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.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Matt, I must say that although I agree with most of your statements regarding Darkthrone (and second, for that matter, your apparently near-endless love of the band's various recordings), I must argue against your affirmation concerning Soulside Journey being the exception to the rule, if you will, insofar as it's clearly a death metal-based album - which I agree with. Yet, I must point out that Transilvanian Hunger - loved, as it is, by most Darkthrone fans -, is perhaps the more "deviant" album in Darkthrone's discography, seeing as though it broke away from the metal tradition Fenriz and Nocturno Culto have seemed to follow throughout their various recordings (because of the integration of non-metal-based riffs); here, I more or less state that if all DT recordings have been black metal (in its traditional, rock-oriented form), Transilvanian Hunger more than likely gave birth to that which is nowadays known as "norsecore."

Kudos for reviewing this mother, though! I'm just sayin'. ;)

6/13/2006 3:45 PM  
Blogger Outer Space Gamelan said...

Hmmm, you've got a good point there. To be honest I never really looked at "Transilvanian Hunger" and how it relates to the norsecore genre (probably because I'm not such a huge fan of the genre per se - what we call norsecore, that is). But now that you mention it, it's a very valid observation. Good call dude, and thanks for reading!

6/13/2006 4:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I didn't mean to sound bitchy, so you know; I'm just a sucker when it comes to attacking norsecore in general - although I'm a fan of some of it, mostly as far as second-wave BM is concerned -, and essentially, I'm just sayin'. Glad you weren't offended, needless to say.

By the way, I'm throwing a small party at my place (6331 Chabot, apt. 1) tomorrow night to celebrate my birthday with a few days of delay as well as Florence and Patricia's one-year couple anniversary. If Carlo decides to come, it's just one more reason to have a party. It shouldn't be anything big; just a small, friendly gathering over drinks. Feel free to drop by around 9:00 PM if ever you feel like it - you're more than welcome to.

(To get here, simply go to Beaubien metro and take the 18 - going east - until Chabot/Beaubien; it's about 30 seconds from there.) Anyway, if you decide to come over (bring anyone you want to, if you do), just let me know by e-mail or by phone at (514) 270-9772 - hell, what am I even saying? Just come over if you want to, dude.


P.S. Outer Space Gamelan is an amazing name for a music review blog, and I certainly hope you like 23 Skidoo's Urban Gamelan as much as I do.

6/19/2006 3:38 AM  
Blogger Outer Space Gamelan said...

No bitchiness detected on this side! It's all good dude. Anyway I'd like to stop over at your place but it's already 7:30 and getting down there would take at least a couple of hours (I'm on the West Island)...since I have to be up at 6 tomorrow, I'll pass on the offer but I appreciate it greatly.
Actually I've never heard 23 Skidoo...feel free to enlighten me.

6/19/2006 7:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ah, the West Island! Now that's something that presumably makes it hard for you to make it to shows. Understandably, because of this, you couldn't make it in time for last night, but it ended up being very intimate (Martin, Simon, Florence, Patricia, myself, my girlfriend and a few other friends from all over) and you would've most likely been a worthy addition to our isolated group of people talking about Sodom in the living room; we basically just listened to music and had a few too many all throughout the night. Anyhow, I'm sure we'll the chance to talk over drinks at some point in time.

As for 23 Skidoo, briefly, they're one of my all-time faves, and according to Wikipedia, "play a fusion of industrial, experimental, post-punk, alternative dance, rock music." I strong recommend their The Gospel Comes to New Guinea (2002) as well as Just Like Everybody (1987), and the reason I mentioned was that I was almost convinced your blog name was a reference to Urban Gamelan (1984). For more info: http://www.aalto.co.uk/23skidoo/

Take care,

6/20/2006 8:13 PM  
Blogger Outer Space Gamelan said...

Sounds like a fun time, I'm sorry I missed it. You going to Religious Knives in July? Maybe we can catch eachother there.

Thanks for the 23 Skidoo info. I talked to another guy who thought I lifted the title from the Psychic Paramount's "Gamelan into the Mink Supernatural" album, but nay to that as well. I can see the similarities between "Urban" and "Outer Space" Gamelan though...
Take it easy.

6/21/2006 7:21 PM  

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