Since forming in 1986 as Black Death in Kolboton, Norway, Darkthrone have been masters of their art. Dropping the death metal of 1991’s Soulside Journey debut album in favour of a more primitive, black metal sound on the following year’s A Blaze In The Northern Sky, they helped define black metal in the ‘90s through albums like 1993’s Under A Funeral Moon and its follow-up Transilvanian Hunger. Truly, though, Darkthrone remain unique, even in their own canon.
On Eternal Hails, the longer, doomier songs reflect drummer Fenriz’s love of doom, taking their time to make their point. For Fenriz, what he and co-conspirator Nocturno Culto have concocted stretches back even further than discovering black metal, to the sounds of the ‘70s and the more freewheeling sounds of bands playing with more expansive themes. This didn’t just make the songs longer, it made them an entirely different beast from the ground up. “When I was a kid growing up with metal I kept looking for bands with long songs. Black Sabbath had many, and Celtic Frost’s ‘Dawn Of Meggido’ had a long song, so I put that on in the record store and discovered another dimension of metal. Candlemass’ ‘Epicus Doomicus Metallicus’ had only long songs, so I think I bought that without even listening, and it was one of my best buys ever – an eternal inspiration for my entire career..”
“For us it has become a bit logical, hard to explain, but you get to build up for a different kind of listening,” says Nocturno Culto. “A three-minute song is nothing we think of at the moment. We like it this way. For now.”
Even a change of studio hasn’t really changed anything in Darkthrone’s DNA. Having recorded all albums since 2004 using their own Necrohell II studio – a portable 8-track recorder housed in an old bomb shelter, itself a replacement for the original Necrohell 4-track used for Transilvanian Hunger and Panzerfaust, until it became “too necro” and broke – for Eternal Hails the band went to Chaka Khan Studio in Oslo for the first time.
In a world changing too fast for anything to stick, Darkthrone are both able to stay fresh, but also reassuringly reliable. And no matter where they record, what they do or what gear the use to do it – Fenriz actually ended up using a drum kit belonging to Carmine Appice when he was in Rod Stewart’s band this time around – this, it seems, will never and can never change.
As Fenriz himself puts it, “No matter what happens we will still sound like us, it seems!”
Shadows of Iconoclasm
The special cover artwork for this set is inspired by the early works of the band & comes courtesy of notable artist Zbigniew Bielak.
This box set has been compiled and curated with the band and features content from their personal archives – Fenriz comments “We only had a few months to write what would become ‘A Blaze in the Northern Sky’ and we had to blacken up a whole song from the ‘Goatlord’ session, and here and there on ‘A Blaze…’ you can hear a few riffs from ‘Goatlord’. Ironically I ended up listening way more to the ‘Goatlord’ album than I ever did with ‘A Blaze in the Northern Sky’. Maybe because ‘Goatlord’ feels super-real to me and I want to thank Patrick Engel for cleaning up the rehearsal sound without manipulating it much.”
He continues “The real sensation in this box is the live performance from Bootleg Stage Oslo 1990, soundboard sound with live performances of several of the tracks from our Goatlord album, I was so stoked when I discovered this (and no, I never had this on video myself so it was the first time I heard the audio now after over 30 years and it made me very happy. It was a non-alcoholic stage but we were pretty wasted too!)”
SHADOWS OF ICONOCLASM is OUT NOW.
‘Shadows Of Iconoclasm’ contains:
• 6 LPs plus 7” featuring:
– A newly remastered 30th anniversary edition of 1991’s Soulside Journey
– The original Goatlord instrumental rehearsal/album – specially transferred & restored from Fenriz’ original tape
– Live in Esbjerg, Denmark 1990 – first time on vinyl
– Live in Oslo November 1990 –a new digital transfer from the original master tapes from the Bootleg TV archive. Previously unreleased.
– Live in Riihimaki & Lahti, Finland. Darkthrone’s 1991 – first time on vinyl format
– Tracks from Oslo 1989 Bootleg TV appearance on 7” vinyl, including the Celtic Frost cover, ‘Visual Aggression’
• The 4 cult Darkthrone demos presented on cassette tape with their original art & layout
• DVD featuring a new digital transfer of Darkthrone’s November 1990 Oslo appearance from original master tapes, as well as their Finnish tour date appearances
• plus bonus footage from Oslo 1989 & a previously unseen track from their September 1990 Oslo gig
• 60 page book with a large collection of band photos, plus text covering the early years of the band as featured in the ‘Black Death & Beyond’ book, including additional text for this release, plus bonus chapters compiled from rare Darkthrone titles
• Band promotional photo print replica
• Soulside Journey art print
• Posters of the original Darkthrone logo image drawing & gig poster promoting their Oslo live appearance from September 1990