Apart from the occasional guest now and again, guitarist/bassist/principal vocalist Nocturno Culto and drummer/occasional vocalist Fenriz have been the sole contributing members of Darkthrone since their seminal 1994 release, Transylvanian Hunger. Since that landmark record, fans have seen this duo bend the genre they so hatefully helped shape with boundary defiling works that have served as both repellents and beacons of light to onlookers.
Darkthrone’s latest album, The Cult is Alive, clobbers with a well-produced, mid-paced black metal attack akin to what was found on 2003’s incredible Hate Them. Opening number “The Cult of Goliath” boils right from the gate as Nocturno taunts all men of the cloth with graveled howls, rollicking riffs, and acidic soloing. “De Underjordiske,” “Forebyggende Krig,” “Atomic Coming” (an ode to fallen Piggy – RIP), and the fantastic “Underdogs & Overlords” all do similarly, mixing mid-paced black metal and punk with sporadic breakdowns and sour leads. The pace is quickened for “Tyster På Gud” and the boozed “Whiskey Funeral,” the latter of which exibits some of the most dearly straight-forward but brilliant lyrics dealing with the importance of intoxication – “Fuckin’ forced to sleep in this life / Enough time to be sober in death.” Talk such as this is given an even heavier verdict due to the fact that Culto’s septic vocals have somehow managed to grow even more ruinous over time. His voice throughout The Cult is Alive flashes a level of grit and gravel that’s frankly unmatched by any other black metal vocalist in the game today.
The songs that are most likely to raise an eyebrow amongst the elitists are the ones that lean heavier on the black n’ roll elements the band has adopted recently. The remarkably catchy, “Too Old, Too Cold” and the droll “Shut Up” both find the duo slaying fake black metal postulants, while the mocking tone and romantic lyrics of “Graveyard Slut” show the two aren’t afraid to inject a heavy dose of tongue-in-cheek into the mix.
Darkthrone has never sold out or softened on any of their releases, and The Cult Is Alive is no different. Yes, they’ve infused more black n’ roll and punkish elements, but the sound is still unmistakably misanthropic in a distinctly “Darkthrone” sort of way.
Nihilism, hatred and a raw doggedness that’s delivered with intense sincerity –– The Cult is Alive and Darkthrone deliver once again.