Darkthrone album review (2024)

Darkthrone: It Beckons Us AllDarkthrone album review (1)




Da ‘Frönes will always have the problem that whatever they do, they are competing with themselves and their own reputation, success and creativity.

Not that they care, but that’s the unnaturally heavy burden they carry for defining a genre with their timeless Unholy Trinity of releases in the early 90s – but also for creating (in my undoubtedly controversial opinion) a stronger, more articulate and – well – shock! – better – run of unique metal albums in those that they’ve released since 2016’s Arctic Thunder.

We reside within the second golden age of Darkthrone.

From the definition of a genre to going far beyond it 30 years later, Darkthrone’s output is continually challenging, interesting, exciting and stellar – so the self-competing thing is a problem we shouldn’t have too much sympathy for – it’s the bed they made for themselves by being so visionary.

Each new release pushes in a different direction to the last. Excitingly, it’s not always forward; this century has seen crust, doom, NWOBHM and prog explored in various degrees on top of the erstwhile loose percussion of Fenriz and the always-captivating riffa*ge of Ted.

That’s part of the thrill – the enticing mix of perfect lo-fi foundations with new mystery ingredients layered on top. A creepy cobweb and graciously grim layer cake of misery and morbidity.

Happy anniversary.

This time the mystery ingredient is cosmic doom – in the most compelling and broadest sense.

Lyrically, we are treated to a more panoramic vision of phantastic evil, curséd legend and grisly alienation.

Opener Howling Primitive Colonies speaks of alien demons from a hollow earth. We journey through space and time, passing by the truculent god of Eon 3 and over the heaving hemispheres of album preview track Black Dawn Affiliation before scraping our knees as we slide into the end of side one.

Flip the disc and the cosmology continues with Fenriz’ avian hymn to The Bird People of Nordland, a second preview track that relays the legend of the titular eidar harvesting civilisation, serene before mankind’s interference. And so we continue – witnessing a Midnight Riffmeister skulk through graveyards in Heavy Hand and finally touching down in isolation by The Lone Pines of the Lost Planet.

It’s quite the interstellar odyssey, and the cosmic waves upon which our valiant heroes roil are the cascading guitars of Nocturno Culto. Perhaps moreso on this LP than any other, there is a variance in the mood of his playing – from rolling doom and galloping metal to the delicately picked sombre intro to Lost Pines… it would be a struggle to level the criticism of being “samey” on the band if “It Beckons Us All…” was being presented as Exhibit One for the prosecution.

Look – I’ll be honest – I’m a card-carrying ‘Fröner. This was never going to be an unbiased review. I drove thirty miles this morning just so I could be at Darkthrone Distro HQ to pick up my copy of the limited boxset at 9am, the moment it was released.

Colour me keen.

But by any measure and whatever your pleasure, this is a great Darkthrone album; it moves this latest run of quality along in an engaging way and introduces a new level of grimy melodicism to the riffa*ge that is addictive and entrancing.

Sometimes the vocals go a bit wayward but we’re not going to dwell on that.

The vinyl package is a beautiful thing. Peaceville are no strangers to Deluxifying Darkthrone ™ and the boxset is great – in addition to an exclusive colour variant, we get a cassette and CD of the album, four art prints and the box itself, which is a handsome thing. The pressing is great – I bought it digitally too – and the extra depth that comes from the record is well worth investigating if you’re so inclined.

It Beckons Us All is great. An almost flawless addition to their current run of greatness.

I hope they never get bored and that they are producing new records for us to drool over for another 30 years.

Perhaps that’ll be their next genre redefinition as – OAPs – Mouldy Metal coming soon to a turntable near you.

Let’s hope so.

Long may they reign.

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Darkthrone album review (2024)


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