Reviews Darkthrone The Underground Resistance

Darkthrone

The Underground Resistance

There's not a whole hell of a lot to be said about Darkthrone that is not already legend. Having survived the Norwegian Black Metal Scene relatively unscathed - both the chaos of the early 90's and all the cliches of the subsequent years, they are, with the exception of maybe Mayhem, the last band standing in the ashes of the genre. 

Much has been said of the musical direction the band has taken with the last few albums, and much of it has been unfairly critical. If anyone has earned the right to do whatever the hell they want, it's Ted "Nocturno Culto" Skjellum and Gylve "Fenriz" Nagell. The polarization of the band's music has always been credited to the band's 2006 offering The Cult Is Alive, where some would describe it as "blackened crust punk". Those of us that had been listening however, knew that the seeds of such a "radical departure" were planted long before in tracks such as 2003's "In Honour Of Thy Name" or even as far back as 1999's "Across The Vacuum". But even this was nothing new for the genre - one needs only listen to early Celtic Frost for a more direct influence.

So here we find ourselves back in 2013 with the release of The Underground Resistance, the band's 15th studio release. Comprised of only 6 songs - 3 songs written by Skjellum, 3 by Nagell, The Underground Resistance is a controlled schizophrenic amalgam of influences that somehow maintains a cohesion unseen in Darkthrone since 2004's Sardonic Wrath. None of the influences are surprising, however. Nagell himself has gone on record as being a fan and student of many forms of music as evidenced in the brilliant film Until The Light Takes Us, prominently featuring the seemingly always affable Nagell in numerous interviews, including as an extra on the DVD, Black Metal 101, a class taught by Professor Fenriz and providing an in-depth look at the genre. The proof of varied influence can be found almost immediately in the brutally catchy riffage of album opener "Dead Early" - a song that could be one of the bands most commercial sounding tunes of their catalog, but with enough old-school Darkthrone edge to kick your mother's dead ass.

In the interest of full disclosure, I myself have not been the biggest fan of Skjellum's vocal style in recent albums, but here, the usage has a more organic feel - particularly on his own composition "Lesser Men" and Nagell's "Leave No Cross Unturned". Both are album highlights, the latter of which clocks in at an epic 13:50 and wastes not a single nanosecond of it. Produced by Jack Control in the US, The Underground has somewhat of a warmer mix than Darkthrone fans will be used to, but with that said, still perfectly suited to the tone of the album - particularly in the guitars which sound every bit as majestic as they should be. 

Darkthrone is a band that can be expected to evolve further as the years progress. Whether they take all of their fanbase with them remains to be seen as arguments within the genre over what is "true" and what isn't continue to rage on but whatever the outcome, Darkthrone remains a band that has earned the respect of us all.

8.0 / 10Kevin Fitzpatrick
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2013

8.0 / 10

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