Rating:
7.8
Darkthrone - Circle The Wagons
6 April 2010


01. Those Treasures Will Never Befall You
02. Running For Borders
03. I Am The Graves Of The 80s
04. Stylized Corpse
05. Circle The Wagons
06. Black Mountain Totem
07. I Am The Working Class
08. Eyes Burst At Dawn
09. Bränn Inte Slottet


Preface - If you like the direction that Darkthrone has taken with their last few recordings, read on. If you don't and long for the days when they trolled forests in corpse paint and clutched their fists towards the heavens (or just never "got them" to begin with), just save your time and money... skip both the album and the review.

Now onwards with your regularly scheduled review.

Circle The Wagons is a continuation of the path the duo have taken since The Cult Is Alive was released, more specifically stylistically it's a direct follow-up to Dark Thrones and Black Flags.

They like their metal like I like my scotch. Old.

They like their metal raw, dirty, and, well, honest... as opposed to the superswell clean, crystalline, and polished until all imperfections have been removed products that are coming out nowadays. And the track "I Am The Graves Of The 80's" sees the band announcing their battle cry/mission statement clearly for all to hear:

"I am the graves of the 80's/I am the recent dead/Destroy their modern metal/And bang your fucking head!"

While tons of Darkclones have sprung up paying tribute to their early black metal releases (i.e. copying), the band itself have continued to pay tribute to those metal bands which influenced them. Circle The Wagons is a shot of crust punk, a double of 80's metal, a couple ounces of their own stylings and a jigger of formaldehyde. Shaken. And stirred. Violently.

Recorded pretty much raw at their own pride and joy, Necrohell II studio (what's a second take?), the band shifts between faster paced anthems and mid-paced tracks that thanks to the vocal delivery feel almost dirge-like by comparison. For the most part this ping-ponging keeps up with the odd tracks being the barn burners and the even tracks slowing it down... with the exception of the last two, "Eyes Burst At Dawn", which would make a good closer, and the oddly introduced instrumental "Brann Inte Slottet" which closes the album somewhat awkwardly.

There are some pretty cool guitar riffs strewn throughout the release, mixing jolting power chords with the band's traditional necro-style riffing, if only adapted to their current musical style. Fenriz pounds away on drums in typical Fenriz fashion.

Ah, yes, the vocal delivery. The two have continued to get a little more experimental in that regard. Well, at least in regards to their back catalog. They actually kinda sing some choruses on this one, even with a dual vocalist approach to the chorus of the title track... Fenriz singing with Nocturno Teddo backing and rasping along with him. No shit. And it's catchy enough where you might very well find yourself singing the choruses as well... much to Mrs. COld's chagrin, she's had to deal with me telling her to "Circle The Wagons", or informing her that "Those treasures will never befall" (her) while she has me working around El Rancho de COld.

Truth be told, they aren't hacking their way through the metal jungle, clearing a new trail with this release. They haven't been for a while now. But so what? I enjoy this release for the same reasons I enjoy Motörhead or old Ramones albums. They do what they do, they do it well, and they do it with attitude. Perhaps it's the mix of punk attitude and some bombast which makes it enjoyable.

So while older Darkthrone is for playing Halloween out in the backyard after dark, recent Darkthrone is for gathering around your friends, enough beer to float a battleship, getting plowed, nailing a pizza to the ceiling, and laying waste to everything in sight. Circle The Wagons fits nicely into that role.

Performance: 8
Songwriting: 8
Originality: 7
Production: 8


Band profile: Darkthrone
Album: Circle The Wagons


 



Written on 21.04.2010 by
BitterCOld
BitterCOld has been officially reviewing albums for MetalStorm since 2009.
More reviews by BitterCOld ››



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Mr. Doctor - 21.04.2010 at 23:27  
Good review, sums everything up perfectly. But BitterCOld, The preface is unfortunately very unnecessary. We both know that there will be some dudes that will still post the usual whining: They were so good before buaaaa! buaaa!

Honestly, I don't like old metal, but I have two big exceptions: Motörhead and Darkthrone.
Why? Because they just don't care, They do what they love. And you can't deny their passion and will to have fun, no matter how much you dislike them.

