There can be few musicians who have such a love of what is good in metal as do Ted (Nocturno Culto) and Fenriz of Darkthrone. Their previous album, The Underground Resistance, was my album of the year in the year of its release.
As ever, with Darkthrone there can be few complaints. Arctic Thunder works well as a body of work. The riff is king, as always, and the song-writing is first class. Individual highlights include the title track, “Burial Bliss” and “Tundra Leech.” I must especially praise the production, neither over nor under produced; everything sounds just right, which is as it should be.
This time round Nocturno Culto handles all vocals. It works well on this record, which is darker and less joyous than its processor, but I’d like to hear Fenriz sing on the next one.
There are some additional differences betwixt The Underground Resistance and Arctic Thunder. Arctic Thunder has a picture of a campfire on its cover rather than the Jim Fitzpatrick1 artwork that adorned The Underground Resistance. I feel this is because The Underground Resistance was a joyous celebration of all that is good about 70s/80s heavy metal, hard rock and punk rock.
For some reason, Fenriz’s notes on his influences on the songs he wrote is missing this time round. That’s a shame, and I’d like to see the notes return. In fact I’d love to see Fenriz do a book on heavy metal!
But back to Arctic Thunder and the band that created it. Overall, Darkthrone is a band who produce metal simply because they love it. They deserve our every support.
1 Jim Fitzpatrick’s artwork in inexorably linked with the mighty Thin Lizzy so clearly his artwork was chosen to invoke this vibe (it has made one of my favourite t-shirts too). For much the same reason Steve Harris’s British Lion have Jim Fitzpatrick artwork on their tour t-shirts. In a recent interview, Jim Fitzpatrick revealed he had drawn and designed artwork for Thin Lizzy’s final album Thunder and Lightning; sadly the record label was unwilling to pay for the artwork to be painted and so a photo was used instead. Now, wouldn’t it be a fine idea for some enterprising label to reissue the album with the correct artwork. Even in black and white – as proved by The Underground Resistance – it would be most effective!