Darkthrone – “Arctic Thunder” (Peaceville)
One of the icons of Norwegian black metal, 30 years on and Darkthrone have come full circle in the mastery of “Arctic Thunder”. While beginning in 1986 as a death metal band, it didn’t take long before the band were taken by the black metal storm sweeping their Christian nation. Heavily influenced in the early days by Bathory and Celtic Frost, over the years their musical style has evolved to include speed metal, crust punk and classic heavy metal. “Arctic Thunder” takes the best from their history and rolls it into eight epic tracks worthy of song in themselves. If you’re a fan of Celtic Frost as I am then you’re gonna love this right from the massive, heavy toned guitar right down to Nocturno Culto‘s tortured drawls, all coming together in monster avant-garde grooves and beats making up songs like the decadently evil ‘Tundra Leech’ with its raw, drawn out guitars clashing savagely with some fierce blast beats amid feedback and dark melodies – perfect! Picking up the beat on the black metal meets punk of ‘Burial Bliss’, Nocturno Culto‘s haunting vocals come into their own in eliciting an evil, nihilistic atmosphere while his epic Nordic riffing and Fenriz’s awesome beat stamp their mastery on the Motorhead meets black metal of ‘Inbred Vermin’. Showing their musical prowess on ‘Boreal Fiends’, they mix dark ambience with a cool, plucked bass and slow, reverb drenched Celtic Frost riffs contrasted throughout by wild blast beats – and topped off by Moog sounds and even a cowbell from Fenriz! Recorded & produced by the band themselves, with the sessions conducted at Darkthrone’s old rehearsal unit (i.e. The Bomb Shelter) which they originally used during the late 80s, even the album title is taken from an obscure 80s Norwegian band – not to mention that classic 90s album cover from one of Fenriz’s winter wilderness trips. This isn’t an old school black metal album by any means along the lines of continuous shrieking, monotone guitars and blastbeats, although it certainly uses those classic elements in abundance throughout, but rather it shows a duo come of age in the maturity of this fine release befitting their cult legacy – all hail Fenriz and Nocturno Culto!