Going back to their roots, Darkthrone recorded the much anticipated new album Arctic Thunder in the Kolbotn bombshelter that gave their 1988 and ’89 demos A New Dimension, Thulcandra and Cromlech their eerie yet brutal mystique. Twenty-eight years is a long time to develop and mature but Darkthrone haven’t. Nope, not in the slightest, at least musically.
The production value has certainly gone up and matches the quality of their more recent albums but Fenriz and Nocturno Culto have rekindled their definitive early voice. Rocking back on the flames of wrath with a hard and heavy Norwegian heavy metal record. Even the name of the album is homage to an old favourite, but really obscure, Norsk Metal act of Fenriz from out of the eighties. Without a doubt this album is as metal as a really metal thing.
Arctic Thunder chugs riffs out like an intern at a large media group during a strategic brainstorming session but with enough class that those dreams of a room with a view start to become realistic. That is to say that they have girth, weight and are of fantastic quality. Inspiring fear and wonder with diametric simplicity while the aggression level is controlled to effect.
With a strong heart and a sure spirit the versatile spark of Arctic Thunder is a formidable strike towards reigniting the forges of black metal. Instead of embellishing the gothic and occult image that the genre often speaks of it remains true to the artists’ soul. In every sense this is the sound of true Norwegian black metal. Forgoing puritanical sensationalism for something ‘closer to home’ as they say.
An album without weakness it shares its properties with the impenetrable forest, offering primeval songs that are original and arcane. While it’s often hard to see the wood for the trees, or more fittingly, the band from the sound Darkthrone have disregarded all the crass fascination with scene politics as it were and have made something which is practical in preserving the integrity of their art form.
There’s a couple of reasons this is a commendable release the first one being that it’s not stuck in the black metal shit pit of Satanic tropes and stupid sentiments, and the second, it’s just good heavy fucking metal that’s necromancing the Throne.