here the mighty have fallen and slowly biodegraded, Darkthrone has drifted outside of any realm that adheres to physical laws. Fenriz and Noctourno Culto have made undeniably brilliant records in the past; they’ve made marginal records, and they’ve made some records that have caused their untouchable status of True Fucking Norwegian Black Metal (TFNBM) to crack and crumble and regenerate in alarming and hilarious new forms of crust and punk and not-so zippy jokes that serve more to irritate those concerned with “staying in character” and being simply all “kvlt.” Drummer, vocalist, and standup comedic force Fenriz knows this and he’s practically weaponized his ability to act the dipshit and still manage to have folks thumping their chests and ogling necklaces to see who the fuck’s got the most buffalo teeth.
Darkthrone’s break with TFNBM resulted in a strange union of thump punk and frothing crust, their rhythms empowered with equal amounts of G.B.H. and Broken Bones, their guitar and delivery something ripped right from G.I.S.M.’s playbook. In the gloaming of every offering since 2005’s Sardonic Wrath, Fenriz ambled out into the snow, drained some Ringnes tallboys and waxed nostalgic re: TFNBM, snuff, Uriah Heep, etc.—most sealed in time via YouTube. Everyone forgave and forget, even those (me included) that cherished the infantile fits that passed for songs on the embarrassingly enjoyable The Cult Is Alive. Of course, Fenriz and Noctourno are making music for the sake of making music; writing songs that riff on old favorites and rocking them if and only because they love them: what they sound and feel like; what they “mean” in a larger context, and—possibly—how they can be received on so many different levels. The duo is as good at spinning semiotic plates as it is bringing its obsessions to fruition in as dunderheaded ways as placing flaming bags of shit at potential listeners’ feet. Folks interested in questioning the impetus behind the band’s transformation would do better to look at said transformation in the larger context of the genre it often religiously reifies and confrontationally rails against. Get back to me on that mental exercise…
So comes F.O.A.D.—the Fuck Off & Die response to chides and adulation that came years earlier, as most of the folks that genuflected to Darkthrone to begin with did so for their early efforts which are now inextricably bound to the Norwegian soap opera starring Varg, Dead, and Euronymous. Perhaps a reaction to the whole bloated shitpit of it all, F.O.A.D. is pure tongue and cheek parody, riddled with lyrical gook that was probably lifted straight from school house desks and guitar/drum romps not far from the slow pogo that is Blitzkrieg Pop. “Sex with Satan the loudest song / Sounds like a hammer from hell / Pyrokinesis and take this torch / sounds fill me with no remorse,” goes “Canadian Metal,” a silly, not-so gritty oompah to nowhere that encapsulates the rest of the music on F.O.A.D. so well, like the majority of beer-soaked weekend practice sessions—some times bringing a modicum of white-knuckled fury, but mostly falling flat in its tedious cuteness. There are a billion in-jokes and references here that the most loathsome of record collector scum will get and rouse their lesser counterparts for. Dennis Dread’s exceptional cover art is to be admired, but its necrotic tattoo can’t ease the shit smell wafting from the vinyl. “Perceive the glitches / Praise the glaciers / The final remnants / Of our key of greatness.”