Review Summary: A horribly average end to the Darkthrone we know and love.
When your band releases an album many consider to be one of the finest within the genre, you are left with two options. On the one hand, you could attempt to progress your sound, experiment with different aspects of the music, and make the album that you want to make, as opposed to the album that your fans want to hear. Besides, it's your band, not theirs. A move like this, if done well, will be successful, and will please your die-hard fans and the new fans that will flock to you. If done poorly, however, the music you spent time handcrafting will always remain a black mark on your pristine discography. On the other hand, you could attempt to recreate the very sound that earned you the respect and love of many fans worldwide to try and make another highly regarded album.
And that's where Darkthrone have failed. Panzerfaust, as a collection of songs, lacks the energy and atmosphere that classics like Transilvanian Hunger and Under A Funeral Moon offer. The band's previous releases were fu
cking evil, there's no doubt about that. Panzerfaust relies heavily, almost too
heavily on using atmosphere to pull the album through its forty minute running time. Darkthrone and the majority of black metal bands also rely on repetition of the riffs, sometimes using only two or three riffs per song, to instil the sense of evil and atmosphere in us, and this album is no different. Transilvanian Hunger still stands to this day as one of the bleakest and most evil sounding recordings ever put to tape, but Panzerfaust tries almost too hard to recreate this, and the repetition and the weak attempt at atmosphere comes off as ineffective, and even silly
, to a degree. That's not to say the album is dreadful though - A lot of Fenriz's riffs and drumming that can be found here are fairly solid slabs of black metal, and are quite tight as far as the genre's standards go.
Nocturno Culto's vocals are absolutely horrid, and they fail to live up to the standard the band set themselves on previous releases, and they lack a certain spark to be considered better than any other average vocal performances. Again, the vocals sound too gimmicky to take seriously. The vocals are so loud in the mix too, that the music actually sounds quieter when Nocturno is screaming his Norwegian lungs out. The production isn't as lo-fi as previous releases, but it isn't as high quality as Darkthrone's later recordings. It's somewhere in-between, and it doesn't enhance the atmospheric nature like it does on previous releases.
Panzerfaust then is the black mark on Darkthrone's pristine early discography. It lacks the qualities of a classic black metal release, instead coming off as a horrendously average collection of Transilvanian Hunger b-sides. From here on in, the black metal Darkthrone we all know and love is completely dead.