Circle The Wagons review by Darkthrone

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  • Released: Apr 5, 2010
  • Sound: 7
  • Lyrics: 6
  • Overall Impression: 6
  • Reviewer's score: 6.3 Neat
  • Users' score: 7.7 (30 votes)
Darkthrone: Circle The Wagons
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Sound — 7
Casual fans will forever remember Darkthrone for their black metal efforts with the minimalistic production, or the photoshopped cover of Transylvanian Hunger that circulates the internet. However, Circle the Wagons and their other recent efforts has little in common with those releases and is more akin to punk-metal, and early primal thrash. Production-wise, it is by contemporary standards very much a raw, garage-sounding album with minimal editing and polish. You can hear the instruments scratch and screech, the drums aren't as isolated as on most albums in the era of Andy Sneap and the guitars don't have the level of chug' and oomph' of modern day metal albums. But Circle the Wagons is produced in the manner that fits the album the best. After all, imagine Venom's classic albums with the production of Nevermore, Arch Enemy and similar bands and you soon realize that an album like Circle the Wagons demands a raw, gritty production.

Lyrics — 6
The mad shrieks or guttural vocals are nowhere to be heard and instead clean vocals with a distinct first-take vibe to them dominate this effort. The delivery of the occasional vocal harmony also suggests that it wasn't so much about the outcome as it was about trying out things when they started writing and recording Circle the Wagons.

Overall Impression — 6
It is a bit of a pity that Darkthrone have, at this point in time, released what feels and seems like a thousand albums. When you open a dictionary and look up the word prolific', there ought to be a picture of or a reference to Darkthrone. Circle the Wagons is not one of the best albums you'll hear this year, but it is immensely charming with titles like I Am The Graves of the 80's, Stylized Corpse and I Am The Working Class, with the latter sporting one of the most forced choruses you'll hear all year. The proto-thrash riffs are either harmless and uneventful, or tasty and reminiscent of the days when that style of riffing was new and fresh. Circle the Wagons has some good tunes, good riffs and a big bucket of ugly, yet unmistakeable charm. It is the antithesis of all the over-written and over-produced modern metal albums we hear and read so much about, but with that being said, let's not flood the market with albums like Circle the Wagons. It is enjoyable and charming because it is raw, gives a big nod to the old days and because it is far from perfect.

