Darkthrone: Ravishing grimness
08/06/12 || BamaHammer
It may seem like I’m obsessed with Darkthrone (and hell, I may be), but the fact of the matter is that they’re just one of metal’s most important bands, plain and simple. I quite often think about how intriguing the band’s path through their existence has been, producing one of the finest death metal albums I’ve ever heard as their debut only to inexplicably and completely transmogrify the band into one of Norway’s founding fathers of black metal and then begin yet another transformation into blackened, crusty, and occasionally doomy punk band. Regardless of what they choose to do or which path to take, they always seem to do justice to their style as well as themselves, and that aspect is undeniably impressive.
This, quite possibly, is the album where Darkthrone’s last mutation began. After a pair of admittedly shit albums (the disappointingly mediocre “Total death” and the utterly dreadful “Goatlord”), the band burst out of the rut with “Ravishing grimness” by applying subtle yet highly important alterations to their sound which would have a massive impact on their future. You can almost hear the band’s thought process behind the writing of “RG” just by listening to it completely. It’s almost like it was recorded backwards in that the final remnants of whatever decent traditional black metal ideals that remained were written and recorded only to have something slightly newer placed in front of it on the track list.
It’s an album of two halves. To begin, the record is a doomy, stompy mass of black metal that’s noticeably crustier than anything they had divulged at the time, yet it was hardly enough to notice that the band was beginning to sound like they were on the cusp of evolving. The last half of the record boasts many of the characteristics that has enshrined Darkthrone in the hearts of the hordes. It’s cold, fast, pure world-class black metal. Honestly, out of the obvious two styles present, they both fit together and complement each other very well, and I can’t really pick a favorite sound between the two.
Strangely enough, the album also gets better and better as each second ticks away. Yes, they were trying to be far more experimental in the early moments of this album, and it’s almost as if they wanted to start with their worst foot forward, if you will, as a way of telling the listener, “yeah, we can do that, but check this out”. The quality simply builds and builds until reaching somewhat of a songwriting pinnacle of sorts with “The Claws of Time”, which is honestly one of Darkthrone’s finer cuts. That pounding sensation (not that one, pervert) found on many of my newer Darkthrone favorites like “Rust” even makes its first true appearance on the first half of this record.
Overall, “Grimness” is a very interesting and well-written album that’s much more “listenable” than the band’s famous unholy trinity. Some thought has clearly been given to the production and overall sound of the album, and the result is probably one of Darkthrone’s better sounding black metal efforts. However, the real story here is the quality of the songwriting. While it’s nowhere near their best and clearly not showing any signs of polish or fine-tuning of any kind, it’s still a fantastic piece of metal and one that should not be missed by any Darkthrone fan. It’s really a crucial piece of their history.
- Released: 1999
- Label: Moonfog
- Website: www.darkthrone.no
- Nocturno Culto: lead guitars, vocals
- Fenriz: drums
- 01. Lifeless
- 02. The Beast
- 03. The Claws of Time
- 04. Across the Vacuum
- 05. Ravishing Grimness
- 06. To the Death (Under the King)