Darkthrone: Circle the Wagons

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Darkthrone: Circle the Wagons
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Darkthrone: Circle the Wagons
Black Metal, Punk
Peaceville Records
April 6th, 2010
Release length: 40:50
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Darkthrone has gone under plenty of style changes over the years, starting their career off as a Death Metal act, then changing to the more accepted Black Metal style the group has been widely known for. As of recently, the band has stemmed to go back to the earlier days of the Black Metal sound through the use of Punk. While this isn’t too bad, the problem is that the material presented so far has not quite been up to the standards that is expected of this act, and actually sometimes has been god awful. So, it’s no surprise that on Circle the Wagons we find Darkthrone at it again, trying to perfect this newly acquired sound. In some aspects, they’ve done a great job, but there are still aspects of the band that simply should never see the moon’s light of the night.

Circle the Wagons has some good material on here that really does reflect the back discography of the band well while incorporating this new Punk sound to the mix. However, there are also a number of tracks on here that are guaranteed to leave you speechless and with a migraine, both not being the good kind. The best representation of the band’s sound for this release would be the track “Stylized Corpse”, which features a bit of a heavier sound while retaining all the positive aspects of earlier Punk. However, this is one of the very few tracks on here that you’ll enjoy on your first go, as much of this release is comprised of tracks that are only three fourths kick ass.

While this isn’t to say there are no more tracks you’re going to like on the first spin. “Those Treasures Will Never Befall You” is another good song, but will throw you at first due to the clean singing that is utilized in the chorus. As for the rest of the album, many of the tracks feature a more Glam-oriented feel to them, as well as some seem to have the feel of early Hard Rock. On some of the material, you could clearly hear an Ozzy inspiration thrown into the mix as far as the tone of the album goes, and the guitar structures. However, the most annoying aspect of Circle the Wagons would easily be the vocals. The harsher vocals utilized on some of the songs, like on “Stylized Corpse” and “The Treasures Will Never Befall You” work out great for the material presented. However, the distortion used on the clean singing simply makes the vocals almost impossible to listen to. This reflects best on the title track, “Circle the Wagons”. The other side of the coin is that the vocals are, indeed, rough and menacing, but the distortion, again, ruins them and they almost come out comical, almost as if constipation had become an issue during the recording of some of the tracks, including “Running For Borders”.

The good news about the vocal issue is that many of these vocal issues will grow on you after a while, and you’ll wind up accepting them as part of the rather raw production quality of the release. In the end, Circle of Wagons is a release that will clearly take some time to get adjusted to. Not all the material on here is bad, but there’s still some tracks on here that are hard to listen to right from the start. If you appreciate the band’s latest style change, or even enjoyed the past two releases, then chances are good that you’ll like Circle the Wagons. If not, then this is yet another Darkthrone effort that will show you promise and improvement, but probably nothing to longlasting past the first few spins.

01. Those Treasures Will Never Befall You – 4:21
02. Running for Borders – 4:04
03. I Am the Graves of the 80s – 3:07
04. Stylized Corpse – 7:33
05. Circle the Wagons – 2:46
06. Black Mountain Totem – 5:36
07. I Am the Working Class – 5:08
08. Eyes Burst At Dawn – 3:49
09. Bränn Inte Slottet – 4:37
Overall Score: 5.5/10
Darkthrone (band)
Darkthrone (logo)Digital review copy of this release provided by Peaceville Records via Fresno Media.