Darkthrone: The Cult Is Alive
Darkthrone - The Cult Is Alive - [Peaceville Records]


Back in 1994 I was exposed to black metal. At the time, black metal was not strictly a music genre but an attitude towards life, with attitude towards music as a central theme. It was before the days of the internet, and I was exchanging tapes and letters with people all over the globe. Through this mailing net, I received a lot of black metal from different places and, as they say, in different shapes and sizes. But the capitol of black metal remained Norway.

In a short time span, the greatest black metal albums ever were released one after the other, from bands like Emperor, Mayhem, Dissection, Enslaved, Immortal, The 3rd and the mortal, Burzum, Satyricon, and many more. I listened to it all, and took it all in, but one band, Darkthrone, didn't get me. They just didn't grab my attention and I never gave them more then one listen.
Until 1999, when I first heard "Transylvanian Hunger, and was immediately frozen. The coldness and darkness coming out of that album seemed to freeze the room. In one line - "The mountains are cold, soul cold" – the feeling of Norwegian winter descended upon everything. That album could not have been written outside of Norway. Unless you were living in a cold place like Norway, at that time when the Inner Circle and the Nowregian black metal underground waged social war on the country, you couldn't have written that dark, winter album. It was as if that album wasn't recorded in a studio but on a snowy mountain at the coldest place in the universe. At that moment, Darkthrone became part of that list which I mentioned earlier.

Fast forward 7 years. A lot has happened in the black metal scene. The murder of Euronemous by Varg which split the scene into camps, the arrests of members of leading bands and the commercialism that engulfed the scene lead to the seeming end of black metal as a way of life. Black metal became primarily a music genre, with the social message taking a back seat (in pretty much the same fashion that occurred in the punk scene). The black metal legend that remained – Satyricon, Enslaved, and Mayhem – can be taken as examples of bands that reinvented themselves, exchanging the cold winter like sound with a raw sound that pays tribute to black metal's founders Venom and Bathory, which is labeled by some as "black n' roll". The darkness remained, but the winter didn't.
This leads us finally to Darkthrone's new release – "The Cult Is Alive".

On first glance, looking at the album cover, it looks as though nothing has changed.
The artwork is still shades of black and grays, with images of forests and antichristian elements. But when I pressed Play on my CD player, I got something entirely different…This album is not cold, there is no winter here, but there are, much to my surprise, Punk elements!
Not the new Punk rock elements, but elements taken from bands like The Misfits and Motörhead. It has taken toll even on the lyrics and song titles, for example "Graveyard Slut" or "Whiskey Funeral".

Darkthrone does this very well. The songs are catchy, but still retain their authentic black attitude. This is a black metal album that the Hell's Angels Bikers would listen to. If you want raw black metal, with the raw sound Darktrhone always had, or if you like the misfits or motorhead style attitude - this album is for you. If you're into the cold, dark elements and winter feelings that existed in Darkthrone's previous releases, you might be disappointed.

And what does Fenriz (drummer and lyricist) say about "The Cult Is Alive"?
"Probably sounds something like Motorhead meeting Hellhammer on a
crust-punk/necrothrash gig in 1985"
I couldn't have said it better myself.

Gal Cohen

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