Darkthrone - The Cult is Alive
If you read this column regularly (and I hope you do!), then you'll remember that I said that a record store liquidation can offer a chance for someone to discover bands and albums they never would normally touch. I picked this album out because someone I know fairly well from a message board had this album cover as their avatar. So seeing it in the store, I was drawn to it.
Black Metal. A genre born in England by Venom, more or less as a self-defecating joke, taken to insanely extreme and serious levels by Norwegians (for the better, I might add!), tends to get too serious at times, neglecting it's very roots. These roots include Venom, Black Sabbath, and even Blues. The Norwegian Black Metal scene has spawned an unholy union of all these, mixed in with the culture of it's surroundings. The saying is true; All art is a reflection of the times and world it is created in. Thus, a dark, foreboding genre of music is created.
I wanted to give you the history lesson because this album actually shows some respect to Venom in terms of style, and I had more fun listening to this black metal album than anything else released in the last 15 years! Yes, it is dark, it is very, as you kids say, "grimm", but it doesn't wallow around in itself. If anything, that annoys me to no end! It can be nice to get lost in an album, but not bored, and this album does nothing even close to that!
"The Cult of Goliath" instantly shows what I was talking about. To a point, I dare say there is some punk influences mixed in there (a-la Venom), continued on "Graveyard Slut", almost taking on a more Misfits-style. That is, if The Misfits played Black Metal. "Underdogs and Overlords" is more traditional Black Metal fare, the lyrics immediately taking stranglehold on the song while the guitars and drums pound away to a heavy black metal beat.. but sped up to a nice level to keep the album consistent! On the flip side, a listen to "Tyster På Gud" will make you think you just put on an album written by Black Flag.
If anything, this album shows that reinventing one's sound is not the worst thing in the world. It's hard to find many flaws in this album, although I'm sure their diehard fans who have been with them through all 11 albums will disagree. But for me this is my first album by the band and I plan on getting some of their older stuff.
This is a must-have album, and definitely one of the best black metal recordings in a long time.
4.5 out of 5!