Darkthrone - _F.O.A.D._
(Peaceville Records, 2007)
by: Jackie Smit (
At which point does bucking convention devolve into piss-take? Conversely, at which point does taking the piss become tantamount to a slap in the face? Heady questions, and ones which will undoubtedly form the spine of the debate that's likely to rage around Darkthrone's thirteenth full-length for years to come. As it is, it's hard to deny that Messrs Nocturno Culto and Fenriz have not been afforded significantly more rope than most, if only by virtue of the perverse matriarchal loyalty their legacy demands. You can only imagine the torrent of scorn had Satyr Wongraven even considered penning a song like "Whiskey Funeral" or "Graveyard Slut". But Darkthrone's following have persisted despite a growing number of distinctly more palatable influences creeping into their canon as far back as 2003's _Hate Them_. That they'll have their loyalty severely tested on that front this time round is without any doubt, for _F.O.A.D._ all but jettisons the black metal entirely, with often only the faintest intimations of the band's erstwhile sound of choice surviving amidst a glut of crust punk and traditional heavy metal riffs. Look past this and you'll uncover at least a handful of rough diamonds; particularly on "Canadian Metal", "Raised on Rock" and the thoroughly spectacular opener "These Shores Are Damned", Darkthrone pull off their torrid shtick with remarkable efficiency. But no amount of anti-corporate, anti-modern denunciation can hide the fact that a larger chunk of _F.O.A.D._ than should be tolerable is made up of plain old lazy writing, bearing nary a memorable trait. Not counting the fact that the vocals are sounding as though they were recorded over the phone more than ever, songs like "The Church of Real Metal" and "Pervertor of the 7 Gates" amount to little more than drunken parody. And when it comes down to it, the fundamental issue belying _F.O.A.D._'s downfall is the fact that there are countless unsigned acts currently doing the rounds who receive rejection letters from record labels for less than Darkthrone have been allowed to get away with here.
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