Darkthrone - Eternal Hails......
Genre: Black Metal
Release Date: 25th June 2021
Record Label(s): Peaceville Records
Fenriz - Drums, Vocals, Bass, Guitars
Nocturno Culto - Vocals, Guitars, Bass
Darkthrone - Hate Cloak
Rating (out of 5🤘): 🤘🤘🤘🤘🤘
Favourite Track(s): His Master's Voice, Hate Cloak, Voyage To A North Pole Adrift, Lost Arcane City Of Uppakra
Few can say that they have had the long and fabled career that Darkthrone have had, despite never playing live. Over the last 30 years Darkthrone has entertained us with an ever shifting and evolving sound that incorporates their black metal roots, doom influences and death metal beginnings. Whenever Darkthrone announce anything there is always a throng of hype surrounding the album, and given the band's limited use of singles, i.e. one (Hate Cloak), there was significantly more mystery this time round. As a result Eternal Hails...... marks a very highly anticipated return of these metal legends. Following on from the monster riff machine that was 2019's Old Star was never going to be easy, but the band have surpassed themselves again by channelling the dark gloom of traditional doom and added that signature Darkthrone edge.
The ominous intro for His Master's Voice opens the album with a strangely eerie psychedelic soundscape before launching into the hulking Darkthrone riffs that we all know and love. Straight away you are met with a deeply atmospheric doom-centric focus on this album, with shades of Black Sabbath underpinning the driving rhythms and grooves that thunder along underneath the slow, pounding riffs. Elements of this style were definitely heard as far back as 2017's Arctic Thunder, but Eternal Hails...... feels like a doubled down effort and very refreshing exploration of their doom metal influences. This album also proves and overwhelmingly demonstrates that slowing it down sounds just as heavy as going at a breakneck speed. With the mystical and ambiguous themes of Hate Cloak's lyrics giving rise to the imagery of a wandering wizard journeying through the darkness of an unknown northern landscape, the overarching atmosphere of this album is heavy and oppressive. Using some arcane magic, the riffs and rhythms enchant (more likely hex) you, locking you into a fuzz filled trance. The album's longest song, the ten minute doom epic Voyage To A North Pole Adrift channels the cold and unforgiving environments of the North, a cold and bitter journey in the wastelands is conjured up in your mind as you let the riffs wash over you. Wake Of The Awakened is the most "black metal" song on the album, upping the pace at the halfway point adds a fresh dose of momentum. It is here we really hear the first use of the synths in an eerie atmospheric way, which adds an extra dimension to the band's sound on this album. Some of the more interesting elements of the album come on the album's closing track Lost Arcane City Of Uppakra. After a barrage of world dominating riffs, you're thrust into this ominous Planet Caravan-esque soundscape of solemn melodies and strange electronic effects that could possibly resemble the passage of the whistling winds of a mountainous or heavily forested area. This delicate use of synthesisers will catch listeners off guard after such a rip-roaring festival of sludgy, grimy doom riffs. Whilst the layers predominately main minimalistic the amount of expression and nuance that they give the album is significant, contradictorily sounding vast and open yet close and claustrophobic, a strange mix that is fused with the legendary doom influences of Black Sabbath, Saint Vitus and more no doubt. Overall, Darkthrone have once again made a remarkably good album that yet again cannot be easy compared to any of it's predecessors. Eternal Hails...... is a unique journey into the more dark and doomy elements of the band's sound that is a welcome addition to the band's illustrious back catalogue.
The album, although compositionally is focused on doom, sounds raw and rough enough to add the black metal label to it. Darkthrone have always been consistent with their methods of production, but Eternal Hails...... amps up the fuzz and adds an unusual warmth to the band's sound. Moving away from the barren, treble loaded sound that usually permeates trough Darkthrone albums, yet Eternal Hails...... still has that razor sharp distorted edge that is a staple of the band's albums. The drums have a significant weight to them, with its rounded tone the kick thumps through the album, resonating through the rock walls of the cave that it was recorded in. The snare has beautiful popping snap to it that suits the album so well, whilst the toms flat bounce and cymbal crashes round of the kit nicely, of course Fenriz's performance gives them this signifiant power. The guitars fizz and fuzz with the warm distortion afforded to it yet still have that razors edge signature Darkthrone tone underpinning it. The bass rumbles relentlessly, supporting the guitar riffs with its additional chunk whilst weaving around the drums. Overall, the album is perfectly mixed for the compositions, carrying signature Darkthrone elements whilst bringing in a more subtle sonic nuance and experimentation.
If you fancy an interesting and fuzz filled journey into the shadows with an eccentric wizard, get Eternal Hails...... in your ears!
Darkthrone - Eternal Hails......