Darkthrone - The Cult is Alive (Peaceville CD)
I'm going to have to cheat a bit and quote the user "chaossphere" on his Metal Archives review of Darkthrone's "The Cult is Alive". In the man's own words: "either you love this band, or you’re a fag." Bravo! Well said! All right, I'm not trying to imply any sort of homophobia or derogation, but I definitely think you need to do some explaining if you're into black metal and don't like Darkthrone. And that goes for every pseudo-elite internet black metal nerd who jumped off the boat as the band went into the new millenium with 2001's "Plaguewielder". There was nothing wrong with that album. Or "Hate Them" (2003). Or "Sardonic Wrath" (2004). Or this one (2006). Because, let's face it. All Darkthrone albums (except for their 1990 debut "Soulside Journey", which was clearly death metal) are cut from the same cloth. You're bound to them as inextricably as they to you. But, having said all that, if there's one thing that might test your limits as a Darkthrone fangirl, it's this.
There had been rumblings that the new Darkthrone album would be punk rock. And it's true! Okay it's not true, I lied. But there is an undeniable undercurrent of a heavy punk influence coursing through the blackened veins of this disc. And all the better for it. Black metal and punk rock were never so seperate anyway, and most musicians who began the early black metal bands were already heavily into punk and thrash metal. So why do some people act like Darkthrone have committed an act of high treason with this release? Most of the time as musicians (especially metal musicians) age, they mellow. Or they start thinking prog rock and concept albums and Casiotones would make for interesting music. Darkthrone have actually reversed all that, sounding more intense, more alive (pardon the pun) and downright younger than they did on even their earliest recordings. It's like Metallica dropping "Kill Em All" in 2003 instead of "St. Anger", if you can imagine.
Basically the band (well, duo) hit the ground running on the first track "The Cult of Goliath" and don't let up until thecloser "Forebyggende Krig". All the tracks average around 4 minutes in length, and all the songs generally maintain the same structure. Darkthrone have never been big on deviation. But how can you not be impressed by the sheer sonic fury unleashed on slicers like "Too Old, Too Cold", "Atomic Coming", "Underdogs and Overlords" and "De Underjordiske (Aelia Capitolina)".
"Too Old, Too Cold" is particularly impressive (and noteworthy - it's the subject of the first ever Darkthrone music video!), blazing forth like some kind of screeching eagle on fire from flying too low to the scorched earth. It also contains lyrics that are either amusingly brilliant or amazingly lame, depending on how you look at them (I lean towards the former): "nothing to prove/just a hellish rock n' roll freak/you call your metal black?/it's just spastic, lame and weak". Listen, if Nocturno fucking Culto is telling you your metal is spastic, lame and weak, then that's just what it is. Actually if I have any complaint about this album, it is the lyrics. While Darkthrone are obviously "taking the piss" at certain points on the album, sometimes they're just a bit too much. See track nine, "Shut Up": "you want a piece of me?/yeah, you do/begging for this and asking for that/shut up, fucking twat". Now it's obvious that DT are no longer the most serious band in the black metal galaxy, but even I cringe when I hear those (and I still have Dream Theater albums in my CD rack).
But for every brainless lyric there's an amazing head-in-the-blender riff or a double-bass drum rush that threatens to nail you to the floor. And the production! Talk about perfect modern BM production. Not too great, not too shitty. Just dirty enough to get the DT "feel" across loud and clear...clear as mud, baby. Nocturno Culto's voice is mixed so far up over the music that it's initially jarring, like putting on headphones wrapped in razorwire. But you just know it would sound shitty if it was any other way.
This is the truest of the true, grimmest of the grim, "cultest" of the cult black metal. If you find yourself scoffing at that statement because Darkthrone are a band that've been around for almost 20 years, and they now have a music video, and they don't wear corpsepaint, and they do interviews with American metal magazines, and they embrace their love of punk rock, and you can buy hoodies with their logo on them at Hot Topic...then you need to seriously contemplate your definition of "true" black metal. Also, you're a fag. Bahaha just kidding.