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DARKTHRONE New Wave of Black Heavy Metal EP, Peaceville (2007)


Creativity is an element that no artist can claim to have absolute control over. Sometimes it can take years before a musician manages to come up with a single form of expression and others seem to cope with the constant influx of new ideas. From the looks of it, Norwegian Black Metalers Darkthrone have been going through quite a productive phase lately seeing as, only a year after the release of their latest opus "The Cult is Alive", they are once again ready to unleash a new catastrophic attack onto our nervous system. Seeing as their latest opus "F.O.A.D" is scheduled for release in September 2007, and knowing that the hordes of their fans are looking forward to being exposed to the band's latest material, led to the band's decision to release yet another EP entitled "New Wave of Black Heavy Metal".

My past experience with Darkthrone EPs has taught me that I should not really expect them to give me a clear understanding of the band's musical orientation at the time of their release and "New Wave of Black Heavy Metal" is not an exception. We have all witnessed the band's "return to basics" in "The Cult is Alive" and certainly the title of the new EP together with the four new musical samples that it contains indicates a similar attitude, but I for one will choose to wait until the end of September before I reach any conclusions. So, for the time being, let's see what's on offer in this release.

Melody has not been amongst Darkthrone's strongest attributes in the early days, but this "new" musical approach that they chose to follow allowed more opportunities from the addition of such elements in the band's music. Adding to that the fact that Darkthrone in the year 2007 sound more tight and mature than ever before explains how they manage to bring quality compositions such as "Wisdom of the Dead" to life. Being one of Nocturno Culto's contribution, this four minute composition may indeed sound closer to songs from the "Hate Them"/"Sardonic Wrath" era, yet it is far better structured and varied than any of the compositions featured in these albums.

Fenriz's contribution "Canadian Metal" is much more 'old school' in its character - a song based on simple guitar riffs and a vocal performance terribly reminiscent of Paul Baloff's (Exodus). Even the most open-minded of Darkthrone's fans will be surprised by the song's melodic interval which is so different from the more Epic Bathory-influenced tunes of "Hedninger Fra Helvete" - a classic late Darkthrone composition that will not appear in the band's forthcoming album. Finally the unholy duet has performed yet another impressive cover on the Testor's anthem "Bad Attitude" which once again proves how fitting these songs are to the style of the band.

As I've already said I did not expect this EP to provide me with a clear understanding of what to expect from the new Darkthrone album and that was indeed the case. The feeling I get from these four compositions, though, is that the members of Darkthrone have decided to stick to their guns and continue to pursue the "new" and challenging direction that they decided to take in "The Cult is Alive". Will this really be the case? Well, I guess we all have to wait a couple of months in order to find out - I simply cannot wait!

Review by John Stefanis

Interview (July 2007)

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**** Out of this world | **** Pretty damn fine |
*** OK, approach with caution unless you are a fan |
** Instant bargain bin fodder | * Ugly. Just ugly

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