Review Summary: Who could expect that after all these years Darkthrone could release a record that’s not only incredibly consistent, but also maintains the highest of lasting value?
Considering the fact that this Norwegian black metal act has been in the game since the late 80s, it’s expected that a band who released such classic records as A Blaze In The Northern Sky
and Under A Funeral Moon
(both of which were released one after the other) would have a low-point to their careers. The fact of the matter is Darkthrone have never really regressed into creating poor albums. In a remarkable sixteen records, there have only been a couple of records that have been merely over-shadowed by the bands critically acclaimed magnum opuses of their catalogue. Then, the listeners’ were simply expecting the height of the band’s music, repeated only in terms of quality. Enter 2013, and Darkthrone smash out the low-er points of their careers with The Underground Resistance
by making the music they want to, and be dammed with the opinions of others.
In a typical Darkthrone manner, The Underground Resistance
isn’t the cleanest of affairs. For those unfamiliar with the band’s music, it was never meant to be. Darkthrone have had (especially for their latter releases) a rather unclear production, allowing the not so crystal clear process to push the music over the line and in comparison to the last couple of studio records, Darkthrone have opted for a tilted classic approach to their black metal, relying on a tumultuous display of strictly organised chaos – which works perfectly for this veteran act. All in all, The Underground Resistance
has a distinct groove to it. Tracks like ‘Lesser Man’ truly show how a veteran act can make relevant music, take the guitar leads for example. Their tasteful, well applied and downright sexy making the term guitar “lick” make more sense than it should. Combine this with a stomp inducing rhythm section and the listener won’t be able to avoid banging their head. With this formula, The Underground Resistance
becomes highly infectious and a classic in its own right. It’s also important to point out that Darkthrone are not so easy to categorise with their 2013 release. Sure enough, the blackened death metal, the crust, punk tendencies have always been there, but it would be lazy just to throw a blanket term over this excellent release. Coming up to a thirty year mark in Darkthrone grandness it’s actually good to see the band worrying less about which direction the music is taking.
Instrumentally, the band cannot be faulted. These guys know exactly what they’re doing and they’ve being it for a number of years. Solos are presented in tasteful amounts; never will there be a moment where the leads are force-fed to the listener, showing an overbearing nature to the band’s music. The riffs, despite being made for the depths of hell are truly a decadent display of driving passages and relevant aggression, a bliss to behold. The rhythm section is the backbone that allows the vocal gymnastics of both members to shine through in aces, often stretching from stereotypically gravelly phrases to soaring highs that hold the listener in place. At large, The Underground Resistance
puts everything where it’s needed tightening the band’s hold on the veteran black metal scene.
On repeated listens, the album grows and develops, transcending the usual constraints of Darkthrone’s music and becoming so much more than a veteran metal act’s attempt at releasing a modern day album. The Underground Resistance
has a staying power so close to that of the group’s earlier releases it hardly goes without saying that Darkthrone’s 2013 record hits the expectations of the listener and, if given a little more time, will surpass them completely. Sometimes harkening back to the good ol’ days will ruffle a few features from time to time, but as far as Darkthrone goes with their distinct brand of metal it’s more than welcome, fulfilling everything a metal album should.