Darkthrone – Old Star (Peaceville)Tuesday, 25th June 2019
The way Fenriz talks sometimes, you’d think Darkthrone would go as far back as the stone age if they could, an indication of how backward-looking (not forward-thinking) the long-running Norwegians have become. And it’s perfectly fine. Darkthrone makes no bones about keeping up with the times and/or tide; they’re just rolling along, coming out of the wilderness every three years with another slab of jean jacket with Razor patches black-on-thrash. Old Star, much like its 2016 Arctic Thunder predecessor, peels off these dyed-in-the-wool, totally authentic songs that uphold the virtue the almighty riff. Nothing more.
Debate should permanently cease whether Darkthrone is even black metal these days — they’re not and don’t need to be, particularly when the snare-on-the-go “I Muffle Your Inner Choir” channels the heart of the 1980s tape trading scene, reeling off whatever obscure reference Fenriz and his partner in crime, Nocturno Culto can make. “The Hardship of the Scots” is like AC/DC’s “Let Me Put My Love Into You,” set to a frozen doom churn, while the title track works its way into the headbanging throngs with a simple, rollicking Fenriz beat. The necro chug of “Alp Man” segues into one of the band’s now-patented Hellhammer runs, but it’s the thrash-bashing “Duke of Gloat” that defines Old Star — a surging, BM-like run through the rickety thrash barn, “Duke of Gloat” encapsulates everything Darkthrone stands for circa 2019.
As the final notes of closer “The Key Is Inside the Wall” ring out, Darkthrone has once again, joined the party, commandeered the turntable, drank all the booze and gave everyone the old-school tongue-lashing they were in need of. Defenders of true and avoiders of false, Darkthrone has never sounded more wonderfully out of place on Old Star.