09/05/12 || BamaHammer
My adoration for Darkthrone is no secret. They’re easily one of the most important bands in the history of black metal, obviously, and also for extreme metal in general. They began as one of the most promising and best death metal bands in all of Scandinavia, and the sound of their “second incarnation” helped define an entire genre. Their first four albums are all classics that I can’t even mention without a tone of reverence.
Darkthrone’s fifth album, “Panzerfaust”, will probably go down as the last truly great piece of true black metal purity that Culto and Fenriz ever produced, and that’s a noble assessment. It’s a terrific album and worthy of much praise. With the band coming off their unholy triumvirate of “Blaze”, “Moon”, and “Hunger”, “Panzerfaust” could have been the seminal moment in the band’s career when they decided they would never again reach their pinnacle and either become entrenched in mediocrity or made their move and changed directions completely. As it turned out, the ‘Throne decided not to go gentle into that good night. They had one more classic up their sleeve.
Everything about “Panzerfaust” sounds like classic Darkthrone until 28 seconds in when you hear the vocals for the first time. Culto sounds as if he’s being mic’ed up and run through Satan’s own 1.21 gigawatt PA system, and he does not give a single shit how much he sounds like a constipated orc. By comparison, the guitars and drums are coming through what sounds like broken 15-watt Marshalls, that discrepancy makes “Panzerfaust” somewhat a tough listen at first. Pretty much all of the black metal from this era sounded like shit, but this one actually deserves a special mention because of just how bad it is. Everything sounds like it was recorded with the absolute bare minimum of effort. Notes are missed here and there. Drums are mishit occasionally. The vocals are just yelling angry Norwegian rants into a shitty microphone. This is pure black metal. What’s not to love?
However, once you’ve allowed your ear ample time to grow accustomed to the assault of unpleasantness, you’ll start noticing the melodies and the riffs as opposed to how badly your eardrum has been raped. All that might sound a little off-putting, but understand that this album does in fact hold some of the coolest songwriting Darkthrone had to offer in their black metal heyday. The opener, “En Vind Av Sorg”, is fantastic from start to finish with its prevailing whining, sad lead riff atop the bed of tremolo-picked riff goodness. Several of the other tracks like “The Hordes of Nebulah” or “Quintessence” even feature the slower, more plodding approach to black metal that I feel like Darkthrone has always utilized so well.
Ultimately, “Panzerfaust” is not quite in the same league with the previous three albums in terms of notoriety or quality, but it is a fantastic black metal album and one that shouldn’t be overlooked. Though it could never be considered to be in the echelon with any of the all-time greats, “Panzerfaust” delivers a very fine, admirable black metal assault exactly the way it should be done. Nothing more. Nothing less.
- Released: 1995
- Label: Moonfog
- Website: www.darkthrone.no
- Nocturno Culto: lead guitars, vocals
- Fenriz: drums
- 01. En Vind Av Sorg
- 02. Triumphant Gleam
- 03. The Hordes of Nebulah
- 04. Hans Siste Vinter
- 05. Beholding the Throne of Might
- 06. Quintessence
- 07. Snø Og Granskog (Utferd)