A filthy ride through simple, primal black metal

What is there to say about Darkthrone?

The seminal black/death/heavy metal act has been around since 1986 (as ‘Black Death’), and as they approach their 30th year under the Darkthrone moniker, they’ve lost none of that hunger that fed them; the attitude that helped them become one of the most respected forefathers of the second wave of black metal.

Musically, Arctic Thunder treads that same well-worn icy path that the band began forging with 2006’s The Cult is Alive, but in some ways this is the closest they’ve come since then to making a return to their black metal roots. That’s not to say the album is a mere re-tread of former glories. It’s a filthy ride through simple, primal black metal, albeit filtered through the lens of the dirty 80s heavy/speed metal that both Nocturno Culto and Fenriz have a hearty respect for.

Recorded in the same Kolbotn bomb shelter that gave muse to the band’s early days, the album has the magic of the band’s early years albeit with a veteran insight into their own compositions that years in the scene have afforded them. Tracks like the opener ‘Tundra Leech’, ‘Boreal Fiends’ and the title track are a great showcase as they show Fenriz and Nocturnal Culto working in perfect harmony. Speaking of harmony, although the album is split into compositions by each (with the exception of ‘Throw Me Through the Marshes’) as is their favoured method, there is such a synergy in the compositions that makes them fit together seamlessly, as if they’d written and rehearsed the album in tandem. Nocturno Culto handles the vocals (with the exception of some parts of ‘Boreal Fiends’), and he utilises his mid-range in a manner that calls to mind early death metal, very befitting of the filthy atmosphere of the album; and a rarity among many black metal-leaning albums released today.

With ‘Arctic Thunder’ Darkthrone once again prove that they write music only for themselves. And it works. If you come into this with the knowledge that Darkthrone enjoy the music they’re creating, chances are you will, too.

1. Tundra Leech
2. Burial Bliss
3. Boreal Fiends
4. Inbred Vermin
5. Arctic Thunder
6. Throw Me Through the Marshes
7. Deep Lake Trespass
8. The Wyoming Distance