Darkthrone – Astral Fortress

Year: 2022
Total Time: 40:00
Label: Peaceville Records

DARKTHRONE is one of the few bands of Norwegian Black Metal that has established a conviction among their fans, that every two or three years, at the most, they will be releasing new music. So, the fact that the Norwegians announced that this year, only one year after the release of “Eternal Hails…”, they were going to release the twentieth album of their career, titled “Astral Fortress”, was not a surprise for anyone. In fact, the first announcement was accompanied by the disclosure of the album cover, which is really one of the worst we have ever seen and completely pointless.

On the cover, there is a guy who skates in the snowy countryside and wears a jacket with a huge patch on it, which shows the cover of the band’s great album “Panzerfaust”. The truth is that, in fact, there is a connection between this album and the composition that opens “Astral Fortress”, as “Caravan of Broken Ghosts” reminds us, ofcourse without being able to even touch qualitatively, “Quintessence”. DARKTHRONE, in the new album, continue what they have started in 2016 with “Arctic Thunder” and, more intensely, later with “Old Star” and “Eternal Hails…”. Songs with mid tempo rhythm and long duration, with their influences being mainly Doom Metal and classic Heavy Metal with some elements from the Black Metal of BATHORY and CELTIC FROST.

The album includes six more songs, which are moving exactly in the same musical Blackened Doom Metal pattern. Compared to the band’s previous album, we can say that “Astral Fortress” has more elements from classic Heavy Metal combined with a more “epic” atmosphere. A typical example of this is the composition with the strange title “The Sea Beneath The Seas Of The Sea”, which lasts ten minutes and has several melodic moments. Also, in the song “Stalagmite Necklace”, the Norwegians use keyboards which enhance the melancholic atmosphere, while “Kolbotn, West Of The Vast Forests” is a surprise, as it is a two-minute ambient composition, something that we are definitely not expecting from DARKTHRONE.

However, unfortunately, I would say that the record on its whole cannot be considered of high quality, as repetition is pronounced. The record gives the impression of being made sloppily, since DARKTHRONE sound as if they have not worked enough and carefully the songs in the studio and after several listenings I got tired. Ok, I don’t think anyone expects from the Norwegians to give us a new musical masterpiece, especially after so many records. Their contribution is already huge and invaluable and they have always done what they liked. Especially in recent years, they have made it very clear that they are playing the music they listen to. But, on the other hand, when you continue releasing new music, you will be judged for that. Especially, when you ask the fans to buy the album, it does not honor you as a musician, to have releases that, from the cover to the compositions, are characterized by mediocrity.

Rating: 6/10
Editor: Nikos Manousis
Related Link: DARKTHRONE – Facebook Page

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