. "Sjakk Matt Jesu Krist (Checkmate Jesus Christ)" brings in the raving lunacy of the band's Hellhammer leanings, with a raw vitriol enforced through the harsh lyrical winds and the pumping bass distortion.

"Straightening Sharks in Heaven" is yet another interestingly titled track, with a bright, rolling bridge that seems like something Voivod, until it rings out into the glorious third rhythm, evoking that Bathory-on-a-dobby-horse motif the band have often used in the past. "Alle Gegen Alle (All Against All)" is dark and dank, like a pissed off alcoholic spraypainting his own blood, vomit and urine all over a sewer wall, not expecting to see the next day. It's primal and utterly simplistic, with extremely subtle hooks delivered only through the rhythmic crashing, but the meathook delivery of the bridge before 2:00 is worth listening for alone. "Man Tenker Sitt (My Thoughts Sit)" brings forward a little of the band's death metal influence, but the verses broil in a Bathory-like stew with a hefty diabolical impact.

'Fuck hope
My empty stare just might make you
want to think twice'

So invokes Nocturno Culto in "Sacrificing to the God of Doubt", one of the more melodic tracks on the album, with a great sheen to the chords that feels like skirting a post-industrial wasteland of nihilistic thought. At the 90 second line, the band lurches into a total Norse crawl, complete with marrow-draining minor chords and plodding bass. "Hate is the Law" is like a Transilvanian Hunger track without the screaming mountainside melodies, just a grinding abyss of hostility, a bowel movement for the Father of Lies, but the chorus riff is staggeringly punk as fuck and one of the best on this whole album. "Rawness Obsolete" returns to the crawl the band started with "Sacrificing to the God of Doubt", with a more fleshed out rhythm, and a powerful, ominous crushing atmosphere, before ceding to an even further doomed segment. It's solid 'Throne, but I will admit to getting a little dulled by the rhythm after a spell, and it's likely the least interesting thing you'll discover on this.

I'll admit, a little of my fire for Sardonic Wrath has died down in the six years since its release, a little rust flaked away from the morbid engines of my obsession. It's a fantastic album that I would gladly listen to over about 95% of other black metal releases, but not one of the band's very best when glimpsing back through their career. However, I think it's one of their rare efforts where fans of various eras can come together and find something in common, since it seems to sit dead center in the pantheon.

Highlights: Information Wants to Be Syndicated, Sjakk Matt Jesu Krist, Straightening Sharks in Heaven, Hate is the Law

-autothrall
http://www.fromthedustreturned.com

Darkthrone can do better - 66%

Symphony_Of_Terror, June 15th, 2005

Somehow one of the original Norwegian black metal bands managed to put out an above average album in 2004, although that isn’t saying much since Darkthrone is one of the few old black metal bands still left around they hasn’t turned to suckage. Sardonic Wrath continues some themes presented in Hate Them, that is this album features many songs that may be inappropriately called “Black n Roll”. But Sardonic Wrath basically features some decent to good groove based rhythm type riffs, much like the songs on Hate Them. Sardonic Wrath also features some pure grim riff based songs, with the generic symbol crash drumming, resembling work off Transylvanian Hunger, though not as good. The album would be labeled as good, except for a few shortfalls that render this album only above average but below good.
Of the two types of song son this album Sjakk Matt Jesu Krist is the best groove rhythm based riff song. Starting off with a heavy chord slashing type riff along with slow pounding drumming it leads itself into an almost ever present riff that basically sounds like a blackened heavy/thrash riff, full of simple rhythms. The song is entirely consistent and never fails to break from its mold. The drumming performs simply and perfectly with the riffs, not doing anything complicated or even attempting to change, as with most Darkthrone songs. The song gets its strength through some nice placed shrieks and growls over the more powerful pounding moments where the riffs become more dominating or heavy, and the consistent sound and overall quality of the song comes from the almost ever present and never changing drum and guitar work. Information Wants To Be Syndicated sounds like something more off Transylvanian Hunger, but with better production and less grim (most likely because the song is louder due to better production and possibly more riff and drum changes than on Transylvanian Hunger Songs). The majority of the song is a grim riff that changes tempo every so often. Its somewhat high pitched while being played over symbol crashing drums. The song later falls into a slow sludge sound, it drains on and on with very slow drumming and a loud symbol crash every so often. It sounds a bit like when Bathory would play some slow paced music and go off on a rant about demons and Satan. Hates Is The Law is a nice song with very powerful vocals. They are shouted out abruptly as to sound like some sort of hate propaganda speech. Quite different than the rest of the albums vocals which consist of hardly audible screeches of words. These loud powerful vocals are quite audible but could never be considered clean, more like harsh. The song features both styles of Darkthrone, the grim style and the groove based riff style. Both being played under and with the powerful and authoritative vocals.
Sardonic Wrath falls short in that 30-40% of the songs on the album are just boring songs that go no where, or innately have bad riffs. Rawness Obsolete is both boring and innately has a bad riff. The riff is slow and sluggish never managing to pick up any energy like the groove based riffs on the rest of the album. It takes forever to go nowhere and is extremely boring. Other songs on the album are like and since they are spread out evenly over the album they ruin the playability. If Darkthone where able to make more songs like Rawness Obsolete and Sjakk Matt Jesu Krist then Sardonic Wrath would be a pretty good album. But with all the innately flawed tracks and songs that go nowhere rendering themselves boring this album just manages to be an above average album.

