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Darkthrone - 'Circle The Wagons'

About.com Rating 3.5 Star Rating

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Darkthrone - Circle The Wagons

Darkthrone - Circle The Wagons

Peaceville Records

The Bottom Line

Darkthrone’s return to the old school continues on this fun if not essential album.
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Pros

  • Sounds almost exactly like the past three Darkthrone albums.
  • Another collection of potent riffs.

Cons

  • Sounds almost exactly like the past three Darkthrone albums.
  • Unpolished to the point that it sounds like a demo.

Description

  • Released April 6, 2010 on Peaceville Records.
  • Darkthrone is one of the critical bands in the second wave of black metal along with Emperor and Mayhem.
  • The cover art again designed by Dennis Dread, who illustrated F.O.A.D. and Dark Thrones and Black Flags.

Guide Review - Darkthrone - 'Circle The Wagons'

Darkthrone has telegraphed their punches for the past few years. Fans who purchase any album following the style-shifting The Cult Is Alive know what they are getting: unpolished songs that blur the line between punk and metal; lyrics filled with nostalgia about 1980s metal and the odd song that details whatever Fenriz is thinking about on a given day.  On F.O.A.D.  it was his love for Canadian metal and on Circle The Wagons it’s his long tenure in a Norwegian post office (“I Am The Working Class.”)

Alas, those pining for a return to the times of A Blaze In the Northern Sky will again be disappointed. Darkthrone has left behind black metal like a first generation iPod. Those who have enjoyed Darkthrone’s Motorhead/Black Flag hybrid of recent years will appreciate Circle The Wagons.

The riffs are basic but workmanlike; the songs seethe with anger yet have a sense of humor and the tone is earthy and warm. Fenriz and Nocturno Culto never disguise their contempt for contemporary metal with choruses like:  “I am the graves of the 80s…destroy this modern metal!”  And they never forget that metal doesn’t always have to be challenging – it can also just be fun.

Circle The Wagons doesn’t sound as urgent or vital as The Cult Is Alive, which featured the essential tracks “Whiskey Funeral” and “Too Old, Too Cold.” It even falls short of later songs like “These Shores Are Damned.”  The album feels a bit called in and predictable. But if you’ve enjoyed Darkthrone’s second era, Circle the Wagons offers a good fix before the band’s next album hits shelves in a roughly a year.

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Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.
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