Review: Darkthrone - The Underground Resistance

Band: Darkthrone
Album: "The Underground Resistance"
Style: Heavy metal
Release date: 2013-02-25
Origin: Norway

1. Dead Early
2. Valkyrie
3. Lesser Men
4. The Ones You Left Behind
5. Come Warfare, the Entire Doom
6. Leave No Cross Unturned

I can think of a couple of bands that will forever have that "love/hate"-label on them and Darkthrone is easily one of them. So before I begin this review, I will let you in on how I feel about them. Here goes;
I think that "A Blaze in the Northern Sky" is an album that is alright, albeit it is a bit overrated and have been given a bit too extensive praise merely due to the fact that it was an early, important album in the second generation black metal-albums. "Transilvanian Hunger" was a cool experiment, but IMO it's not overwhelmingly exciting to listen to. "Under a Funeral Moon" and "Panzerfaust" on the other hand, I feel are solid black metal albums with a lot of good songs. I also have a soft spot for "Goatlord" with all it's excessive  avantgarde-weirdness going on.
Then the band lost me completely and I cannot say that Darkthrone made any interesting music up until "The Cult is Alive" in 2006. Leaving most of their black metal behind and aiming for an obvious 80's sound with punk-influences, they have since slowly upped their ante when it comes to songwriting and 2010's "Circle the Wagons" got a lot of playtime in my stereo. Naturally, I had quite high hopes for "The Underground Resistance" and let me tell you right now that I was not disappointed...

What Fenriz and Nocturno Culto have always been so good at, is crafting really good melodies that  sticks your head. Catchy and memorable, without loosing their authority, so to speak. And that rule is no exception here either, even if the music has gone from cold black metal to 80's heavy metal. Yes, there are very few (if any) parts on this album that reminds you of any black metal, so just forget about that. Everything from speed to groove is present here and almost all of the songs are memorable in their own way. For instance, the beginning melody of "Come Warfare, the Entire Doom" is ace and reminds me a lot of old Candlemass.

Vocally, it's what you would expect. Rasping vocals completely lacking technique or skill, but making that up by infusing so much power and emotion. I'd take that over Bruce Dickinson any fucking day! As usual (by now that is) Fenriz and Nocturno switches between doing vocals, sometimes doing sort of drunken choirs, and it is a true joy to listen to. Also, try not to sing along to "Valkyrie", "The Ones You Left Behind" or "Leave no Cross Unturned" - for me it's close to impossible.
I also love the sound of the album. The guitars have a perfect fuzz to them and the drum-sound exactly gives me that "unwashed hobo-feeling" that I love.

What can I say that's negative about this release then? Well, not much actually. Some songs have intros that are a bit too long for their own good, but that's just a minor complaint. And when it comes to "Leave no Cross Unturned" - as good as it is - almost 14 minutes feels like 4 minutes too much. The main issue I guess I have with this album is that it's not my favorite metal genre per se, which means that I sometimes ain't in the right mood to listen to this kind of music. So as you can see, I have very little negative things to say.

Basically, I'm having a really good time while listening to this, since it's so headbanger-friendly and really makes me crave for a beer or twelve. And I get why some people claim that this isn't what Darkthrone should be doing, based on where they came from. But in my opinion, it doesn't really matter - let the guys do what they feel like doing. I have enjoyed many band's transformations during the years - Tiamat, Arcturus, Amorphis and Vintersorg - to name a few, and there will always be people mourning of how "the first demo was the best" and shit like that. But if one was to look beyond that, one can easily see how and why Darkthrone still serves a purpose today. I for one am really glad that they took this path and if you want to hear the band do black metal, listen to one of their older albums or any of the zillion clone-bands out there. I would be genuinely surprised if "The Underground Resistance" doesn't find it's way onto my top-ten at the end of the year.
I am thoroughly impressed!


1 comment:

  1. I'm totally surprised with the song you've posted. I didn't know the territories where Darkthrone was walking last years. It reminds me to Bathory for moments.