At a time when most of the first wave of Norwegian black metal bands are long gone, Darkthrone has become the senior figures of this particular subgenre almost by default; they're like the Rolling Stones of death metal. And much like the Rolling Stones around the time of Some Girls and Emotional Rescue, Darkthrone now seems to be caught between staying true to their original sound and adapting to the commercial marketplace. The album's first single, "Too Old, Too Cold" is easily the most immediately accessible song the band has ever done, sounding more like American hardcore punks the Misfits than anyone else, and elsewhere "Graveyard Slut" and "Whiskey Funeral" add to the album's punky feel. Longtime fans might grouse about the somewhat diluted sound of the album, but the shift in emphasis is both subtle and effective. Rather than simply going through the black metal motions, The Cult Is Alive is one of Darkthrone's most satisfying recent albums.
AllMusic Review by Stewart Mason