Released: 2016, Peaceville Records
Reviewer: Aaron Yurkiewicz
Few things in life are as genuine and pure as a new Darkthrone record. Okay, maybe a new Motorhead record, but unless Lemmy’s planning some kind of late stage Easter miracle, that ship has sailed. ARCTIC THUNDER marks Darkthrone full length #16 and in fact is NOT a sequel to Ben Stiller’s 2008 comedy TROPIC THUNDER. It is, however, another slice of unapologetic and self satisfying cult metal, as only Fenriz and Nocturno Culto can create.
Diverting from the NWOBHM leanings of the last several albums, ARCTIC THUNDER pulls inspiration deep from the crusty, doom recesses of Darkthrone circa RAVISHING GRIMNESS and HATE THEM. Couple that with Nocturno Culto being featured exclusively on vocals for the first time in over a decade (if my math is correct), and you’ve got yourself an event of cultworthy proportions.
30 seconds into the charred, sauntering crunch of “Tundra Leech” and it’s immediately clear that you’ve found your way into a new Darkthrone record. And somehow it still immediately feels like home; the primal aggression, the hoarse vocal prognostications - it’s hypnotizing, and it only gets better from there. The deliberate gallop of “Burial Bliss” may be the closest that Darkthrone has approached the Northern Sky in ages, while the loose, thrash punk of “Inbred Vermin” seethes like the bastard spew of Cronos and Quorthon. The title track drips with the spirit of Mercyful Fate, while “Deep Lake Trespass” resurrects the kind of minimalist, six stringed dissonance that the duo helped to create so many funeral moons ago.
And there's an improptu cover of 80's pop band Mister Mister hidden towards the end of the album - truth.
Releasing music on a schedule that only they are beholden to and with inspiration that only they are accountable for, Darkthrone is as creatively pure as it gets. The winds of the Pagan Winter may blow colder than ever, but ARCTIC THUNDER burns like the fresh, smoldering embers of the Fantoft Stave Church. This cult is still very much alive.