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Band Name Darkthrone
Album Name Panzerfaust
Type Album
Released date 06 June 1995
Music StyleBlack Metal
Members owning this album503


Re-Issue in 2010 by Peaceville Records
 En Vind av Sorg
 Triumphant Gleam
 The Hordes of Nebulah
 Hans Siste Vinter
 Beholding the Throne of Might
 Snø Og Granskog (Utferd)

Total playing time: 39:03

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 $26.98  20,25 €  10,49 €  £24.50  $15.61  11,99 €  13,69 €
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Review @ Crinn

19 December 2011

Darkthrone at their best

[Originally posted November 18, 2010]

This right here is Darkthrone at their best. This is currently one of my favorite black metal albums of all time. My friend bought me this CD when I was in seventh grade, and I literally played it until the player was unable to read the disc. This was the album that introduced me to the wonders of Norwegian black metal. Many of my friends from where I live aren’t really fond of black metal mainly they think that all or most of the blast beat drumming that the drummers do all sound the same. I think that that statement is true in several cases, but there are quite a few black metal bands that have astonishingly creative drummers. Some of those bands include Darkthrone, Keep of Kalessin, Immortal, Dark Funeral, and Ceremonial Castings (although they aren’t pure black metal). Darkthrone has been around for such a long time, and have been so successful that they have become one of the most famous and loved black metal bands of all time, and hopefully their name will be remembered for decades to come.

My favorite thing about most black metal music is that the recording and sound quality is very low profile, raw, and almost (if not) completely unedited. Darkthrone is the best example of that. I cannot imagine Darkthrone’s music in a high quality sound. In this album, there are fewer songs about Satanism, Christian blasphemy, and evil, and there are more songs focusing on the wonders of nature, and forests. The vocals are quite distorted to match the guitars. I love the fact that nothing is too high pitched because I am generally sensitive to high frequencies that are very loud, so I prefer that recordings don’t have too much of anything (especially treble, but a lot of bass is good). Panzerfaust is the first Darkthrone album that uses a lot of simple guitar chords within the songs. Because in albums such as Transilvanian Hunger, and Under a Funeral Moon, the guitar chords are more sophisticated and juicy, which sounds very yummy. I would personally like the vocals to be a tad bit higher pitched because it sounds better to me if black metal vocals are more of a high pitched sound rather than a nasty yelling sound. But I will say that I’m not a person that thinks that all bands of a certain genre should have all of the same qualities; I actually love variety and experimentation within the bands.

I can’t find any songs on this album that I dislike, but I will note a couple of songs that could use some improvement. The guitar part in Quintessence is very boring and repetitive, the only thing about it that changes is the key every once in a while. My favorite song off of this album is definitely Triumphant Gleam. The speed of the song changes in various places which makes me confused on how this song should be making me feel and what emotions this song should give me. The lyrics in this song are actually very powerful if you study them a little, because at first they just seem like a compilation of random notes written down at different times. En Vind Av Sorg is Norwegian for A Wind of Sorrow. This song is very pretty and melodic which really distracts the mind from most of the other punkish, heavier songs. I would highly recommend this to all fans of black metal, and to people who are interested in discovering the astonishingly unique sound of raw black metal. This scores 19.5/20.

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Review @ InfinityZero

01 February 2013

Though not without its memorable moments, Panzerfaust mostly falls under the radar.

I’ve never really been a big fan of Darkthrone. As a black metal fanatic I naturally see that they did a great job creating a sound that has since been permanently made the blueprint of basic black metal, but aside from that, there isn’t a lot in Darkthrone’s music that elevate them above most other black metal bands. Usually though, there’s something Darkthrone brings to their music that’s at least worth hearing, if only a little. Under a Funeral Moon had some killer black metal riffs, for example.

And then there’s Panzerfaust. It’s definitely a Darkthrone album, but you can sense from their three big albums that they were trying to ease their way into something a little different, what with riffs that almost sound like rock permeating songs like Triumphant Gleam and Beholding the Throne of Might, although sludgier and crustier. Most of the time, though, the same cold, sharp riffs dominate the album. Since Darkthrone is known as a creator of extremely dark, lost-in-a-forest-without-GPS atmospheres, I’ll talk about that and the production first.

