Sunday, March 28, 2010

Darkthrone- Circle the Wagons

Even though this album continues the path Darkthrone have been taking for some time now, actually listening to it is shockingly weird. Bizarre lyrics, off-key warbling, passages of stunning brilliance, a pretty crap recording, impossible-to-read irony (?), etc.

Some day we will have to go back and hear Under a Funeral Moon and ask what was really going on there, too...

Once again, Fenriz sings the songs that he wrote, which is probably something I will never get used to. Because the Fenriz songs are always the best, you can look at this in two ways: 1) the best songs on this record are marred by his terrible, high-concept vocals; 2) because they are in a different style than the Nocturno Culto songs, you can regard the album as a "split" or a collaboration instead of a full-band work. Something like John and Yoko.

The Fenriz songs are as much punk as metal, but not really (as metallers will think) a combination of *hardcore* and metal--much less of crust and metal! Rather, just as a punk sound can be heard on the first Iron Maiden albums or in early Motorhead--thus predating hardcore--these Darkthrone songs are more Vibrators than Discharge. More Sex Pistols than World Burns to Death. They are light-hearted and tossed-off, but their goal is catchiness and they don't fail there. Even on "I am the Working Class," which does everything possible to be unlistenable...

The Nocturno Culto songs are dirge-like affairs that seem "stuck" in the Darkthrone records of the early 2000s, and they are less hilarious and less fun than Fenriz's contributions. This means: worse. But as the Engels to Fenriz's Marx, Nocturno Culto still is extremely talented and "Black Mountain Totem" is another dramatically tense composition in the vein of "Oath Minus" from the previous album. "Stylized Corpse," however, *drags.*

Even though I like this album, it is kind of a train wreck: which at least means that it really grabs your attention. What were they thinking? How can they top this? What breach of taste is about to befall me? Obviously this record was not recorded to be Dark Side of the Moon, and it is neither polished nor pruned nor self-serious.

Still, it is an "event" and the artists succeed in bending me to their will and seeing the world their way for 40 minutes. Success. I have been on a journey, if not a soulside journey.

Score: 3.5/5 (*** 1/2)

Best songs: "These Treasures Will Never Befall You," "Circle the Wagons," "Black Mountain Totem"

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