Genre: Black Metal/Heavy/Punk
Label: Peaceville Records
When I squeeze my mind, I cannot find a more ‘we don’t give a shit about your opinion’ band than DARKTHRONE. The duo from Norway does anything that it likes with its music, without rest upon labels and other such stereotypical bullshit. You want death metal? Listen to the ‘Soulside Journey’. You want pure, raw black metal? ‘A Blaze in the Northern Sky’, ‘Transylvanian Hunger’, etc. You want something more dark and morbid? ‘Panzerfaust’. You like punk? Crust? Heavy metal? Listen to the last decade’s albums. They have anything you want! These guys do not really give a fucking damn and only exhibit their passion on their music. So simple, so stripped-down.
The question whether is good all this that happens or not is something totally subjective. The ‘for me they are extinguished from music after such and such album’ and the merciless annihilation against their ‘don’t give a shit’ lifestyle is something completely usual when we talk about Darkthrone, and could not be waived in the case of ‘Arctic Thunder’. Being a fan of the band throughout their whole career, not only in their black metal past, when I have been informed by a good friend of mine that a new album is going to be released, I was very curious to listen what Fenriz and Nocturno Culto have prepared this time. As soon as I got hold of the complete album -I must admit, however, that a… well wisher leaked it, but I had no patience to be decent and to wait for the official release-, full of joy, I pressed the play button, trying to be as objective as I could – you cannot hide your adoration.
The first time I was quite confused, because listening to the ‘Tundra Leech’ a short time ago, they discriminated me for a return in the mid-90’s eras, however when you’re dealing with Fenriz, you cannot be sure. Never! For those that are also waiting to listen again a black metal style like the Norwegians have taught us, forget that. The NWOBHM influences of recent years are visible and in the ‘Arctic Thunder’ too, since the 17th full-length work of the band (if we count as full album the ‘Goatlord’ release) is a mix of heavy metal ideas, framed by mid-tempo parts and a strong punk trait. The ‘frozen’ riffs combined with the sickly darkness make a mysterious atmosphere, fairly gloomy and a result that is quite interesting; several times, in fact, reminded me of ‘The Underground Resistance’, but in total is, in my opinion, one, two, maybe three levels above the 2013’s album, but also from most of the post-‘00 releases. The album streams perfect, whilst each song ‘ties’ perfectly with the next one and the forty minutes of duration are enough to satisfy the listener, but without passing the imaginary ‘enjoyment-boredom’ line. This time the vocal part is undertaken entirely by Nocturno Culto, who although never particularly fascinated me when standing behind the microphone, but this time managed to gain my appreciation.
Even the production of the album (undertaken by the band and only the mastering once again handled by Jackontroll) is the one that had to for the result to be fucking awesome. The sound is full of treble, since the many bass frequencies’ absence, the depth and the echo in the voice create a sense of thrill, and you can feel the passion and the power. Also, I am particularly impressed by the cover, which depicts a simple photo from the forest Nordmarka in Oslo and not the artworks for the past two decades the Norwegians used to use. Furthermore, from the band is emphasized that the cover was not made black and white, so the wonderful colors of the photo were not lost.
As mentioned above, maybe I’m not the most objective judge when it comes to Darkthrone, but the only sure thing is that the ‘Arctic Thunder’ album was pleased and satisfying, since it is, surely, their most comprehensive release on the last decade, at least, even if it is not a return to the roots for which, as many others, I hoped deep down.