You can hardly accuse Darkthrone for resting on their laurels. A consistent output of one new album every year has been their modus operandi ever since 2006’s The Cult is Alive. That was the album where they decided to act as the archaeologists of underground metal and punk by forgoing the past musical endeavors and putting out recordings in which the duo showcased their love of 1980s music.
If Fenriz’ Myspace page and ‘Band of the week’ recommendations were not indication enough of where their hearts lay then a song on newbie Circle the Wagons might just be; it’s called I am the graves of the 80s and is all about the band’s almost pathological love of old-school, low-fi, down and dirty heavy metal and punk. One can only wonder how many record collections were increased manifold by checking out what kind of forgotten gems these two Norwegians have dug up.
This change in sound was not happily accepted by a large contingent of their old fans; Darkthrone are, after all, a legendary band of the Norwegian Black Metal scene and some of the early-to-late 90s releases are classics of the genre and held up by many as the definitive recordings of the scene. To ditch the cold, grim production of old in order to indulge in the kind of music that inspired them from the beginning was not taken lightly.
The uproar from certain circles has been consistently disregarded though; personal freedom signifies Darkthrone and they couldn’t care less who likes or dislikes their output. You long for the days they played death metal? Go and listen to Soulside Journey, one album with a firm place at the apex of the scene. You weep so your corpse paint gets smudged because you just need that dose of bleak, cold black metal? Then stop whining, go home and take your pick from a back catalogue that lasts from the early 90s up till The Cult is Alive in 2006. In the meantime Nocturno Culto and Fenriz will do whatever they like as they always have; they have nothing left to prove, you only have to look at their blank refusal to play live to realise that.