For those familiar with Darkthrone’s last soon-to-be beverage coaster F.O.A.D.
, you probably have a fairly good idea of what Dark Thrones And Black Flags
is all about. At the time, I did not. So, imagine my surprise as “The Winds They Called The Dungeon Shaker” goes from decent (the opening riff) to unexpectedly vomit-inducing (the remainder of the song). Aside from an interesting guitar riff, the song is basically a joke, something which can be said about pretty much any other track on the album. The entire album follows the same formula of terrible, cliche, almost jokingly bad song titles (“Hiking Metal Punks” wtf?!) to reverb-laden chanting and absolutely awful, off-key clean vocals. Thankfully, there are the guitars, which remain noticeably black metal inspired while still veering off in the direction Fenriz and Nocturno Culto have taken their music. It pretty much fits both ways.
The riffs can be deceiving, though, as I mentioned earlier with the reference to the lead in “The Winds They Called The Dungeon Shaker”, which appears to be that of their older black metal days with just a hint of cohesiveness and melody. The production may be the reason these riffs sound different than the rest of the song, because Darkthrone have retained their tradition of ***ty production, as said in the album liner “Mixed and hard(ly) produced by Nocturno Culto…”. Don’t let the simplistic drumming and terrible production fool you, though, since Darkthrone play a style of music which pays homage to such genres as punk, NWOBHM, and speed metal, influences which are evident in most of the tracks, but none more apparent than “Hanging Out In Haiger”, which features short-lived but lively solos and chugging riff wankery and vocals which remind me a bit of Motorhead, except even more off-key and with worse production.
These small moments of (unintentional) humor are cast aside by the embarrassment which is basically the entire rest of the album. There are seemingly benign attempts at black metal with “Grizzly Trade” and the instrumental title track “Dark Thrones And Black Flags”, but all in all it amounts to nothing more than the realization that our pals Ted Skjellum and the ever-ostentatious Gylve Nagell simply have little to nothing creative left inside them, save a few catchy guitar riffs (see “Hiking Metal Punks” for some melodic, semi-interesting riffing). When it comes down to it, though, it’s tough to look at Darkthrone and not tell them to either stop creating music altogether or to disband Darkthrone and reform as some underground crust punk band, perhaps named “Winter Norwegian Camping Trip” or something idiotic like that, because after listening to Dark Thrones And Black Flags
you will leave with nothing but disappointment and a loss of respect for what Darkthrone achieved in the past, solely because of where they are now.