Review Summary: Darkthrone do what Darkthrone do, they do what they want to do.
Darkthrone seem to be one of those bands where it takes a while for people to catch on to what is going on with them. After their change from death metal to black metal it took several albums for Darkthrone to assert themselves as a force in the Norwegian Black Metal scene among legendary names such as Burzum and Mayhem. Once a few albums had been released in the new black metal style most people began to appreciate the new direction. I would have to say that F.O.A.D. is a new starting point for Darkthrone, and that I would not be surprised if after a few albums the bands new style is being praised throughout the (pathetic) black metal scene.
Lets face it, Darkthrone have been ripping themselves off for years, since Panzerfaust in fact. Of course albums like Ravishing Grimness have been genuinely good efforts, but in general the band has only been able to maintain a mediocre (by their own standards) level of quality on their albums since Panzerfaust. The change in direction is a welcome one, since we all know there will always be hundreds of bands trying to be Darkthrone anyway, so there will be no shortage in albums that copy the old Darkthrone even though the masters themselves are moving on.
This album is very decidedly not black metal in the modern sense. Perhaps Darkthrone are going back to what the genre evolved from on this album. The music is dirty, ballsy, and heavy, often with some thrash influences. This can be easily supporter by the fact that most of the music that Fenriz listens to these days is (said by himself) old thrash and heavy metal, mostly from the 70s and 80s. The sound comes through here, and the influence is welcome. Sure the people duped into thinking Xasthur is what black metal has always been will be confused by this album. But if we look at albums from the earlier days of black metal this CD may not seem as odd as most think it is. Just look at Quintessence on Panzerfaust, it is a very similar song to what can be found on this album.
The production is typical Darkthrone, drums sounds as if they were recorded with no more than two mics with loud open hi hats and very basic rhythmic patters. The tempos are mid paced and fully suited for headbanging and having a few beers to. Some are a bit slower, and this tempos give us a chance to hear some bass work, something not very common in a Darkthrone album. The guitars are dirty and distorted, playing simple riffs that use their basic driving rhythms to really make songs heavy. The vocals are the most interesting aspect, they are pretty high in the mix, and are not the usual growls of Nocturno Culto. The growls are still there but there are also some clean vocals that appear and are used to make the old school sound even more apparent in the mix. There is a falsetto part on "Canadian Metal" (I think it was this track) that is so kick ass I can just see Nocturno and Fenriz rocking out in their cabin with a couple beers playing old 80s vinyls.
Maybe this new attitude of the two is what has been such a hard thing to accept for new fans on this album. It seems they are not trying to make "grim" albums anymore (they always were two of the most laid back guys in the black metal scene). They are trying to instead pay some homage to the music they listened to back in their early days that inspired them to start their musical career in the first place. Doing this, they may have anticipated a backlash from the strictly black metal part of the fanbase, and perhaps this albums title is addressed to those listeners "Fvck Off And Die!".