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Darkthrone – Total Death [original]


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Booklet/cd nm/ex Original Moonfog release After releasing several infamously unrefined and massively influential Black Metal albums in the early 90s, including the classic “Transilvanian Hunger” in 1994, it was only inevitable that Darkthrone would eventually issue an album that would tarnish their own progressively increasing legacy. “Total Death” perhaps solely represents a trace of mediocrity within their otherwise thriving discography. The band’s second album for Moonfog Productions (the label run by Satyricon main man Satyr), “Total Death” was also their first release since their inception not to feature guitarist Zephyrous in the line up, hence reducing them to the duo of Nocturno Culto on guitars, bass and vocals and Fenriz on drums. Not surprisingly, throughout the album, it seems apparent that the loss of Zephyrous led to the greater loss of creativity and general brilliance in terms of musicality. Tracks like “Earth’s Last Picture” and “Gather For Attack On The Pearly Gates” seem to drag on without direction and this develops into an almost overriding theme throughout. The guitar arrangements in particular are far simpler and more repetitive in comparison to the spiteful and intricate sounds of previous album “Panzerfaust” for example, and so this monotony only adds to the aimless feeling throughout. Furthermore, although Darkthrone are renowned for their notoriously bad production, there is something quite amiss with the sound on “Total Death”. Indeed, the production is terrible, but not in the ‘classic’ way expected from a Darkthrone album. Previously, their harsh, garage-like sound has fuelled the primitive nature of their style of Black Metal but on this release it almost seems as if the band have tried to somehow develop both their playing and production methods. Quite frankly, this change of direction was problematic, as it was entirely unnecessary. The overall mix is simply shambolic and allow the new tracks very little chance of acceptance amongst their fans. However, amongst this mess, there are indeed still signs of a band who have not entirely drifted from their past, with some fantastic melodic parts scattered through tracks like “Black Victory Of Death” and “Ravnajuv”. Put simply, Darkthrone are not supposed to represent progression or advancement; they are the Black Metal fan’s reliable lot and are plain expected to release practically the same record again and again. Perhaps this is a narrow-minded approach but, quite truthfully, this album is proof of a failed attempt to diversify – something which Darkthrone themselves have never attempted since. Track listing: 1. Earth's Last Picture 2. Blackwinged 3. Gather For Attack On The Fearly Gates 4. Black Victory Of Death 5. Majestic Desolate Eye 6. Blasphemer 7. Ravnajuv 8. The Serpents Harvest

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