Darkthrone - _Total Death_
(Moonfog Productions, 1996)
by: Steve Hoeltzel (6 out of 10)
One thing I definitely respect about Darkthrone is that no two consecutive releases from them sound quite the same, though anything with the band's name on it is guaranteed to be heavy, harsh, and grim. On _TD_, the band departs a bit from the spitting rage and all-out speed of _Transylvanian Hunger_, and from the blatant Celtic Frost-isms of their subsequent release. Here, they favor a kind of hybrid blackened style which is fairly reminiscent of 80's pioneers like Frost and Sodom one moment (as on "Blasphemer") and pure, simplistic Norse black metal the next (see "Blackwinged"). Also, the production on this album is a step up, though that's not really saying much. Still, on the whole the band seems a bit subdued here compared to their previous couple of outings: although undeniably grim, _TD_ does not quite seethe with the same vitriolic fury that drips in buckets from older Darkthrone stuff. The speedy material is not as fast, nor quite as anguished in tone, and the more mid-tempo tracks seem pretty reserved when compared to the vicious pummelings which this band has been known to deal out in the past. All in all, this is more or less standard stuff, from a band who have previously proven themselves capable of having much more harrowing sonic impact. Not bad, but nothing special, either, and definitely nothing new.

(article published 8/12/1996)


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