Aww, it's Baby Fenriz!
Call this an editorial. I was pontificating on the pot, as I'm wont to do. We know that Pantera catches hell for their 80's output and image. In my eyes, 1988's Power Metal is their true debut. That's when the "classic" line-up was solidified. The music was beginning to show traces of the aggression that they would embrace full-bore on the very next album. The common argument is that they switched to a sound that was gaining momentum, either for money or to be seen as badasses. I disagree. But that's not what this editorial is about. My question is, why doesn't Darkthrone catch the same flack for abandoning their style after one LP?
I want to be clear. I DO NOT feel that Darkthrone "sold out" or anything. This is just rumination. Darkthrone formed in 1986 as a straight-up death metal band. They released four demos and of course, 1990's Soulside Journey (which kicks almighty ass, by the way). Image? There was no real image. They were dudes in shirts and - quite possibly - pants. The next album was a complete overhaul, both musically and stylistically. Sure, it contained death metal elements (mainly the riffs), but let's be honest; it's pure Norwegian black metal to the bone. Don't forget the addition of corpsepaint! "But what would they stand to gain from an about-face?" I don't know. Maybe they saw what was happening around them and wanted in on it. Maybe they wanted to be on the left hand of metal history.
Obviously, that's bullshit. Simply put, Fenriz didn't dig where the Norwegian DM scene was heading. It was an artistic decision, so why can't we give Pantera the benefit of the doubt? Why couldn't the jump from traditional heavy metal (and goofy outfits) to groove-anchored thrash have been an artistic decision? If you listen to defeatists, they were chasing trends. My rejoinder has always been...what trends? Was groove metal a big deal when Pantera was writing Cowboys From Hell in 1989 and 1990? "They wanted to look macho and tough." Um, 98% of metal bands try to look macho and tough. With Pantera, it felt genuine. Phil Anselmo was an exceedingly metal individual from the get-go. He was the guy wearing Deicide shirts and Celtic Frost shirts. Maybe not in their 80's promo shots, but...
I believe them when they say they were just trying to get gigs. I'm glad that they got those gigs because they built a following that lead to them roping Anselmo into the fold. He was the catalyst. It might have taken a wee bit of time, but they eventually shook off the spandex. To be honest, I enjoy Power Metal. Apart from the vocals, it's not THAT dissimilar to Cowboys From Hell. Brings me back to my original inquest. Why doesn't Darkthrone catch flack for pole-vaulting from one subgenre to another?
My theory? Soulside Journey is tr00er than Power Metal. That's all it comes down to - metalhead elitism. Hey, you can't chide Fenriz. He's an underground metal GOD! Nevermind the fact that he's good friends with Anselmo and they have recorded together. He listens to every stripe of metal under the sun, so he probably likes Power Metal. I know he listened to Agent Steel as a teenager. It's not farfetched.
Were Pantera and Darkthrone trend hoppers? No. I love them both, but Darkthrone does seem to get a free pass for ditching death metal and donning corpsepaint. Maybe it's me.
Woah, Vinnie Paul ALMOST looks cool.