DARKTHRONE 'Sardonic Wrath' - 78%

HarleyAtMetalReview, January 21st, 2005

Ah yes, Darkthrone; a black metal elitist's wet dream come true. Not only are they Norway's most tr00 of the tr00 and kvlt of the kvlt, they also happen to be one of my own personal favorite bands that I just love to hate and hate to love. As a sort of guilty pleasure, I worship Darkthrone, but never beyond the confines of my living room. Like many others, I am in fact a closet fan. I mean, c'mon now. They hold the title of having one of the coolest names and logos ever, period! Just saying it gives me goose bumps. Darkthrone! oooohohhhh.

In all seriousness (if black metal could actually be taken seriously), Darkthrone are one of the premier acts that influence and inspire just about every other band under the black metal umbrella. You could say that they are the IT band that all the rest only wish they could be, except with more actual talent when it comes to playing their instruments. There's Venom, there's Bathory, and there's Darkthrone. All mediocre musicians for the most part, but hellacious songsmiths.

The duo, made up of guitarist/vocalist Nocturno Culto and Fenriz on drums, have spent over a decade in Norway's darkest corners churning away at the same drudging and droning chords and yet this template somehow works to their benefit, as they are consistently recognized as one of the most important acts in the history of metal. Let's see... Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, and umm, Darkthrone? Hmmm. Maybe so. Some of their earliest works, such as the first and final death metal masterpiece Soulside Journey, along with its primitive successors A Blaze In The Northern Sky and Under A Funeral Moon, are among my favorite albums of all time. Oddly enough, I particularly make an effort of despising the raw primal side of music. This really says a lot about the kind of mind rape Darkthrone is really capable of. It's like 'I fuckin' hate you, but goddamn do I love you!'

Like so few bands are able, or would even want to, Darkthrone have perfected the art of repetition. Only slightly maturing (yes, they eventually grew out of their grim kiddie make up) but never really evolving too much in their sound, they are an exact replica of themselves that has been preserved for almost fifteen years. In 2005, not a damned thing has changed. Leaving me in an utter state of awe with its minimalist value, Sardonic Wrath has some slow riffs, and it has some fast riffs. Shocking! If you have heard one Darkthrone album, you have heard them all. Like the rest, Sardonic Wrath features an entrancing intensity in its delivery that shifts between dragging doom type riffs and faster punk paced playing. Bottom line... If you had lost your copy of this disc, you could always just toss in any of their other releases and not be be any the wiser to the fact that it is a different CD.

Who needs a polished production job? Certainly not Darkthrone. It takes away from the overall feeling and enjoyment of the record anyway, right? Just set them up in a wood shed somewhere, out in a freezing blizzard, smack in the middle of nowhere, with a four track recorder (not necessarily even digital) and they will emerge within a few short hours with a jaw dropping creation every single time. Same rule applies with Sardonic Wrath. It's chaotic, it's sometimes sloppy, yet it's easy to listen to from beginning to end.

