Circle The Wagons
posted on 3/2010 By:
Firstly, a quick tip of the hat to the good people at Peaceville Records:
A pre-order of the LP version of Circle the Wagons brought it to my doorstep a full month before the official release date, and with a snazzy Dennis Dread-ed Darkthrone "credit card" giving access to the MP3's to boot. This is exactly the kind of action I love to see during an age when so many folks turn to odious means to gobble up albums before true street date. More of this, please.
Secondly, a salute to the entire LP presentation:
A nice, heavy slab of 180gm vinyl; (insane) lyrics and loads of liner notes chock full of Darkthrone-ian pearls of wisdom (including Fenriz's latest installment of must-have albums) and further peeks into what seems to have become some sort of faction of ancient metallers who trek 'n' get wrecked in the wilderness together; and the added treat of a full-sized copy of Dread's cover art on high-quality 250gm paper stock. All-in-all, very worthy of shelling out the bucks in advance, and something I'll surely do again if it's offered similarly for future Darkthrone releases.
Thirdly and more in-depthly, a hearty hail 'n' exultation to these two maniacal pioneers-gone-native:
The duo of Fenriz and Nocturno Culto have spent the better part of the last half-decade+ shucking the textbook definition of Norwegian black metal -- something they're obviously enormously responsible for pioneering -- in favor of going Costner on today's modern black metal cavalry. No modern trends tolerated, no forward-thinking necessary, and utmost fealty/homage payed to 1.) those elders responsible for laying down the groundwork for raw metal/thrash/punk, and 2.) those who still uphold ancient practices today. In other words, Darkthrone is unabashedly antiquated, arrogantly fossilized and undoubtedly primed with bowstrings pulled and ready to defend their oldschool metal wigwam to the bloody death.
I'll admit I dragged my feet into the current camp. I saw the writing plain as day scribbled on the walls of 2006's Cult Is Alive, but I fought because I still needed Darkthrone as my Patron Saint of Raw-as-Dog-Ballz Norwegian Black Metal. So, 2007's turbo-charged thrashpunk F.O.A.D. stubbornly floated into my life with a cantankerously crooked-brow. Thankfully, I soon realized this "new birth" of Darkthrone was something I could easily align myself with, not only because I share a similar affinity for the classic bands consistently referenced by Fenriz for riff-and-rhythm inspirations, but also due to my sudden realization that the albums being regurgitated by these patriarchs-of-putridity were Fun_As_Hell. I understand there's a level of seriousness in Fenriz's tone when we see things such as "ANTI-KING OV HELL 001" scribed in the lower portion of Circle the Wagon's liner notes, but much like F.O.A.D. and its 2008 follow-up, this latest Darkthrone conjuring yet again sparks the sort of torch that rekindles days when metal cronies gathered in dungy garages to quaff brews, have a good time and hail the night alongside tinny boomboxes blaring Ample Destruction, In the Sign of Evil and Metal Anarchy. In this regard, Circle the Wagons strikes the target dead-center once again.
The nine slices of fire-fueled speed/thrash/punk/heavy metal on this particular platter volley writing/lyricist ownership back and forth between the twosome, with the Fenriz side of the kiln burning a little hotter in terms of raucous speed 'n' aggression, and the Nocturno end weighing heavier on establishing a fist-pumping groove. And while Culto once again zips his snarled lip in terms of what/who fueled his inspirational fires this go-around, Fenriz indicates bands such as Agent Steel, English Dogs, Omen and Savage Grace as accomplices trotting alongside the already well-established Motörhead enthusiasm of their current sound. Honestly, one could throw down any number of ancient underground band illuminates, but the unmistakable "Darkthrone filter" featuring Culto's woozy noodles, burnin' leads and gruff riffing patently marches apace with Fenriz's wonderfully animated, organic drumming style as the true star of the show once again. In short, despite the band's penchant for tattoo'ing their influences on their sleeves, Circle the Wagons remains an indisputable Darkthrone record.
While my needle is bound to wear the whole of this fine record down from start to finish, the volume level will be pushed to the limit with a number of current album highlights. Fenriz unequivocally establishes himself as a zombified proletariat bent on crushing new-metallers with the upbeat charges of "I Am The Graves of The 80's" and "I Am The Working Class" -- both of which howl and snap like a foaming mongrel with a Spring bunny in its sites. And Nocturno throws down a surprisingly pretty plate with the catchy "Running for Borders," but turns a diseased head as he spreads noxious disease to metal fashionistas by spattering faces with the coughing, chugging, sickly plod of "Stylized Corpse." However, the wealth of tasty riffs, snide rhythms and acidic leads combined with the parade of varying hoarse bellows and weirdly warbled clean vox will likely bring new favorites (or at least new favorite measures) to light as this record slowly ripens with age -- a true testament to a work with serious legs.
I realize Darkthrone doesn't have much use for critics. Hell, it's written in black and white as "The Choir of the Whining Professors" in the latter portion of the album's liner notes. It's a contempt I understand and fully accept; not because I have chiefly positive things to say about them, but because I respect the fact that these two have been laughing in the face of critique and heavy metal evolution for damn-near 20-years now. Fenriz and Culto ain't exactly double-fisting awards and polishing the hoods of fancy cars in their driveways for all their collective hard work. They're simply content to continue rutting a path that remains "true" to what they've always felt heavy metal should be: raw, defiant and most importantly, honest. And that's exactly what you get with this band, whether you like them or not. And that's precisely what Circle the Wagons delivers with yet another winning hand. Brew to the crew, Darkthrone. Brew to the fuckin' crew!
Register to post comments.
The Underground Resistance
Dark Thrones And Black Flags
The Cult Is Alive