(TheBRHM.com) So, I’ve finally gotten around to listening to Darkthrone’s nineteenth album Eternal Hails…….Yes, Darkthrone dropped six ellipses in the title. Going forward, it’ll just be “Eternal Hails” but the title isn’t the focus. It’s all about the music and the vibe that the title represents here.
Darkthrone Reinvents Itself Again
When I got into Darkthrone, it was during their late 2000s period where the band was moving from straight up black metal into a more crust punk-influenced sound.
I’ve heard black n’ roll used on occasion but what I do know is that The Cult is Alive, F.O.A.D, and Dark Thrones and Black Flags absolutely rocked. When the 2000s ended, the band kicked off the last decade with 2010’s Circle the Wagons which marked the beginning of their speed metal and heavy metal worship period.
This approach continued with The Underground Resistance while Artic Thunder was an interesting project. You had a heavy influence of old school, first wave black metal such as Venom, NME, Bulldozer, Bathory, and Hellhammer—only slowed down. Basically, we were almost in Celtic Frost—the band that Hellhammer evolved into—territory.
Ending the 2010s with Old Star, Darkthrone kind of laid the groundwork for Eternal Hails. It was focused on a mix of classic heavy metal and early doom. Things weren’t super slow but the band nerfed its speed and some of its aggression for this one.
The nineteenth release goes a little further, slowing things down some more.
Side A of Eternal Hails
You know, I prefer to use the vinyl track listing for metal albums just to breakdown the album easier. The Peaceville Records version—pretty much Darkthrone’s home label since 2006—has three tracks on the A-side.
While “Hate Cloak” was the track that was released as a single and is a dope, plodding song, the star of the A-side for me is “His Master’s Voice”. It mixes the heavily doom metal approach of the album with the faster-paced black metal the band made its name on.
The result is a track that rides. It’s still syrupy but there’s a pulse here. As for “Hate Cloak” it’s a couple of seconds shorter but I don’t know, the vibe of it is longer than “His Master’s Voice” but it’s heavier and syrupier than the opener.
Then we have the third song on the album and the A-side closer: “Wake of the Awaken”. I can’t say that it was bad and that it didn’t fit with the rest of the album but it doesn’t have the same punch as the first two songs on the album.
However, I love the faster tempo of this song since that’s right up my alley. As a whole, side A is strong.
Standout Tracks: His Master’s Voice, Wake of the Awaken
Now, the B-side didn’t catch me on the first listen like the A-side did. As a matter of fact, it didn’t get as many spins either. When it finally rubbed off on me, it was on the weight of the second track on this side and the last song on the album: “Lost Arcane City of Uppakra”.
This song is more of my pace but I can appreciate that “Voyage a North Pole Adrift” is actually the better of the two songs. It’s actually the song that slowed things down a second time following “Wake of the Awaken”.
As a result, the B-side had to get multiple listens not to enjoy it but to actually take it in. I mean, it’s ten minutes of doom metal which is more like mid-length for the genre.
I’m not big on syrupy-slow tracks but you kind of know what you’re getting into after the band made its inspirations and direction for the album known.
I’d say that “Voyage a North Pole Adrift” is for lovers of the intricacies of music first while “Lost Arcane City of Uppakra” is also for music lovers—obviously—but also for fans who want something with more of a rapid pulse to it.
Standout Tracks: Lost Arcane City of Uppakra
Verdict: Pretty Strong Album
From track one to track five, this is a damn dope album. It isn’t like some forms or directions that doom metal took where at its most extreme it can be smothering in both pace and heaviness.
The black metal infusion here prevents things becoming like quicksand or quick-drying cement. It doesn’t speed everything up but it adds to the doom metal direction so that it isn’t pure doom metal.
That’s not to say that I’m happy it’s not straight up doom but it’s a sound that tends to take more listens for me to digest the songs than for me to just enjoy everything. That wasn’t the case with Eternal Hails for the most part.
Sure, the B-side—last two songs—took a couple of listens but it turned out to be a strong side. What I also love about this album is that it’s challenging. There are five lengthy songs here and I tend to look at an album and think about how it could be better by moving tracks around.
Again, we have five songs and the A-side is very strong. I actually wouldn’t move anything around on that side or shuffle songs around. It is what it is and perhaps some of those extra listens were trying to see where the last two songs could be better utilized.
At most, I’d probably make “Lost Arcane City of Uppakra” the A-side ender and “Wake of the Awaken” as the album closer just so that it ends on a faster pace. I considered “Voyage a North Pole Adrift” as the closer but I’ve never liked when an album ends on a particularly slow-paced song.
So, as it stands, Eternal Hails is definitely worth checking out. It’s a strong Darkthrone album and it sparks my curiosity in what the band has planned for this decade.
Staff Writer; M. Swift
This talented writer is also a podcast host, and comic book fan who loves all things old school. One may also find him on Twitter at; metalswift.