I have the utmost respect for Fenriz and Nocturno Culto. From all the interviews, documentaries, and books written about the dead horse that is the second-wave of black metal, I've gleaned that the pair really do love making music. They don't care what that music's form is as long as it's expressive. Death metal, black metal, d-beat crust, '80s speed metal, and I'm sure more are fair game as long as they serve this purpose.
A blast from the pre-Darkthrone past, The Underground Resistance happens to be a mix of their latter day black crust influences, power metal, and '80s speed metal. Darkthrone pull off the mixed style exceptionally well, but that's where my enjoyment of the album stops. Everything on The Underground Resistance is something I've heard before in other places.
Musical variety can be key to writing an engaging album, and there's a lot of moments on here that feel like the beginning of something better but never really amount to anything. The only exception is "Valkyrie" which can be described as power metal cheesiness with some very crusty balls. After the slow intro, double bass lines undercut crossover riffs accompanied by a soaring chorale. Other tracks have moments of greatness. "Leave No Cross Unturned" has a cool jam session-esque portion sandwiched between slices of thrash. "The Ones You Left Behind" is a heavy metal rocker that breaks out the crossover riffs just when you thought it was getting complacent, and it also showcases the pair's vocal phrasing. The rest of the album sounds pretty typical. Just throw genre stereotypes from the aforementioned mix together and you have yourself The Underground Resistance. That seems to be the intended purpose, however.
Obviously the production and mixing job are significantly more hi-fidelity than you would expect from an album of the bygone pre-Darkthrone era. For the most part the mastering and production are pretty good if on the clean side of things. Everything is fine in the mix. Vocals pop out when they need to, drums have a bit of bass to them, guitar sounds like guitar...
Too bad that can't help the fact The Underground Resistance is derivative. Not bad, but nothing special.
6.0 out of 10
1. Dead Early
3. Lesser Men
4. The Ones You Left Behind
5. Come Warfare, The Entire Doom
6. Leave No Cross Unturned
Listen // Buy