Quickie: Darkthrone – Circle the Wagons
So if it hasn’t become supremely obvious lately, Nocturno and Fenriz aren’t too fond of modern black metal as a rule. So instead of continuing in the vaguely black metal direction they had around the age of “Plaguewielder”, they must’ve decided “Fuck it, let’s play what we want”, and evolved into their crusty 80s metal worship period that still had tinges of their reputable past, and this year it resulted in “Circle the Wagons”, which is supposed to lean further towards the ’80s metal than the ’80s hardcore/crust punk.
So I don’t have all that much experience with the rest of the band’s work in such an idiom, but they’re definitely big on their influences. “Running for Borders” has this interesting Iron Maiden/Celtic Frost mashup quality to it, the former coming in terms of rhythm and song structure, with the latter in aesthetic and riffing. There’s other things thrown into the stew (yes, this album is the metal equivalent of food), like a healthy dose of Amebix’s dusty, dirty approach to the genre, gravelly vocals suggesting the first wave black/death/thrash bands combined with Fenriz’ distinctive clean singing. “Stylized Corpse” seems to reference Darkthrone’s early ’90s work, but ends up sounding again like an ’80s take on 2nd wave Norwegian black metal, which is interesting.
So yeah, while this probably isn’t going to be revered on the same level as Transylvanian Hunger or the rest of the band’s early ’90s work (I’m going to say everything up from Soulside Journey to Panzerfaust or Total Death, depending on the listener), it’s definitely a worthy addition to the band’s catalog.