Now that I have the full release of Sardonic Wrath I have revised my review of this album.
Starting with an intro similar in theme to Hate Them but much more minimal and eerie, Sardonic Wrath kicks into high gear immediately. Musically I feel this album falls neatly between Hate Them and Ravishing Grimness in both style and sound. It has the same heavy hammering feeling like HT with some of the more melodic leanings of RG interspersed throughout the album. I think this is a faster album overall than Hate Them though. This could be Darkthrone's fastest album in their history. Just listen to the speed on the songs like Hate is the Law and Information Wants to be Syndicated. It has a similar production to HT with its dry guitar sound but there is a meatier thickness to it. Nocturno Culto has incorporated an interesting new riff style to the melodic parts as evidenced on Straightening Sharks in Heaven and Sacrificing to the God of Doubt. Fenriz is still pounding away with his Old School thrash and Celtic Frost interests but to me there seems almost to be a hint of Sabbath in some of his riffs. Sardonic Wrath has an old school vibe to it but there is a sense of maturity to it. There is a definite feel of Black n' Roll to some of the songs. Listen to Alle Gegen Alle and you will see what I mean. Also overall I would say this is Darkthrone's most sorrowful album. When listening to it I can sense a feeling of nostalgia and longing. And the track Rawness Obsolete really enhances this mood. It has a similar vibe to that of Quintessence but with all the folk elements stripped from it. I really wish the lyrics for this song had been revealed. Fenriz's drumming is still very primitive but it is nice to see him occasionally ride the cymbal again as in Man Tanker Sitt. I would say his cymbal work is some of his most interesting in quite awhile. Something else that stands out is Apollyon's and Fenriz's additional vocals on Hate is the Law. I loved Fenriz's vocal performance on his Isengard albums and it is great to hear him at it again on this track. They sound like they are Old school thrash and so do some of the riffs on Hate is the Law. They all fit together in a weird way. The Lyrics on this album are some of Fenriz's strangest and they have an air of his old pompous lyrics without really resembling his old lyrics in any way. They are very strange but very emotionally impactful to me. The Packaging is great as always and I was at first being a little apprehensive about the cover art but I now feel that Lorenzo Mariani did a great job and it was an excellent decision to use his work along with the always outstanding photographic skills of Peter Beste, This is a great album and probably their best since Ravishing Grimness. Highlights include Straightening Sharks in Heaven, Man Tanker Sitt, and Sacrificing to the God of Doubt.