Review by Jack on October 6, 2001.
Darkthrone I must confess have never really been my favourite black metal act out in the Norwegian wilderness. After (what I deemed to be) initially bad efforts in walls of absolute chaotic metal, they have come of age and produced two consistent albums. Both “Ravishing Grimness” and the new record “Plaguewielder” are fine albums in waves of mediocrity in a, perhaps fetid genre of metal.
I was glad Darkthrone continued upon the path that they took with “Ravishing Grimness”, as it was a much inspired and entertaining album. “Plaguewielder” takes the strong melodies and production that was present on “Ravishing Grimness” and the coldhearted icy ‘feel’ of their early releases and conceives a new unstoppable wrath of fury.
One thing I was admired about Darkthrone was the atmosphere that emanated from each and every album. Darkthrone is frosty, inert music. I mean I could listen to them in the Sahara desert and still feel cold. “Plaguewielder” is no exception; it is just served up with more delectable melodies.
Clean vocals? Seems the norm for a black metal band nowadays... Seen perhaps as adding another dimension to the music. For vocalist Nocturno Culto, black metal is a harsh and forbidding landscape and need not be purified with the addition of clean vocals. It is perhaps this element that keeps Darkthrone in the peak of black metal bands.
“Plaguewielder” as stated above is a culmination of different Darkthrone-era sounds. It’s an extremely thrashy-black album and threaded with cold, icy elements. ‘Weakling Avenger’ starts off with a raspy breath... and eerie atmosphere with a few harsh words spoken quietly before absolute thrash-black mayhem rips through your speakers. Through six songs and over 42 minutes of thrash-black masterwork, Darkthrone transport the consumer to a dark grim world. The culmination of “Plaguewielder”, ‘Wreak’, 9:15 work of music is an epic journey of bleakness and ends with the whistling of the wind over a crackling of timber.
Certain to keep their old fans, Darkthrone will surely win over some new friends with this comprehensive album.
Bottom Line: This is Darkthrone, cold is the music and cold is the atmosphere. Darkthrone’s best album to date. The only weakness “Plaguewielder” possesses is the slight monotony that may be exposed if unaccustomed to the Darkthrone sound, that minor speck aside “Plaguewielder” is a worthy addition to your metal collection.
Rating: 8 out of 10