Norwegian Black Metal has become a global brand and an iconic musical expression. The music itself is extreme and belongs to the very fringes of rock, and the imagery and references are specific, sinister and often of “Nordic” nature. But a big part of the distinction and appeal of the genre also lies in factors that don’t pertain to musical content but to attitude and self-interpretation. Absolute, unwavering individualism and rigid independence in terms of corporate aspects of the music and media industry is defining. The bands that uphold this standard most fervently are also those that come across as most enigmatic and most deserving of respect and worship.
Darkthrone is perhaps the most esteemed band of the whole genre in this respect, renowned for rejecting any hints of commercial machinations or artistic compromise.
The well known device of making offers that cannot be refused does not work on this band, as a booking manager of Wacken open air festival in Germany learnt when Fenriz, Darkthrone’s founder and drummer/vocalist simply deleted an email-offer of one million Norwegian kroner for a gig at the festival. (So Fenriz tells the story anyway.) Darkthrone have made a decision not to play concerts any longer, and that is not negotiable. And they also refuse all short- listings for prizes and awards. Thus everything is put into the albums themselves, which time again prove to be redefining and trailblazing.
Since the inception twenty years ago Darkthrone has been among the most important bands in developing the genre and the sound of Black Metal. But at the same time Darkthrone, now a duo made up of Fenriz and Nocturno Culto, has consistently challenged all paradigmatic truths about genre, also those truths they themselves have so often defined. Even if the albums they produced in the early nineties are viewed as constitutional to Black Metal, they actually don’t fit squarely into this genre at all. They have always also been dissimilar, and retained punk roots and other influences that don’t fit with the now mainstream Black Metal concept.
The first sign of Darkthrone anno 2007 was this summer’s EP entitled NWOBHM (New wave of black heavy metal). The title, explains Fenriz in a recent interview with Norwegian daily Aftenposten, hints at Darkthrone’s roots in punk (as with the new wave of British heavy metal in the 80s) and signifies that they are again at a crossroads in their musical endeavour.
The album for which the EP was a teaser is out now under the title F.O.A.D (Fuck off and die). It is virtually not produced at all relates Fenriz, at least he didn’t touch any buttons. And the result is an extremely raw sound, reminiscent of a demo cassette from the eighties. With this kind of production, or lack thereof, the musical core itself, i.e. the riffs and the energy, becomes the only element. Darkthrone manage again to make a difference, and their hardcore mindset continues to play out as a noticeable factor in the world of Black- and extreme metal: F.O.A.D will both please and confuse, and the deeply inscribed hatred for compromise and commercialism is reissued once again.
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