Darkthrone - Old Star
Peaceville Records
Black Metal, Heavy Metal
6 songs (38:10)
Release year: 2019
Peaceville Records
Reviewed by Goat
Major event

Back for an impressive eighteenth album, Norwegian duo Darkthrone are constant innovators in their particular shade of black and Old Star moves onwards from the more throwback approach we saw on 2016's Arctic Thunder in search of new terrain. This includes the usual speed and heavy metal influences, plus the always present Celtic Frost foundation but an intriguing dose of doom metal too, which makes Old Star feel distinct from past albums. It introduces it smoothly, both opener I Muffle Your Inner Choir and late-album highlight Duke of Gloat kicking in with the usual gallop, snarled vocals from Nocturno and smoothly hypnotic drumming from Fenriz making them a natural follow-on from Arctic Thunder and even linking back to the 00s albums that offered simple yet entrancing bursts of black metal. Notable immediately is that the mix is far from the usual rawness, instead an old school-feeling organic morass that allows the instruments to shine, courtesy of ex-Nachtmystium and Minsk bassist Sanford Parker.

Halfway through several tracks here a breakdown heralds a shift to slower, groovier terrain, allowing the Celtic Frostian riffs to take doomy focus. It works fantastically well, as fans of Tom G will be aware; Darkthrone's biggest influence always were terrific whatever tempo they went at and Nocturno and Fenriz have absorbed this well, the more rocking doom of The Key is Inside the Wall or The Hardship of the Scots more blatant examples. As the good lads at Last Rites have discerned, the main riff to Scots is a tribute to AC/DC's Let Me Put My Love Into You which shows how much metal owes to the building blocks of classic rock as well as the relatable music nerdery of Darkthrone. Of course, the Norwegians construct something altogether their own out of it, a solid chugging Frostian dirge with a gloomy atmosphere surrounding the riff-worship, turning almost upbeat around the halfway mark as it channels both sleazy rock and occult thrash into a hybrid blackened beast that gallops along cheerlessly but compellingly.

And really Darkthrone's story has always been this, taking the building blocks of metal and reassembling them into simple but gutwrenchingly intense blasts of pure sound, be it their early raw hypnotic hymns or the current reinvention of heavy metal through their own filters. The guitars of the title track, say, may drone out a little slower than usual but this is still very much Darkthrone to the core; two friends who enjoy getting in the garage every so often to blast out an album, and although they helped define black metal in the nineties nowadays do what they want without a care for genre labels that long ago ceased to have much meaning. A new Darkthrone album is a new Darkthrone album; like nothing else out there, always worth hearing, not always perfect, but offered with the same love for music that drives us all.

Killing Songs :
The Hardship of the Scots, Duke of Gloat, The Key is Inside the Wall
Goat quoted 80 / 100
Other albums by Darkthrone that we have reviewed:
Darkthrone - Eternal Hails...... reviewed by Goat and quoted 90 / 100
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
To see all 20 reviews click here
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