DARKTHRONE - Old Star
Release date May 31/19 (Peaceville)
This jaded reviewer is always pumped to receive a new Darkthrone record given the twists and turns the band has put its fans through throughout its now seventeen album (!) arc to date. From death, to second wave black, to crust punk, to NWOBHM, to speed and trad, the Norwegian unit continues to subject its fan base to many a stylistic shift in musical direction in its 33-year existence. And more often than not, they pull off the changes with aplomb. Yep, even the punk influenced discs resonated in this corner!
On this latest, the longtime duo share duties as any good team is want to do. Nocturno Culto completed the production/engineering duties, guitars, vocals and some bass, while Fenriz provides the lyrics, drumming and splits bass duties. On the song writing front they also split it right down the middle, both providing three tracks apiece.
Highlights here would be two Nocturno Culto tracks (opener 'I Muffle Your Inner Choir' and 'Duke Of Gloat') which remind me of the underrated Ravishing Grimness material, uptempo blackness utilizing riff changes to keep you on your toes, while Culto's inimitable rasp vocals bring the dread. Of the Fenriz material, closer 'The Key Is Inside The Wall' hits hardest splitting time between a trad second wave BM riff and a Celtic Frost inspired pseudo-doom climax.
Overall this is a consistent Darkthrone platter that could've been elevated to a higher tier if a little more velocity were incorporated. Also, I gotta note that the recurring opening riff in "The Hardship Of The Scots' reminds me of Immortal crossed with Ratt's 'Round & Round'. Weird. That said, the band are seemingly incapable of issuing bad albums, so you're going to have to check out this latest if you've been keeping tabs on the veterans. Here's to the 35th anniversary album that is sure to follow!