Darkthrone - The Underground Resistance (Peaceville)
Darkthrone Fucking Darkthrone! These guys are basically the conscience of true metallers worldwide, posers be damned! Case in point: Fenriz's Band Of The Week blog is well worth checking out if you are looking for something new to listen to, whatever your preferred style. This has proved such a success that the Live Evil festival, devoted to keeping the old school metal flame alive with acts culled from the BOTW blog, has been running in London for the past couple of years. So; Darkthrone are like Renaissance men of modern day heavy metal, armed with the kind of knowledge that makes really good musicians great - beyond just knowing about the history, they are an entrenched part of it, and the role that Fenriz plays as a heavy metal taste-maker is much less a intellectual position than just wanting to share all these ripping bands he has heard from across the globe. The whole Darkthrone back-story doesn't need repeating here: A Blaze In The Northern Sky, Under A Funeral Moon, and Transilvanian Hunger are all absolutely essential metal albums! However, after continuing to release quality BM after the turn of the decade, Fenriz and Nocturno Culto began to incorporate elements of crust punk and NWOBHM into their music. This continued until their most recent album (2010's Circle The Wagons) which was essentially an out-and-out old school heavy metal record, with a heady mix of punk attitude and NWOBHM anthems! The Underground Resistance continues in that fine tradition, although the more punchy punk-rock side of things has been somewhat sidelined by a more traditional heavy metal approach. "Dead Early" storms out the gate with a fuzzy intro riff before a massive bass and drum pound begins. The main riff is classic, timeless heavy metal, done in a style that could only be Darkthrone's. On "Valkyrie", Fenriz finally unleashes the soaring, epic vocals he has teased on their previous albums. Nocturno Culto leads some forays into doomier material ("Lesser Men", "Come Warfare, The Entire Doom"), but there is no room for the blasting grimness of their earlier material. The whole album just feels like a tribute to the vintage heavy metal styles of the 80's. This is nowhere more apparent than the mammoth track "Leave No Cross Unturned", which twists and turns through 13-odd minutes of epic riffage that basically leave you wanting more. Considering that many of these songs had their genesis back in 2009/10, hopefully this means that new material from the band will be forthcoming. At any rate, The Underground Resistance seems to encapsulate some kind of "eternal now" for Darkthrone - they can help pioneer a whole genre, and some twenty years later they can return to the styles that inspired them in the first place.
Baptists - Bushcraft (Southern Lord)
Axe-weilding takes a literal place on the cover of Vancouver band Baptists' debut full-length Bushcraft. A double-exposure of a dude hacking into a tree trunk, it captures the raw power that this album possesses. It is a wild 28 minute ride, and if the overall flow of the album is anything to go by, these guys probably put on a totally awesome live show. From the blistering d-beat onslaught of "Betterment" to the almost Jesus Lizard-style noise rock groove of "Still Melt", Baptists cover a wide range without losing their singular identity. Recorded by Converge's Kurt Ballou, like many recent great hardcore and metal albums, this album sounds absolutely huge. The guitars razing a furious metallic blues swathe across the crushing drums, as best evidenced on the title track, which undergoes a myriad of transitions over its two and a half minute length. "Soiled Roots" is a another great slow-burning slice of noise rock, the aggression holding back during a creeping midsection. Unsure of where to put your metalcore records? Burn them all, then make a shelf for "kick-ass hardcore and metal LPs". Make sure Bushcraft is in there.
Speaking of fantastic metallic hardcore, Milwaukee act Enabler are embarking on a tour of Australia, with Melbourne band Urns in tow.
All shows $15 on the door.
Wednesday 3 July – TBA, Byron Bay AA
Thursday 4 July – Crowbar, Brisbane 18+
Friday 5 July 5 – Hermann’s Bar, Sydney 18+
Saturday 6 July – Black Wire Records, Sydney AA
Sunday 7 July – Yours & Owls, Wollongong AA
Tuesday 9 July – Croatian Wickham Bowls Club, Newcastle 18+
Wednesday 10 July – The Pot Belly Bar, Canberra 18+
Thursday 11 July – The Bendigo Hotel, Melbourne 18+
Friday 12 July – Black Goat Warehouse, Melbourne AA
Saturday 13 July – The Enigma Bar, Adelaide 18+
Check out the title track from their great 2012 full-length, All Hail The Void.