For a band best renowned for their involvement and substantial contribution to Norwegian black metal in the ‘90s, Darkthrone have journeyed a diverse musical path that has unreservedly strayed into all sorts of metal and punk. From their early death metal ambitions to frost-bitten venomous black metal and eventual relay into crusty traditional heavy metal, Darkthrone have an appreciation for heavy metal in all its forms and clearly don’t care what ‘kvlt’ keyboard warriors might have to say about their sonic expansions. For Fenriz and Nocturno Culto, it’s all part of the same pizza, so why take one slice when you can try them all?
‘The Underground Resistance’ marks the band’s 15th album; their fifth since the release of ‘Sardonic Wrath’ which saw gradual departure from the duo’s black metal roots. Undoubtedly, ‘…Resistance’ is an extension of this departure, filled with a nostalgic vibe of classic ‘80s metal, sanded down with a dirty blasting of crust and powdered up to the eyeballs with speed. As far as classic metal albums go – which often isn’t far enough – Darkthrone have perfected their own breed of it, ciphering a better produced record than last attempt ‘Circle The Wagons’ with dark yet often anthemic heavy metal hooks taking precedence, yet again welded with a fixing of punk, light layer of crust and beefed up thrashy riffs.
Where ‘…The Wagons’ lacked the intended dose of edgy classic riffs and booze-swillin’ gravelly vocals, ‘The Underground Resistance’ has succeeded, and it’s not only because both are much more emphasised in the production of the album. The riffage is chunkier and more wholesome, the drumming is again minimalist yet concise, Nocturno has clearer intentions and there’s no dithering around with the vocal harmonies we heard last time round on the likes of ‘Those Treasures Will Never Befall You’; they’re not flat this time. When both vocalists do attempt it on ‘The Ones You Left Behind’, the duo charmingly extoll some melodic NWOBHM sensibilities, putting their vocal parameters to the test like never before, reaching a supreme pitch in almost Rob Halford-like fashion. Spicing up their style again, the band roll into harsh Lemmy-esque rasp and energetic blackened axe-wielding verse in ‘Come Warfare, The Entire Doom’, before finishing on a crusty note with ‘Leave No Cross Unturned’.
Darkthrone have succeeded in creating another heavy metal record for the die-hard advocates of its culture by uprooting ‘80s nostalgia and dashing with hasty nuances of speed metal and punk; all done with only the occasional sighting of an evil tremolo melody.