Review DARKTHRONE ‘Astral Fortress’

When Fenriz and Nocturno Culto announce a new Darktrone album, it creates a buzz or at least a curiosity. A few weeks ago Fenriz announced the new album with a number of video clips and now the wait is over.

With ‘Astral Fortress’ Darkthrone have a new album in the starting blocks and continue to follow their path. Due to their history the band is still categorized as a black metal outfit, but the guys deliver a lot more. Of course, it is still the raw black metal roots that are firmly embedded in the sound of the band. But much more important is the diversity with which the duo approaches the topic.

Darkthrone combine different genres and also this time it is an explosive mixture which makes ‘Astral Fortress’ stand out from many other releases. Listening to the record, bands like Celtic Frost came to my mind more than once. Rough and with edges, that’s what defines the sound of the album and at the same time the record has a nuanced and crisp sound. You get the feeling that riffs like in ‘Kevorkian Times’ rise straight from hell to make the hearts of metal fans beat faster.

At the same time, it’s doom metal elements a la Candlemass, like on ‘Stalagmite Necklace ‘, that define the guys’ signature sound. Tempo is not in the spotlight here. Rather, it is the subtle evil that resonates subliminally in each of the songs. Especially in ‘Stalagmite Necklace’ it is also the partly in the background wafting keyboards, which give the song depth and atmosphere.

That traditional heavy metal plays a decisive role in Darkthrone is no surprise for some time. This becomes obvious when the highlight of the album is announced. ‘The Sea Beneath the Seas of the Sea’ is peppered with traditional metal cross-references. This gives this ten-minute steamroller the necessary variety without interrupting the enormous intensity. In this context, also listen to the final ‘Eon 2’, where the influences of NWoBHM are unmissable.

In addition, it is the anarchic power of punk, which plays a role throughout the album and provides electric moments. These appear, among other things, as tempo breaks during the slowly held opener ‘Caravan of Broken Ghosts’. All of a sudden you are confronted with racing and galloping parts, which is a brilliantly used counterpart to the basic patterns of the song.

And last but not least, there is always this subliminal sense of humor. Which other metal band would put an ice-skating metalhead on a greyish frontcover of an album. I would not be surprised if it is even one of the two metal icons, skating through snowy Norway.

Darkthrone created with ‘Astral Fortress’ an exciting and ingenious album. Conventions and trends are anything but directional here. Since the beginning Darkthrone make music that comes from the blackened heart and is guided by nothing else than their own standards. As expected – ‘Astral Fortress’ has become a great album and is another blackened icon in the enormous discography of the band.

Rating: 9 out of 10.

Tracklist:

  1. Caravan of Broken Ghosts    
  2. Impeccable Caverns of Satan
  3. Stalagmite Necklace 
  4. The Sea Beneath the Seas of the Sea
  5. Kevorkian Times        
  6. Kolbotn, West of the Vast Forests    
  7. Eon 2

Label: Peaceville Records

Genre: Blackened Doom Metal

Release Date EU: October 28th, 2022

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