ONE of the founding fathers of Black Metal, and certainly one of the genre’s most influential bands, is back and sounding heavier, louder and more wilfully individualistic than ever.
Norway’s finest sees guitarist Nocturno Culto and drummer Fenriz ploughing a much more traditional Black Metal furrow on this CD than many of their recent albums which is something to be welcomed.
Eight superb offerings to get the feet tapping, and maybe even the head banging, Arctic Thunder is classic Darkthrone with definite hints of their trailblazing earlier albums, such as A Blaze in the Northern Sky, Under A Funeral Moon and the monumentally cold Transilvanian Hunger.
The two members have shifted styles a few times over the years – though they’ve always been heavier than a brontosaurus after a particularly filling meal – but here they are in the territory where they achieve their best.
A relatively short album by today’s standards, at just over 39 minutes, it nevertheless cuts away all the frills many others would use to pad out a recording to go straight for the attack. It’s clinical but satisfying.
The album opens on full octane power with Tundra Leech, thudding chunky guitars stalking you from the darkness. Nocturno Culto growls out from your speaker like a bear with a really bad head. The scene is well and truly set.
The pace picks up to almost whirling dervish levels on Burial Bliss which gets madder and wilder as it progresses.
The songwriting is shared, as usual, with three of the eight penned by Nocturno Culto and five by Fenriz but Darkthrone is very much a joint enterprise.
It races along through the tracks Boreal Fiends, Arctic Thunder, Inbred Vermin, Throw Me Through the Marshes, Deep Lake Trespass and The Wyoming Distance. There is no pause for mercy here at all – the listener is well and truly pummelled into submission.
This album is very much in the vein of predecessor The Underground Resistance in 2013 – yes, it’s been a long long wait since then – but has headed much more into old style traditional Black Metal. It’s raw, it’s harsh, it’s a real mind mangler (in a good way).
The Second Wave of Black Metal, epitomised by bands from Norway like Darkthrone and Mayhem and Gehenna, lives on. All hails to that!