Darkthrone
Old Star

Norway’s Darkthrone return with their 18th album and Old Star is ass-kicking from start to finish.  First a few things.  Outside of Bathory’s first 6 albums and the 2 Nordland albums, Darkthrone are my favorite black metal band of all time and this is coming from a person that only dabbles in the black metal genre and not full on into all the bands, as many know I’m 110% death metal.  I was there from the beginning of Darkthrone’s career when they went from death metal to black metal and I remember when I bought A Blaze in the Northern Sky, pretty much the first week it came out in 1992 and it floored me.  I worshipped Soulside Journey, but when I slapped in A Blaze in the Northern Sky I was like this is like Celtic Frost on an acid trip mixed with the ferocity of an orgy between Bathory and Napalm Death’s From Enslavement to Obliteration, because quite honestly, still to this day Napalms’ FETO is still the most violent sounding album ever to be released in extreme metal, period!!

So without giving a full on Darkthrone bio, the band has remained a studio act, without live performances for over 2 decades and the gruesome twosome of Fenriz and Nocturno Culto have created some of the best music, in black metal and their black n roll style, which really came to fruition on the 2010 album, and one of my favorite metal albums ever,-Circle the Wagons.  The follow-up The Underground Resistance was also stellar and I loved Fenriz starting to do some more of his crooning, epic, melodic style metal vocals on that album, just like on Circle.  Arctic Thunder was very good, but it had missing something…. enter Old Star!!

6 songs in 38 minutes, so the songs average 6 minute each, pretty much and “I Muffle Your Inner Choir” starts right up getting into a fast thrashing Sodom meets Motorhead, meets Celtic Frost fury.  Super killer guitar melodies and Fenriz keeping the beat simple and straightforward and Nocturno Culto growling a little more this time around and the Holy Shit, literal metal moment is at the 3.22 section with the slow down.  Again over the last decade Darkthrone has added more classic metal moments, reaching back to the early 80’s and dare I say even 70’s with some classic Black Sabbath moments and this particular section is no different.  I just want to see people head banging until their pathetic heads fall off their disgusting bodies, once and for all, at this part.  It’s epic, and the guitar riffs are truly special.  At over 7 minutes “The Hardship of the Scots” starts with a slow part and then gets a bit doomy with Nocturno’s anguished styled vocals on this part.  Then the classic metal riff comes in and Fenriz, has some cool little rolls and cymbal hits, which fit perfectly especially when it hits with the guitar solo.  The Holy Shit moment is at the 3 minute mark with the guitar feedback and isolated drumming and then the riff comes in.  JFC-it is drenched in a classic Celtic FrostTo Mega Therion moment and it even has a little early Slayer to it-ala Show No Mercy.  One of the best riffs the band has ever written!  The song is also extremely emotive and it’s played with a tremendous amount of feeling.  It even has a bit of a depressive nature to its atmospheric harmonies.

“Duke of Gloat” is another uptempo number which sees the band mixing in a bunch of Motorhead along with their signature Darkthrone black n roll sound.  The slower passages are pretty killer with some nice bass drum action going on and excellent blackened metal guitar melodies-no one does those melodies, quite like Darkthrone.  The 4.20 section has a great guitar solo that would rattle Quorthon to the bone.  I would like to make one recommendation, though, to Darkthrone and I mean this out of pure respect.  I really do miss the vocals of Fenriz.  With this album and the last album Fenriz did not sing on any of the songs.  His vocals are super dynamic and so catchy how they wrote the vocal patterns around the few songs he was on were incredible and I truly miss them.  They would just add more dimension.

Other than that, Old Star brings the riffs, the black metal and heavy moments all combine to create a damn fine Darkthrone album.  These guys understand the art of metal, in general and have become excellent song writers over the decades they’ve been around.  I’ve even read, I think it was in the Circle the Wagons special edition I have the guys both name albums they love and have influenced them over the years.  When I read Fenriz say Warfare’s Mayhem Fuckin’ Mayhem was one of his fave albums I almost dropped a deuce on the floor, because I bought that when it was first released on vinyl in 1986 and has remained one of my favorite albums too.  I think I can sing each lyric to every song and it was never released with a lyric sheet-that’s how many times I have listened to it.  So yes I respect Darkthrone so much, for what they’ve added to the genre, but their wealth of knowledge and most importantly their sheer love for heavy metal, in general. I mean, just take a look at the album cover-it’s one of the best for 2019.  Old Star will make my year end list, for sure and I urge you-please buy the physical copy of Old Star and spread the word of Darkthrone’s metal.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Frank Rini
July 1st, 2019

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