For me this music is a statement: Music doesn't need to mean anything, it doesn't need to be pretentious. It can be just fun.
BitterCOld - 21.04.2010 at 23:37  
That's pretty much the case with this album. it's fun.

i did a 20mi/30km bike trek with scavenger hunt and check point obstacles through town last weekend. was a bit grueling as i hadn't biked in well over a decade and it was fucking hot out. i found myself humming and singing the chorus to "Circle The Wagons" throughout the endeavor, i couldn't get it out of my head. it ended up kind of pushing me on and keeping me fired up.

it's not a "mandatory must have!" metal album, but for those who like the path they've taken lately, it's enjoyable.
John Barleycorn - 22.04.2010 at 13:10  
I enjoy the new album quite alot. Still I would have liked to see a continuation of the path they took in "Cult is Alive" which I consider to be far superior to their later work. I still admire above all their attitude towards music.
Svetopolk - 22.04.2010 at 13:47  
I personally wouldn't give the production an 8:)
ylside - 22.04.2010 at 15:53  
The artwork is absolutly great.
Jeff - 22.04.2010 at 16:44  
Absolutely what I think about the album!

And it rocks (and a lot more BM in the spirit than some people will say...)!
BitterCOld - 22.04.2010 at 17:58  
Written by Svetopolk on 22.04.2010 at 13:47

I personally wouldn't give the production an 8:)


some times production is about quality, some times it is about matching the mood of the music. if some euro flower power metal band produced an album like this, it would be a 4. when some black metal bands go all perfect crystal clear, it betrays the intent of the music.

it fits very well for what they are trying to do, which is why i gave it an 8.
Svetopolk - 22.04.2010 at 20:36  
Written by BitterCOld on 22.04.2010 at 17:58

Written by Svetopolk on 22.04.2010 at 13:47

I personally wouldn't give the production an 8:)


some times production is about quality, some times it is about matching the mood of the music. if some euro flower power metal band produced an album like this, it would be a 4. when some black metal bands go all perfect crystal clear, it betrays the intent of the music.

it fits very well for what they are trying to do, which is why i gave it an 8.

I stand corrected:)
Odium - 23.04.2010 at 03:20  
Great album, love Darkthrone...
Grimskallen - 23.04.2010 at 07:17  
I still find it a tad odd that they have a song with a swedish title "Bränn inte slottet" ~ Don't burn the castle, doesn't seem to be a cover of any sort either as far as I'm concerned. I can suggest this album to everyone that likes their other albums in this style.
Warrior_Of_Ice - 24.04.2010 at 20:03  
Not a fan of this band anymore
Lord_Regnier - 25.04.2010 at 15:04  
I have nothing against their attitude. Problem is their albums suck donkey balls nowadays.
Jiri - 25.04.2010 at 17:45  
I actually found enjoyable elements on this one. I love the new clean singing aspect. Fenriz has a great singing voice anyway. He should use it more in their releases.
Deth - 26.04.2010 at 10:00  
Love this album...... Darkthrone Forever!!!!!!..!..!
Mikyz - 26.04.2010 at 11:40  
Even though I prefer the Black Metal face of Darkthrone, I also enjoy very much their crust punk sound and Circle the Wagons reveals yet again a new facet to the versatility of Nocturno and Fenriz.
SatyriconChick - 03.05.2010 at 05:22  
I'd like to hear this album. I enjoy the later stuff that I've heard or have by them, so it's probably going to be cool to my ears.
Sworn - 06.05.2010 at 11:58  
This is probably Darkthrone's best work to date from the "new era" of the band. Circle the Wagons is a fist in the face to all the posers!
marzepka87 - 07.05.2010 at 01:20  
Circle the Wagons is a long way from Under a Funeral Moon or Transilvanian Hunger, but to me it still has the Darkthrone feel to it and thats why I still love the recent albums. I got to agree with the fact that it is a perfect kick in the teeth for all the posers out there.
I, braineater - 09.05.2010 at 13:33  
Definitely their best since 'Cult' and way better than 'F.O.A.D'

Has a great sound and the vocals work really well on most of the tracks. Some songs still feel a bit like filler, but killer riffs throughout and typical tongue in cheek lyrics. Love it.

