Darkthrone

Hate Them

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The "hope I die before I get old" philosophy is one which plagues every rock band lucky enough to have a lengthy career; so obviously, coming to grips with this dilemma becomes tougher the more extreme a band's sound. Therefore, in the black metal field -- commonly agreed to be the most extreme style of music on the planet -- the realization that it's often not better to burn out after all, but rather fade away a little further on down the line, can be an especially traumatic experience for both musicians and fans. Norway's Darkthrone clearly finds itself waist-deep in this quandary on its tenth album, 2003's Hate Them. Now far removed from the gang of impressionable teenagers who became as well-known for their questionable affiliation to Norway's notorious black metal "Inner Circle" (and the criminal element therein) as for their astoundingly primitive but equally influential early efforts, Darkthrone's remaining founding duo of Nocturno Culto and Fenriz have come face to face with their inescapable musical and emotional adulthood. Sure, with its staunchly analog-worshipping recording techniques, Hate Them is hardly a "Mutt" Lange production, but the fact that it was supposedly recorded in a mere 26 hours serves as one of the last tenuous links to the group's primeval work. In keeping with Darkthrone's career-spanning credo, formidable black metal rampages like "Rust," "In Honour of Thy Name," and the painfully direct "Fucked Up and Ready to Die" avoid the oppressive orchestration and dizzying speeds preferred by peers like Emperor and Mayhem to remain rooted in the simpler, straightforward arrangements of yore. Further standout moments like "Ytterst I Livet" and "Striving for a Piece of Lucifer" are even more accessible, tempering their menacing titles and demonic subject matter with a series of pounding hard rock riffs which will prove irresistible for any self-respecting headbanger. In other words, what Hate Them lacks in complex substance is handily compensated for by Darkthrone's sheer attitude and blunt force -- something that no amount of technical showboating can possibly defeat. Just how the band will cope with their ongoing march towards reluctant maturity remains to be seen.

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