NWOBHM - New Wave of Black Heavy Metal reviews

ConorFynes on April 23rd, 2016

Maybe the crust-era haters have a point.

Darkthrone's descent into "true" metal self-parody still hits me with mixed feelings. There are good arguments on both sides whether to support or condemn the recent years. Ted and Gylve have always gone wherever their hearts led, and if a band has made its reputation on apparently not caring worth the shit of an earthworm what the rest of the world thinks of them, who's to hold an unpopular style change against them? My heart will always be with the material they released up to and including the underrated Goatlord, a change of pace was necessary. The last truly worthwhile black metal album under the Darkthrone banner was Ravishing Grimness, and it was nearing a decade later before they finally made the shift. There's nothing close to an Under a Funeral Moon in these latter years, but it's the first time in years the band sound legitimately excited by what they're doing.

Of course, such a change involved a transition phase. I would like to have heard that excitement on The Cult is Alive, but I didn't. It wasn't really until F.O.A.D. the following year where Darkthrone finally proved the worth of their quasi-crust shift. Should New Wave of Black Heavy Metal be considered as an extended transition after Cult? The EP was released only two months prior to F.O.A.D., and while the style's the same, the effect is like night and day between the two. Somehow even more haphazard than The Cult is Alive (and not in a good way), this rough collection of tracks only goes to prove what a revelation the next album would be.

It would be missing the point of any Darkthrone album to criticize it for being rough. Considering how much better the first two songs here sound in their F.O.A.D. versions however, it begs the question what is weaker here. The vocal performances are mixed poorly like on Panzerfaust, and while there's a naive sincerity to the performances on the best crust-era material, the vocals here sound like they're in on the joke. "Hedninger fra Helvete" is a decent track exclusive to NWOBHM, and could have fit on NWOBHM easily enough, if that's any compliment. It's probably a bad sign that the most exciting track here is a cover. Darkthrone take the Testors' punk rock screecher "Bad Attitude" and sound like they're having more fun with it than any of the three originals.

To its credit, at least NWOBHM gave Darkthrone's new sound a cute name.

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autothrall on January 22nd, 2010

These lesser lights should learn from you

Darkthrone must have enjoyed the results of the Too Old, Too Cold EP from the previous year, because as that release was to The Cult is Alive, so is the NWOBHM (New Wave of Black Heavy Metal) EP to 2007's F.O.A.D. (Fuck Off and Die), which released about 2 months after this became available. As such, there is a lot of material on this EP which has since become redundant, but for the diehard fan who buys anything this band will ever release, it isn't the least value I've seen from them.

There are two tracks here which come from the full-length F.O.A.D., but each is offered with a slight variation. "Wisdom of the Dead" is a great, creeping track which would seem to tout the party line here, that is to say it's pure old school Darkthrone given a classic metal injection, the Style of the Isle, as I like to put it, simultaneously breeding nostalgia for both the original NWOBHM and the dark vistas of this duo's storied past. There is an understated feel to the song which I really appreciate, in particular the moody bridge riff which conjures the mystique of the title. Kind of mellow for Darkthrone, but also captivating. "Canadian Metal" is fun as fuck, one of the better tracks from F.O.A.D. that channels punk fuel as it offers libations to the great obscure bands of North, North America through some simple name-dropping of song titles. The mere mention of "Take This Torch" in the lyrics had me fawning with admiration, but the riffs themselves are fucking crushing, especially when it hits the chorus. The difference between this and the album version is simply the vocals, but both are highly effective.

The non-album track "Hedninger Fra Helvete" might be the biggest draw on this recording, a cool mid-paced track with vocals in Norwegian which stylistically follows "Wisdom of the Dead", a mellowing track seared in great classic metal guitar tone with a great, cult Darkthrone bridge over the galloping drums after 2:00, and a somber break after 3:00 dowsed in an almost psychedelic, vibrant atmosphere. The last track is a repressing of the "Bad Attitude" cover from New York's Testors, which we already heard on the band's limited 7" Forebyggende Krig. Since this EP has more value than that, it allows you to skip it altogether, rendering that release even more useless.

This EP presents me a bit of a poser, because I really love "Hedninger Fra Helvete", but the rest of the tracks are available elsewhere in a form just as good as they appear here. If you're going to pick up any version, I would advise you hunt down the CD, because the 7" NWOBHM only has two tracks: "Hedninger Fra Helvete" and "Canadian Metal", good but just not worth it when you can get the CD of this and take the complete pass on Forebyggende Krig.



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Tzeench on January 8th, 2008

New Wave of Bullshit Heavy Metal

It’s truly sad just how deplorable that a once great Norwegian black metal pioneer as Darkthrone have devolved into such “has-beens.” This EP alone explains it all too blatantly, that their newest full-length LP, “F.O.A.D.” is not even worth the insulting criticism.

Anyway, I don’t even know where to begin but I shall try and be brief. As a confirmed trait to all REAL black metal connoisseurs and devout fans of the original Darkthrone is the fact that there is absolutely no real black metal sound or feeling to this EP. It is primarily just a mish-mash of punkish-thrash-crossover riffs played in pseudo-first wave black metal style with Nocturno Culto’s quintessential vocals.

Additionally, the few English lyrics are absolutely bland and/or hokey and cheesy as ‘heaven.’ Notice I said ‘heaven’ and not ‘hell.’ What the fuck is up with a song like “Canadian Metal”? I’m Canadian and I don’t know whether to feel flattered or offended. Apparently, this was a song intended to be dedicated to Montreal, Canada thrash band Voivod after the passing of guitarist Dennis “Piggy” D’Amour. However, those lyrics read otherwise. It just sound like a foreigner’s assumption of what Canadians are like when it comes to metal, or a typical Satanic metal scenario in Canada instead of Europe. Us Canadians have much higher standards of metal in general, let alone black metal standards.

