The Cult Is Alive
posted on 5/2006 By:
Serious fans of music have been subjected to countless amounts of duos over the years. From the soulful wailing's of Sam & Dave, the man-eating maelstrom of Hall & Oates, the godly gift of Godflesh, or the betty-both-ways bungholery of The Indigo Girls, the world has had more than its fair share of good and bad musical duos. Enter to the stage black metal’s most noteworthy contribution to the world of dyads – Nocturno Culto and Fenriz – two sociopaths of the scene responsible for delivering possibly the most consistently devastating black metal albums over nearly 20 years of miserable existence.
Apart from the occasional guest now and again, guitarist/bassist/main-vocalist, Nocturno Culto, and drummer/occasional-vocalist, Fenriz, have been the sole contributing members of Darkthrone since their seminal 1994 release, Transylvanian Hunger. Since that landmark record, fans have seen this blackened duo bend the genre they so hatefully helped shape with boundary nudging works that have served both as repellents and beacons of light to interested parties. And much like many of the great duos of our time, Culto and Fenriz have weathered the many storms of quibblers, and in their particular case, remained steadfast as a combo whose sole desire has been to deliver unto the faithful true Norwegian black metal…and in my opinion, they’ve struck another killing blow with The Cult Is Alive.
Darkthrone’s latest studio album clobbers immediately with a surprisingly well produced mid-paced black metal attack akin to what was found on 2003’s incredible, Hate Them. Opening number, “The Cult of Goliath”, boils forth as Nocturno fiendishly taunts all men of the cloth with graveled howls, rollicking riffs, and acidic soloing. Similarly, “De Underjordiske”, “Forebyggende Krig”, “Atomic Coming” (an ode to fallen Piggy), and the amazing, “Underdogs & Overlords”, all hit with a similar formula that mixes mid-paced black metal, modest punk infusions, and slower breakdowns with sporadic, acrid solos. Also once again emblazoned are the immensely bitter vocals of Nocturno Culto. His septic spouting is filled with a level of grit and gravel unmatched by any other black metal vocalist today. In fact, I would have to say it sounds as if his voice has become even more calamitous over the years, and because of his now slightly lower register, they add an element of heaviness to the record that’s quite welcomed. “Tyster På Gud”, and the alcohol soaked “Whiskey Funeral” both quicken the pace to a more hellish stride, but still fall short of the furious speed found on the bands’ earlier material, with the latter showcasing some of Fenriz’s brilliantly boozed prose truly fit for a black metallers drunken exploits.
The songs from The Cult Is Alive that will most likely cause a stink amongst black metal elitists are those that lean heavier on the black n’ roll elements the band has recently adopted. The remarkably catchy, “Too Old, Too Cold”, and the wry, “Shut Up”, both find the duo slayin’ fake black metal beotches with the fervor of a young Cool J, while the near mocking riffage and romantic lyrics of “Graveyard Slut” definitely show these two aren’t afraid to inject a bit of tongue and cheek humor to the mix. All three tunes still hold an unmistakable Darkthrone flavor, but dip more generously into punk territory ala early Turbo Negro, et al.
In my opinion Darkthrone have never “sold out” or “softened” on any of their releases. The Cult Is Alive is every bit as visceral as much of their earlier works, but its spell is cast from a different sleeve. Yes, they’ve infused more black n’ roll and punkish elements, but the sound is still unmistakably misanthropic Darkthrone. If you wanna hear A Blaze In The Northern Sky, then for the love of all that’s unholy, go fucking listen to A Blaze In The Northern Sky. It’s simply unrealistic to expect two guys to play in a band together for nearly two decades without mixing shit up a bit to keep things fresh (and to keep from murdering one another). And for those that think The Cult Is Alive holds no tr00 black metal within its walls, to you, dear reader, I say nay. Black metal does not only entail blast beats, low-fi production, and rasped vocals, it’s about attitude, heart, hatred, and above all else, nihilism, and in those regards, The Cult Is Alive undoubtedly delivers.
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