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Peaceville (2007)
Rating: 8.5/10

I welcomed the return of “dark metal” Norwegian band Darkthrone with open arms. These hiking metal punks had spent a short time in the wilderness among the trools and orcs but were back in the studio with another nod towards old school, underground metal.

This time the record was dressed in primitive artwork by Dennis Dread and featured a list of records recommended by Fenriz of Nocturno Culto. This certainly hearkened back to the days of tape trading, and it was great to see a band of this ilk keen to get new fans of Darkthrone into some of the old, forgotten bands and newer, underground acts.

Musically ‘F.O.A.D.’ (meaning ‘Fuck Off And Die’) is another trip into the psyche of Darkthrone, a place ruled by passion and influence, ranging from Motörhead, to Venom, to Celtic Frost, and no frills 80s thrash.

Album opener is the clattering ‘These Shores Are Damned’ with its rusty riff and crashing drums. It’s the sort of riff that makes you want to jump in a time machine and travel back to Shades Records (a cool but sadly defunct London record shop) and dig out another leather-clad import on wax. Culto’s grime-infested vocals give the traditional riff a morbid edge, but it’s the hilariously titled ‘Canadian Metal’ where Darkthrone really climb from the grave. This track sums up Darkthrone post-black metal, it’s a festering corpse of a track with Fenriz adopting Tom G. Warrior (Celtic Frost) style vocal yelps and grunts, and giving props to the underground Canadian scene over a buzzing riff and charging drum that leads to an almost childish yet foetid chanted chorus.

The brilliantly titled ‘The Church Of Real Metal’ follows suit with its traditional rock plod of a riff and killer solo courtesy of Czral from Aura Noir. This is a stirring, doom-laden track that finally convinces me that Darkthrone are a heavy metal band rather than having any attachment to the black metal hocus pocus.

‘The Banners Of Old’ creeps into the fray with similar tendencies, a creepy, doom-laced chime that builds with a Fenriz drum and frosty riff. The title track sounds like it was scraped off the boot of the mid-80s, a raging punk metal slab with Fenriz adopting rock god pomp on that banshee chorus. And let’s not forget the fiery majesty of the wonderfully titled ‘Raised On Rock’ complete with galloping drum and crusty riff. Darkthrone being the only band that could get away with such a seemingly cheesy title, unless you count the oaken grind of ‘Pervertor Of The 7 Gates’ with its Uruk-hai march of doom and warlord wails.

What more can I say? Darkthrone are still as evil as the day they were born.

Neil Arnold