I don’t know that I have a favorite band anymore; in my old age I’ve become more of a favorite album guy. But, if I was forced at gunpoint to pick a favorite band, chances are the first one that would spring to mind is Darkthrone. They’re one of the few that can do no wrong in my eyes, whether we’re talking about the twisted death metal of Soulside Journey, the genre-defining pure Norse black metal of the A Blaze in the Northern Sky/Under a Funeral Moon/Transilvanian Hunger trilogy, or their current incarnation as a black/punk/traditional heavy metal hybrid. Even Goatlord, by far the worst album in their entire catalog, has its charms. No matter what direction Darkthrone take their sound in, they do it more than competently and with plenty of attitude, and I in turn always seem to find something to enjoy in whatever they do.
When I was in college, it seemed like I had all the time in the world to just sit and listen to music. I would lay on the futon in my microscopic dorm room, blaring a wide array of metal, rock, hip hop, punk and classic country for seemingly hours on end. Sure, I was going to classes and working multiple jobs, but there was always at least a day or two where I could stay up until the wee hours listening, or find a long break between classes to relax with an album or two. I’d stare at the artwork, read the lyrics, the liner notes and sometimes even the thank yous while the music washed over me out of big-ass speakers, or pumped directly into my ears via headphones (until I accidentally crushed them in a drunken incident that needn’t be recounted here). I could lose myself totally in the worlds my favorite artists created, whether it was the mean streets and dope beats of Ice Cube’s The Predator or the reverbed-to-Hell midnight treble-scapes of Darkthrone’s Under a Funeral Moon.
In a recent conversation about music, my wife pointed out that I tend to gravitate towards stuff that is very raw and simplistic. I believe “garagey” was the term she used. She’s absolutely right. I guess this has long been the case, but I had never really thought about it consciously until she brought it up. I mean, I’ve certainly done my fair share of writing and espousing the virtues of raw, primitive music, but I never really considered just how much my listening preferences are dominated by these characteristics.