Darkthrone – Sardonic Wrath Review

Originally written by Harley Carlson.

Ah yes, Darkthrone; a black metal elitist’s wet dream come true. Not only are they Norway’s most tr00 of the tr00 and kvlt of the kvlt, they also happen to be one of my own personal favorite bands that I just love to hate and hate to love. As a sort of guilty pleasure, I worship Darkthrone, but never beyond the confines of my living room. Like many others, I am in fact a closet fan. I mean, c’mon now. They hold the title of having one of the coolest names and logos ever, period! Just saying it gives me goose bumps. Darkthrone! oooohohhhh.

In all seriousness (if black metal could actually be taken seriously), Darkthrone are one of the premier acts that influence and inspire just about every other band under the black metal umbrella. You could say that they are the IT band that all the rest only wish they could be, except with more actual talent when it comes to playing their instruments. There’s Venom, there’s Bathory, and there’s Darkthrone. All mediocre musicians for the most part, but hellacious songsmiths.

The duo, made up of guitarist/vocalist Nocturno Culto and Fenriz on drums, have spent over a decade in Norway’s darkest corners churning away at the same drudging and droning chords and yet this template somehow works to their benefit, as they are consistently recognized as one of the most important acts in the history of metal. Let’s see… Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, and umm, Darkthrone? Hmmm. Maybe so. Some of their earliest works, such as the first and final death metal masterpiece Soulside Journey, along with its primitive successors A Blaze In The Northern Sky and Under A Funeral Moon, are among my favorite albums of all time. Oddly enough, I particularly make an effort of despising the raw primal side of music. This really says a lot about the kind of mind rape Darkthrone is really capable of. It’s like ‘I fuckin’ hate you, but goddamn do I love you!’

Like so few bands are able, or would even want to, Darkthrone have perfected the art of repetition. Only slightly maturing (yes, they eventually grew out of their grim kiddie make up) but never really evolving too much in their sound, they are an exact replica of themselves that has been preserved for almost fifteen years. In 2005, not a damned thing has changed. Leaving me in an utter state of awe with its minimalist value, Sardonic Wrath has some slow riffs, and it has some fast riffs. Shocking! If you have heard one Darkthrone album, you have heard them all. Like the rest, Sardonic Wrath features an entrancing intensity in its delivery that shifts between dragging doom type riffs and faster punk paced playing. Bottom line… If you had lost your copy of this disc, you could always just toss in any of their other releases and not be be any the wiser to the fact that it is a different CD.

Who needs a polished production job? Certainly not Darkthrone. It takes away from the overall feeling and enjoyment of the record anyway, right? Just set them up in a wood shed somewhere, out in a freezing blizzard, smack in the middle of nowhere, with a four track recorder (not necessarily even digital) and they will emerge within a few short hours with a jaw dropping creation every single time. Same rule applies with Sardonic Wrath. It’s chaotic, it’s sometimes sloppy, yet it’s easy to listen to from beginning to end.

It really seems as if Darkthrone is doing everything in their power to persuade us into not buying any of their records. They have even gone as far as declining award nominations that may make an example of their accomplishments. Hey, being applauded equals selling out. Didn’t you know that? All the band’s loyal legions know this, yet fail to realize they are the reason the band has notoriety. Get a clue, pal! Who really wants to live a glitzy lifestyle anyway? As if metal is at all glamorous. In my humble opinion, this only makes the band more intriguing. Everyone should praise Darkthrone (in private of course) even if it is against their wishes.

Posted by Old Guard

The retired elite of LastRites/MetalReview.

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