I want to emphasize that I love lo-fi rawness, being a big fan of Black Cilice and Burzum’s album Filosofem, but there is a fine line between raw ugly production that increases the strength of a cold and misanthropic tone, and a raw ugly production that sounds lame. This album hovers dangerously on this line at all times. The image in my mind of a wild and untamed mountain covered in towering trees constantly battles with the image of a group of half-drunk teens pounding away sloppily on their instruments in their mother’s basement. In many instances Darkthrone shows ignorance towards production set-up. I’ll give a few examples of what I mean. The first big issue for me is the way the instruments all decrease in volume each time Nocturno Culto belches out his dirty yells. This is incredibly distracting, especially seeing as it is most prevalent on what would otherwise be the most atmospheric song on the album, En Vind Av Sorg. Why do the instruments fade in and out like this? And why is it that this only seems to happen on some tracks, and not on others? Speaking of which, has anyone paid attention to the production from one song to the other? It fluctuates dramatically, and the volume of each instrument swaps. The drums and vocals are much too loud compared to the drums at times. When the production is going good, such as in Quintessence, the guitars are sludgy and evil sounding and the drums and vocals are in a good balance. Through most of the album, Nocturno Culto’s moaning tired yelling voice eclipses the music, which is especially detrimental considering he seems completely weak here. I am almost positive he has a cold or hay fever, because his voice comes close to cracking here and there and sometimes he seems to be on the verge of breaking down into a coughing fit. Maybe he’s smoked one too many Marlboros, who knows. He was certainly a lot better in the previous albums. I understand that he is going for a different, deeper style than on the other black metal albums, but his deep guttural performance on Soulside Journey was truckloads better. Aside from these problems, Panzerfaust has a pretty good raw black metal tone going for it with plenty of crust and bitter, pounding drums. The static level is pretty decent, sounding like a strong ice wind, safe from overtaking the instruments.

All of the problems that are here make the atmosphere of the better parts suffer as a consequence. Coincidentally, the atmosphere only seems present on the songs with Norwegian titles. On the English songs I don’t feel like I’m being sucked away into a distant land devoid of human life but full of twisted trees. I don’t feel much of anything. Most of the riffs on here don’t really do much for me, to be frank. Yes, the lead riff in En Vind Av Sorg is a great black metal riff, harsh but still maintaining a good melody, and Hans Siste Vinter’s lead would have been good, had it not been repeated an absurd amount of times. The sludgy and chuggy meat riffs in the English songs seem lifeless to me, having the quality of a group of kids who want to sound like early Celtic Frost. I have heard much, much better from this band. Their heavily-distorted, slowed-down rock riffs in Panzerfaust would be filler on most of their other albums. Sure, the guitar tone is good, but it can’t save stale riffs. Even when the song is fast and furious, pummeling and dirty, it’s held back by production flaws, over-repetition, and Nocturno Culto’s desperately tired voice.

In spite of these flaws, there are some good aspects to Panzerfaust. As a whole, I do get a lot of a nitty-gritty dark feel from it, and the occasional listen to the album is alright, but I find that many sections are quite listless and without direction. Much of the time when Fenriz decides to stretch a riff for two minutes, I feel like he’s doing this because he can’t think of anything else to do, as opposed to him repeating himself for the sake of atmosphere. I know I’m making an assumption, but I think Darkthrone was running low on fuel by this point, unable to come up with enough good ideas to pack into a full album. The fact that Fenriz had to ask Varg Vikernes to write the lyrics for Quintessence, and that Fenriz recycled a riff from his side project Storm as the main riff for the same track, is quite telling. Even when Darkthrone start playing a good riff, the feeling from me is bittersweet because I just know that they’re going to play it again and again and again and again like it’s the be-all-end-all of amazing riffs. I can handle the repetition alright on Quintessence and En Vind Av Sorg, but that’s because the songs seem to steadily push forward, and the riffs in question are suitable to be repeated for a while without becoming stale. Quintessence also falls into a long, winding riff about in the middle of its run time that works really well in support of the song, but unfortunately when this section ends it’s right back to the same riff that was already in a Storm song (and it was used better in that instance).

Snø Og Granskog is the final track, and I have to say it’s the best. It’s very different and strange for Darkthrone and shows that somewhere deep inside they have a soft spot for pushing boundaries, which I’m sure they exploited on their later albums (to their detriment or benefit I can’t say, as I’ve never listened to them). The synths in this last track are eerie, and they create a deep, cavernous space penetrated by a high droning noise and Fenriz’ much-appreciated baritone voice. After thirty-five minutes of passable black metal, Snø Og Granskog is like an oasis and a great note to go out on. The way high notes are gradually introduced to the melody and the way the drums build ominously is pretty awesome. It really makes me wonder why Darkthrone didn’t integrate these progressive elements into the rest of the music.

Panzerfaust is a very mixed bag of a black metal album—a competent, if not average, black metal record bogged down by a few too many weak moments and poor decisions. There is a fair-sized handful of decent material here, and if I’m in a passive mood it’s an alright listen, but in terms of creativity and ambition, there’s not too much here. I would recommend listening to Snø Og Granskog, En Vind Av Sorg and Quintessence, but the other songs are pretty much dead weight with a few shining moments here and there.

Though not without its memorable moments, Panzerfaust mostly falls under the radar.

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