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Music / Darkthrone

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To think that these two are the only members...

Darkthrone is a Black Metal band from Norway. They formed in the mid-late '80s as a Death Metal band named Black Death. The original lineup consisted of Gylve Nagell, Ivar Enger, and Anders Risberget (who left the band early on). Ted Skjellum and Dag Nilsen soon joined the band and they changed their name to Darkthrone. After recording and releasing four demos independently, Darkthrone signed to Peaceville Records and recorded their debut album, Soulside Journey. This was followed by the instrumental demo tape Goatlord, however the band decided to shelve this album rather than make it into an album proper as they became interested in Black Metal and changed their musical style accordingly. While recording their next album, A Blaze in the Northern Sky, the band members adopted pseudonyms — Nagell became "Fenriz", Skjellum became "Nocturno Culto", Enger became "Zephyrous", while Nilsen left after the album was finished. Darkthrone's third album, Under a Funeral Moon, saw the band shed all remaining Death Metal elements. Zephyrous left after the recording of Funeral, and the band has remained a two-piece ever since. Their fourth album, Transilvanian Hunger, had much rawer production than previous releases and was controversial for containing some lyrics and backwards spoken messages from the infamous Varg Vikernes and for the message "Norsk Arisk Black Metal" ("Norwegian Aryan Black Metal") on the album booklet. (This was changed to "True Norwegian Black Metal" on later pressings, and after the controversy that accompanied the album, Darkthrone issued a statement with their next album saying, "Darkthrone is certainly not a nazi band nor political band, those of you who still might think so, you can lick Mother Mary's asshole in eternity". Fenriz also later expressed remorse for remarks like the "Norsk Arisk Black Metal" label and an infamous quote from the same era about "obviously Jewish behavior", calling them "disgusting" and noting that he was going through a period of being "angry at several races"; despite being largely apolitical in his music, he now serves as a vice-councilman on the Oppegård city council representing the centre-left Liberal Party, whose platform explicitly supports immigration and multiculturalism).

Their contract with Peaceville complete, Darkthrone signed to Moonfog Productions (run by Satyr of fellow Black Metal band Satyricon) and released a string of somewhat lower-profile albums (including a version of the Goatlord demo with newly-recorded vocals) before returning to Peaceville again in 2005. The band's subsequent releases have incorporated influences from Punk Rock and traditional Heavy Metal, with these influences becoming increasingly prominent on more recent albums.

For most of the band's run, Fenriz has been the drummer and lyricist, while Nocturno Culto sang and played most guitar parts. This dynamic has shifted on newer albums, with both members sharing vocal and lyric duties roughly equally (the Total Death album is notable for having no lyrics by Fenriz at all, instead half the songs have lyrics by Nocturno and the other half have lyrics by various other Black Metal musicians).


  • A New Dimension (Demo, 1988)
  • Land of Frost (Demo, 1988)
  • Cromlech (Demo, 1989)
  • Thulcandra (Demo, 1989)
  • Soulside Journey (Full-length, 1991)
  • A Blaze in the Northern Sky (Full-length, 1992)
  • Under a Funeral Moon (Full-length, 1993)
  • Transilvanian Hunger (Full-length, 1994)
  • Panzerfaust (Full-length, 1995) - first release on Moonfog
  • Total Death (Full-length, 1996)
  • Goatlord (Full-length, 1996) - instrumental parts are demos recorded between Soulside and Blaze, vocals are newly-recorded.
  • Ravishing Grimness (Full-length, 1999)
  • Preparing for War (Compilation, 2001) - re-released in 2005 with an additional CD of rare demos and a DVD of interviews and rare live performances, to commemorate the band's return to Peaceville.
  • Plaguewielder (Full-length, 2001)
  • Hate Them (Full-length, 2003)
  • Sardonic Wrath (Full-length, 2004) - last release on Moonfog
  • Under beskyttelse av morke (EP, 2005) - vinyl EP released only in Japan
  • Too Old, Too Cold (EP, 2006)
  • The Cult is Alive (Full-length, 2006)
  • Forebyggende krig (Single, 2006) - vinyl only
  • NWOBHM (EP, 2007) - title stands for "New Wave of Black Heavy Metal", a play on New Wave of British Heavy Metal
  • F.O.A.D. (Full-length, 2007) - title stands for "Fuck Off and Die"
  • Frostland Tapes (Compilation, 2008) - first two discs contain all four early demos plus a live show, third disc is the original instrumental version of Goatlord including two tracks not on the 1996 release.
  • Dark Thrones and Black Flags (Full-length, 2008)
  • Circle the Wagons (Full-length, 2010)
  • The Underground Resistance (Full-length, 2013)
  • Arctic Thunder (Full-length, 2016)
  • Old Star (Full-length, 2019)
  • Eternal Hails...... (Full-length, 2021)
  • Astral Fortress (Full-length, 2022)
  • It Beckons Us All...... (Full-length, 2024)

