Review Summary: You cannot kill the metal
Not since Destroyer 666 has a band brought the glory days of trve metal to the modern listener.
Known to most metal heads as the purveyors of some of the most misanthropic and pure black metal recorded this side ov Hell, Dakthrone have been shamelessly moving away from that sound with their more recent releases.
So are they back to the old ways?
Well… yes and no.
Whist not a true “return to roots” album, The Underground Resistance is certainly a one hundred per cent metal album. Gone are the crust and the other “not really metal” influences Darkthrone were employing following their earlier, more well-known works. Replacing it is a combination of the black, blackened thrash and heavy metal styles; something sure to please those that have been yearning for the return ov trvth. However, as with all albums that seek to combine multiple styles of music, there is always a risk of the resulting sound being a gross bastardization and misrepresentation of those styles. Darkthrone have manages to avoid this “trap” by masterfully combining the aforementioned genres, with result being an extremely satisfying record for all fans of classic metal.
One of the few weaknesses with Darkthrone’s first few albums is the tendency for many songs to sound similar. This former repetitiveness is a non-issue within The Underground Resistance; as the combination of styles contained help give Fenriz and Nocturno Culto more opportunities to create varied compositions and avoid any possible stagnation. This is evident straight away, with opener “Dead Early”, a song employing the Blackened Thrash style, leading on to “Valkyrie”, which is a considerably more Heavy Metal sounding song. This kind of genre alternation keeps the album fresh and makes sure every song has different, yet equally metal, for the listener to enjoy. However the variation of styles alone is not the main factor of The Underground Resitance’s excellence, but also the skill in which it is executed. Both members blaze a trail through each song with furious pace and precision, resulting in one of the best old school “classic metal” sounding records since “Cold Steel For an Iron Age”.
Along with the instrumental variation, the splitting of vocal duties between Fenriz and Nocturno add another dimension to the record. On the more blackened tracks (Dead Early, Come Warfare) Nocturno employs the classic second wave shriek, with Fenriz taking over on the lighter tracks. Both executed their respective styles with consummate excellence. Each note is able to fully compliment the instrumentation, resulting in the album being a fantastic ode to the golden age of classic metal.
Yet unfortunately it is not perfect. The Underground Resistance is lacking that certain X-factor to bring it to classic status. All songs are exceedingly well written and performed, yet the majority of the album contains excellent, yet not astounding material. As superb as this album is, there are too few “holy ***” moments to warrant a 5/5 rating. It could be argued that an album this pure and original sounding released in an era of astoundingly impure and un-original metal warrants classic status alone. This is a modern classic certainly, but on par with the classics of old? Unfortunately no, but Darkthrone have given it one hell of a go.
Darkthrone have truly crafted a fantastic record. Apart from it’s near overlook-able shortcomings, they have released an album for all metalheads. A fan of the old Norwegian black metal? Its here. A Fan of Maiden/Priest? The influence is here for all to enjoy. A fan of 80’s thrash? There is something here for you too. As previously stated this is an album that will quench the thirst for those yearning for a return to trve metal.
Darkthrone have truly made a calibre of comeback not seen since “Brave New World”. A must have.