Darkthrone – Sardonic Wrath (2004)

Sardonic Wrath is one of those mid-career Darkthrone records I always seem to look past, so I made the decision to add it to my Spotify in order to get a bit more circulation out of it. I seem to fall into the terrible habit of writing off everything released in between the flurry of early 90s black metal masterpieces and the massive return to form with the crust punk style in the mid 2000s. And yes, whilst it is true that some of the Darkthrone material from this middle-period can leave a lot to be desired, I don’t believe that the same can be said for Sardonic Wrath, which is a surprisingly punishing affair of cold lo-fi black metal.

The extra commentary tracks packaged onto the end of this particular version of the release actually helped me get a better perspective on the Darkthrone recording process. Sardonic Wrath marks the point where Fenriz’s guitar parts are starting to be written into the music, and the man himself proudly admits this was the point where the band stopped looking at just riffs, and instead started looking at songs as a whole. The intensity of early Darkthrone focussed entirely on the riff, so I believe this tidbit of information greatly explains the drastic change of direction the band would take not so long after Sardonic Wrath was released.

In that respect, Sardonic Wrath is the last “truly” black metal record that Darkthrone would release. It’s not a bad record in any shape or form, and is in fact, pretty good, but I feel if this was put out by a new band at the time then it would have been considered a lot more groundbreaking, which is quite sad in it’s own little way, as people become used to the status quo.