Review Summary: Panzerfaust is the epitome of mediocrity.
1994 was a great year for Darkthrone fans. Transilvanian Hunger
was released, an album many would claim to be the band's best. Therefore it is understandable that there was great anticipation for its 1995 follow up, Panzerfaust
. What kind of record would Darkthrone put out that could possibly top Transilvanian Hunger?
It took me all of about two and a half songs to discover that Panzerfaust wasn't going to be the next Transilvanian Hunger. My first complaint came with Nocturno Culto's vocals. While many claim Panzerfaust features his best vocal work, I am forced to disagree. As usual, they are quite raw, yet for the most part they sound quite uninspired. The style is a definite departure from previous Darkthrone albums, and it was one that I could not find myself enjoying.
The New Sound:
After Transilvanian Hunger, Darkthrone left their long time label Peaceville Records, whom they would replace with Moonfog Productions run by the famed Satyr of Satyricon. Another factor for Darkthrone's sonic evolution up to this point is the exit of Zephyrous, the rhythm guitarist since the band's debut album. Darkthrone claims that Under A Funeral Moon
was Zephyrous' last studio contribution.
A major flaw of Panzerfaust
is its highly repetitive nature. Black metal often employs repetition to create a dark ambience, yet Darkthrone fails to do this effectively on Panzerfaust. While Darkthrone has always used repetition to their advantage on previous albums (especially Transilvanian Hunger) Panzerfaust seems to fall short of all expectations. But while the album lacks in diversity, it does have a few good qualities. Namely, the riffs. Quintessence
(lyrics by Varg Vikernes) features a classic black metal riff, representative of the trademark Norwegian style. But once again, this leads me back to a flaw of the album. The riffs on Panzerfaust are played over and over again, with an average song length of five minutes. What sounds like a great riff becomes agonizingly painful to listen to after about two minutes. The formula for most of the songs is usually a little something like this:
1. Intro/Main Riff
2. Same Riff, In a Different Key
3. Brief change-up Riff
4. Return to #1
5. Fade Out
Although most of the riffs are catchy, it is easy to see where this formula leads to complete boredom. However this only applies to the songwriting. Technicality is nonexistent for Panzerfaust. While Darkthrone can't be called a technical band, their black metal debut A Blaze In the Northern Sky
proves that solos can mix with black metal. Darkthrone seems to have forgotten this with the release of Panzerfaust.
It may seem easy to say that one would of course hate this album if they were completely new to black metal. Personally, I like many bands within the genre, such as Burzum, Enslaved, Windir, and of course Darkthrone. But to be completely honest, Panzerfaust is simply average compared to older Darkthrone material. I recommend Darkthrone's more solid material such as A Blaze In the Northern Sky
, and then picking this up if you have the interest. The least fulfilling song is Sno Og Granskog (Utferd)
. This outro track is an attempt at atmostphere as spoken lyrics are played over the sound of a deep horn and Fenriz' drums. This, for me became the absolute low point of the album, and by the time The Hordes of Nebula
kicked in I was already constantly checking to see when the songs were over.
"DARKTHRONE IS CERTAINLY NOT A NAZI-BAND NOR A POLITICAL
BAND, THOSE OF YOU WHO STILL MIGHT THINK SO, YOU CAN
LICK MOTHER MARY'S ASSHOLE IN ETERNITY"