In times where almost every second extreme Metal record is labeled as “Post Black Metal”, “Metalgaze”, “Post Rock/Punk/whatever influenced Black Metal”, it’s important not to forget the roots and true spirit of the ugly, frostbitten and cruel blackened blasphemy that became one of the strongest innovative forces in Metal. For sure the bands of the second wave coined our picture of Black Metal the most, and besides Bathory (of course they were ahead of their time), Mayhem, Emperor and and a few others, a primarily force in Norwegian scene were (and still are) the mighty DARKTHRONE.

Sempiternal Past, recently released by Peaceville Records, digs deep into the death metallic roots of the DARKTHRONE itself, compiling the first four demos the band ever recorded plus three live tracks. By doing so, the record takes us back to a time when genre borders weren’t as strictly defined as they are today, when Death Metal and shortly after Black Metal were born from the rotten womb of Thrash Metal and extreme Hardcore Punk.

And as if the music alone wouldn’t be rad enough, this double LP comes in an amazing gatefold, with an inlay showing all the demos artworks, two rad photos of DARKTHRONE from back in the day (when they were really young) and extensive liner-notes.

Full review below the pic!
The early Darkthrone

The first demo is the infamous Land of Frost, originally released in 1988. Noctorno Culto wasn’t in the band yet and Fenriz had joined forces with three other teenagers and recorded five super noisy, chaotic proto Death Metal tracks, which sound as if they had been recorded under a blanket. Bumpy drumming, brutally wrong timed and tuned guitars, vocals drowned in tons delay or some other strange effects make this demo a very remarkable starting point for DARKTHRONE‘s carreer. Yet it’s surely not worse than comparable early Death/Black Metal demos of that time, think of Morbid, Mayhem or Autopsy.

On the two song demo A New Dimension Noctorno Culto had joined the band. The songwriting had improved a lot, as well as the playing skills and the overall sound. The Celtic Frost influences are obvious, and the second track, Snowfall, is something you can definetely bang your head to (the first song is a 43 second long intro). Unfortunately there are no vocals on this demo.

Darkthrone - Sempiternal PastIt starts to get really interesting with the third demo, Tulcandra. It’s way faster than the stuff before, the riffs are clearly inspired by Bathory and Teutonic Thrash à la Kreator or Sodom. The vocals are quite gutteral and brutal. Tulcandra is an early Scandinavian Death Metal demo you have to know.

On Cromlech, DARKTHRONE were about to perfect the Death Metal style they kept playing on the first full-length, Soulside Journey – not surprisingly all tracks of this demo can as well be found on that record. Hard, evil and morbid Metal in the riff’ish vein of Autopsy or Nihilist is what you get. The first darkthronian blast-beats can be heard on these recordings as well (on Sempiternal Past & Presence View Sepulchrality)

The live tracks round out this compilation and are definetely worth listening to – not only because of the single fact that probably no one of us will ever see DARKTHRONE with Nocturno Culto and Fenriz performing live.

Sempiternal Past offers not just an extensive view into the past and throes of one of Black Metals most prominent and trvest bands, but is even a contemporary document of a time when there weren’t clear distinctions between Death or Black Metal yet, because those were just about to be established. It was all about raw, grim feelings and writing the most brutal riffs – something contemporary bands using the label “Black Metal” shall never forget.

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Darkthrone, number one essential band.