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Darkthrone is a Norwegianmarker black metal band. They formed in 1988 as a death metal band, but after embracing the black metal style in 1991, they became a driving force in the Norwegian black metal scene. For most of this period Darkthrone has consisted of just two musicians, Nocturno Culto and Fenriz, who have sought to remain outside the music mainstream. Since 2006 their work has incorporated more crust punk traits.


Death metal years

The band that would become Darkthrone formed during 1986 in Kolbotnmarker, a small suburb of Oslomarker. They were a death metal group by the name of Black Death whose members were Gylve Nagell, Ivar Enger and Anders Risberget. In 1988 the band changed their name to Darkthrone and were joined by Ted Skjellum and Dag Nilsen. During 1988 and 1989 the band independently released four demo tapes: Land of Frost, A New Dimension, Thulcandra, and Cromlech.

They were subsequently signed to the independent record label Peaceville Records with a four album contract. In 1990 they recorded their first studio album, Soulside Journey. The album was cleanly-produced in a technical death metal style, although there were some elements of black metal present, in terms of the album's music and imagery.

Immediately following the release of this album, the band continued writing and recording new material. These demos were entirely instrumental but they demonstrated the band's gradual shift towards black metal. In 1997 they would be released on the compilation album Goatlord.

Early black metal years

During 1991, Darkthrone adopted the aesthetic style that would come to represent the black metal scene, wearing corpsepaint and working under pseudonyms. Gylve Nagell became "Fenriz", Ted Skjellum became "Nocturno Culto" and Ivar Enger became "Zephyrous". In August 1991 they recorded their second album, which was released at the beginning of 1992 and titled A Blaze in the Northern Sky. The album contained Darkthrone's first black metal recordings, and Peaceville Records was originally skeptical about releasing it due to Darkthrone's extreme diversion from their original death metal style. After the album was recorded, bassist Dag Nilsen left the band, and is not credited anywhere on the album.

The band's third album, Under a Funeral Moon, was recorded and released during June–July 1993. It marked Darkthrone's total conversion to the black metal style, and is considered a landmark for the development of the genre as a whole. This album also marked the last album on which guitarist Zephyrous would perform.

It was followed by their fourth album, Transilvanian Hunger, which was released in February 1994. This was Darkthrone's first album to be recorded with just two members, Nocturno Culto and Fenriz. The band would remain a duo from this point onwards. Transilvanian Hunger was characterised by a very "raw" or "low fidelity" recording style and musical simplicity. The album's release caused some controversy: some of its lyrics were written by the infamous Norwegian black metal musician Varg Vikernes, and its booklet contained "pro-germanic" phrases.

With Moonfog Records

Darkthrone moved to another independent record label, Moonfog Productions, for subsequent releases. The label was run by Satyr of the black metal band Satyricon.

Their fifth album, Panzerfaust, was released in 1995. The album was received well, although its production, which is similar to that of Transilvanian Hunger, encountered some criticisms. Their sixth album, Total Death, was released during 1996 and is notable for featuring lyrics written by four other black metal musicians.

During the year 1995, drummer Fenriz was involved with numerous side projects. This included his solo ambient project Neptune Towers, recording an album with Satyr as the duo Storm, and playing bass on Dødheimsgard's debut album.

In 1999, Darkthrone released the album Ravishing Grimness, which featured "cleaner" production and a clear influence from the early work of Celtic Frost. This style would continue on their following album, Plaguewielder, which was released two years later in 2001. Its production style was "rawer", or as the band described it, more "necro".

In the last years of the 90s, two Darkthrone tribute albums were released: Darkthrone Holy Darkthrone in 1998 and The Next Thousand Years Are Ours in 1999. The band also released Preparing For War, a compilation of songs from 1988-1994. In 2002 their song "Kathaarian Life Code" appeared in the last scene of the film Demonlover.

In 2003 the band released the album Hate Them. Although this record and their next contain electronic introductions, they remain true to Darkthrone's early black metal style. Sardonic Wrath was released in 2004. It was the band's last album with Moonfog Productions and their last to be recorded solely in the black metal style. This album was nominated for Norway's Alarm Awards, however the album's entry was withdrawn at the band's request. Their next releases would feature strong crust punk traits.

