Darkthrone - _Hate Them_
(Moonfog, 2003)
by: James Montague (9 out of 10)
Did you really think you could survive another northern winter without a new Darkthrone album? Of course not! December darkness descends, the moon freezes, and two Norwegian guys get together to relive a ritual for the tenth time -- when the weekend rocks around, grab a case of beer, head to the studio and thrash out some hateful tunes. 26 hours later, and another black metal masterpiece is recorded, mixed, and ready to unleash its fury.

Some thought Darkthrone had been treading water of late. Some saw the colour digipak and lush sound of _Plaguewielder_ and thought Satyr's dreaded Moonfog influence had claimed another victim. Rest assured, although the strong production is still there, the spirit of Darkthrone is burning bright. Indeed, the opening number, "Rust", is one of their finest moments. It starts with a slow dirge and an almighty, foreboding bass guitar (yes, bass on a Darkthrone record!) which gradually picks up pace until we're at a solid mid-tempo thrash. Then Nocturno Culto utters the words, "Consistence unknown like early black metal" and then, as their beloved genre is announced, all hell breaks loose. Several tremolo riffs are linked seamlessly before the song concludes with a classic thrash riff -- a spine tingler all the way.

The opening demonstrates aptly how Darkthrone have changed over the years, learning to develop a real sense of dynamics which they failed to master in their death metal debut, _Soulside_Journey_, and didn't even attempt during their revered trio of garage-BM albums. While I must concede that their early black metal exploits were darker and ultimately more important to the genre, _Hate Them_ absolutely rocks. It is the pinnacle achievement in the style of their recent albums, _Ravishing Grimness_ and _Plaguewielder_, and reflects the essence of _A Blaze in the Northern Sky_ without totally embodying it.

Put simply, Darkthrone continues to dominate the Norwegian scene. You COULD live without them these days. But why would you want to?

Contact: http://www.darkthrone.no

(article published 4/21/2003)


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