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Darkthrone - Soulside Journey
Review: As death metal came to fruition in 1991 dissenting voices attempted dissonance to the well-established ideals of death, and from that came the rudiments of the next genre. While the first album Soulside Journey from Darkthrone clearly belongs in the death metal genre somewhere near other Scandinavian classics Entombed, Dismember, and Therion, the path of its evolution was connecting the breakdown of the rigid structuralism of death metal with a nihilistic and yet melodic and rhythmic sound, integrating the elements of "normal" music that manipulated listeners but were unused in the stripped-down, post-hardcore genre of death metal.
Primarily rebellion comes in tempo, less in the overall drop of frequency but the corresponding changed construction in drum beats, where counterpoint construction leaves implied rhythm hanging over the subconflicts of its elements. Using the fast tremelo strum of death metal, however, Darkthrone hang resonating melodic riffs over these engaging but simple drumbeats, changing notes slowly but strumming quickly. As riffs change the drums chase the evolution with variations in fills and addition of other instruments within the drumkit, introducing further voices of dissent in a column of it.
Hoarse and venting the chant of distortion masks the stage of the work, presenting each change as a rhythm and defaulting to reveal a harmonic affinity within these atonal, nihilistic works. Still the guitar leads with shapeshifting riffs and endless inventiveness for microbridges between parts of these meta-patterned songs. These randomly are not random, and follow a rhythm behind the vocal emphasis, the leading strikes of each drum phrase, and the chord-shifting rhythm of each riff and bridge; the complex structure beneath is thus at once both designed and very flexible, permitting Darkthrone the ability to run a gamut of riff styles within the same sequence of tempos.
Though simple in that its riffs are cut from strings of scalar measurement, this music maintains interest by contrasting pieces forcefully; oftentimes songs reveal an evasively addictive cyclic rhythm underneath their composition, where each force presses another into being and then receives its response. This and the combination of hauntingly beautiful melodic overtones within ugly, churning, trudging evil architectures makes this album both intense and chillingly soothing at the same time.