Darkthrone – Arctic Thunder (2016)

Article by Lance Viggiano

Darkthrone have spent the records FOAD through The Underground Resistance regressing into their pre-Celtic Frost influences. Sensing their customers’ growing unpopularity with this black ‘n’ roll approach, Fenriz and Nocturno Culto try to save face on Artic Thunder by regressing into their own work. The upshot is that nobody but Miller Lite Throne can sell mediocre riffs in cyclical songs as well as these two. The downshift is that they cannot muster enough enthusiasm or energy to play their own ideas with the dedication of a devoted bar-tier cover band.

Per the band’s own admission, the vocal duties are now handled exclusively by Nocturno Culto to provide a holistic and introspective continuity. The problem of course is that, of the newer albums, it has been Fenriz who has been most successful in carrying the lackluster songs because his historian’s knowledge of metal music embues his performances with a sense of playfulness, injecting even the most ludicrous and hysterical outbursts with a pointed but appropriate whimsicality. Arctic Thunder lacks the juvenile playfulness that makes previous efforts listenable after a few drinks provided one is willing to just enjoy ones night without wishing to gain lasting insights.

As always, these gentlemen acutely understand what makes for the most appropriate analogue tones but that pseudo audiophile ecstasy does not carry these songs; which meander over painfully canned riffs. The best moments of this record are actually the guitar solos which are brief but stein raising. Every riff follows the same general formula: quintessential melancholic Darkthrone riff next to unrelated but equally defeated trademark riff back and forth until the melodious solo breaks apart the mood for a moment until the song descends back into its self-depravity for a reprisal then conclusion.

The lyrics are of the now typical jaded canned subject matter. Essentially this is a less abrasive Panzerfaust at 1.5 pace. It begs the question: did the world really need another series of luminous lamentations drearily dripping down from the heavens extolling the bitter lamentations of the ancestors who look poorly upon the deeds of their kin? We get it: metal is in a hard place but perhaps instead of looking back and whining about it, you show the young upstarts a thing or two? Word may not have reached the darkest of thrones but the kingdom has indeed heard the same call of elder gods whose words are repeated here nearly verbatim but with none of the vigor or exuberance displayed by the deities due to the intoxicating effects of liters of watered down lager upon the duo. The senility of the elite proceeds apace. Litethrone – Artic Thunder is one more exercise in complaint that drags metal further down into…… Who cares this record is fucking boring.

Quality: **/*****
Purchase: */*****

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29 thoughts on “Darkthrone – Arctic Thunder (2016)”

  1. the George Zimmerman EP says:

    not a bad review. I expected “blah blah beer metal blah blah not phrasal enough” but you explained your dissatisfaction a bit better than that. I thought it’s a decent release though. New Darkthrone are better at pseudo-doom metal than pseudo-crustpunk.

  2. Sign of the times says:

    Even DMU has given up on reviewing albums.

  3. kek says:

    My review of this review: ****/*****

  4. Morbideathscream says:

    Panzerfaust is the last great Darkthrone album. None of their albums since have been of interest to me. It was interesting to see them go the crust punk route, but even then that was mediocre at best, if I want to listen to crust punk/hardcore I’ll listen to Discharge, Amebix, Cro-mags or early Agnostic Front.

    This does remind however, I need to get the Frostland Tapes, which is the compilation of all the Darkthrone demos.

    1. Anthony says:

      You might want to revisit Ravishing Grimness and especially Total Death when you get a chance.

      1. Roger says:

        They aren’t worth it. With all the music in the world, don’t bother.

      2. BlackPhillip says:

        I agree. Ravishing Grimness and Total Death are great records. The fact that they came after A Blaze in the Northern Sky, Under a Funeral Moon, Transilvanian Hunger, and Panzerfaust forces them to be overlooked and under-appreciated.

    2. Rainer Weikusat says:

      Panzerfaust is the last great Darkthrone album.

      Panzerfaust sounds like a 2nd rate Darkthrone cover band in parts. In the better parts, like Transilvanian Hunger but imitating the form more or less well with exactly no emotional intensity. The worse parts seem more like death metal or death/doom parodies, including Black Sabbath mannerisms (which may well be an excellent hommage to Hammerfrost or Helltic Cel — that’s difficult to distinguish). “Lost its spark”.

