A pair of releases from those lovely chaps at Peaceville, linked in grimy spirit and offering up some of the grimmest sounds you’re liable to hear, we have Abscess’ ‘Dawn of inhumanity’ and Darkthrone’s ‘Circle the wagons’.
Featuring guest appearances from the Darkthrone duo and signed to their label, Abcess revel in the very sickest aspects of metal. Recorded without any desire for the soulless, clinical sound beloved of more modern bands, Abscess are fuelled by darker fires, creating a record that sounds almost live in its immediacy. The guitars veer between blisteringly clear solos and the nastiest, sludgiest mess this side of an ‘Earth’ record, while the drums clatter away satisfyingly, propelling the tracks at roughly the speed of light. First track, ‘Goddess of filth and plague’ is an absolute belter, with gravel-munching vocals towering over the band’s primitive racket. The solo in the bridge section is a storming melee of notes that only enhances the grimy spirit created in the bands own mental cesspit. ‘Torn from tomorrow’ is as brutal and vital as it comes, hefty old-school riffs colliding with a chorus that succeeds in being both brutal and memorable. It’s a trick the band repeat time and time again, making the least accessible sounds somehow accessible and there’s a rock and roll spirit that inhabits the album that wouldn’t be out of place on a Motorhead album. Complete with satisfyingly gruesome artwork this is one of the sickest bands on the Peaceville imprint and well worth the time of anyone seeking the sort of seedy thrills that only metal and low-budget horror movies can provide.
In terms of highlights, check out the phenomenal ‘Never sane again’, the pounding sludge of ‘The rotting land’ and then pinch yourself to realise that every track on this disc is a highlight. Abscess may have a mighty history, but here they sound as vital and as deadly as they ever have.
Speaking of mighty histories, Darkthrone are almost mythical in their steadfast refusal to update, commercialise or even to interact with the modern world. Never playing live, preferring to hide away, only to surface on a regular basis to unleash some filthy torrent of blackened rock and roll upon the world, Darkthrone are a band you can rely on to deliver the goods. Pandering to the old school, ‘Circle the wagons’ actually appeared on vinyl in advance of its CD release, thus allowing owners of turntables a rare break in an industry that is suddenly realising that vinyl is a far more popular medium than it had initially realised.
Somehow sounding even more buried in the past than ever, Darkthrone transcend fashion, producing music that is rock and roll in its purest most stripped down form. Like Abscess, Darkthrone eschew fancy production techniques for a sound that is brutally live yet more immediate than their earlier recordings. Opener ‘Those treasures will never befall you’ sees the drums explode in your living room, while the guitars seem to come from all sides at once, with rattling power chords duelling it out against fast, more traditionally black metal playing. Clearly fired up and ready to go Nocturno and Fenriz sound like a band just starting upon their career, not some twenty years in, which is quite astonishing when one considers how much material the band have actually released. Vocals are less growly than in the past and there are even hints of vocal harmonies, rough and ready as they may be, which augment the bands more metal/punk sound as opposed to the deathly howls of yore.
Ultimately Darkthrone have produced another album that will appeal to fans and newcomers alike. With more in common with Motorhead and other classic rock bands than the current crop of homogenised death/black metal speed merchants, this is an album that sees Darkthrone flex their creative muscles to come up with a brutal, beautiful riff fest for those unconvinced by studio trickery and pro-tools. It is something of an article of faith that you can rely on Darkthrone to stay true the faith that they have espoused since they began and will deliver albums that exceed the expectations levied on them by their own lofty achievements. ‘Circle the wagons’ is a vicious, abrasive blast of pure rock. Long live Darkthrone!
Aside from the LP edition which is available now, Darkthrone’s latest opus will also be available in a special edition that will be packaged in a digi pack (complete with slipcase) and which will feature a 24 page band history written by Fenriz and a 12 minure video of the band discussing their influences.