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A good idea stretched way too far. - 50%

caspian, February 7th, 2008

Darkthrone- a bunch of seemingly pretty laid back dudes cranking out some fierce, minimalistic black metal. Perhaps it's just me, but with my first experience of this band being Nocturno Culto's 'The Misanthrope' DVD (which I thought was really good, personally), it's always been hard to take these guys' older, more grim albums all that seriously.

Still, dudes seem to love them, so surely there must be something about them. And there is- this album kicks off with a quality riff, everything a lot more bassy then I expected, everything all buzzy and with a repetitive, hypnotic feel. It's great.. the problem is that it doesn't really vary, at all, for the whole album.

For the record, I know that it's a bit unfair for me, the resident drone fanatic of MA, to single out something as 'boring' or 'repetitive'. But that's what this is, and while it's highly enjoyable in short sharp bursts of three or four songs, listening to it in large doses turns the whole thing into a dreary, blurred smear of hypnotic blast beats and endless guitar riffs belted out with the same tremelo'd rhythm.

Most songs are good, even great, on their own. The title track's opening riff can simply be described as perfect, (and I'm certain that Ulver ripped a few of these riffs for their Nattens Madrical album) and indeed, most riffs on their own are really solid. Perhaps I had just got a bit caught on the mythology of this band, but it's all a lot less extreme then I expected- the riffs, while not melodic in the 'Hey guys lets rip off Iron Maiden' sense, are still very memorable, surprisingly catchy, and you will find yourself humming them. 'Skald Avc Satans Sol' has a vague NWOBHM vibe too it (the production increasing that sort of obscure early 80's vibe), while 'Graven Takeheimens Saler' is probably the heaviest song on the album, Fenriz supplying some excellent, kinda galloping beats while Nocturno summons an epic wall of guitar. It's a great song, probably the best on the album. I was also quite surprised by just how 'good' the production is- the guitars are muddy but still quite thick, the bass is surpisingly audible, and the whole production is suitable raw but still somewhat pleasant on the ear.

Honestly, I'm not entirely sure why I get so bored of it, as the songs sound great on their own.There's a few bands I like that do a similiar, perhaps even more repetitive styles of this sort of music- Paysage D'Hiver, for one, but whereas PDH achieves some sort of 'blast till transcendence' thing with me, Darkthrone just leaves me bored after a few minutes. I guess one of the main reasons is that I'm a pussy- whereas PDH offers some sort of spacey vista in his music, Darkthrone offers up something monochrome and bleak. While the music may not be all that fierce (or at least not as much as I'd thought), the bleakness of the songs and endless tremelo'd guitar riffs seem to exude a massive amount of nihilism and hopelessness. I guess that's a good thing for most people reading this review- but as a fairly cheery dude, I don't really see the point of it.

I guess the ultimate question, then, is 'Why did I bother writing this review then?', and I don't really know how to answer that. In the end, I'd recommend that if you have a passing interest in black metal that you should give this a listen. It's heavy and fast and what not. I just don't really derive any enjoyment from it. Those who like their music bleak will enjoy this, but those of us who are pussies would probably be best finding something else.