Darkthrone - Ravishing Grimness
Moonfog Productions
Black Metal
6 songs (37:40)
Release year: 1999
Darkthrone, Moonfog Productions
Reviewed by James
Archive review

After something of a hiatus following the so-so Total Death, Darkthrone returned three years later with Ravishing Grimness, one of the more underrated albums in their extensive back catalogue. It continues down the same Celtic Frostian-path they'd been going down since Panzerfaust, but the band sound revitalized here, Ravishing Grimness benefiting from a thick, seasick guitar tone that's sure to raise the ire of black metal purists. There's a hint of the brawling black n' roll sound they'd pick up on in later releases, the end of Lifeless and the punkish attack of The Beast riding on blackened Motorhead riffing. Not that there's an absence of the blackened majesty of old, as highlight The Claws Of Time is as good as anything they've ever done, the sweeping opening riff pre-empting the likes of Wolves In The Throne Room by a good few years. It's a track that doesn't sound like anything else in the Darkthrone catalogue, and it certainly would have been interesting to see them go in that direction rather than become snotty black n' roll pranksters. It would have saved us from the mess that was Dark Thrones And Black Flags, at least, and who knows, it may well have sparked an artistic revival for the band.

Coming as it did at the demise of the Norwegian black metal scene, with most of the major players in decline or moving away from black metal altogether, Ravishing Grimness seems to be Darkthrone taking on the mantle of elder statesmen, reliably churning out solid albums every couple of years. Ravishing Grimness isn't the band trying to reclaim the position as leaders of the black metal pack, it's the band kicking back and playing the music they want to make, free from the pressures of critical or fan expectation. And as a record by a band in the more advanced stages of their career, the days of being something fresh and exciting behind them, you really can't fault Ravishing Grimness. It's not always the most exciting of releases, but the band never put a foot wrong, and even the weak spot that is the title track is merely a bit dull.

However, it's fair to say that the band didn't have much left in the tank at this point. The album is brief at six songs and just over thirty five minutes, a good ten minutes shorter than the average Darkthrone release. But that's probably to the album's benefit, Ravishing Grimness being one of the more accessible things they've put out. Pretty much each song has it's own separate identity, and although the album falls off a bit towards the end it doesn't outstay its' welcome. I wouldn't recommend it before hearing any of their classic releases, or even Goatlord, but if you're still in need of a Darkthrone fix after working your way through their best material you could do a lot worse than Ravishing Grimness. Not life-changing, but a solid shot of black metal in your day.

Killing Songs :
Lifeless, The Beast, The Claws Of Time
James quoted 80 / 100
Goat quoted 68 / 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
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