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Circle The Wagons

Peaceville (2010)
Rating: 8.5/10

So, what hilarious song titles can the Norwegian gods of dark metal come up with this time? ‘I Am The Graves Of The 80s’ for a start, oh, and ‘I Am The Working Class’. Yep, Darkthrone are back with another nine songs thrown into their own unique metal cauldron and stirred at midnight with a large spoon made of rusty metal.

Circle The Wagons follows the same ancient path as previous efforts, only this time there’s a hint of more melody and Viking enchantment, particularly on opener ‘Those Treasures Will Never Befall You’ with its Norse-inspired riff and crystal clear Fenriz chant. As catchy as all the meathooks in hell, it gallops to a thrashy climax and is then swamped by the Nocturno-lead ‘Running For Borders’, which gallops from the speaker thanks to Fenriz’ war march of a drum and those ice-ridden guitars. Nocturno also gives a slightly clearer growl. Both he and Fenriz now seem keen to take to the frontline and lead the NWOBHM legions into the next realm.

The amusingly titled ‘I Am The Graves Of The 80s’ is a killer track, featuring a monk-like chart and more Celtic Frost grunts and creaky lyrics to match, climaxing with the oaken cry of “… bang your fuckin’ head!”. Fenriz and Nocturno seem to have resorted to their teenage years and are unashamed of doing this, and there’s no need for them to be, because Darkthrone continue to pave the way with their majestic metal.

‘Stylized Corpse’ is probably the albums most ominous track, beginning like a creepy hybrid of old Voivod and Bulldozer before crushing the cowards with a 70s-style solo and guttural burp of a vocal.

There’s so much about Darkthrone that I find inspiring. For all those metalheads who’ve given all their old vinyl away, or cast the music to the attic due to embarrassment, then you should be ashamed. Darkthrone have raised the flags, and also raised the bar, because whether it’s the punkoid thrash of the title track or rattling leviathan of ‘I Am The Working Class’, Darkthrone in the 21st century is pure heavy metal Armageddon. Stand and fight. Metal forever!

Neil Arnold