Circle the Wagons
Darkthrone’s cult fame was built on the raw, lo-fi black metal they pursued for a decade-plus. Circle the Wagons is the band’s 14th full-length, but their fourth since they decided that all that “True Norwegian Black Metal” politicking had grown tired. The duo’s most recent output is a crust punk version of the band, but the once anti-progress Darkthrone have expanded their sonic palette, infusing old-school thrash riffs into the mix along with some surprisingly melodic hooks. “Those Treasures Will Never Befall You” opens with the punk/metal stuff familiar to their last few albums, but then jumps into a new wave of British heavy metal-inspired chorus sung with, of all things, clean vocals. On “I Am the Graves of the ’80s,” Nocturno Culto — who doesn’t always seem to know which version of his voice is appropriate for this new style — shouts Destroy your modern metal, and bang your fucking head, while the two pound out classic metal riffs. Hyper-serious Darkthrone have somehow inched a little closer to becoming a party band.