It really seems as if Darkthrone is doing everything in their power to persuade us into not buying any of their records. They have even gone as far as declining award nominations that may make an example of their accomplishments. Hey, being applauded equals selling out. Didn't you know that? All the band's loyal legions know this, yet fail to realize they are the reason the band has notoriety. Get a clue, pal! Who really wants to live a glitzy lifestyle anyway? As if metal is at all glamorous. In my humble opinion, this only makes the band more intriguing. Everyone should praise Darkthrone (in private of course) even if it is against their wishes.

Here we go again... - 75%

Snxke, January 21st, 2005

Darkthrone promised us a revival of past glories with this CD and frankly, they've only managed to backtrack halfway across the abyss they were born in. Sure, the band have double-timed it up and gotten a bit more violent with this release. This doesn't mean though, that the band is writing songs that actually engage the listener and hook you in for repeated listens. Despite the rather striking album cover, old-skool production and seemingly increased attack the band have yet again released another Darkthrone record that is neither great nor horrible. The production is right, Nocturno still sounds pretty pissed off and the artwork is something to look at...but where are the timeless Darkthrone hooks? They're not really here...

All this being said, the record is still better than many others in the scene an certainly a step up from the snooze-fest known as "Hate Them". The doom-waltz "Information Wants to be Syndicated" has some interesting doom riffs that bear well under a few repeated listens. "Sjakk Matt Jesu Krist" has a few decent moments with it's old-skool punk-black metal stomp. This being said, many songs like "Alle Gregen Alle", "Man Tenker Sitt" and "Rawness Obselete" show good riffs but fail to capitalize on their epic opening moments by delivering any kind of excitement or built-up tension in their song structures. This is a record of many good moments, but little cohesion to bring the entire feel together, hence making it a passable display of black metal, but nothing that will challenge a rather sizable legacy in ANY way.

One wonders what Darkthrone are thinking by continually dragging these half-conceived records out to the public. Do Fenriz and Nocturno really believe that this is the best they can do? Do they care? Darkthrone are a strange bunch and while they are occasionally brilliant still one wonders is this hobby of theirs has tired on them and is more a habit than something that drives them at a basic level.

This isn't bad...but it's so faceless in some parts that it might as well not exist in moments. The next record will decide the fate of this band as they have little room to move around in anymore and they need to find themselves again and FAST.

Superior wrath! - 89%

PazuzuZlave, November 21st, 2004

I know what you think about this score. Most of you worship old darkthrone albums and so do I.It’s just that this one is actually better… Finally they’ve managed to become even greater than they once were… In other words, they’re right back on track.

The album starts out with the chilling intro “Order of the Ominous”. This is a good ambient intro which sets the mood for what to come. The guitars bark in at the first second of opener “Information Wants to be Syndicated”. Instantly you are caught in this whirlwind of thrashy black metal, and then it hits you. You can actually hear Fenriz’s drumming, which is pretty new although the production is quite similar to “Hate Them”. “Information…” is a strong song, with fast drumming and great riffs. The second song, “Sjakk Matt Jesu Krist” (translated Chess Mate, Jesus Christ) starts off slowly, but picks up pace and turns out to be one of the best tracks on this album. It’s got Norwegian lyrics as well as true Norwegian black spirit to it. Track nr. 3 is what I think, the best darkthrone song ever. In “Straightening Sharks in Heaven” we get one of their best performances ever. The typical headbanging tempo along with smashing riffs, it all fits. It even has a melody in the middle part, before the tempo gets slower and slower. And the vocals are great too, as Nocturno devilishly barks out rhymes from hell! It’s simply the best! “Alle Gegen Alle” is a slower one, again great riffing, and that’s what counts! “Man Tenker Sitt” and “Hate is the Law” are the shortest tracks, very straightforward, at least the latter and are both great songs. “Sacrificing to the god of doubt” is a great tune to headbang to. A repeating riff keeps the whole thing going. The finishing “Rawness Obsolete” sounds a bit different, and is classic Darkthrone material. I suspect this song might have been recorded at a different time, or they have just changed the guitar sound completely just for one song.

Together, these 9 tracks make this album an absolutely essential purchase for anyone into black metal. I seriously think this is the best darkthrone album EVER.

