For more than three decades Norway’s legendary black metal duo Darkthrone has been mastering the art of fundamental classic metal. The nineteenth studio album ‘Eternal Hails …..’ incarnates diverse elements from a patchwork of old-school black, heavy and doom metal. Once again Fenriz (drums) and Nocturno Culto (vocals, guitars and bass) present a mosaic of landscapes. While their early inception to death metal in 1991’s ‘Soulside Journey‘ evolved quickly into a rawer side of primitive black metal on the sophomore landmark ‘A Blaze in the Northern Sky‘, they would become one of the most influential bands in Europe. There isn’t one style in the metal genre that the band did not tackle. In the later years of their career the Norwegian duo plunged into the sub-genre of punk, heavy/speed and even thrash metal. Albums such as ‘The Cult is Alive‘ and ‘The Underground Resistance‘ demonstrated a crude old-school endeavor.
However, the latest album ‘Eternal Hails ……‘ sees the duo expanding on the heavy/doom metal from the seventies and the eighties. The blazing riffs on the opening track ‘His Masters Voice‘ elaborate on the riff structure with the slow meandering tempos perfectly brought in. The resulting sounds feel aligned with the classic recordings of vintage metal. The songs exude infectious riffs and wicked bass from traditional heavy/doom metal bands like Black Sabbath. There are many moments where Darkthrone invokes these archaic passages. The excellent riff work, therefore, emanates the gloomy atmosphere of doom metal. Riff after riff, each song is backed by a perfect drumming style while the innovative composition adds a classic black/heavy metal dimension to the music. ‘Eternal Hails ……‘ definitely has a different composition of elements compared to the previous album.
From the first listen to the band’s single ‘Hate Cloak‘ the song presented basic riffs, but as a matter of fact, Darkthrone showed new standards. The memorable riffs and the slow drum beats perfectly convey the old classic sound, even though the sound production is lo-fi and the slow tempos are the highlight of the album. In style, the songs on the new album are less superior to the predecessor ‘Old Star‘. More often Darkthrone applies heavier elements to the songs resulting in a culmination of Celtic Frost-styled riffs and the raw aggression of Hellhammer. From the band’s musical perspective, the Norwegian duo shows total devotion to the old classics of metal with faster songs like ‘Wake of the Awakened‘ injecting energetic riffs. The album artwork is quite amusing with its spacy vibe and looks identical to Zephyrous’s debut ‘Entrance and Wandering on the Seven Zones‘.
The juxtaposition of epic guitar lines and tremolo-picked riffs reveals the mastery of their sonic innovation which betrays a visceral understanding for using different elements. The incendiary black ‘n roll transitions to mid-tempo offer heavy supercharged riffs and epic rhythm complexity. The elements of heavy metal set up plenty of grooves and creatively blend with the first wave of black metal. The last two tracks are among the lengthier ones in the album in which Darkthrone perfectly imbues an epic quality. The heavier sections proceed with blazing riffs and they’re reinforced by energetic drumming. ‘Eternal Hails ……‘ is a traditional black/doom metal delivered at its finest dexterity. Although I feel drawn to the arcane atmosphere of the song, ‘Voyage to a North Pole Adrift‘ offers plenty of riffing complexity.
The galloping drums unleash heavy energetic tempos despite the driven guitars creating a freshly, well crafted sound. Throughout the album you’ll find plenty of throwbacks to the classic era of heavy metal. Even though the duo had reinvented their sound, there seems to be an expansive approach to redefining their musical principles. The closing track ‘Lost Arcane City of Uppakra‘ stands out for the use of the synth, adding an epic quality that gives us a deeper glimpse of their old musical inspiration. The opening riff captures their trademark black metal style as it veers off toward a heavy groove section. The funky range of the guitars shows the influences to Black Sabbath. With stomping riffs and an organic approach, the duo presents some kind of an old atmosphere, whereas the keyboards produce these hypnotic soundscapes of floating ambiance.
Darkthrone’s new album isn’t the first time the duo takes abroad the freewheeling wagons and drifts off to the realms of heavy/doom metal. ‘Eternal Hails……‘ is a well-crafted album brought by excellent songwriting from these true metal traditionalists.
Release Date: June 26th, 2021
Label: Peaceville Records
- His Master’s Voice
- Hate Cloak
- Wake of the Awakened
- Voyage to a North Pole Adrift
- Lost Arcane City of Uppakra