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Darkthrone: The Underground Resistance

Album Review

Legendary metal miscreants trash the rulebook

A new Darkthrone record? More punk attitude, thrash sensibilities and power metal wails than you can shake a stick at? Melody? Huge choruses? It sounds wild, but fear not, The Underground Resistance is undoubtedly a Darkthrone record. It’s the massive guitar screams, the immediately recognisable gruffness of Nocturno Culto’s voice, the pummelling slashes of Fenriz’s drums and the downright dirty attitude of the piece as a whole that mark the 15th Darkthrone record as one of their best.

Darkthrone are now so far from their beginnings that they aren’t even a black metal band anymore, yet they stick so solidly to their proverbial guns that The Underground Resistance reeks of the early steps this band took into death metal and that all-important second-wave true Norwegian sound, which resulted in the seminal A Blaze In The Northern Sky. The aesthetics of The Underground Resistance are still a match for anything Darkthrone put out in the early 90s, but this record is one from a modern band and a duo who care not for trends or fads and are more interested in rocking the hell out. And rock the hell out they do.

The Underground Resistance is over in a sprightly sub-30 minutes and Darkthrone charge through so many unlikely sounds during the course of even one track that it’s difficult to keep up, or take it all in at once, and as such it can seem a little overwhelming – particularly during the 13-minute closing track, Leave No Cross Unturned.

Yet this is a small slight on what is a glorious return to the musical sphere for a band that many had written off when Fenriz and Nocturno started steadily shifting towards a more traditional heavy metal sound, and it’s these traits that come to the fore in The Underground Resistance. Huge moments of clean vocals (yes, really) on the definite highlight Valkyrie stand quite comfortably with passages of intense speed and roaring chasms of utter chaos (Manilla Road-esque howl, anyone?) during the massive The Ones You Left Behind.

Shades of doomed elegance infiltrate the start of the aptly titled Come Warfare, The Entire Doom and Darkthrone once again cast all expectations asunder with a sly stealth once the track veers towards extended punk flavours and a curiously and seemingly out-of-time vocal line. It shouldn’t work, and in the hands of lesser artists it certainly wouldn’t, but Darkthrone know exactly what they’re doing and The Underground Resistance is as full of can-do attitude as well as fuck-you swagger.

The previously mentioned Leave No Cross Unturned rolls in fluctuating tones – harshly riffed guitars one minute, bizarrely affected harmonies the next, and then there’s the almost incoherent way these parts somehow make the whole. It’s different and it’s a shame it hits right at the end, but it’s Darkthrone right? It’s hardly the end of the world and there’s enough in this final piece to ultimately please. The Underground Resistance is Darkthrone. And if you don’t like it? Well, F.O.A.D.

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