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DARKTHRONE Arctic Thunder Peaceville

Poor Fenriz. Having endured three decades spearheading the development of Norway’s frost-gnawed black metal community, the Darkthrone founder has now found himself involuntarily elected as a representative of his local town council. His election campaign was a picture of himself with his cat and a caption reading ‘Please don’t vote for me.’ And so everyone did. Hopefully, this newly instated position will not encroach on the productivity of his lifelong project. Alongside multi-instrumentalist collaborator Nocturno Culto, Arctic Thunder is the band’s sixteenth studio album. The name, Fenriz details, is in reference to a typically obscure Norwegian band from the late 80s whom Fenriz directly asked for permission to use. It also works in encapsulating the record’s emotive timbre.

In light of Fenriz’s aversion to critiquing or socially deconstructing his art, the musician merely refers to Arctic Thunder as ‘serious’ and ‘primitive,’ with an emphasis on its ‘solemn/ introvert atmosphere’. Ambiguous enough to fascinate. Direct enough to know its intentionally foreboding nature will trump the tone of their previous outing, 2013’s The Underground Resistance.

It’s crucial to note at this point in Darkthrone’s history that their trajectory doesn’t parrot the same impenetrably strident black metal sound of their former years. Factually, the band haven’t concentrated on their ‘Unholy Trinity’ style of playing since 2006, having released their final black metal record in 2004 with the rather bromidic Sardonic Wrath. Here, Darkthrone further their pursuit to coalesce their interests, incorporating elements of speed metal, crust punk, and distinctly traditional heavy metal. Astute, tremolo-decorated riffs remain the nucleus for the duo with opener Tundra Leech playing out like a more subdued Bolt Thrower arrangement. Throw Me Through The Marshes is an exhibition of proto-doom akin to the likes of Trouble or early Saint Vitus. Vocal responsibilities lay solely down to Nocturno Culto, delivering a routinely acrid growl but one that is comprehensibly tuneful. A genuinely accessible metal record that endorses all aspects of the genre’s budding conventions.