Nineteen albums in, Darkthrone is still playing by their own rules. In recent years, the Norwegian metal legends have been writing albums with fewer and increasingly longer songs. After the six-track opuses The Underground Resistance (2013) and Old Star (2019), they’ve returned with Eternal Hails......, which features five sprawling tracks spread across 42 minutes. Though drummer/vocalist Gylve “Fenriz” Nagell and guitarist/vocalist Ted “Nocturno Culto” Skjellum have created revered albums in the black metal, death metal, and punk styles over the decades, Eternal Hails...... is very much in keeping with their recent penchant for epic, doomier tracks, as Fenriz explains below with tongue firmly planted in cheek.
“His Masters Voice” “Fusing ragtime with an overtly blaring brass section and K-pop is a daring move. Ted made the music for this, and the title itself is a known musical brand, but in the setting of Darkthrone/black metal it suddenly warps into another vibe entirely. The art of it, to me, is to feel that everyone will understand all my work exactly like I do—but knowing that most do not. The lyrics are awful in the sense that they portray several layers of hell and suffering, and it hurts to even glance upon them.”
“Hate Cloak” “As our single, I wouldn't have thought that a Nickelback cover sprinkled with the peppy audacity of ‘Gangnam Style’ would create such positive feedback from the seasoned underground metal crowd. The opening line is a direct hail to Roberta Flack and her beautiful song ‘The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face.’ This was supposed to be only for those in the know, so blowing that wide open right here makes me feel like an enormous tit and I want to just hide for the rest of the week. Believe me, it's the absolute last time I will ever do something remotely like this ever again.”
“Wake of the Awakened” “Who would have thought it would actually be a splendid idea to merge the overtly organic-sounding 1960s Bollywood style with the brazen obliviousness to quality that is 1990s Eurodance? Not me. As the first verse is easily conjurable by the mind's eye—at least by me when I now painfully revisit my words—the refrain totally destroys any cinematic potential with its psychological sense of stifling terror and pure crushing of all that is sympathy. If you write a crude word in a lyric, it gets censored out there on album covers or platforms. But lyrics like these should not be turned loose on anyone that hasn't fully developed their frontal lobes—which means no reading until 25 years of age. It is really paralyzingly depressive in a way I have never seen before.”
“Voyage to a Northpole Adrift” "I am surprised no one ever thought of mixing the Godflesh/Pitchshifter style with brisk Tyrol yodeling before. Here we are dealing with the struggle again—the struggle of your future when knowing that we die. A classic theme, and in Darkthrone’s catalog almost wholesome compared to the previous three songs! By the way, the lyrics are written completely unrelated to the songs. When the music is recorded and I leave, Ted does vocals alone and chooses what lyric will go to each song. You do not write these kinds of lyrics to a song—it would be unheard of. The title is beautiful to lure you into the mind chambers of death-pondering, but as I said, it is also about how to—or maybe not to—continue living. Ted made the riffs and they are extremely epic and varied.”
“Lost Arcane City of Uppakra” “Never have tango and early grindcore melted into such a lovely amalgamation. I was on holiday in Gothenburg when Jonas Svensson told me about the mysteries of Uppåkra’s pagan city and mounds. I thought it would be a sweet thing to enhance the feeling of holiday that I seldom have into a song, but mostly it harkens back to the days of early Darkthrone, when I read about ancient history and wrote lyrics about it—for instance ‘Iconoclasm Sweeps Cappadocia.’ Sorry, rulers of forgotten Uppåkra, that I drag you into a Midgard-snake of my own creation here, but probably no harm done. The lyrics are extremely anti-Christian with a short Norwegian pagan poem I wrote to introduce the strangest musical endpiece we ever did for Darkthrone—done in the spirit of the endpiece of ‘Starship Trooper’ by Yes 50 years ago. The music is by me—epic and heavy but also sassy and spaced out. I hope you never die, Ace Frehley!”