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It Beckons Us All.......

Norway Country of Origin: Norway

It Beckons Us All.......
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Type: Full-Length
Release Date: April 26th, 2024
Genre: Black, Heavy, Speed
1. Howling Primitive Colonies
2. Eon 3
3. Black Dawn Affiliation
4. And In That Moment I Knew The Answer
5. The Bird People Of Nordland
6. The Heavy Hand
7. The Lone Pines Of The Lost Planet

Review by Vladimir on April 27, 2024.

Whenever a new Darkthrone album comes out, you are always found in this so-called "middle ground" where you have moderately high and low expectations, because you never know what you're going to end up with. Darkthrone has been constantly experimenting for the last two decades, constantly expanding their sound and enriching their songwriting with more flavours and styles that can be a "hit or miss" thing. In the case of their last album Astral Fortress from two years prior, it was met with a mostly positive feedback, however there have been a couple of mixed feelings that expressed uncertainty towards the album as a whole, often saying that despite being interesting, it still somehow ended up feeling a bit lackluster and thinner in comparison to Eternal Hails and Old Star which came before. Nevertheless, Nocturno Culto and Fenriz keep pushing forward, and now come April 26th 2024, they have returned with their new and official 21st album It Beckons Us All......., released via Peaceville Records. Judging by what I heard with pre-released songs 'Black Dawn Affiliation' and 'The Bird People Of Nordland', this one promised a lot, and has in fact surpassed my initial expectations. Was it worth it? Let's find out...

Just as all their latest releases, Darkthrone once again utilizes their well-crafted black metal with a lot of heavy, speed and doom metal elements mixed in together, all of which flow through the heavy mid-tempo riffs and drums, with Nocturno Culto's vocals in Tom G. Warrior style giving the extra edge. Overall, the direction that they go with on this album is definitely familiar thanks to their previous efforts since Arctic Thunder, but they also added more atmosphere and progression to their songs, especially the psychedelic moments on 'Black Dawn Affiliation', which is also backed up with epic singing vocals by Fenriz during the song's finale. Somehow I felt like this one shows some Pink Floyd and King Crimson influences that are surprisingly well-fitting for Darkthrone's music, and they certainly create this ominous and otherworldly feeling for a song which could have also been on Eternal Hails. Considering the fact that Astral Fortress album concluded with 'Eon 2', which is a continuation to the original song from their debut Soulside Journey, I had a feeling that they would definitely make a part 3 of Eon sooner or later, and so they did. The second track 'Eon 3' shifts towards a more heavy/doom metal style with Fenriz's epic singing vocals and slow-tempo rhythm, something closer to what he did with his other band Coffin Storm. I think that since we now officially have three parts of Darkthrone's "Eon", I think it's safe to say that this song could be marked as "The Unforgiven" (by Metallica) of black metal. They also snuck in one instrumental track on the album, that being 'And In That Moment I Knew the Answer', which structurally has a lot of progression and atmosphere, serving as a nice interlude that fills the gap between two songs. Speaking of atmosphere, the fifth track 'The Bird People Of Nordland' has plenty of doom and gloom that creates an eerie but also alien feeling where you are completely mesmerized by the energy of the song. In case you were wondering whether you'd get some Celtic Frost riffing in here as well, don't worry, because 'The Heavy Hand' got you covered, giving you those signature Tom G. Warrior slow riffs with a lot of string bending, heaviness and doom. So far the overall progression of the album has worked pretty well towards the very end, coming in the form of 'The Lone Pines Of The Lost Planet', a 10 minute conclusion that puts the last dot on the album's title, proudly stating that IT indeed BECKONS US ALL.

Darkthrone's songwriting is heavily dynamic with its variety of ideas which come from all angles, always leaving plenty of room to include more than one could imagine, while still maintaining the overall heaviness in the music and keep it structurally polished without too much substance all at once. So far, I like the effort of It Beckons Us All.... far better than Astral Fortress, especially since it doesn't feel lackluster, rushed or insufficient in terms of its delivery, and sometimes I did occasionally think that I was going for a good thrill-ride. The final track in particular stands out in that regard, always keeping me on edge as to what may happen next, especially when things get slow and quiet, and then striking hard with this musical crescendo like it's a suspenseful horror movie scene. When I mentioned that at times I felt like there were some Pink Floyd influences, the opening and closing clean guitar section of the final track reminded me a bit of "Goodbye Blue Sky", but I still believe that there is much more to it other than all the surface level psychedelic and progressive rock stuff that people are generally familiar with. Comparison-wise, even though I like this one more than Astral Fortress, I still felt that Astral Fortress did perform just a little bit better than It Beckons Us All.... in some aspects, especially with 'Eon 2' because that one was one hell of a surprise that came out of nowhere, yet it sounded so good with all the heavy metal riffs and melodies that hit hard like a hammer on the anvil. This isn't to say that 'Eon 3' is a bad song, far from it, plus it nicely started where the previous 'Eon 2' left off, but I just felt like this one didn't really succeed at crawling underneath my skin and giving me chills as I would have expected. Personally, even though many prefer the earlier efforts of Darkthrone, I generally adore the direction that they've been going with for the last 4-5 albums, because they just keep expanding in every way possible, because you never know what to expect. The fantastic and other-worldly album cover was done by the acclaimed Polish artist Zbigniew Bielak, who had previous working experience with Darkthrone on re-releases of Plaguewielder and the original Goatlord, as well as their compilation Shadows Of Iconoclasm, however this time he made an artwork which is simply amazing to look at, and it wonderfully captures the album's essence by visually representing its atmosphere. The sound production was once again handled by the mixing and mastering skills of Jack Control, who once again incorporated that dry but heavy organic sound, keeping things simple yet not stupid, while also staying faithful to their previous albums.

Personally, even though I didn't grasp It Beckons Us All.... as much as I wanted to, I still think that it performed better than Astral Fortress, because overall it was much more consistent and well-thought-out, giving a very satisfying end result that just works. I think that after 4 albums, Darkthrone has a more focused musical direction with a variety of styles and ideas that could be considered suitable for people like myself who aren't limited to strictly one genre/subgenre, because there is plenty of that for everyone. This year is certainly coming together nicely with all these Norwegian metal releases, starting with Coffin Storm's "Arcana Rising", to Khold's "Du Dømmes Til Død" and Darkthrone's It Beckons Us All....., all the way to Sarke's "Endo Feight" which is due to be released on June 21st this year. I guess nothing can stop these dedicated and experienced veterans in the Norwegian metal scene, who are always active and successful in their unique craft of extreme metal.

Rating: 8.1 out of 10