Circle the Wagons
Forefathers like Hellhammer and Bathory notwithstanding, it was the Norwegian duo of Fenriz and Nocturno Culto (a.k.a. Darkthrone) that invented modern Black Metal as we know it. The corpsepaint, the occult themes and nature worship taken to gonzoid extremes, the unrelenting wall of chilling bleakness — it was all them. Fittingly, they didn’t give a fuck. Since their epochal Transylvanian Hunger, Darkthrone’s career has been one long withdrawal from society’s rules (hell, metal’s rules), drawing a line in the sand demarcating what is uniquely Darkthrone’s, formulating their own musical language and the sounds that they want to hear for the sake of playing them. The Darkthrone of Circle the Wagons is worlds away from the Darkthrone of Transylvanian Hunger or the Darkthrone of The Cult is Alive. With each album their sound becomes more individualized and primal, the clubhouse gets smaller and the inspirations are formative epiphanies — the Ramones, Motorhead, Sodom, Mercyful Fate. Circle the Wagons is an album that is as mischievous and tongue-in-cheek as it is heavy and brutal. Overblown power metal posturing one-minute segues effortlessly into trudging diabolical grind the next minute. Punk rock and NWOBHM meld as easily as the patches on a denim jacket. The song titles belie a stubborn insistence on doing things their own way up there with Frank Sinatra (“I Am The Graves of the 80s?” Hahahahaha). Their music is now completely their own.