Darkthrone – “Old Star” (Peaceville)
Battle Helm Rating
If you’re a fan of early Celtic Frost or slow, black doom death, it doesn’t come any finer than this. Already legendary over the course of 16 albums in their 28 year career, Darkthrone’s status as a cult black metal band is cemented in the annals of Norwegian history. Formed, and still comprised of Fenriz (aka Gylve Fenris Nagell) on drums, rhythm guitar, bass, keyboards, lyrics and Nocturno Culto (aka Ted Skjellum) on vocals, lead guitar, bass, production, this alliance couldn’t be any stronger on a release that goes right back to the roots of the band during the late 80s when they were actually known as Black Death, while heading toward the left hand path that would take them into becoming Darkthrone! Certainly proclaimed by the duo as being their most 80s album to date, as well as the most metallic, “Old Star” definitely lives up to that, with the 7 tracks awash with incredible riffs and rich in dark melodies reflecting the huge talents of Fenriz and Nocturno Culto to blend the best of thrash, death, black and heavy metal be it at fast or slow speeds to always be undeniably savage, yet also irresistibly captivating! Dedicated in their mastery of the riff as amply offered on the 7 minutes of ‘The Hardship Of The Scots’, where deathly doom syrup thick riffs drenched in droning reverb start off this epic before getting slightly faster through a pumping groove laced with glittering melodies adding light across the darkness, it’s all richly captured by the organic sound courtesy of Sanford Parker’s (Voivod) mixing. Increasing the tempo on the 6 1/2 minute ‘Duke Of Gloat’, where Culto’s whirring black riffola and haunting drawls are complemented by Fenriz’s in your face drum sound in an ode very much to the early primitive days, the subtle shift in tempo towards a more Nordic epic style mid song glides in ever so smoothly, once again attesting to the arrangement skills of the duo, and is a really pleasure to listen to before ending in an impressive blend of the two styles! Ending with the 7 minute ‘The Key Is Inside The Wall’ the slow, dirty riffs are reminiscent of early Candlemass before chundering into an avant-garde Celtic Frost groove as the percussion and drum beats become more primitive along with a snaking guitar to add an extra exotic dimension towards the end of this astounding release. Indeed, the reign of Darkthrone continues their supremacy in spectacular style!