Change in direction

In 2005, Darkthrone confirmed that they had returned to Peaceville Records, after leaving the record label in 1994. They had also started up their own record label, Tyrant Syndicate Productions, to release their future albums. To celebrate their return, Peaceville re-issued the Preparing For War compilation with a bonus CD of demos and a DVD of live performances. Darkthrone's first four albums were also re-released with video interviews about each of them.

Darkthrone released their eleventh album, The Cult Is Alive, during early 2006. The album represents a great shift in the band's style, as the music incorporates more punk and crust punk traits than previous recordings. While Darkthrone's black metal roots are still evident, their shift from the genre's typical sound is much more noticeable. The Cult Is Alive was the first Darkthrone album to appear on the album chart in Norway, debuting at number 22.

In July 2007 the band released the EP NWOBHM (an acronym for New Wave of Black Heavy Metal a take-off on the original New Wave of British Heavy Metal) as a preview for their next album. In September that year, Darkthrone released the album F.O.A.D. (an acronym for Fuck Off And Die). The title is apparently a tribute to the Danish band Desexult. The music continues the more punk-oriented style that was introduced on Darkthrone's previous album, and features some parts that are similar to traditional heavy metal.

Also during 2007, Nocturno Culto completed and released The Misanthrope, a film about black metal and life in Norway. It includes some of his own solo recordings. In October 2008, Dark Thrones and Black Flags was released, using much the same style as the previous album.


Studio albums

Year Title Notes
1990 Soulside Journey The band's only death metal album.
1992 A Blaze in the Northern Sky Final release with bassist Dag Nilsen.
1993 Under a Funeral Moon Final release with guitarist Ivar Enger.
1994 Transilvanian Hunger Some lyrics by Varg Vikernes.
1995 Panzerfaust Some lyrics by Varg Vikernes.
1996 Total Death Features lyrics written by four guests.
1999 Ravishing Grimness
2001 Plaguewielder
2003 Hate Them
2004 Sardonic Wrath
2006 The Cult Is Alive Marked a major change in musical style.
2007 F.O.A.D.
2008 Dark Thrones and Black Flags

Compilations and tribute albums

  • 1998 – Darkthrone Holy Darkthrone – tribute album featuring eight Norwegian bands.
  • 1999 – The Next Thousand Years Are Ours – tribute album featuring fourteen bands and a multimedia disc.
  • 2000 – Preparing For War – compilation of songs from 1988-1994, re-released with a bonus CD of demos and a DVD.
  • 2008 – Frostland Tapes – compilation containing the band's early demos (Land of Frost, A New Dimension, Thulcandra, Cromlech), the original instrumental version of Goatlord, and a recording of a concert in Denmark.


  • 2005 – Under beskyttelse av mørke (Under Cover of Darkness) – released exclusively in Japan, contains rehearsal songs from the Under a Funeral Moon recording sessions.
  • 2006 – Too Old, Too Cold – contains outtakes from The Cult Is Alive recording sessions.
  • 2007 – NWOBHM – contains outtakes from the F.O.A.D. recording sessions.


  • 1988 – Land of Frost
  • 1988 – A New Dimension
  • 1989 – Thulcandra
  • 1989 – Cromlech
  • 1991 – Goatlord (first released in 1997)

Band members

Current members

Former members

  • Ivar Enger (Zephyrous) – guitar (1988–1993)
  • Dag Nilsen – bass guitar (1988–1991)
  • Anders Risberget – guitar (1988)

Related artists

  • Satyricon – Nocturno Culto and Fenriz have recorded and performed with the band.
  • Aura Noir – Fenriz has recorded vocals with the band.
  • Isengard – solo project of Fenriz, 1989-1995.
  • Neptune Towers – solo project of Fenriz, 1993-1995.
  • Dødheimsgard – Fenriz (Bass guitar on first album), 1995.
  • Storm – Fenriz, 1995.
  • Valhall – Fenriz, 1987-1989.


  1. Amateur fanzine link

External links

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