Darkthrone – The Underground Resistance

DarkthroneFenriz and Culto forge onward into the aftermath which ensued after this ever prolific duo opted to gutter punk/pimp their once genre defining black metal ride with more traditional metal effects and a NWOBHM nod that keeps the black blood flowing through their veins. Not to sound like a broken record here, as I have documented my displeasure with Darkthrone’s “evolution” which first began to take shape on “Too Old, Too Cold” and “The Cult is Alive” numerous times, but as it was with F.O.A.D., Dark Thrones and Black Flags, and Circle the Wagons; this band remains a bipolar beast that makes you both love and hate what you are listening to simultaneously. Darkthrone maintain an overall sound that is identifiable and enjoyable, but continue to sound like 2 different bands functioning under the Darkthrone™ sound spectrum. It does work for them and obviously Fenriz and Culto enjoy where they are at creatively, but The Underground Resistance isn’t without its share of sores on this beasts back that continue to be noticeable and a deterrent to its listening longevity.   

As it stands, The Underground Resistance benefits from a full, though garagey production once again, which leaves all the subtle and not so subtle nuances of their sound for the listener to enjoy. This is after all the true nature of Darkthrone… songs over slick production tricks. I will always respect them for that and the fact that this musical entity has always stuck to their guns and not sold themselves short when giving their fans something worthwhile to listen to. Looking back on the albums leading up to the matter at hand, I tend to gravitate to the Fenriz songs with their light hearted and free affinity for a heavy metal crossed with punk aura  pushed through pop song structures. Circle the Wagons, Graveyard Slut, Hiking Metal Punks, Canadian Metal, I Am the Graves of the 80’s, The Winds they Called the Dungeon Shaker… all fantastic tracks in their Isengard meets Celtic Frost meets a punk rock attitude to keep me wanting to come back to their respected albums long after I have tired of them. That is the main problem with this new DT era… I find the albums earn a lot of attention for a month after they come out, only to pick up dust in the collection as my favor yearns for this bands more formative and black years. A lot of this can be attributed to Nocurnal Culto’s songs and overall contribution creatively. In an obvious attempt to avoid old BM patterns, Ted’s material continues on in a twisted/acidic form of odd black metal bloated by dingy bar rock and punk which is maybe too cold or alienating to fully get into. This added with his altered yelling vocal style, it just feels like a departure from the legendary BM screams that still chill me down to the soul. Out of the 2 members in this band, perhaps he was the one less comfortable with Darkthrone’s impending shift and it does show on occasion. I will make mention that it sounds like he’s becoming more balanced and sure of what he wants to achieve within this style, for new songs like Dead Early and Lesser Men come off as more memorable and interestingly layered than found on previous scrappy tracks. With this aspect improving a bit and helping to lift up Culto’s end of the deal, the true glory of The Underground Resistance goes to the superior tracks Valkyrie and Leave no Cross Unturned. With this material, Fenriz is really hitting his stride with passionate/interesting vocal lines on the emotive and strangely beautiful track, Valkyrie. This song alone is worth the whole price of admission. Such a fluid motion to it with simplistic, though moving riffs and a pre chorus/chorus that cuts to the bone. Leave no Cross Unturned is the 13:49 minute opus of the album, centering on a blatant, though superiority potent Celtic Frost surge through the middle of the song that is infectious, and probably owes Mr. Warrior a whole slew of royalties for its very existence. Perhaps this song could have benefited by having 4 minutes shaved off the end, but it still comes off as a dark and brooding classic in regards to later day Darkthrone. 

I hate the fact that every review I have struggled through for newer Darkthrone albums always seems so negative, especially since they remain one of my favorite bands. I still feel they have yet to produce a bad album, but having been a longtime fan and really holding them to what I’m certain is an unfair level of expectation, I cannot deny the minor disappointment I feel every time I hit play and realize the greatness found in tracks like Claws of Time, Fucked up and Ready to Die, Skald Av Satans Sol, In the Shadow of the Horns and countless others are towering monuments left to rot in their past. Having said that, The Underground Resistance is still a really strong Darkthrone album and even though it fizzled out of rotation for me after 2 weeks of solid consumption, there are some damn fine moments in there to keep me interested and eager to buy their next album on the day it comes out next year. Dedication is blind. -Marty

Peaceville Records

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~ by martyworm on April 24, 2013.

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