The last two songs aren’t even worth the mention. The remaining tracks are pure filler, nothing more need be said. The final track, “Bad Attitude,” is merely a bad Testors cover song – nothing metal at all, more sounding like Oi/Punk – with Fenriz doing very badly on vocals.

Speaking of, how is it now Darkthrone are making more EP’s? I thought their original stance was “full-length albums or nothing”? But then again, I’m thinking of the glory days of Darkthrone – over 10 years ago. Talk about hypocrisy. They sold their souls to the ‘dollar god’ since 1998.

This band doesn’t even deserve to be noted as “True Norwegian Black Metal” anymore because Fenriz & Nocturno & Co. don’t even live up to the title or their original impetus anymore. If this was anymore sad of a spiral ‘fame to shame’ tragedy story of what once was (to reference Burzum if I may) it would be enough to make me either commit suicide or become an eccentric Taoist.

Darkthrone’s grave rest here – the New (hopefully last) Wave of Bullshit Heavy Metal.

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blackoz on October 14th, 2007

Views from Valhalla Heights

I love EP’s. Maybe it’s because the first record I got as a kid was a Beatle EP in the early 60’s. My test for a good EP is if you play it twice right through when you first get it. I played “NWOBHM” two and a half times.

A listening tip: play this on the best quality system you can. It’s tempting to think that, because Darkthrone goes for a lo-fi sound, there’s not much in there and that any cheap plastic system will do. Not so. Minimal production doesn’t mean bad production.

A case in point is the first track, a much bigger and fatter version of “Wisdom of the Dead”, the last track on the new album “F.O.A.D.”. It’s a whopping, all-encompassing sound, full of heavyweight punch, the vocals more close-mic’d and intimate – if I can use that word with Darkthrone – than the album version. A fabulous track with great riffs that recall the dense textures of the old days.

“Canadian Metal” follows, pretty well identical to the album version but with different vocals (no pub chorus, basically). If you’re not planning to buy the album, at least with this EP you get one of its best tracks, one you can really headbang to in front of the hi-fi.

The standout part of the third track, “Hedninger Fra Helvete” is the chiming coda which kicks in around 3:50. It lasts only a bit over a minute but it’s a gem, the bass climbing the fretboard to support the suspended chords. Very atmospheric.

The last full-length showed that at least one ventricle in Darkthrone’s black heart is consecrated to punk and the final track here, a cover of Testors’ “Bad Attitude”, proves it, if proof were needed. Again, on the best system, this rocks like hell, a short and fitting end to a solid and engaging fifteen minutes of black ’n’ roll.

It’s hard to disagree with antipath’s review of this disc. Viewed from the logical standpoint of musical history, this EP looks a cheap and cynical knock-off from a band way past its prime. Trouble is, my foot taps involuntarily every time I put it on, I bash away on the steering wheel with the frenzy of Fenriz when I play it in the car (not recommended for younger drivers) and my family is sick to death of me bopping around the house warbling “Ca-nay-dee-un Meta-aaahhhl”. In short, it’s a rocking little disc.

When it comes to a conflict over Darkthrone between my brain and my foot, the foot wins every time.

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antipath on July 26th, 2007

I'll Be Skipping the Next Full Lenght

Well, where to begin.... This is a pretty much useless release. Darkthrone has become fond of EPs now, which is already suspect. EPs serve one of two functions: to release good material for fans when there is not enough material to fill an LP (rare), or to serve as a quick cash maker for the band, record label etc... (most). This is a prime example of a cash grab. Ethical arguments aside, this EP is worthless.

The title alone tells you what you are in for. The typical packaging and selling of nostalgia when a market has stagnated. Darthrone, sadly, is stagnant as a relevant or creative force. This EP continues their trend of punkish, slightly thrashy watered down black metal. I love Darkthrone, but as those who will no doubt disagree with this review, I am more fond of their early work. So I just gave the posers an excuse to write me off. The title of this EP tells the listener that they will be taking a trip down memory lane, to a time when black metal was new. I see that they did remind me of those times, and the vocal technique used here is very similar to old Celtic Frost, Possessed, Venom, and to some degree Motorhead. There is the now usual punkish feel to nearly every song, which I'm sorry but I hate punk and there is no reason why a quintessential second wave Black Metal group like Darkthrone should still call themselves Darkthrone and become an Oi! band. That aside, the material is weak anyway. Cheesy guitar solos what would have only been impressive in 1981 only remind you how far Darkthrone has fallen. This is the kind of black metal that short haired 14 year olds in leather jackets and Hammerfall T-shirts would listen to because Old Man's Child is too scary sounding.

The problem here is creativity. All you will hear on this EP is stuff that was coming out in the early 1980s, and which was overdone and out classed by the late 1980s. Some will justify this by saying that Darkthrone is going back to their NWOBHM and punk roots, and that if anything this is a more "true" release than Under a Funeral Moon. I say bull shit. This kind of stuff ran its course and has been done 10 times better anyway. Darkthrone has gone in a really bad direction, and if anything their music is devolving rather than evolving. We all get nostaligic at times, but that is why we dust off our old Possessed CDs, we don't let ourselves be suckered by formerly good bands who have run out of ideas and need money.

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NWOBHM - New Wave of Black Heavy Metal track list

1Wisdom of the Dead04:06
2Canadian Metal04:39
3Hedninger fra Helvete05:12
4Bad Attitude (Testors cover)01:47

NWOBHM - New Wave of Black Heavy Metal lineup

Nocturno CultoVocals, Guitars, Bass
FenrizDrums, Vocals, Guitars