26 comments sorted by best / new / date

    AnonymousRocker
    Eh, review is okay but i enjoyed it because I love them. (Check out DDYT who is touring with TANTRIC :O deardadyourstruly.com)
    KileManA7X
    Yeah I think it eventually gets to the point where it's like "what's the point". The members are like 38 years old and still go up on stage and get grim for the kids. You're right they are like the Rolling Stones and I bet they'll be still making albums when they are 50. "Yeah this is our 60th crust metal album entitled "Hunger...Transilvanian Dark Forest of...Satan"
    Gortorek
    Hang on... Total Death, a cheap and plastic feeling black metal album that the band has actually apologized for on film, gets a 9. Whereas Circle the Wagons, arguably their best thrash/NWOBHM album in 10 years, gets 6.3? Hmm... y'see, that's why democracy simply doesn't work when it comes to UG.
    ThrashUnleashed
    Echoplex wrote: Why could these guys never decide on a genre? First they were black metal, then crust punk, and now, apparently, some sort of thrash/"heavy" metal.
    They were actually Death Metal first, and DT&BF (and this) are both Speed Crust.
    the_jackyl
    KileManA7X wrote: Yeah I think it eventually gets to the point where it's like "what's the point". The members are like 38 years old and still go up on stage and get grim for the kids. You're right they are like the Rolling Stones and I bet they'll be still making albums when they are 50. "Yeah this is our 60th crust metal album entitled "Hunger...Transilvanian Dark Forest of...Satan"
    Darkthrone hasn't played live since like '91, so I'm not sure what that was about.
    the_jackyl
    thrashmonkey wrote: There are two kinds of music listeners: fans of artists, and fans of songs. Fans of artists will accept a band's music even if it strays from the original genre, while fans of songs will abandon the band as soon as they change their style, usually saying "sellout". Darkthrone went from death metal to black metal to punk to their new sort of "early thrash" thing they've got going now, that just shows that they won't just keep churning out the same exact sh*t. It's all heavy music, it's not like they've just released a country album or an alternative album. Its only healthy for people to grow and change with their music. As long as the band is making music that is felt from the heart, true fans should accept it.
    Well said. I think Circle The Wagons is a great album and I look forward to their next one. Darkthrone albums will always be worth checking out because those guys are the real deal. They don't half-ass anything, they don't put out something just to make a buck, they don't cater to an audience. They play heavy rock because it's what they love, not because it will get them chicks or because its the "in" thing to do.
    brentondig
    Al-InWonderland wrote: KileManA7X wrote: Fuck how old are these guys? Put it to rest you'll never make another Transilvanian Hunger. Hunger is my favorite DT album as well, but their recent stuff is good as well. It's just different. IMO, DT are like the Rolling Stones of black metal , lol
    Best analogy I've heard in a long time.
    thrashmonkey
    There are two kinds of music listeners: fans of artists, and fans of songs. Fans of artists will accept a band's music even if it strays from the original genre, while fans of songs will abandon the band as soon as they change their style, usually saying "sellout". Darkthrone went from death metal to black metal to punk to their new sort of "early thrash" thing they've got going now, that just shows that they won't just keep churning out the same exact sh*t. It's all heavy music, it's not like they've just released a country album or an alternative album. Its only healthy for people to grow and change with their music. As long as the band is making music that is felt from the heart, true fans should accept it.
    blasphemus666
    why do they have do decide on a genre? would you rather be spoonfed the same shit over and over again? i respect them even more for trying such a different sound from Transylvanian Hunger. the new albums obviously not as legendary as TH but its still a badass record
    lord_abyssium
    KileManA7X wrote: Yeah I think it eventually gets to the point where it's like "what's the point". The members are like 38 years old and still go up on stage and get grim for the kids. You're right they are like the Rolling Stones and I bet they'll be still making albums when they are 50. "Yeah this is our 60th crust metal album entitled "Hunger...Transilvanian Dark Forest of...Satan"
    they dont even gig anymore, well they havent gig'd in about 15 or so years now
    EpiExplorer
    Its actually not that bad. I thought Darkthrone was just pure BM that didnt really do anything for me. This is pretty catchy though, and Fenriz isnt a bad singer.
    craig-sansum
    Echoplex wrote: Why could these guys never decide on a genre? First they were black metal, then crust punk, and now, apparently, some sort of thrash/"heavy" metal.
    first they was death metal listen to there 80s stuff, i think its good that they try differnt genres stop bitching its there band they can do what they want
    Echoplex
    Why could these guys never decide on a genre? First they were black metal, then crust punk, and now, apparently, some sort of thrash/"heavy" metal.
    Al-InWonderland
    KileManA7X wrote: Fuck how old are these guys? Put it to rest you'll never make another Transilvanian Hunger.
    Hunger is my favorite DT album as well, but their recent stuff is good as well. It's just different. IMO, DT are like the Rolling Stones of black metal, lol
    KileManA7X
    Fuck how old are these guys? Put it to rest you'll never make another Transilvanian Hunger.
    BGmetal
    I just realized that probably sounded snooty. It wasn't meant to be. lol
    BGmetal
    Well if you're at all familiar with Darkthrone you know they've been, in a way, striving for that punk vibe for at least 10 or so years now. They're "bored" with the current state of metal and all that crap so many metal bands talk about nowadays. All the way to the "Hate Them" album at least they've been slwoly adding that punk sound with riffs and silly lyrics and so on.
    crazysam23_Atax
    krvolok wrote: poor review,none the less another solid Darkthrone album
    I agree. I'm wondering how the reviewer thought "punk/metal" went together. At least s/he bothered to put the correct term "Thrash" on it. However, prolly a good album.
    Plaeghdraeger
    Great album! Fenriz' voice is great. There's alot of heavy metal influence in this album Loved it!
    swave75
    I have not been a fan of their last few releases. But I guess playing black metal must get old.