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Darkthrone - Astral Fortress review



Reviewer:
7.7

119 users:
7.45
Band: Darkthrone
Album: Astral Fortress
Release date: October 2022


01. Caravan Of Broken Ghosts
02. Impeccable Caverns Of Satan
03. Stalagmite Necklace
04. The Sea Beneath The Seas Of The Sea
05. Kevorkian Times
06. Kolbotn, West Of The Vast Forests
07. Eon 2


So another year, meaning for us another Darkthrone album. This is not necessarily a bad thing I suppose, as this band have a fairly impressive and consistent discography to date, minus a few hiccups along the way. How does this latest release Astral Fortress fare amongst the others?

Now, the first first thing that really stands out for me is that bizarre-looking album cover that depicts a man walking across a frozen lake whilst wearing a hoodie showing their fifth full-length release, Panzerfaust, on the back. Now the question that springs to my mind is: why advertise merchandise from a previous album they released some 27 years ago? Well, only Fenriz and Nocturno Culto will know the answer to that, but it's most likely due to the fact that this album is strongly associated with the unholy four albums that kickstarted Darkthrone’s career in the early '90s.

Astral Fortress is this dark duo’s third release in four years, and is now album number 20 in their impressively long discography; this makes Darkthrone one of the longest-running black metal bands around. However, if you look closely at their discography, it's actually rather diverse, especially as you approach their later years. Although they have never strayed away from their typical raw production and traditional black metal roots, they have incorporated other elements and genres into their music over the years, genres that mainly include crust punk and blackened heavy metal. You will notice how far this band have stretched when comparing their 2021 release Eternal Hails...... to the days of their unholy trinity; some may say they have become softer in their later years, but it's important to know that they have developed and experimented their sound over a course of time and not necessarily made such a drastic change all at once.

Astral Fortress again very much follows in the path of Eternal Hails......, only this time you could say they have approached things in a slightly different manner. The sound and structure is slightly more on the epic side, and the riffs at times are like a blast from the past, as they contain the raw-sounding repetitiveness and hypnotic rhythms of old; the riffs for the most part focusing less on the blackened heavy metal approach of the predecessor and instead lean more towards traditional black metal.

The album kicks off with "Caravan Of Broken Ghosts", and being just shy of eight minutes in length, this track is by no means short; it begins with a soft acoustic passage, which I say is rather unusual for Darkthrone, but it doesn't take long before those classic hypnotic riffs of theirs get going, soon to be followed by those harsh raspy and sinister vocals, so before you know it, it's Darkthrone of old! Well, it's not exactly.

One thing worth taking note of is the occasional synth work taking place on tracks such as "Stalagmite Necklace"; this adds to a more dynamic atmospheric approach, and there are some moments in which the guitar tone is heavily distorted even by Darkthrone standards, which is especially noticeable on the track "The Sea Beneath The Seas Of The Sea", with its unusual opening and closing psychedelic guitar sound. The closing track "Eon 2" is also a real highlight, beginning with an upbeat funky rhythm until the usual tremolo riffing enters, but the style and rhythm then dramatically change several more times again towards the end, making this experimental track oddly satisfying.

And so yet another album for Darkthrone, the masters of black metal, and although this has been a long road for them, there's one thing that will never change for certain. Darkthrone will always remain pure to their raw and edgy sound; this album is stripped back to its bare core, allowing that organic production to shine.


Rating breakdown
Performance: 8
Songwriting: 8
Originality: 7
Production: 7





Written on 31.10.2022 by And well there you have it.


Comments

Comments: 16   Visited by: 236 users
31.10.2022 - 22:03
BitterCOld
The Ancient One
Nice read and thanks for inadvertently reminding me I pre-ordered this on Bandcamp and need to DL and give it a spin.
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get the fuck off my lawn.

Beer Bug Virus Spotify Playlist crafted by Nikarg and I. Feel free to tune in and add some pertinent metal tunes!
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31.10.2022 - 22:09
Rating: 7
AndyMetalFreak
A Nice Guy
Written by BitterCOld on 31.10.2022 at 22:03

Nice read and thanks for inadvertently reminding me I pre-ordered this on Bandcamp and need to DL and give it a spin.

Thanks I admit I was quite impressed by this album.
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01.11.2022 - 00:53
It's "caravan of broken ghosts", not glass
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01.11.2022 - 01:19
Rating: 7
AndyMetalFreak
A Nice Guy
Written by Autumn_colors on 01.11.2022 at 00:53

It's "caravan of broken ghosts", not glass

Yep your right, well spotted
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01.11.2022 - 02:04
Rating: 6
RaduP
CertifiedHipster
Bit of a higher rating than expected
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Do you think if the heart keeps on shrinking
One day there will be no heart at all?
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01.11.2022 - 07:30
Rating: 7
AndyMetalFreak
A Nice Guy
Written by RaduP on 01.11.2022 at 02:04

Bit of a higher rating than expected

I know I was feeling very generous, I got struck by a feeling of nostalgia, especially whilst listening to "Kevorkian Times", it very much reminded me of Darkthrone of old and I really liked that, but that nostalgia quickly wears off when you reintroduce yourself to the mighty Transilvanian Hunger and then return to this. It's strange because although I stand by my overall review rating, I still can't bring myself to giving this a personal rating of 8 just yet.
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01.11.2022 - 22:31
Rating: 6
M C Vice
ex-polydactyl
Isn't Panzerfaust their 5th album?
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"Another day, another Doug."
"I'll fight you on one condition. That you lower your nipples."
" 'Tis a lie! Thy backside is whole and ungobbled, thou ungrateful whelp!"
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02.11.2022 - 08:11
Rating: 7
AndyMetalFreak
A Nice Guy
Written by M C Vice on 01.11.2022 at 22:31

Isn't Panzerfaust their 5th album?

