~reviewed by Eric Rasmussen
Darkthrone is one black metal band that needs no introduction. Mainly because you're already a fan, or you never will be. Unless by some obscure chance of fate you positively dig groups like Ildjarn, 1349, and Marduk, but somehow haven't heard of Darkthrone... you can trust me: you won't be getting into Darkthrone short of some serious brain damage sustained from stage diving at a black metal concert. The reason is simple. Darkthrone is one of the major innovators of the hardcore black metal style. Even many black metal fans cannot listen to this style with any regularity, and justifiably so. Hardcore black metal is characterized by poor, garage-like production, monotonous rasping vocals, repetitive simple riffing picked at high speeds, and often a sloppy blast-beat saturated drum approach.
Ok, now that I've scared off all of you who weren't true fans, let's get down to business! Darkthrone does absolutely nothing to change the style of black metal. But if only because they've been working on their sound for over a decade, they really do have the hardcore black metal style pretty much nailed. The distortion drenched riffs are repetitive in a very hypnotic way - almost what one would expect from Summoning, minus the girly keyboards. Hate Them isn't quite deep enough to warrant your full attention during every second of its 40 minute duration, but it makes for a nice backdrop when you're feeling grumpy and rather like committing arson at a local cathedral.
Nocturno Culto switches riffs just often enough to lull you into a slower pace before stabbing you with an unexpected speed-picking barrage. His vocals are apt for the style, and though seemingly independent of the other instruments, somehow or another fit the riffing rhythms just close enough to get by. Fenriz's drumming is varied only so much as the guitar work, but again, the repetition is angrily hypnotic.
I've never been a big Darkthrone fan, and chances are I never will be. There's no question that Hate Them is completely unoriginal. Just because you help invent a style doesn't mean you shouldn't play something new after more than 10 years of recording. Nevertheless, the loosely compelling repetition and slower moments combine to form a relatively laid back black metal ambience, and that's all right. The production is somewhat low-key and subdued, allowing the CD to sail smoothly under your attention radar and subvert any non-evil desires you might cling to. If it weren't for some of the faster tunes, Hate Them could almost be easy listening black metal - that is, still too extreme for most music fans, but for the rest of us, a nice break from 1349, Abigor, and Satyricon.
Darkthrone - Official Site:
The End Records (US):