Darkthrone - Panzerfaust
Moonfog Productions
Black Metal
7 songs (39:03)
Release year: 1995
Darkthrone, Moonfog Productions
Reviewed by Goat
Archive review

Generally considered the last ‘classic’ Darkthrone before the late-90s rolled in, Panzerfaust isn’t quite as amazing as the truly classic threesome of yore (and if you need to be told what they are, stop reading this review right now, poser!) but manages somehow to kick tremendous amounts of ass anyways. It was recorded using exactly the same equipment as its predecessor, 1994’s Transilvanian Hunger, but rather than continue in that direction Darkthrone decided to mix things up a little and partially regressed, not to their early Death Metal sound but to a sound from far, far earlier that helped make them who they are. Yes, several of the tracks here show clear Celtic Frost vibes, and it’s not a bad thing at all. Celtic Frost have been an important group in the development of Black Metal as a whole, without doubt, but Darkthrone especially owe them a certain debt, and in some ways Panzerfaust is a tribute to the Swiss legends, moreso than even A Blaze In The Northern Sky, where In The Shadow Of The Horns was about as Celtic Frosty as it’s possible to get without calling yourself Tom G Warrior.

Coming back to Panzerfaust and listening to the likes of Beholding The Throne Of Might it’s impossible to hold any other opinion but that Darkthrone wanted to praise their chief influence, and yet the way this album balances its two souls (true Black Metal machine and Celtic Frost worship act) and even melds them is spectacular. There was something spine-chillingly pure and honest about this band, back before they turned into a Blackened Punk act (as much as I enjoy later Darkthrone, it isn’t anywhere near as soulfully intense as the classic albums) and even the more than ridiculous lyrics of Quintessence, written by Varg Vikernes, can’t stop the stern-faced Doom-ridden quality from shining through. For those who have forgotten, here’s a sample:

Five million Christians on a ride towards us
Oh, I slaughtered the bunch with one single hit (with my spear)
Five million women so alone in the night
Oh, I had them all satisfied profusely (every night by myself)

I’m not sure whether it would be more awesome if Varg meant every word with grim-faced passion or was wetting himself laughing whilst he wrote them; either way, this is Black Metal OTT-ness in perfect form, from the exact weapon that Varg used to kill five million Christians to the clarification that hey, not only were these five million women satisfied, they were satisfied every single goddamn night by Varg alone. What a guy.

Of course, the album isn’t all Frosty. Opening blast En Vind Av Sorg (‘a wind of sorrow’) takes the Transilvanian Hunger template and runs with it, creating an intriguing suggestion of what would have happened if Darkthrone were content to do the same thing twice in a row, whilst Hans Siste Vinter (‘his last winter’) switches back into pure Black Metal, an interesting change after The Hordes Of Nebulah. It can rather feel that Darkthrone were at a loss as to how to follow up such a masterpiece, and indeed you can find many people in the scene today who would claim that the band never managed to, that they created their opus magnus and have been stuck in circles ever since, but I’d especially argue against that here; as good as classic Darkthrone is, the albums after are deserving of attention in their own right, and none so much as Panzerfaust.

What makes this album complete and worthy instead of a meandering mess is twofold. The atmosphere is one, the sheer belief in what they were doing coming across clearly and acting still as a powerful portrayal of Darkthrone’s belief in this Black Metal thing to a spinechilling extent; the other is the heritage that flows through the band’s veins, expelled in their performance here. Nocturno Culto growls and yells with a passion and intensity that shines, reducing the amateurish and cynical attempts of the likes of Korn to mere dust in comparison, whilst Fenriz, handling all the instrumentation for once, does a typically solid job. Really, Panzerfaust is, if not quite a classic, still a damn good album, and more than worthwhile for any fan of the band’s best works. There are no filler tracks except the keyboard-fuelled outro Sno Og Granskog (Utferd), its place at the end of the album perfect if you want to exercise the skip button. Otherwise, this is a damn good piece of Black Metal that Darkthrone fans everywhere should have on the shelf next to Transilvanian Hunger.

Killing Songs :
En Vind Av Sorg, Triumphant Gleam, Beholding The Throne Of Might, Quintessence
Goat quoted 89 / 100
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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