The hype began when DARKTHRONE announced on their re-incarnated website - “We are still performing Metal. Black Metal you say? Well, yeah, maybe, depends on who is listening.”
Just the thought of the genre’s most seminal and predictable act changing direction was enough to make eyebrows climb higher than the peak of Everest and rekindle interest in even the most detached. After listening to the album repeatedly since I received it, the only question I’m asking is: Is the change anything more than just superficial?
Musically, this is little more than the culmination of the small changes made in the post “Panzerfaust” period. For many, the problem seems to be this new found “Punk” direction – which in fact is not new at all. First heard in “A Blaze In The Northern Sky,” a certain element of punk has always been abundantly clear in the more direct and gritty of their compositions. “Sardonic Wrath” oozed it and here, now, it has been taken one step further as a big “fuck you” to the sheep-herd of redundant DarkCLONES.
On the other hand, this step further is more of a step back. The use of DISCHARGE “d-beats” fits perfectly with their textbook CELTIC FROST rhythms, though the riffs have taken on a greater catchy, yet still typically in-your-face poise. A step back to the 80’s to be sure.
However, the more direct result of their arrogant, couldn’t-give-a-fuck, iconoclastic swagger has seen a more honest and candid approach to their lyrics. Nevertheless, while I can appreciate the value of calling a spade a spade, some of the lines in “Shut Up” are a tad cringe-worthy. “Too Old, Too Cold,” does likewise in a blatantly scene-critical lyric. The cry of “it’s just spastic, lame and weak” in reference to contemporary Black Metal is a statement of poor phraseology yes, but more importantly a blunt and justified attack on the mentality of the current scene. Yet, within this tirade of strong anti-scene, misanthropic, sentiment, lies some of the purest and most no-nonsense, rocking Black anthems that have ever been penned.
With their spirit DARKTHRONE repeatedly cement themselves as spearheads of authentic, un-diluted and aggressive Metal in its most honest and stripped down form. Fuelled by alcohol and disdain “The Cult is Alive” is a true act of unfettered rebellion that embraces the basics of Black Metal. It just typifies this middle finger to the traditionalist, this going against the grain attitude of “no trends, no core” that Black Metal initially embraced and it does so with all the swagger and arrogance that only DARKTHRONE can successfully maintain. They are the true iconoclasts of our era. (Online March 21, 2006)