REVIEW: DARKTHRONE – “Arctic Thunder”
When it comes to one of the greatest names of black metal, Darkthrone needs no introduction. An absolute and non-conformist act, Darkthrone have come a long way and have produced a few greats along the way with‘A Blaze in The Northern Sky’, ‘Under A Funeral Moon’, ‘Transilvanian Hunger’ and ‘Panzerfaust’ being among the many notable. As time passed, the band have experimented with interesting sounds that incorporate the extremity of black metal with elements of speed metal and punk. 2016 has been a great year so far and with the newest Darkthrone offering ‘Arctic Thunder’, the year has gotten much better. I was excited about the new record and I expected a very typical sound that the band is best known for. The trve Darkthrone sound is all over the record with some new changes and little more polishing.
The record starts out with “Tundra Leech”- a cold song coupled with eerie riffs. The song is reminiscent of the old Darkthrone with some newer twists to the song. Up next is “Burial Bliss”. This song is rather interesting because of what really makes the song. While the song features a very DSBM sounding arrangement, the drums don’t exactly compliment the mood set by the guitars entirely. The percussion’s add in a groovy element to the cold riffs but it might take quite some time for a listener to really ease themselves with this song. “Inbred Vermin” is another interesting song off the album. This song doesn’t sound like any popular notion of black metal but has clear leanings towards less extreme metal influences. As the song proceeds, hints of darker influences pop up in the music. It probably isn’t a bad thing as it adds variety to the music. The title track “Arctic Thunder” follows the same trend set by the album’s songs so far. “Arctic Thunder” is quite an enjoyable song with its groovy parts and is pretty much a headbanger’s delight. Darkthrone’s rich musical past is best heard on this song on the album. When this song is broken down into its individual parts, you would hear typical Darkthrone arrangements but as a whole, the song sounds really rich and refreshing. “Deep Lake Trespass” and “The Wyoming Distance” mark the end of the record. I wouldn’t say these songs try to sum up elements of the overall album song in its concluding moments but it captures the Darkthrone essence rather well. By essence I mean to point out the ‘mix and match’ sounds the band has always known to experiment with.
‘Arctic Thunder’ is another fine moment for Darkthrone. The record couples the huge and influential musical past of the band with the sounds suggestive of the old and revered Darkthrone. The album sounds cold, haunting and eerie almost as though the record is a manifestation of a winter horror story. Fenriz and Nocturno Culto have done a good job yet again! Production is always an area of conflict when it comes to the sounds of Darkthrone or other black metal bands. Now, you do not have the most polished avant-garde post-prog production levels nor do you have a trve kvlt black metal production. The production is quite polished by traditional black metal standards and the music is well heard on the production. The raw sounds brilliantly capture the band’s aggressive music. As the album progresses, you would hear a bit of heavy metal, speed metal, death and black metal all while the band continues to sound epic and hard hitting. The album is symbolic of the band’s closer proximity with the sounds of punk and speed metal infused with black metal. By absolute black metal standards (should something like that exist), Darkthrone has distanced itself from an absolute trvekvlt sound. Despite the elements which don’t necessarily trace its roots to a dark kvlt ancestry, the ambience and atmosphere of black metal makes its presence felt strongly. For any Darkthrone fan, this album is a treat. It takes a level of maturity and to really dig into the music of ‘Arctic Thunder’ and any seasoned fan would acknowledge that this record represents everything essentially Darkthrone over the years.