Thursday, February 16, 2017

Black Metal History Month - Looking Back in Anger at Darkthrone's "Plaguewielder"

One of my favorite things to do this month is go back and pull certain album's down from their pedestals and see how they hold up over the years. I remembered interviewing Mike Williams of Eyehategod and when the question of black metal came up he listed this as his favorite black metal album. Sure it came out in 2001, so well after what purists might consider past the prime in regards to the rise of Norweigan black metal, but lets get real and admit in 2001 the coolest of your were listening to either Opeth or Converge at best.  Black metal that wasn't Cradle of Filth or Dimmu was more than likely not in your rotation. This album finds the band has stepped up production quality and moved into riffy song writing, The snarls vocals were still more metal than punk or the kind of New Wave of British Heavy Metal the band would delve into on the past few albums. I can hear touches of Bathory in their attack, but find the opener "Weakling Avenger" holding up over the past 16 years.

It's funny to hear how bands like say Craft were influenced by this and how this album helped draw up the blue print for many of the more legit black metal bands of today. "Raining Murder" finds them picking up into the kind of blast beating that we regard as black metal. They do this with a very feral energy. The cymbal work is more relaxed than some of the more bombastic acts that followed. It slows into very solid head banging groove. There is more of the punk inspired energy that opens "Sin Origin". I can accept that it's a part of what they do , but not what I consider their strongest side, but I can see how punk kids find this to be a good entry point.

"Command" rumbles out like a Faustian panzer brigade before giving up the groove for blast beats. When we get to "I, Voidhanger" it hits the place many Darkthrone albums do where the pulse just kind numbs me into a place where they albums begins to breeze by me. It's not until two minutes into "Wreak" this is a solid album, but not their best by a long shot as I would only give this one a 8.5, so now I'll move onto "Hate Them" and see how it does against it , I'll tell you right now it has a better guitar tone.

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