For many black metal purists, a big part of the genre’s appeal is its inaccessibility. Shrouded by an air of esoteric mystery and acute antagonism, the best bands could not begin to care about cultivating a wide fanbase. For them, black metal is a lifestyle and spiritual practice that exists well beyond the simplistic realm of music. As an ethos, it is an abject condemnation of humanity as a whole.
Few bands elicit the same level of reverence as Darkthrone. Figureheads of the second-wave Norwegian scene, the duo of Gylve “Fenriz” Nagell and Ted “Nocturno Culto” Skjellum are responsible for some of the most raw and uncompromising music ever recorded.
Often referred to as “The Holy Trinity,” their first three black metal albums (A Blaze in the Northern Sky from 1992, Under a Funeral Moon from 1993, and 1994’s Transilvanian Hunger) are deeply respected genre staples and foundational pillars for extreme metal as we know it.
Although they have released a staggering nineteen studio albums, Darkthrone have not played live in public since April 6th, 1996. Appearing alongside Satyricon and Dissection at an event dubbed “A Night Of Unholy Black Metal,” the band sold out Oslo’s legendary Rockefeller Music Hall (simply called “Rockefeller” at the time).
While some elitists might wax philosophical about the motivation behind Darkthrone’s existence as a studio entity, the reality of the situation is much less pretentious than deliberately depriving fans of an experience.
Asked about playing live, Nocturno Culto told Wall Of Sound: “The offers keep on coming, believe me. We have said no to being wealthy for years and years. I believe Darkthrone is kind of isolated in many areas, but we like it that way.
“We don’t see ourselves as something else other than ordinary men with a passion for music. So stage, touring and personal attention is not what we seek, but what we want to leave behind…..yes you guessed it, full length albums.
“A Blaze in the Northern Sky was originally meant to be a mini album, but luckily we discussed it, and agreed on taking our time to make an LP.”
Asked about their prolific level of recorded output, he reflected: “Inspiration is always there, always some ideas that float around in my head, so when the dam actually breaks, it will be an intense few months to write.
“You kind of living in a jail for some time. And, to explain why we now have released 20 full length albums, and how we can be so efficient is easy. We don´t bother with other things regarding Darkthrone, such as live performance, sticking our heads out now and then to get attention.
“We have chosen the hard path to walk, namely let the music itself do most of the work, the albums.
“Darkthrone has gained ground VERY slowly in 35 years.”
Darkthrone’s most recent album, Astral Forces, was released on October 28th, 2022 via Peaceville.