Every Record I Own - Day 285: Darkthrone Panzerfaust
I had a punk/metal/hardcore show on a college radio station from ‘95-’00. When I started, I went through the CD and vinyl libraries trying to get acquainted with all this new music. It would still be a couple of years before I even had an email address, so the radio station gig was basically the equivalent of giving Spotify to a person that had never had access to the internet. I went through all the black metal classics that I’d been hearing about and found most of it to be underwhelming to my Dual Rectifier chug-centric tastes of the time. Darkthrone’s Transylvanian Hunger was especially disappointing. Bear in mind, at the time I thought Snapcase’s Lookinglasself was the peak of audio fidelity for heavy music, so my perspective wasn’t entirely credible. I eventually learned to extract some enjoyment out of Mayhem and Emperor, but Darkthrone was too lo-fi and too primitive for me.
I didn’t revisit Darkthrone until much later. I’d heard someone talk up Panzerfaust and eventually stumbled across a cheap copy in a used bin a couple of years ago. This album was recorded after Transylvanian Hunger and retains the extremely rough recording approach of its predecessor, but the production techniques no longer bother me. I didn’t get it in ‘95, but something about the cassette four-track quality of the recording actually makes it feel more imposing and sinister to me now. It sounds like a bootleg that was duplicated 20 times and smuggled out of the country to be sold on the black market. But more importantly, the songs on Panzerfaust are a feast of barebones metal. Whereas the songs on the classics by Emperor and Mayhem blur into one frenzied attack, every track on Panzerfaust taps into a different approach. “En Vind Av Sorg” sounds like classic second-wave black metal; “Triumphant Gleam” draws from NWOBHM and early thrash energy; “The Hordes of Nebulah” has the swampy dissonance of side 2 of Black Flag’s My War; “Quintessence” slows traditional black metal to a hypnotic mid tempo lurch.
Anyhow, I’ve been pretty obsessed with this record over the summer, and now I the remainder of the Darkthrone catalog to absorb and enjoy.