Darkthrone - Eternal Hails......
Peaceville Records
Black Metal, Doom
5 songs (42:00)
Release year: 2021
Peaceville Records
Reviewed by Goat
Major event

A rather unbelievable nineteenth outing for this most delectable of duos, Darkthrone are back again, and have reinvented themselves, again. Moving on from the mixture of styles on 2019's Old Star and building atop the doom-touched foundations audible there, Eternal Hails...... is yet another late career highlight for Nocturno Culto and the newly crowned "Mohawkwind" Fenris. As you'd expect from an album with such a gleefully eccentric title, Eternal Hails (dot dot dot dot dot dot dot) is hardly a step away from the terrain that Darkthrone have marked out for themselves across their last few albums, opener His Masters Voice a chugging heavy metal stomper that's just as bleak as the band's more blizzard-like black metal moments from the past. And yet it's a remarkable exploration of doom metal across the latter half, catchy if dry riffing ringing out like some otherworldly combination of Celtic Frost and Black Sabbath, ending in an oddly melodic little trill that is spiritually recalled later in the album with its synth meanderings.

It's a fine start to an album that keeps improving on itself, the following Hate Cloak leaning on an infectious groovy doom riff as it somehow pounds through nearly ten minutes of captivating heavy metal excellence. In some ways this could be a lost album from the 80s underground, Wake of the Awakened buzzing along merrily with backing keyboards but being an actual song with peaks and troughs, a melodic motif and central compelling riff that seizes the listener by the ear and practically forces you to headbang along. Like every song surrounding it, the production is not clean but is crisp and also oddly timeless, bass jangling and solid, physical drum hits alongside the deep and intense guitar tone. It's something you could use as a perfect example of heavy metal, to teach those who get it wrong, who have no idea how badly they are messing up.

Fun, isn't it, to think of these black metal legends as professors of their genre? Of course, Darkthrone are at once innovators and deeply reactionary. They have, as ever, taken a lot of influence from the early days of metal and reproduced it in a way faithful to the cause without deviating from their base sound. Sure, you could cast this as yet another regurgitation of the Celtic Frost DNA that the band have always utilised so well, but to date Darkthrone haven't failed in both making it their own and reshaping it into new takes on an old sound. These mines are deep. And although the only truly surprising moment here is the outro to final track Lost Arcane City of Uppakra, driven by a minimalist keyboard trill that is more like something from Fenris' side project Isengard than something you'd expect from Darkthrone, the album still feels like an artistic statement very much of the year 2021. Surprising, and enjoyable, and a terrific album from an act that, at this rate, will outlast us all. Eternal Hails, indeed!

Killing Songs :
Hate Cloak, Wake of the Awakened, Voyage to a Northpole Adrift
Goat quoted 90 / 100
Other albums by Darkthrone that we have reviewed:
Darkthrone - Astral Fortress reviewed by Goat and quoted 70 / 100
Darkthrone - Old Star reviewed by Goat and quoted 80 / 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
To see all 21 reviews click here
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