Associated tropes:

  • Berserk Button: Bad drum sounds such as modern bass drums with no real bass (though triggered / electronic drums are okay).
  • Bilingual Bonus: A fair number of Darkthrone songs are in Norwegian.
  • Black Metal: One of the main Trope Codifiers.
  • Call-Back: The Sardonic Wrath album takes its title from a line in the song "Earth's Last Picture" from Total Death.
  • Celebrity Is Overrated: They are not fond of being famous. They pretty much see it as pointless and want to be looked upon as normal, average guys who love creating music and such. They also are okay with their fans as well, if they see them as normal people.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Fenriz, as can be seen in almost any interview with him. This is particularly pronounced in the documentary Until the Light Takes Us, where he is the focus of a large portion of the film.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: Their first album is a Technical Death Metal album with clean production.
  • Epic Rocking: At least one song on most albums, although the most extreme example is "Leave No Cross Unturned" from The Underground Resistance, which is nearly fourteen minutes long. Eternal Hails also deserves a mention for not featuring a single song below seven minutes in length; its longest just cracks the ten-minute mark. A Blaze in the Northern Sky, Ravishing Grimness and Plaguewielder also have particularly lengthy examples.
  • Everyone Has Standards: Fenriz and Culto found the whole church burnings of the Norwegian Black Metal scene a bit too much, with Fenriz stating in an interview that he never went that far, and worried when the scene began to collapse after shit began to hit the fan. While Fenriz was close to Varg Vikernes, the two slowly ceased communication due to Fenriz taking more approach on music compared to Varg's approach to politics.
  • Face on the Cover: Individual members appear on covers of their first three black metal albums, known as "Unholy Trinity" - Zephyrous on A Blaze in the Northern Sky, Nocturno Culto on Under a Funeral Moon and Fenriz on Transylvanian Hunger.
  • Genre Mashup: Their modern-day Hardcore Punk / Black Metal / Speed Metal fusions definitely count.
  • Heavy Meta: Pops up quite frequently since The Cult is Alive, as part of their old-school metal cultivating ideology. "Raised on Rock", "Canadian Metal" and "I Am the Graves of the 80s" are only a few examples.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Judging from how long they've worked together, Fenriz and Nocturno no doubt qualify as an example by now.
  • Long Runner Lineup: Type 2. The band has consisted entirely of Fenriz and Nocturno Culto since Transilvanian Hunger.
  • Loudness War: Unfortunately later albums have gotten hit with this pretty badly (with noticeable clipping from The Cult is Alive onward). The vinyl editions seem to have averted this; the vinyl of The Underground Resistance is pristine.
  • Manly Tears: Fenriz reviewing the first Agent Steel album.
  • Metal Scream: Well... They're Black Metal. It's their primary vocal style.
  • New Sound Album: A Blaze in the Northern Sky (from Death Metal to Black Metal), The Cult is Alive (Black Metal to Black Metal / Punk Rock), and The Underground Resistance added in elements of Speed Metal, among various other genres.
  • Nice Guy: They both look like they're not fun to be around, but as some documentaries have shown (especially with Fenriz), they're pretty laid back guys.
  • No Ending: Apart from the title track, most of the songs on Transilvanian Hunger just cut off more or less without warning. A couple of tracks have white noise at the end that makes the sudden cutoff seem somewhat logical, but for several others, it's as though the band just cut the tape after a certain point.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: "LEAVE! NO! CROSS! LEAVE NO CROSS UNTURNED!"
  • Scary Musician, Harmless Music: Inverted. They come across as rather laid-back and approachable in interviews, despite the fact that they've made some of the darkest music in rock/metal history.
  • Shout-Out: "Canadian Metal" references several very obscure Canadian metal bands.
    • "Raised on Rock" mentions Manilla Road in the chorus.
    • The double ellipsis in the title of their Eternal Hails...... album is a hail to Bathory's The Return...... album.
  • Soprano and Gravel: On their later albums the vocals will alternate between typical Metal Screams and almost King Diamond-esque faux-operatic vocals, amongst other styles.
  • Take That!: Circle the Wagons contains a very subtle one directed at former Gorgoroth bassist King ov Hell, with ANTI-KING OV HELL 001 being printed in the liner notes.
    • They often make jabs at Emperor despite being friends with the band, often due to their later sunglass-wearing image.
  • Those Two Guys: Well... they're guys, and there are two of them.
  • Three Chords and the Truth: Their crust / Venom-worship material.
    • Most of their post-Soulside Journey material, really, though some albums qualify more than others. Transilvanian Hunger particularly stands out here because of the raw (even for black metal) production.
  • Vocal Tag Team: Nocturno Culto and Fenriz in the F.O.A.D.-The Underground Resistance period.