With album number 19, the dynamic Darkthrone duo of Nocturno Culto and Fenriz continue their love affair with the classic metal that helped shape their musical careers.
They made their mark with black metal classics (Transilvanian Hunger and Under a Funeral Moon), crust punk exploration (F.O.A.D. and Circle The Wagons) and more recently a heavier emphasis on heavy/doom metal (The Underground Resistance and Old Star). Enter Eternal Hails, their latest foray into the genre that they both love so very much. What new ground if any will they tread this time?
“His Master’s Voice” is one of the shortest songs on the album at just over 7 minutes long on an album just over 40 minutes itself and 5 tracks in total. Plenty of doom metal sounds litter the first track and lone single “Hate Cloak.” Nocturno Culto’s vocals sound throaty and excellent when joined together with some slow and chugging riffs that keep the latter track here together. With an album titled Eternal Hails, hearing Fenriz shout the album name during this track is an extra bit of tongue-in-cheek dorkiness you expect from two guys who live and breathe this genre, album after album.
Riffs are the name of the game throughout the entire run time of the album, ranging from some tremolo picked sections to slow doom dirges and atmosphere. “Voyage to a Northpole Adrift” leads with the latter before Culto re-introduces himself to the fray. The back-and-forth riffing styles add a layer of depth to this penultimate track, with more homages to the sonic influence from days of yore drawing in more riffs than the listener can handle.
Closer “Lost Arcane City Of Uppakra” might have some of the heaviest ones on the album, those that beckon you to headbang along with them from the outset. Just don’t forget the mellotron to give you spacey vibes as you exit this album.
Darkthrone have once again managed to craft an album that manages to marry the band’s black metal past with the sounds that helped to make them who they are. Is this heavy black metal or is it black doom metal? I’m not entirely sure, but after 19 albums one thing remains true: this band still rules. Eternal Hails is one of the highlights of the year so far.
(released June 25, 2021 on Peaceville Records)
Heavy Music HQ Rating:
Listen To Darkthrone – “Hate Cloak”