Darkthrone - Dark Thrones And Black Flags
Peaceville Records
Punk / Black Metal
10 songs (38:58)
Release year: 2008
Darkthrone, Peaceville Records
Reviewed by James

Darkthrone's last two releases have been fairly pleasant surprises for me, F.O.A.D in particular sounding more exciting than anything the band have cut to tape in years. So, I assumed they'd continue their return to form when Dark Thrones And Black Flags was announced earlier this year. And it's here! And it's not as good! “But wait,” I hear you ask, “F.O.A.D was a pretty damn killer album, which surely leaves Dark Thrones And Black Flags plenty of room to be a solid album in its own right?”. Well, it seems the band have made a snoozer of this one. Whereas the past two releases had enough humour and fun value to make up for their shortcomings, Dark Thrones And Black Flags sounds oddly, well, serious. Despite the song titles being as goofy as ever, the sound has a touch more black metal to it, resulting in a weird, dour version of what we saw on F.O.A.D. Both The Cult Is Alive and F.O.A.D sounded to me like the work of a band who knew they couldn't recapture their former glories, so decided to have some fun, and hopefully make a fairly charming record while they were at it. This time out, all the critical acclaim seems to have gone to their heads, and they seem to have written this album with the intention of being, y'know, a proper band again, rather than a enjoyable, affectionate ode to old-school punk and metal.

Sadly, the only two songs that really stand out here are opener The Winds They Called The Dungeon Shaker (complete with some eyebrow raising clean vocals) and Hiking Metal Punks (from what I can gather, genuinely a song about hiking). They have the same adrenaline and sense of fun that F.O.A.D had, and were it not for a slightly baffling depressive section in The Winds They Called The Dungeon Shaker (these atmospheric sections come up quite a bit in this album, and they really are something of a head-scratcher), the cynic in me would say they were left overs from the F.O.A.D sessions.

The rest, then, is too fault-ridden and just plain dull to be of any note. The vocals are drenched in noise and distortion, annoyingly at odds with the cleaner guitar sound. What's worse, Nocturno Culto and Fenriz seem to be on some kind of mission to sound as alike to each other as humanly possible, so much so that I genuinely have trouble telling who's singing on each track. The riffs seem to be treading water much of the time, only the odd bit here and there making any dent in the listener's eardrum. Luckily, Darkthrone have locked onto a good sound here, so you should be able to get a fairly pleasant headbang out of it, but there's almost zero replay value here. There's also a slight lack of balls here, nothing here having any of the bile and spite of the two previous records (especially The Cult Is Alive, Nocturno Culto's vocals on that being acidic throughout). I suppose they were headed in that direction on F.O.A.D, mind. Regardless, songs about getting drunk and rocking out feel more than a little “nice” compared to “Kathaaria was built... world without end...”.

So, as Witch Ghetto staggers to the finish, if you're anything like me you'll feel more than a bit disappointed. Dark Thrones And Black Flags feels rushed, the band seeming to have forgotten to have written any songs (the title track being two-and-a-half minutes of nothing). Still, the fact that they've claimed they'll spend longer on the next one gives me some trace of hope that this is a fluke. I'm not going to be burning my Darkthrone shirt just yet, but if they can't rustle up something decent on their next album, well, the band may well be finished.

Killing Songs :
The Winds They Called The Dungeon Shaker, Hiking Metal Punks
James quoted 48 / 100
Goat quoted 63 / 100
Other albums by Darkthrone that we have reviewed:
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
Darkthrone - Plaguewielder reviewed by Goat and quoted 80 / 100
To see all 19 reviews click here
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There are 7 replies to this review. Last one on Sat Nov 08, 2008 6:49 pm
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