Close to thirty years of career, Darkthrone don't give up and go on making great albums, on the strength of a legendary name and total freedom on composition.
After a speed-thrashy album like the "The Underground Resistance", the group came back to flirting with the genre they contributed to creating, classic black metal. The sound of "Arctic Thunder" can effectively remind a lot works of the — criminally underrated — second part of their career, like "Ravishing Grimness", "Hate Them" and "Sardonic Wrath".
The guitar riffing is rough and cold like the old times, the atmosphere is oppressive and Nocturno Culto's vocals are triumphant. The difference is the drumming, definitely not so fast paced but more similar to classic heavy metal. The turnover behind the mic is over: Ted Skjellum came back to rule on all the vocals, a coherent choice with the hard and crumbling sound of the eight tracks, even so composed by both musicians.
On the usual promotional interviews, Fenriz declared that the realization of this album was strongly influenced by doom and slow metal. In fact, despite the rude speed metal of the previous albums, Fenriz songs run slowly, with heavy riffs, like the opener "Tundra Leech" and the titletrack.
Nocturno Culto's songs instead glow for speed and intensity, like the rousing "Burial Bliss" and the melodic mid tempo of "Deep Lake Trespass". It's a shame that the album is closed by the terrible "The Wyoming Distance", a song that seems written and played in five minutes.
"Arctic Thunder" is simply a Darkthone album, with his virtues and vices. The ones who have always loved them will go on loving them and will not be disappointed, the ones who have always hated them will not change their mind and the ones who still live with the nostalgic idea of the Nineties should give up and look for something else.