Monday, May 18, 2009

Darkthrone- Dark Thrones and Black Flags

Here's a band that GETS IT. Killer riffs, memorable and distinct songs, nothing superfluous or "experimental," totally unique, full of personality and humor, steeped in metal history, and just a kick ass rock record. Darkthrone has made a career of making things look easy, even to the point of pretending to be far less talented musicians than they really are. That continues here, as this record is to all appearances a throwaway.

The days of Blaze in the Northern Sky, Under a Funeral Moon, and Transilvanian Hunger are long over-- this was signaled by the deeply retro stylings of Panzerfaust, and its incredible theatrical irony. One may read this back into the more "serious" albums as one likes. Panzerfaust is a triumph, but it is only with Hate Them that Darkthrone got back on its feet (after three decent but irrelevant albums)--and each subsequent record has been more of a murky, ramshackle, half-serious punk album. 

The deadly boring "cult" current black metal fans-- and by the way guys, give it up, it's SO over-- having given way to shitty indie rock fans-- and by the way guys, give it up, you are unquestionably late for anything interesting in black metal-- these demographics will never understand the new direction of Darkthrone, because this album has zero in common with "black metal" and only strives to entertain and throw a bunch of neat parts at you. None of the depressive bedroom emo (Xasthur) which passes for black metal these days. 

What I love most about this record is... the great riffs. But what I love second most is the feeling of "fun" that they must have had, and succeed in communicating through music--the last thing one expects from this genre in 2009. And so it easily ranks with the great albums by Venom or Bathory: thus miraculously reinventing and reinvigorating black metal by avoiding all the calcified trappings of its current sorry state.

Score: 4.5/5 stars (**** 1/2)
Best songs: "The Winds they call the Dungeon Shaker," "Oath Minus," "Hanging out in Haiger"

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