Plus, 'Stylized Corpse' is one the coolest tracks from them in a while. That shits like metal heroin - awesome track.
vezzy - 31.05.2010 at 19:57  
I prefer classic black metal Darkthrone, but this was good too, even if a whole new direction for Darkthrone and somewhat bland and uninspired at times.
Necrodamus - 29.06.2010 at 02:30  
Great review. I really dig the newer stuff Darkthrone is making, but I can still enjoy their older works as well.
@gent_-_orange - 26.09.2010 at 00:25  
Circle the wagon is pretty damn good.
wormdrink414 - 01.04.2011 at 12:12  
Written by BitterCOld on 21.04.2010 at 23:37

That's pretty much the case with this album. it's fun.

i did a 20mi/30km bike trek with scavenger hunt and check point obstacles through town last weekend. was a bit grueling as i hadn't biked in well over a decade and it was fucking hot out. i found myself humming and singing the chorus to "Circle The Wagons" throughout the endeavor, i couldn't get it out of my head. it ended up kind of pushing me on and keeping me fired up.

it's not a "mandatory must have!" metal album, but for those who like the path they've taken lately, it's enjoyable.


It's definitely the most catchy chorus Darkthrone has ever made. I'm an amateur, though avid drinker and Circle the Wagons definitely is my drunk sing-along song of the decade.
Slayer666 - 18.04.2011 at 15:56  
Finally forced myself to go through the entire album.

What a sad excuse for a record this is. I thought that if I couldn't expect it to have the atmosphere Darkthrone used to have, it could at least be catchy and fun. I was immediately punished for such naive thoughts by 40 minutes of monotonous, samey wankery. Songs like "I am The Graves of The 80's" and "Circle The Wagons" I liked at first, but they got really old after 4-5 listens. "Stylized Corpse" is the best song they've done since they started this whole punk thing, but, y'know, that's really not saying much.

Not to mention the lyrics are moronic, and on some songs they completely took the Manowar formula (TR00 METHUL, FUCK MODERN SHIT, WE'RE THE ONLY ONES WHO KNOW HOW TO MAKE GOOD METAL NOWADAYS!!!!BLLAAARGHHHH!), which is quite sad, specially when you take the fact that their new sound is closer to punk than metal into consideration.

Eh, maybe the next one will be more like "The Cult Is Alive", that one at least had some catchy tunes and memorable songs.
RavenKing - 19.04.2011 at 01:16  
Written by Slayer666 on 18.04.2011 at 15:56

Not to mention the lyrics are moronic, and on some songs they completely took the Manowar formula (TR00 METHUL, FUCK MODERN SHIT, WE'RE THE ONLY ONES WHO KNOW HOW TO MAKE GOOD METAL NOWADAYS!!!!BLLAAARGHHHH!), which is quite sad, specially when you take the fact that their new sound is closer to punk than metal into consideration.


Those dumb lyrics don't make Darkthrone true in any way. If they want to be true, then they should begin by playing true Black Metal instead of this shit.

Darkthrone and Satyricon are so much alike on this aspect: both were great in their early days but damn their recent stuff is awful. Unlistenable. Would have been much better to call a quit.
Troy Killjoy - 19.04.2011 at 03:01  
I don't understand how people can say this is un-listenable. Obviously it isn't black metal; even as a totally separate genre they're a far cry from what they once were, but this is still an average album overall. Not in any way great, but a 5 or 6/10 would suffice.
wormdrink414 - 19.04.2011 at 05:09  
Well I fucking love it. Love it. Love to it, love with it, all over the place. It's a giant, dumb middle finger to black metal, but it doesn't pretend to be anything but. The same can be said of everything else they've done since The Cult is Alive (especially FOAD), but Circle the Wagons is, imo, more consistent, more headbangable, etc.
!J.O.O.E.! - 21.04.2011 at 01:54  
Even as an ex-new-Darkthrone hater I actually love this record. Only took a good listen to fully appreciate its fun factor. Awesome stuff. How anyone can not like this is beyond me:

ANGEL REAPER - 30.10.2011 at 10:49  
Written by !J.O.O.E.! on 21.04.2011 at 01:54

Even as an ex-new-Darkthrone hater I actually love this record. Only took a good listen to fully appreciate its fun factor. Awesome stuff. How anyone can not like this is beyond me:



i am not that into Darkthrone but i must say that this song is really good.Sure this is not the second wave Darkthrone but rather its a something like First wave sound and approach on music .Mostly it reminds me on Hellhammer.This is not bm as we know it but its a definitively listenable .
heteo - 10.12.2011 at 09:29  
This album is bad, worst of all time for darkthrone. wtf
squidrick420 - 04.02.2013 at 22:42  
Written by vezzy on 31.05.2010 at 19:57

I prefer classic black metal Darkthrone, but this was good too, even if a whole new direction for Darkthrone and somewhat bland and uninspired at times.


The same could be said about their later black metal releases, bland and uninspired at times. They did start to recycle their own sound over and over again after a while. I am glad they switched directions honestly.

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