It saddens me but I’m going to slag DARKTHRONE in this review. No, it’s not because I have any serious gripes with the duo’s stylistic shift towards a Black ‘n Roll/Blackened Heavy Metal sound on their last few records – I do love “Hate Them” and I found “The Cult Is Alive” to be a very enjoyable album – but simply because “F.O.A.D.” is a disjointed and utterly half-baked affair. There I said it.
Like I said, I hate panning anything Fenriz and Nocturno Culto puts out, they are one of my favorite bands after all, but after spending more than a week desperately trying to find something, anything, enjoyable about this new disc I’m left with no other option but to call this a failure. Where “Hate Them” introduced some very tasty Doom elements to the mix, and “The Cult Is Alive” rocked out with a reckless Crust-Punk vibe, “F.O.A.D.” simply trudges along aimlessly with less emphasis on Metal than on any previous DARKTHRONE album. Quite simply, it has very little balls to speak of. Most songs are slow-paced crust songs with only the occasional sped-up parts and raw vocals injecting it with a sense of that evil this band once possessed. Listening to this album has lead me to conclude that they simply ran out of creative juices, which is strange considering Fenriz is such a hopeless music geek. Anyway, there are two strong songs on here: the opener (“These Shores Are Damned”) and “Splitkein Fever”. The former is a full on Black ‘n Roll song very much in the vein of the ones found on Shagrath’s CHROME DIVISION, but with an obviously rawer sheen. The little guitar licks during the verses are quite good and the soloing towards the end of the song is very well done, with the dying minutes of the song also introducing some welcome doom-y elements and an overall creepy vibe. Call it Dark Rock if you will. The latter is quite possibly the strongest song on the album and surely the one that’ll appeal most to the fans of the band’s early material. It is a fine mid-to fast paced number with a patented Black Metal riff, double-bass bashing and an overall vibe that harkens back to the “Transilvanian Hunger” era. Shit, if the whole album was filled with songs like these I’d be singing from the hilltops…
Anyway, the remainder of the album sadly cannot live up to the standards set by the abovementioned tracks. A track like “Canadian Metal”, which is obviously a paean to Canuck legends like VOIVOD, BLASPHEMY and SLAUGHTER, may be a fun little romp in Blackened Punk but it gets boring after the first minute. The same can be said of “Raised On Rock”, another track in which Fenriz does vocals, proclaiming his derision of the new school and love of the old guard. But if you want a really awful DARKTHRONE track then check out “The Church Of Real Metal” – a track so slow, boring and unimaginative that it’s simply beyond words. “Pervertor Of The 7 Gates”, despite its promising title, is another snoozefest that ultimately goes nowhere, miring the album even further in mediocrity. Luckily the band momentarily captures some “magic” with the album closer (“Wisdom Of The Dead”), another eerie Doom-inflected creeper that sees Nocturno belting out some of his most unsettling screams since “Panzerfaust”.
It seems ridiculous to argue about poor sound on a DARKTHRONE album but this one has a really bad sound. It sounds more like a demo than an album by a band 20 years into their career, and where this kind of serrated-edged sound gave albums like “Transilvanian” some charm it simply sucks the life out of this one. The little it had to begin with anyway. Not fun. It’s clear that Gylve and Ted are still making music from their hearts, I will never question that, but this one simply needed some more work. “The Cult Is Alive” came out just last year so there was no need to rush this one.
Usually I would be saying ‘”fuck off and die” with Fenriz and Nocturno but this time I’m saying it to them. You guys are capable of much better fare than this trite offering and you know it.
(Online November 19, 2007)