Yes well noticed, I keep overlooking Soulside Journey, I think because it's so vastly different to the albums that followed, it was essentially a death metal album.
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02.11.2022 - 13:54
Rating: 10
necros4dead

After careful listening i find parts that feels-reminds me to old Metallica combined with their Black riffing and other parts i get the feeling of 70's metal like Scorpions-In Trance era or 70's Judas Priest e.t.c. It's a great flawless dreamy album for me with really great songs . Fenriz was right that we will get to listen to Oooooold Metal .
P.S. Don't mess with me , i know Feng-Sui too \m/
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Lost In The Battlefield Of Opposite Extremes...
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02.11.2022 - 14:12
Bad English
Tage Westerlund
Man I believe Fenriz and Culto has not bought new clothes since their first full lenght album, that's answer hoddie quastion... Beavis n Butt-Head also has same t shirt all life long.
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Life is to short for LOVE, there is many great things to do online !!!

Stormtroopers of Death - ''Speak English or Die''

I better die, because I never will learn speek english, so I choose dieing
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02.11.2022 - 14:31
Rating: 7
AndyMetalFreak
A Nice Guy
Written by necros4dead on 02.11.2022 at 13:54

After careful listening i find parts that feels-reminds me to old Metallica combined with their Black riffing and other parts i get the feeling of 70's metal like Scorpions-In Trance era or 70's Judas Priest e.t.c. It's a great flawless dreamy album for me with really great songs . Fenriz was right that we will get to listen to Oooooold Metal .
P.S. Don't mess with me , i know Feng-Sui too \m/

It's funny how you mention Scorpions-In Trance 70's era because I have the same feeling now you mentioned it. It's a very good combination of 70's heavy metal and their 90's black metal sound, I would like to hear more from this sound from them, and perhaps it will be good to hear other black metal bands take this direction too.
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02.11.2022 - 16:51
Rating: 10
necros4dead

Written by AndyMetalFreak on 02.11.2022 at 14:31

Written by necros4dead on 02.11.2022 at 13:54

After careful listening i find parts that feels-reminds me to old Metallica combined with their Black riffing and other parts i get the feeling of 70's metal like Scorpions-In Trance era or 70's Judas Priest e.t.c. It's a great flawless dreamy album for me with really great songs . Fenriz was right that we will get to listen to Oooooold Metal .
P.S. Don't mess with me , i know Feng-Sui too \m/

It's funny how you mention Scorpions-In Trance 70's era because I have the same feeling now you mentioned it. It's a very good combination of 70's heavy metal and their 90's black metal sound, I would like to hear more from this sound from them, and perhaps it will be good to hear other black metal bands take this direction too.



I'm glad you sense that too , i was afraid of getting laughs about this . They blend influences very very well to my ears . The more i hear this album the more i discover things from it . I wonder what the keyboard parts reminds me but i'm not sure yet . Their riffing and sound is spectacular and very enjoyable .
----
Lost In The Battlefield Of Opposite Extremes...
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02.11.2022 - 17:13
Rating: 7
AndyMetalFreak
A Nice Guy
Written by necros4dead on 02.11.2022 at 16:51


I'm glad you sense that too , i was afraid of getting laughs about this . They blend influences very very well to my ears . The more i hear this album the more i discover things from it . I wonder what the keyboard parts reminds me but i'm not sure yet . Their riffing and sound is spectacular and very enjoyable .

That's what's special about Darkthrone, the fact that they helped create that raw black metal sound in the first place, a sound that so many black metal acts have been inspired to use. Now all these years later they are turning their attention towards other genre's such as traditional heavy metal but have still managed to keep that signature sounding rawness so you still know it's Darkthrone.
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04.11.2022 - 08:28
terroriser

Written by AndyMetalFreak on 02.11.2022 at 08:11

Written by M C Vice on 01.11.2022 at 22:31

Isn't Panzerfaust their 5th album?

Yes well noticed, I keep overlooking Soulside Journey, I think because it's so vastly different to the albums that followed, it was essentially a death metal album.


and not a bad one too
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04.11.2022 - 08:33
terroriser

That is very true. Like their music or not, you will know it's DT when you hear it.

I had no expectations when approaching this album, so I am neither disappointed nor enthusiastic about it. I think they need to take a few year's break from DT to make me want to listen to their music again. Too much DT is not good
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04.11.2022 - 11:54
nikarg
Mod
Along with the bands that have already been mentioned, I hear a lot of Celtic Frost, too, in these last few albums.
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