      And afterwards, well, there’s a “statement by Nocturno Culto” on the “Total Death” back cover,

      Hail to Fenriz for a partnership of blood for 8 years and Hail to the elite band Satyricon […] Thanks to Immortal for sending Blizzards to my veins. And finally thanks to the distributors who still believe in Darkthrone and don’t believe in fake rumours; that is professional.

      Short: I’ve completely lost the plot.


      1. Spread your ass and worship satan says:

        They lifted some parts from Saint Vitus on Panzerfaust. Still uts better than the later albums.

  5. BullHead says:

    “Panzerfaust is the last great Darkthrone album” WORD. This is one of those bands I basically grew up listening to back in the early 90s, when they were putting out one masterpiece after the other. From “A Blaze in the Northern Sky” up until the aforementioned “Panzerfaust” they did no fucking wrong. But after that…they could have split up. Even if I still have mad respect for Fenriz.

    1. Slit the throats of the war pigs says:

      Fenriz himself says there were lots of death metal leftovers on A Blaze and Under a Funeral moon (not TH) that made the whole thing jarring and not so great…

      1. I do not accept arguments from authority, and neither should do

        1. Zorak says:

          He only said that about A Blaze (as it wouldn’t be true of UaFM) and he didn’t say that made them ‘jarring and not so great’ only not pure BM.

          1. He said that Fenriz said that there was death metal on that album which makes it jarring.

            1. Slit the throats of the war pigs says:

              Thanks for helping me making my points to people even more spergin’ than me.

        2. *neither should you


        3. fuck yes brother i love critical theory

      2. Oy vey says:

        That makes them good actually, in the same way that panzerfaust is good because it’s thei more Celtic Frost-ian (good) album
        TH is the ultimate “pure” Darkthronian BM experience, but A blaze is even better to me.

      3. Rainer Weikusat says:

        Reportedly, Darkthrone chose to change their style to what would later be called black metal after they already wrote a lot of death metal style stuff for their sophomore album. That’s easily recognizable from the riffs. Under A Funeral Moon was written as ‘black metal’ but that’s not what people nowadays think of as ‘black metal’. It’s heavily influenced by mid-Mayhem style (EDNH), ie, without the focus on melancholic/ epic/ romantic/ “sentimental” (as Mr Vigilance aptly described it) melodies which would surface on Transilvanian Hunger. Assuming the 3rd album hadn’t been recorded 1993 but some time after 200x, it had likely been decried as ‘war metal’ (I hereby propose a new sub genre for Conqueror, Black Witchery etc, “not war not metal” :->).

    2. Necronomeconomist says:

      Hey BullHead, were you involved with tape trading ‘n shit back then?
      I’m probably about your age but I didn’t know about the underground, so I’m always curious about people who were there. Please dish whatever you’ve got!

  6. Baaaarp says:

    Panzerfaust is great? Get real people.

    1. Zorak says:

      uh yeah, it is great

    2. this trip is turning into a bit letdown says:

      I smell burning hair.

    3. the George Zimmerman EP says:

      it’s always been divisive for DLA types but outside these parts it’s considered a classic

    4. thewaters says:

      Ya I agree. I really like Panzerfaust….Transilvanian HUnger, UaFMN, Blaze, Goatlord are GREAT albums…..Panzerfaust is high quality but not great. Also, Total Death is a solid C plus effort IMO

      1. Vigilance says:

        Goatlord rules. It’s as good as UAFM/Blaze

        1. Zorak says:

          Total Death is probably their worst. The latest is probably second worst. There’s good tracks on the ’06-’11 albums, even though they’re middling totalities.

          1. Zorak says:

            the mostly positive reception to the latest just goes to show that metalheads care about style more than substance. It’s BM again! The lyrics are ‘serious!’ They’re back! Nevermind that the ‘song’writing is nonexistent.

  7. Special Necrologist says:

    What is Darkthrone’s best album? We all know it must be one of these:

    *Under a Funeral Moon
    *Transiberian Hunger
    *Ablaze in the Northern Sky
    *Soulside Journeys

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