Year of release: 2019
Released by: Peaceville Records
Rating: 7,1 / 10
Shame, the miracle did not happen. After a really great “Arctic Thunder” I strongly hoped to continue the banquet, but DARKTHRONE once again drew a stroll through the fields of the former glory of someone else's metal. Formally, the talk of Fenriz about the 80s and the “real metal” is justified. “Old Star” is indeed made with respect to the origins. The trouble is that DARKTHRONE, frankly speaking, can't play 80's metal really well, if it's not HELLHAMMER / CELTIC FROST. To listen to it, to understand it - yes. To play - no. You can find dozens of little-known bands who do this much better in Hells Headbangers or NWN! Prods rosters.
Since the band began to work in this direction (~year 2006), the Norwegians have managed to do only a few really great a-la 80's songs. The punky four of full-lengths of the period 2006–2010 had one cool track on 2-3 average per album. “The Underground Resistance” turned out to be much better (initially I liked exactly half of the album, but over time I fell in love with it completely), but “Arctic Thunder” stood out above all, because on this album DARKTHRONE combined their own style with the archaic extreme metal. It was the spiritual heir to the beautiful “Ravishing Grimness”, tailored to the patterns of modern DARKTHRONE sound. It would seem that they should continue to go down this path, because it was really wonderful. But no, the guys listened to the traditional Doom Metal and realized that they had not yet tried to replay it in their own way.
It turned out mediocre. In each of the six songs there is approximately one good riff, but they quickly become boring, and the album cannot offer anything more. Everything else is hackneyed and not too interesting. Not shit, but not gold as well. Even the usual references to HELLHAMMER seem far-fetched. As Vaiug correctly noted once, if it was not for the DARKTHRONE name, no one would listen to it. The atmospheric depth a-la "Arctic Thunder" could help, but it is not present here. “Old Star” is enough for 3-4 pleasant listenings, and then it can be put on the shelf, since no new discoveries are foreseen on it. Just music - nothing more. Whatever super-underground and proper bands were the influences this time, I am sure that the songs of these bands are a hundred times more interesting than DARKTHRONE new stuff. If DARKTHRONE wanted to instil a love for classic metal in the audience with this album, I think there is a risk of getting the opposite effect.
Another catch is the lyrics. Throughout their whole career, DARKTHRONE composed quite foggy lyrics, offering only one or two understandable songs per album. and now they have outdone themselves. Either I'm not old
star enough, either ignorant, or the Norwegians base the texts on some deep personal reflections, but their entire writings on “Old Star” smell like smacks of bullshit remaining in the channel left by the stream of consciousness. Read the booklet, decide for yourself - perhaps I am mistaken. About the booklet and other things: noone really bothered about the design. The cover in the vein of Valery Slauk is the only undeniable dignity, and indeed the only thing that deserves attention, since there is nothing more to look at. The texts are printed in white on black, on the back there are photos of Nocturno Culto and Fenriz, and that's all. Perfect balance of music and design. You can take a look on Metal Star edition for CIS on a video.
Since the entire review is a complete reproach, it can be assumed that I consider “Old Star” to be a complete failure. This is not true. The album still leaves a positive impression, and I will come back to it from time to time. The only disappointment is that it turned out to be completely optional and short-lived in its essence. A group like DARKTHRONE can write such albums of 6 pieces a year, and I do not believe that the legendary Norwegians, even with their current laidback attitude, are no longer capable of anything more.