Released: 2006, Peaceville Records
Reviewer: Lord of the Wasteland
It never fails to amaze me that in 2006, bands like Darkthrone are still able to churn out an album that sounds like it was recorded with microphones made out of two soup cans and a piece of string. The absence of any competent musicianship and lack of attention to detail keeps these bands’ “kvlt” factor high but aside from that, in reality, these are pretty bad albums. The simplistic riffs, tin can drums and belched out vocals could be done by anyone without a shred of musical talent, yet Darkthrone (along with new-schoolers like Carpathian Forest) has made a storied and respected career out of it. Their latest (twelfth?!) release, THE CULT IS ALIVE, continues down the same path, melding old school Norwegian black metal with thrash riffs, punk attitude and basic song structures that draw major influence from the early works of Celtic Frost and Bathory. In other words, the new album sounds like just about every other Darkthrone album with the exception of the more death-metal leanings of their 1990 debut, SOULSIDE JOURNEY. Fenriz smashes away at his kit and Nocturno Culto growls, roars and sounds scary, while sawing through his axes. Production values are forgotten, as songs will just end, almost as if the band hit the “STOP” button whenever they feel like it. What more can be said? Darkthrone: love ‘em or leave ‘em!
In all its treble-heavy splendor, “The Cult of Goliath” rips through the standard black metal archetypes both lyrically and musically with references to 666, blasphemy and Nocturno Culto’s throat-shredding vocals and buzzsaw riffing overtop of Fenriz’ blasting. Culto’s call to “come on, you fuckers” before launching into a speedy solo is the highlight. “Atomic Coming” is dedicated to the memory of Piggy from Voivod and imagining that band’s earliest works influencing Darkthrone is not difficult. Fenriz steps behind the mike for the silly “Graveyard Slut” and even goes so far as to drop an “Oooh!” a surefire ode to Tom G. Warrior. Songs like this, and “Whisky Funeral,” are what Carpathian Forest and Nattefrost’s solo work copy almost note for note, yet Darkthrone has been crafting these tongue-in-cheek nuggets for over 15 years. Maintaining their old-school Norwegian fanbase, Darkthrone continues to pen the occasional tune in their mother tongue chipping in the slow and brooding “De Underjordiske (Aelia Capitolina)” and blastbeat-filled “Tyster På Gud” here. In his charming and less-than-subtle way, Fenriz lashes out the bands who copy Darkthrone’s style on “Shut Up.” You can’t help but smile as he rasps, “You copy my style and call yourself a man…shut up, you twat!” Good stuff!
With twelve albums now under their bullet belts, Darkthrone has eased into a comfortable pattern with their music. Fans know what to expect and Darkthrone always delivers, plain and simple. THE CULT IS ALIVE is no exception and while newbies would be better suited to seek out earlier masterpieces like TRANSYLVANIAN HUNGER and A BLAZE IN THE NORTHERN SKY, the new album settles into the band’s catalogue nicely.
KILLER KUTS: “The Cult of Goliath,” “Atomic Coming,” “Whisky Funeral,” “De Underjordiske (Aelia Capitolina),” “Shut Up”