Darkthrone - The Cult Is Alive
Peaceville Records
Punkish Black Metal
10 songs (38:52)
Release year: 2006
Darkthrone, Peaceville Records
Reviewed by Goat
Archive review

You can’t really blame Ted and Glyve for wanting a change. Despite being standard-bearers for True Black Metal for nearly all of their career, Darkthrone have never been ones to sit and accept casual treatment by fans, and so The Cult Is Alive was rather a shock when it was dropped on unsuspecting heads in 2006, preceded by the band’s very first music video, probably one of the oddest ever made. Many former supporters of the band threw their corpsepainted toys firmly out of the grim pram, and declared the band dead, a reaction that Nocturno Culto and Fenriz clearly didn’t, don’t, and will never give a shit about. After all, much of The Cult Is Alive seems written as a (tongue-partially-in-cheek) criticism of the Black Metal scene, and no band intending to apologise to wayward fans would call the follow-up Fuck Off And Die.

But were they right to be upset, these fans? In retrospect, it’s hard to hear what they were complaining about, compared to what was soon to come. The Cult Is Alive is much more Black Metal than the albums after, which have steadily reduced the BM content, and is a damn sight better in sheer songwriting terms than the patchy-at-best Dark Thrones And Black Flags. From the moment that opening anthem The Cult Of Goliath roars in, those in the know will recognise this as a pumped-up version of the sound that the demonic duo had been pursuing on previous albums. Instead of chasing after that infamous, repetitive, hypnotic sound, the band instead decided to write songs and have a good time, and indeed a good time is had, by both band and listener.

The aforementioned The Cult Of Goliath is simply ripping, killer riffage swirling around a typically intense drum performance, Nocturno’s ‘come on you fuckers!’ one of the most heartfelt pronouncements from a Norwegian since Bjørge Lillelien’s moment of glory in 1981. Yet it’s nothing compared to the following Too Old Too Cold, a raging yet funny calling-out of every supposedly Black Metal critic of the band – to quote, ‘you call your metal black? It’s just plastic, lame and weak...” The music is intense and pounding too, a fully deserving soundtrack to the aforementioned video, and it speaks volumes that even from that high, the album keeps thrilling. Atomic Coming is a furious war anthem, Fenriz’s over-the-top vocals on Graveyard Slut are a personal highlight (they’re not as bad as the falsetto to be found on later albums, but are perfectly judged for this energetically raunchy pounder – I deft anyone not to giggle at that ‘WOW!’) and Underdogs And Overlords blasts along groovily, the band never ceasing its assault on your ears.

You may have guessed by now that I’m rather a fan of this album, and although it’s no Blaze In The Northern Sky, The Cult Is Alive does exactly as promised earlier – it’s a fun album that sets out to party, and achieves all its aims. Even the less immediate tracks such as Whiskey Funeral and Blackest song present Tyster På Gud (with an especially killer solo) are still great, and Shut Up is ideal the next time you need a Black Metal diss track. Although the ‘you copy my style and call yourself a man’ and ‘Satanism is lost on you!’ jibes are real knifes in certain ribs, it’s the sheer bluntness of the band’s argument that comes through strongest. Fine, people complaining about Darkthronean quality may have had a point an album later, for the moment if you’re whining about The Cult Is Alive, I can only repeat the band’s words: shut up, you fucking twat! This may not live up to the classic trio of yore, but it’s a great listen and undoubtedly proves that yep, the cult is most certainly alive.

Killing Songs :
The Cult Of Goliath, Too Old Too Cold, Atomic Coming, Graveyard Slut, Shut Up
Goat quoted 84 / 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 - Plaguewielder reviewed by Goat and quoted 80 / 100
Darkthrone - Circle the Wagons reviewed by Kyle and quoted 82 / 100
Darkthrone - Ravishing Grimness reviewed by James and quoted 80 / 100
To see all 18 reviews click here
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