Released: 2004, The End/Moonfog
Often imitated, never duplicated, True Norwegian Black Metallists Darkthrone are one of the few from the initial Scandinavian wave to remain utterly true to their roots, SARDONIC WRATH is yet another example of the band doing what they do best: raw Black Metal with no pretentions of being anything else. Sure, it’s a little better produced than, say TRANSYLVANIAN HUNGER or UNDER A FUNERAL MOON, but from the album’s first proper track, “Information Wants to Be Syndicated”, we know very well who it is blaring from our speakers so obnoxiously. Darkthrone has returned to fuck us all up.
That said, most everyone out there remotely familiar with this band’s career already knows what to expect from this record. Sonically similar to their last record, HATE THEM, SARDONIC WRATH punishes the listener with a chainsaw guitar sound, grim vocals, and righteously simplistic drumming. The prerequisite Celtic Frost vibe is of course present, also, this time even more pronounced than ever before (“Alle Gegen Alle“).
Surprisingly enough, however, is the occasional nod to Satyricon’s VOLCANO opus that I felt rear it’s ugly head now and again, such as in the middle of “Straightening Sharks in Heaven“. Gasp! Darkthrone aren’t making the leap into the modern age, are they? Well, not really; more likely they are just drawing from a similar wellspring of inspiration, and to great effect, to be honest.
The advance track most heard from SARDONIC WRATH, “Sacrificing to the God of Doubt” is also the album’s catchiest and most immediately pleasing song, it’s driving, headbang-able drive pushing the band into perhaps more “accessible” territory for fans who had previously not been fans of the Norwegian duo (I personally know people who only like this record and none other…go figure). However, I somehow don’t think people listen to Darkthrone records for “hit singles”, so this is probably a moot point.
The album proper is an enjoyable affair which hits all the right notes for those, like me, who feel that Black Metal is a somewhat stagnant genre lately. It feels good to hear the style performed by the masters who know how
A resounding success for the band, although I doubt the care anyways. Hail Darkthrone!