Astral Fortress

Astral Fortress

“Darkthrone does not sleep—it only waits.” Such is the tagline for the Norwegian black-metal pioneers’ 20th album, which is billed as part of the duo’s ongoing writing process. As the follow-up to 2021’s Eternal Hails…..., which featured five epic, old-school heavy metal songs sprawled across 42 minutes, Astral Fortress sees drummer/vocalist Gylve “Fenriz” Nagell and guitarist/vocalist Ted “Nocturno Culto” Skjellum forging onwards and upwards from their late-’80s death-metal origins, early-’90s black-metal trailblazing, mid-aughts punk reinvention, and classic heavy metal-isms of the past decade. As is their habit for the last several releases, they’ve split the songwriting more or less down the middle, with Nocturno Culto penning three tracks and Fenriz four. “Astral Fortress is the natural continuation of Eternal Hails…..., although with more tightly packed songs,” Fenriz tells Apple Music in a cryptic transmission from his home in Norway. “Plenty of clearings in the woods as well. And I see it from the inside, so I think it has a lot of variation.” Below, he offers written commentary on each song—some more than others. “Caravan of Broken Ghosts” “(anticipation)……………………………………….A touch of something.” “Impeccable Caverns of Satan” “Sounds like someone fused ’70s AC/DC with classical music and then ’80s black metal greets you in various ways shortly thereafter.” “Stalagmite Necklace” “(musing deeply and intently)…………………………Onward, but slowly.” “The Sea Beneath the Seas of the Sea” “This is it—THIS is what I pictured my metal to sound like back in 1986/1987/early 1988, when I started up! Epic metal of the ’80s and ’70s style. I think one riff might be inspired by Uriah Heep’s ‘Pilgrim,’ too, but you’ll never guess which one, as it seems what I hear in my music is vastly different from what others hear.” “Kevorkian Times” “(deliberation)………………….One riff unconsciously inspired by Morbid Angel.” “Kolbotn, West of the Vast Forests” “Weirdness commences as this intermission track hails my homeplace. Not your usual city anthem!” “Eon 2” “The continuing saga of our ‘Eon’ track from early 1989, it is called so because of a long piece of poetry I wrote [that] will become ‘Eon 3’ and ‘Eon 4’ as well. The metal here is a mix of ’84-’86 thrash and a middle part of the more atmospheric old-school black metal.”

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