Fave tracks : Information wants to be syndicated, Sjakk Matt Jesu Krist, Straightening Sharks in Heaven, Alle Gegen Alle.

Nothing new from the Darkthrone front - 70%

GulLemec, November 8th, 2004

This is a review I originally did for the Demonized Blessing Magazine (http://demonized.cjb.net)

So, what do we have here, it's the 2004 Album from Darkthrone, former premier Norwegian Black Metal act. The first real song after the rather pointless Intro "Order Of The Ominous" starts off with Darkthrone typical blast-beats and fast but simple riffing just to fade into some slightly dissonant, slow accords which make the end of the song very powerful.

You can easily recognize that the next song "Skjakk Matt Jesu Krist" was written by Fenriz (I think you can distinguish Fenriz's compositions easily on every Darkthrone album, very Rock'n Roll or Black'n Roll like if you want to say) and not by Nocturno Culto. And I find all of his songs sound quite the same in points of drumming, riffing, shouting and even the bridges. In my opinion, Nocturno Culto is the way better songwriter than Fenriz.

The next song "Straightening Sharks In Heaven" is a good one again with catchy riffs, some high-pitched picking and even a melodic part in the middle. Next song "Alle Gegen Alle" reminds me of the great "Panzerfaust" album. Celtic Frost like mid-tempo riffs if you know what I mean. I'm surprised that this song turns out to be a real banger as it is the second song written by Fenriz. At the next song "Man Tenker Sitt" starts the problem of this album: the songs get indistinguishable. It could also be on any of the last Darkthrone albums. The next one "Sacrificing To The God Of Doubt" starts off with a very catchy riff and probably is the best song on this album. The starting riff fades into some slow staccato accords and the song ends with the starting riff again. "Hate Is The Law" is the last song here written by Fenriz and it almost sounds the same like "Skjatt Matt Jesu Krist" except the good screams with much reverb effect which creates atmosphere. The last song again reminds of the "Panzerfaust" album, but it's "just another Darkthrone-song" in my opinion. And despite that, it's one of the best songs on this album, and that once again says it all what you can expect from Darkthrone in 2004 : Nothing new or groundbreaking.

The album has the typical Darkthrone length with a bit more than 34 minutes and most of the songs are between 3:00 and 3:30 except the last song which is over 6 minutes long. You can take the "Hate Them" album as a reference to describe the sound as it is almost exactly the same here. That means: again a raw production and not as clear as on Plaguewielder and Ravishing Grimness, but still miles away from the "old" Darkthrone sound on the first albums.

If you like the newer Darkthrone albums (from Ravishing Grimness onwards) you don't have to hesitate buying this one. All in all it's better than Ravishing Grimness and Plaguewielder and equal to Hate Them, but what is missing on this one is an outstanding song like "The Claws Of Time" on Ravishing Grimness or "Weakling Avenger" on Plaguewielder.

Raw, cold, grim, same old, same old - 91%

Black_Metal_Bastard, September 23rd, 2004

Sardonic Wrath is much like Hate Them. The production is almost identical and the vocals, guitars sound alike. Drumming is the usual simplicity with fills thrown in here and there for good measure. This release is a bit longer than the usual Darkthrone output. It has nine songs which are all between three-four-five minutes long. The intro "Order of the Ominous" sets the tone for the album with its cold sounding ambience. Then the thrashy "Information Wants To Be Syndicated" kicks into high gear and you are headed straight to hell. Over the course of the album, you begin to realize that this is pretty much identical to Hate Them. Enough so that if you didn't know it, you may think this was Hate Them.

If you have the promo version, there is only seven tracks, the last one being "Silent Majorty." On this "final" version, Hate Is The Law is the same song, but with a different title. Music, lyrics, all the same. Rawness Obsolete is a nice closing song, a more slow tempo song than anything on here. It has some nice guitar work and vocals, and the drumming is also very good.

If you like new Darkthrone (Ravishing Grimness thru Hate Them) then you will like this, but if you are looking for an album that can stand side by side with the mighty Transilvanian Hunger, then this is not it. Darkthrone still have my respect for being true to the scene after all these years, and are far better than most newer BM bands coming out now, but with this formula, I just don't know if we will ever have another "classic" Darkthrone album to look forward to.