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Album Review: Darkthrone Shine Bright on Old Star

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You know why Darkthrone rule? They really don’t care. A lot of bands of their stature view each new release as An Event, something that must be bigger and better than its predecessor. Fenriz and Nocturno Culto, on the other hand, just keep cranking out records for the sheer fun of it – 17 in the past 30-odd years. Hell, they even called one of their releases F.O.A.D. (Fuck off and Die). So, you know, not much in the way of shit-giving vis-à-vis audience expectation. That’s possibly because, since they don’t tour, they never actually have to interact with their audience. It’s worked for them so far.

Old Star works for a lot of reasons, but there is one main one: the riffs. The sweet, sweet riffs. Prime ’80s vintage riffs. “The Hardship of the Scots” alone folds in Jake E. Lee-era Ozzy, Judas Priest, and Celtic Frost mutant doom filtered through the ears of two music lovers who have done their own significant part in defining metal’s sound. It’s a good encapsulation of what to expect here. These songs distill the entirety of the metal genre into its primal quintessence.

It’s kinda like how certain indigenous cultures believe in using every part of the animal: Darkthrone do that with metal. Some doom here (the title track), some black metal there (“The Duke of Gloat”), NWOBHM and thrash and d-beat everywhere. Not only do they use every bit of the beast, they carve out all the best parts. They mix and match until they wind up with, well, Darkthrone. It’s all capped off by a deliberately ’80s-style production that gives the songs that nice echoing impact.

Fenriz and Nocturno Culto set out to make another great metal release in a discography filled with them. They succeeded. Their continued love for the genre shines through, and that’s why Darkthrone still feel so fresh after all these years. No mere nostalgia exercise, Old Star taps into the still-pumping heart of heavy metal.

Old Star is out now on Peaceville. You can listen to “Duke of Gloat” here. Get the album here.

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