You have to laugh at the liner notes here, which say that with ten years of Darkthrone in the offing the label wanted to release a best of compilation but the band responded saying they would make a back-patch to mark the occasion. You can sympathise with them though, a best of compilation is so against the sort of thing Fenriz and Nocturno Culto would be into. A worst of compilation though, perhaps… A deal was struck and it was decided to get the cream of the crop of the Norwegian black metal bands together and have each of them record a Darkthrone song and release it as an album. This of course was in 1998 and the album came out on Moonfog, now it is being re-released by Peaceville.
It is a bit of a no brainer really, if you like Darkthrone and the bands featured here you are going to like the album and if you have not already got it then it is obviously worth picking up. It comes with no extras but what you going to do, suddenly invite Mayhem to record a track for it, as they are one band you may expect to be on this who are not?
It’s down to Mr Moonfog himself to start things off and Satyricon set the standard with an incendiary ‘Kathaarian Life Code’ literally blazing away. There is a slightly mechanical and robotic feel to the slower parts here and it would have been laid down just before the period where the band moved into ‘Intermezzo II’ and ‘Rebel Extravaganza’ era so you can clearly hear where they were headed, straddling the old style and keeping the essence of Darkthrone real and wanting to experiment a bit. Experimentation is all about a couple of the bands featured here and Thorns and Dodheimsgard and the odd cards on the compilation. ‘The Pagan Winter’ is draped in an electronic hellish canvas by the former with some Cylon sounding manipulated vocals straight out of Battlestar Galactica. The thorny guitars are spot on though even if this is Darkthrone gone sci-fi. DHG spew and skewer the riffs out over ‘Green Cave Float’ with the vocals sounding particularly possessed by demons.
If you want more traditional sounding versions the ever dependable Enslaved (Natassia In Eternal Sleep) and Emperor (Cromlech) are on hand. You know that these bands are going to deliver the goods. Grutle’s rasps sound fantastic and Enslaved cleave and furrow their way through the track at a mad gallop in line with their masterpiece Eld which had just preceded this. Emperor go as expected for atmosphere, majesty and never have the Throne sounded musically so precise. It’s another glorious rendition. The biggest surprise I found however was with Gehenna who although they plump for the obvious ‘Transilvanian Hunger’ do so in such a zealous fashion that it is literally earth shaking. I saw the band supporting Marduk in 1996 and really liked them up to and including ‘Malice.’ This shows the band at their peak as far as I am concerned as I never took to them when they moved into more deathly material. I have to admit that the last couple by Gorgoroth and Immortal simply are not as good as the rest the album for me. Gorgoroth were just Infernus and Tormentor apparently for the recording and less is certainly not more although ‘Slottet I Det Fierne’ certainly captures the primitivism of the track. Immortal’s ‘To Walk The Infernal Fields’ is simple, craggy and croaky, nothing more nothing less.
(7/10 Pete Woods)