Country : Norway Label : Peaceville Records Genres and styles : Black Metal / Doom Metal / heavy metal Year : 2024

Darkthrone – It Beckons Us All…….

· by Laurent Bellemare

In the underground world of extreme metal, as elsewhere, artists tend to innovate by looking forwards, not backwards. Yet it’s the opposite path that the indefatigable Norwegian duo Darkthrone have chosen to take. Always going against the grain, and far removed from the raw black metal of yesteryear, the band draws its inspiration from the past while reinventing itself.   

Announced very shortly before its release, with no real promotional campaign, It Beckons Us All……. continues a recent Darkthrone tradition of surprising audiences with both spontaneous releases and unpredictable musical aesthetics. Since its mythical trilogy (A Blaze in the Northern Sky (1992), Under a Funeral Moon (1993), Transylvanian Hunger (1994)), Darkthrone has gone through crust punk, traditional doom, Viking-tinged heavy metal, speed metal and just about every other metal nostalgia. Remarkably, each of these attempts has proved rather convincing, adding to an impressive 21-opus discography.

On It Beckons Us All……., the aesthetic is that of rather slow heavy metal, with a few galloping passages where the pace quickens. The melodies and structures are simple and catchy. The vocal performance is surprising in that it employs very little distortion, at the crossroads of singing, rallying cry and free declamation. These elements, however, are enhanced by a rich texture rendered by the grainy timbre of the amplifiers and vintage production. The garage quality of the recording brings out the clash of drumsticks in ‘Black Dawn Affliction’, a touch that recalls a bygone era in sound engineering. 

But beyond the album’s instrumental core, a particular attention to timbre employs numerous vocal effects, guitar layers and synthesizer ambience. These arrangements elevate the tracks and imbue them with a colour — exclusively cold shades — that we recognize as Darkthrone’s. These well-measured experiments enable the band to preserve its traditionalism while going beyond mere pastiche. More than a tribute, It Beckons Us All……. once again demonstrates the Norwegian band’s ability to regurgitate the founding subgenres of extreme metal into a coherent whole.

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