Well, true to form, the 19th DARKTHRONE album sounds like it was recorded on a 4-track in a barn somewhere in Norway. That much is expected, and it doesn’t necessarily have to be bad. Eternal Hails is definitely the band’s “doom metal” album. Slower tempos have been a strong part of DARKTHRONE for much of the “primitive punk metal” period of the last 15 years or so, but never have they played such a significant role.
To be quite honest, the album is a very mixed bag for me. The doom is across all five lengthy tracks, mixed with the stripped down punky riffs we’re used to. A lot of it sounds really basic, and you can pick up influences from PENTAGRAM, SAINT VITUS, slower CELTIC FROST and even stuff like PAGAN ALTAR and WITCHFINDER GENERAL. The songs often plod and meander along like an elephant lost in the jungle, and ones that start with a real juicy doom riff like ‘Hate Cloak’ and ‘Lost Arcane City Of Uppakra’ wind up fizzling out in boredom. There are some slight traces of ’70s prog popping up, and this is one musical style DARKTHRONE should have left on the cutting room floor, because they just don’t work and they don’t sound interesting.
I like rawer, uncomplicated material, but it only works sporadically here. Their previous album, Old Star, was much more consistent and interesting, whereas Eternal Hails doesn’t maintain that level of interest. And frankly the shabby production quality has gone from being “defiant” to just cheap and underdeveloped. Eternal Hails is at ’80s demo quality, and while I’m sure Fenriz and Nocturno are pleased by that, there’s a certain point where a shitty production is a shitty production and nothing else. This album is not terrible, but it sure isn’t one of DARKTHRONE’s best.
Review By: Dr. Abner Mality
2.5 / 6