Darkthrone returns. Is their new album, Plague
Wielder, better than Ravishing Grimness, the one before it?
Yes, thank evil. As much as we regret it, Ravishing Grimness was
a yawner. It was like the (now two) members of Darkthrone were playing
their minimal black metal sipping true Nordic beer from under their respective
favorite evil, shady trees: it was just too laid back, and the quality
of the riffs didn't warrant the length of the songs.
Plague Wielder sees this most seminal of Norwegian black metal bands
getting angry again. But don't expect a return to Transilvanian Hunger.
The days of the one-chord riff and evil lawn sprinkler percussion seem
to have ended with Panzerfaust. The structures for the last two
albums have been more rock n' roll, snare on 2 and 4. Whereas Darkthrone
once made it a point to release anti-everything albums; albums to which
no one could possibly dance to, you can actually bang your head to Plague
Wielder. Fenriz' drumming is much more prominent, and he uses a lot
of double kick on this one. Also present are more drum fills than we're
used to. The production, while still fitting to the Darkthrone ideal,
is no longer necro. This factor may or may not contribute to what Nocturno
Culto's vocals now sound like, but the end result is that Culto's vocals
are nowhere near the stark frigidness that was achieved on the likes of
Track one, "Weakling Avenger," opens up with the kind
of satisfyingly cheesy and nonsensical lyrical stuff we expect from Darkthrone,
and then launches into a buzzing, evil riff that tells us this is going
to be a pretty good album. The level of quality stays pretty high through
the first four tracks, but track five (the curiously titled "I, Voidhanger")
suffers from the same problem that most of the material on Ravishing
Grimness did. In other words, the main riff ain't all that great,
but it keeps getting repeated. Track six ("Wreak") is better, but isn't
quite as good as the first four cuts. Like Ravishing Grimness,
there are but six songs on this 42-minute album.
With the introduction of the first instance of color
ever seen on a Darkthrone release, it seems that the band has ceased to
go for the cold and minimal approach that it once embraced. Rest assured
that the new version of Darkthrone will still be identifiable to you,
although if you've got your heart set on hearing something cult and necro,
you'd better go look for one of the many bands that Darkthrone has spawned.