Darkthrone seems to be getting a very mixed response to their recently altered sound. Many will say 'it's too punky' or 'it's not true enough black metal' or even 'they sound like Saxon now'.
My response? They need to keep doing whatever it is they are now doing.
'Circle The Wagons' is just exactly what I need tonight. Darkthrone have made a career out of not giving a care what the metal world wants them to be. In a sea of black metal sheep, they have proven once again with this album that they had been birthed as lions years before. Lions, I may add, can eat sheep for breakfast. In a world where black metal and its musicians have gotten so extremely pretentious and predictable, it is so refreshing to hear a band who has had its hand in inventing the style telling the modern scene that they can see right through them.
What I find incredible is how Darkthrone has covered everything from death metal to their coined black metal sound, to crust and d-beat influences, and even NWOBHM influence to put the icing on the cake... but they still seem to invoke and portray the same kind of attitude throughout their whole career. You don't even have to read an interview in order to hear it.... their music IS the interview.
With this new album, they charter off into their speed/heavy metal roots in order to get their points across. Their point? Heavy metal is having an identity crisis, and they have been sober this whole time through. (Well, musically, and ideologically, at least. Lord knows these gentlemen love to drink.) They want to say that you don't have to sit around and try to think you are some 'philosopher' just for being into modern metal, and you don't have to follow trends and simply stand there at shows.
Darkthrone fully endorses the primal, and their sound is the embodiment of it.
One needs only to have a casual listen to a song like 'I Am The Graves Of The 80s' in order to realize this.
What's more is I love how transparent they are. Darkthrone know and understand that they are legendary, and yet they don't need to try and exalt themselves with some sort of ridiculous mysticism. Not only are we treated with a wonderful, thick, full-color booklet full of lyrics, original artwork, and neat photos, but we once again get liner notes! THIS is what people miss when they just want to download the album. And, also, this is what bands need to try to do... releasing a lame album art with one or two pages of text does not seem appealing when it costs close to twenty dollars. Darkthrone have given us much more than what we pay for with this release. Great music, great introspection, and great packaging.
Might I mention the production is perfectly fine? It's not ridiculously layered or triggered. It's just Darkthrone playing music in their studio, with ample recording equipment, but nothing added or detracted.
The only qualm anyone should have with this record is due to whether or not they like traditional heavy metal or not. And if you don't, this album might not be for you. But if you are tired of people hyping up all of this modern-day haircut metal and wish to look for something that will serenade you and make you want to jump off the walls at the same time, this is exactly what you need.
After a long day at work, nothing beats hearing Nocturno Culto bark 'I Am The Working Class'.
Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU, Darkthrone.
Buy this album, please. Right now.
Buy this album, please. Right now.