Jan 162013

(Our man BadWolf interviews Fenriz from Darkthrone.)

Norwegian black metal bands and fans sometimes draw fire from more casual metal fans, as well as the mainstream, for taking themselves too seriously. Such criticisms, however, cannot be leveled at Fenriz of Darkthrone. While his peers in the second wave of black metal bands have grown, by and large, more progressive in recent years (Mayhem, Enslaved), Fenriz has been taking Darkthrone in a more primitive—and fun—direction roughly since The Cult is Alive.

Darkthrone’s last record, Circle the Wagons, sounded like a scuffed-up relic from 1980. Their upcoming album, The Underground Resistance, will follow that path even further, judging by the rust-released single edit of “Leave No Cross Unturned.” It’s an energetic number, sporting Fenriz’s best Manowar impression, and some fast-and-heavy thrash.

I sent some questions to Fenriz via email in late 2012. Judging by the candor of his responses, Fenriz doesn’t take himself that seriously either, but the man has a deep love of heavy music, and a whimsical conversation style penetrating the language and technology barrier. Continue reading »

Mar 302012

This post includes much less news than most news stories at NCS. Usually, if there’s not new music or at least the debut of album art or an album release date, I just wait until there is. Hell, I don’t even have a recent band photo for this thing. But, since the news concerns Darkthrone, I’m posting about it anyway.

For more than 20 years, Darkthrone have been doing things their own way, trends be damned. In fact, if you pay attention to the writings and interviews of Fenriz, you get the impression that very little in the evolution of metal since about 1993 seems to impress him. As the metal genre, writ large, has branched and changed, Darkthrone has seemed bent on diving ever more deeply into metal’s punk/thrash roots.

The band’s last album, Circle the Wagons (2010), for example, was full of references to bands such as Motorhead, English Dogs, Agent Steel, Metallica, Deathside, Puke, Slayer, Omen, and Savage Grace. You could almost say it was a nostalgia trip, except the stripped-down and often quirky songs were so much more original than any mere homage to a by-gone era. The band’s dedication to following their own path, even if the path may be taking you backwards, and their demonstrated skill as songwriters have made the release of new Darkthrone material a never-ending source of fascination.

And that brings me to the news: On March 18, Darkthrone posted this status on their Facebook page: “Right! This weekend was a blast, and we recorded two songs, that now only needs some bass and some mixing. Should be complete next week. Fenriz did a fantastic job on vocal on his song. Some photos should be posted soon.” And then yesterday, they posted this message:

“Ok, the photos did not turn out well. Damn. But I’ll post a couple of them soon anyway. We recorded the two songs “Lesser Men” and “Valkyrie”. They are now fully mixed and it’s a done deal. In July the album will be ready.

Continue reading »

Mar 082010

I’ve been a latecomer to black metal, but it’s been growing on me, sorta like rash that just spreads the more I scratch it. I’ve been trying to further my black-metal education (though still, I haven’t read Hideous Gnosis) while at the same time trying to keep up with interesting new releases across many extreme metal genres — which hasn’t been easy. Only so many hours in the day, unfortunately.

Basically, when it comes to black metal, I feel like a small child. In black diapers. Actually, I gave up the black diapers last week.  Figured it was time.  Because they weren’t black when I started wearing them.

Anyway, I’ve been trying to get educated. One thing I’ve learned is that the term “black metal,” standing alone, really doesn’t tell you very much. Bands that work under that banner can sound remarkably different from each other. I suppose I still associate that genre label with tremolo picking, blast beats, and evil-sounding shrieking in the vocals — but I’m discovering that’s a gross generalization that fails to capture the musical variety of “black metal.”

For example, I’ve listened to three new/forthcoming releases in the last couple weeks that are all classifiable as “black metal” but that sound dramatically different from each other — one from a legendary Norwegian band whose members are pictured above and whose name will be found in every history of the genre that has been or will be written — Darkthrone — and one from a band that is painfully obscure outside their home country (and maybe even within their home country) — Nydvind.

I really like both releases, though they sound nothing alike. Collecting some thoughts about each of them in this roundup and allowing you to stream some excerpts is as good a way as any to illustrate the variety in black metal, even as it’s being practiced today. (read on, after the jump . . .) Continue reading »