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Eternal Hails


Artist: Darkthrone
Label: Peaceville
RRP: £13.99
Release Date: 25 June 2021

Peaceville releases Eternal Hails, the 19th album by Norwegian Black Metal band Darkthrone. Inspired by Black Sabbath, Celtic Frost and Candlemass, the combo formed as Black Death in 1986. They dropped the Death Metal sound by 1991’s Soulside Journey in favour of a primitive Black Metal feel. For this release Fenriz and Nocturno Culto have gone for longer, more Doom-like themes. The album was recorded at the Chaka Khan studio in Oslo. Darkthrone strive to stay fresh but reassuringly reliable (“No matter what happens we will still sound like us, it seems!”). The album is available in several formats: Black Vinyl, various Limited Edition coloured Vinyls, Picture Disc, and CD. It is also available as a Limited Edition Box Set incorporating Purple Coloured heavyweight Vinyl, CD in an alternative Digisleeve Format, Cassette Tape, 12-Page Booklet about the recording experience, 10” Art Print of the cover by David Hardy, and a handwritten letter from Fenriz...

There are only five tracks here, but they’re long ones! 'His Master’s Voice' has a simple guitar line welcome-in building drum patterns before the full band sound suddenly explodes with faster verses and more Doom-laden choral parts. The growled vocals are very old school Black Metal, somewhat like Venom but with a warmer, more refined overall presentation. Also, in my opinion, it’s more melodic and thematic. A buzzing low bass and matching guitar is prominent throughout. The opening of 'Hate Cloak' reminds me of more Melodic Black Metal bands from the Scandinavia region, such as Thyrfing and Vintersorg. The more grating vocals is the only factor which sets this aside. The brief tunes that follow the riff are unusual and off-kilter, and that makes them a defining moment. I like the separate sections which somehow come together as several songs in one (think Iron Maiden’s 'Phantom of the Opera', but in a very different Metal sub-genre). The sheer length of the track causes you to invest more interest in the product.

'Wake of the Awakened' is straight out of the traps with a fast, passive aggressive steamer. This has a simple structure, but is heavy and engaging. The drums change the pace slightly and, again, the mid-sections adopt a more atmospheric Doom-surround dark cloak. There is a change of riff from the mid-point, and another more standard one sees the song out. 'Voyage to the Northpole Adrift' adopts a great intro riff; creating a weird netherland focus which is really different. It’s a shame that this is immediately replaced with a much more average Black/Doom riff. There is an abrupt Speed Metal break-out. I can appreciate the constant change though, which keeps it fresh. Being invested in the journey here persuades me that this may even be the best example on offer here.

'Lost Arcane City of Uppakra' has a Sludge sense of movement that immediately moves into a quicker Rock beat – albeit basement low in tones. The long thematic outro piece proves mesmerising. Another good one, and a strong ending to this package. Although I have heard bits and pieces of Darkthrone before, I haven’t followed their career over the years. I do prefer more energy and melody. However, the basement recording production on this release means this could be anyone in the future – and that opens up a world full of possibilities.


Ty Power

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