The Cult is Alive

Peaceville Records 2006

As with any new Darkthrone, the Cult is Alive is receiving its fair share of my attention and in the same spirit as my ears, my fingers will be working on a longer than normal review for it.  heh heh.


The album kicks of with Cult of Goliath which is a pounding monster that has a bit of drive to it. And when you hear the guitar solo at about the two minute mark you understand that this album will contain some new tricks from Darkthrone.  Guitar solo.  That's what I said.  This song contains a Celtic Frost/Discharge feel to it that will continue pretty much throughout the whole album. 

The next track Too Old Too Cold is as I said catchy as hell.  It has a real black N' Roll vibe that really hooks you and makes you want to bang your head.  The song then degenerates into some mid-tempo Celtic Frost trudging.

A lot of people I know have said that Atomic Coming is their favorite track on the album and I can see why.  From the opening drum hammering you know there will be a black thrash explosion unleashed upon you.  This is the fastest song on the album with a freezing main riff.  At around the 2 minute mark again a blackened Destruction riff kicks in and speeds this song to its apocalyptic conclusion.

Another experiment Darkthrone have done is on the album version of Graveyard Slut Fenriz does the vokillz.  I have never heard someone sound more like Tom G. Warrior than the original man himself.  And with so much Hellhammer influence on this song it is only appropriate that he channel that spirit through his throat.

Underdogs and Overlords is perhaps the most Celtic Frost inspired song on the album.  If you take some Morbid Tales and speed it up ever so slightly then you have the feel here.  And the second half speaks so much of Hellhammer to me.  It drives along as a sort of rhythmic stream and gives a structure for what is perhaps the best guitar solo on the album.

Whiskey Funeral is my favorite song on the album.  Its initial main riff is the aural equivalent to an ice drenched saw blade, cold and cutting and for some reason really recalls Discharge at their most apocalyptic.  The chorus riff really brings out a feel for the title track on Ravishing Grimness to me.  As with most songs on this album it is divided into two parts the first set of riff structures give way to a different feeling

On the song De Underjordiske (Aelia Capitolina) it is carried by a echoing and hollow sounding main riff that recalls Darkthrone's previous work on Lifeless.  As with most songs on this album it is divided into two parts the first set of riff structures give way to a different feeling second set of riff structures.  I think that it is possibly most pronounced on this track.  The guitar solo announces itself riding on top of a somber and haunting riff that is perhaps the most atmospheric moment of the album.

Tyster Pa Gud attacks the listener with a riff that melds the attitude of thrash with crust punk nihilism and speed.  But once again that all gives way to more Hellhammer inspired mayhem only to collapse back into the aforementioned insanity.

Shut Up! is the least convincing song on the album for me mainly because of the punk lyrics that attack people who spend their time copying Darkthrone and then attacking them.  The music is completely killer but loses a bit of its impact when taken in context with the lyrics.  But I must admit that a bunch of people really are "fucking twats!" 

The final song is an excellent closer.  It starts out with the most Celtic Frost imbued riffs of the whole album, "uuugggh." (think Tom G. Warrior and one of his signature grunts)  When the guitar solo kicks in about midway through Forebyggende Krig the temp picks up slightly and reminds me almost of a Sisters of Mercy/Fields of Nephilim song with its melodic lead and the way it flows.  Fenriz also lends his shouts to the background of this song when he belts out the "Forebyggende Krig" throughout the track.


Now for the album as a whole.  Nocturno Culto's vokillz are probably the most hate filled and pissed off since the insanity vomited forth on the godly Panzerfaust.  Fenriz's lyrics are basically in the same cryptic fashion he has been using lately but 3 songs had their lyrics left off from the linear notes.  And by listening you can hear that they are the most straightforward and "in your face" lyrics of his career.  Also his drumming is quite possibly his most varied in a long time even though the speed is never really ramped up like it was on Sardonic Wrath.  The production is equally distorted and crisp at the same time.  It has plenty of grime and fuzz to it.  The album of Darkthrone's that I most closely associate this with as a reference point is Ravishing Grimness because there are some similar riffing styles and the tempo of the album is fairly similar with most songs being a mid-tempo stomp.  But with that said, this album is very different from Ravishing Grimness in respect to Darkthrone's style.  It has more punk and more Motorhead in it than Ravishing Grimness ever thought about.  There will be the typical cries from the "true" trendies about this not being a good album and Darkthrone is irrelevant because they are not putting out Transilvanian Hunger part 12.  Why would they want TH again when they already have it?  And as Darkthrone themselves correctly point out, they have nothing to prove.  Overall this is Darkthrone's best work in a long time and that is saying a lot for me.