Darkthrone - Frostland Tapes
Peaceville Records
Raw Death Metal
Disc 1: 11 songs (47:49) Disc 2: 11 songs (43:55) Disc 3: 12 songs (45:54)
Release year: 2008
Darkthrone, Peaceville Records
Reviewed by Goat

My ears! My poor, whimpering, brutalised ears! Bad enough that I’ve already put them through the horrific production values of Hellhammer’s Demon Entrails, reviewed elsewhere for this site, but now I find myself listening to Darkthrone demos! Well, don’t feel too sorry for my aural appendages, people, because for once we have a collection of demos that’s actually worth listening to. Far from the low-fi ear-shredding I was expecting, this is a quality collection of tracks that will enrich the collection of any Darkthroner that likes Soulside Journey. Don’t come to this expecting the pure, unholy Black Metal that the band are known for. Instead, we have track upon track of surprisingly catchy Death Metal, with a clear Hellhammer/Celtic Frost influence that’s been built on to create an individual style for the band as it was then.

One of the biggest laments that you’ll hear from Soulside Journey fans is why Darkthrone became the Black Metal band when they were well on the way to becoming members of the Death Metal elite, and after a few listens to this collection, they’ll complain even more. For a bunch of demos, a live EP and the Goatlord album in original, instrumental form, this is amazing stuff. Quite a few songs here have an audibly progressive bent to them, the likes of Thulcandra having melodic, almost Akercockey parts that fit in surprisingly well with the more vicious sections, and there’s even a long song (the nine-minute plus Snowfall) that’s worth sitting through, moving between speedy Thrash and crawling Doom, complete with acoustic section. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that there are more headbangable moments here than on Soulside Journey – and this is all just the first CD! Fine, the vocals get a bit crap towards the end, but the music is still excellent for what it is.

On the second CD, things get much more in tune with what would eventually become Darkthrone’s debut album. Demo versions of The Watchtower, Accumulation Of Generalization and others are here, and sound more like Atheist than what most people, including me, think of as typically Darkthrone. The live EP is raw, but what were you expecting? It’s more than good enough to enjoy, and the simple novelty of live Darkthrone should be enough for anyone. The between-song banter is light and funny, a forerunner of the band’s current attitude, and the songs themselves are impressively atmospheric.

The third CD is the previously unreleased and apparently infamous 1991 rehearsal session for Goatlord, and comparing it to the end product, officially released to general disdain in 1996, it’s interesting that this version is superior, free of the poor vocals and in some ways produced better! Fine, we have to put up with some between song conversations from the band (in Norwegian) but it adds to the atmosphere excellently, and anyone who ever wanted an insight into the band’s recording process will be interested. The bonus version of A Blaze In The Northern Sky is the overall highlight from this CD, however, for the sheer difference between this and what it became if nothing else. As a finale, there’s also a drum solo from Fenriz, which is pretty darn good, proving that he’s a far more capable sticksman than generally given credit for.

As a package, Frostland Tapes is excellent value. The booklet features the thoughts of Fenriz and Nocturno on their influences, which makes for interesting reading, and the digipack version I own is well made and sturdy. Putting it simply, this is a must-own for fans of the band.

Killing Songs :
Land Of Frost, Forest Of Darkness, Snowfall, Thulcandra, Archipelago, The Watchtower, Iconoclasm Sweeps Cappadocia
Goat quoted no quote
Other albums by Darkthrone that we have reviewed:
Darkthrone - Arctic Thunder reviewed by Goat and quoted 70 / 100
Darkthrone - The Underground Resistance reviewed by Goat and quoted 75 / 100
Darkthrone - The Cult Is Alive reviewed by Goat and quoted 84 / 100
Darkthrone - Plaguewielder reviewed by Goat and quoted 80 / 100
Darkthrone - Circle the Wagons reviewed by Kyle and quoted 82 / 100
To see all 18 reviews click here
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There are 3 replies to this review. Last one on Wed Oct 15, 2008 12:32 pm
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